When The Monticello Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers holds their 51st Annual Awards Banquet at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello, NY on Sunday evening October 25th Dave Little of the New York Daily News will be the harness racing recipient of the Chapter's Good Guy Award.
Dave likes to say his motto is "anything for money," but those who know him know it's far from the truth.
Little's love for harness racing makes him a deserving Good Guy as evidenced by his years of volunteering as Grand Circuit Week announcer at Goshen Historic Track. And when you take into account that if it weren't for Dave Little at the Daily News -and his wife Debbie at the New York Post - harness racing would almost be a forgotten entity in greater New York City.
Little's newspaper career started at the age of 13 when he called in basketball, baseball and football scores from Hasbrouck Heights (NJ) High School to the Bergen Record and other New Jersey newspapers.
At 16, the Record's Asst. Sports Editor Gabe Buonauro offered Little a part-time job as High School Sports Coordinator.
After high school, Little went full-time at the Record working nights compiling the scoreboard and racing pages. It was then that he discovered horse racing, and in particular, Monticello Raceway.
Handicapping came naturally to his keencalculating mind, but to pursue his calling he'd have to move on to another paper.
In 1986, he was hired by New York Post sports editor Greg Gallo to work the scoreboard pages, but Little wanted to be a racing handicapper and, after doing so under the moniker Can Do Cassie for a few weeks, proved himself and was allowed to use his own name.
It was only six weeks into his stay at the Post when Little selected all nine winners on an afternoon card at Roosevelt Raceway, a feat that has never been duplicated at the paper.
But Little isn't just a talented handicapper, indeed he is a "triple threat", since he can also announce and write.In 1988, Howard Oil critiqued some of Little's race calls off a tape recorder and eventually made Little the backup announcer at the Mighty M.
But it was Sherry Skramstad who gave Little his first live race calls at Goshen Historic Track. Years later, then general manager Thom Young would ask Little to call races there again and he's been doing it annually ever since.
Little has been with the New York Daily News since 1991 and serves as the paper's racing editor.
He is well known at the paper for his weekly harness racing column and for his expert handicapping. He has picked five Kentucky Derby winners and has won the News' yearly in-house thoroughbred contest, the Battle of Saratoga, four times.
Former News racing writer Bill Finley nicknamed Little "the Trotter Guy" in the Battle in the mid-1990s as a jab at his harness roots but it is a moniker Little wears proudly.
Little is an active member of the United States Harness Writers Association and has emceed both local and national dinners for the organization. He also volunteers every year as an advisor for USHWA's Clyde Hirt Journalism Workshop. He is the main copy editor for the stories produced by the college students that run in major newspapers across the country.
He has been married for 20 years to his wife Debbie, who is a harness writer and handicapper for the New York Post.