Day At The Track

USHWA Conducts successful meetings

08:22 AM 27 Feb 2019 NZDT
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HARRISBURG PA - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the leading organization of harness racing's chroniclers, held its annual meetings at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL for the second consecutive year this past Saturday and Sunday. The writers' meetings were held in conjunction with the group's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, which on Sunday evening celebrated the best of brightest of the sport during the 2018 racing campaign (including an attending "mystery guest" - more on him near the end).

Saturday's meeting gathered the organization's board of directors, while Sunday's session was an open gathering for all of USHWA's members.

The major by-law change passed by the USHWA directors gave a fuller oversight authority to the group's Integrity Committee, who now is empowered to take action during all stages of all of the awards processes, from the start of the nominations all the way through and beyond the awarding of any honors.

As a result of discussion during the meetings, two new USHWA Committees were formed. A proposal to transfer final decisionmaking power on journalists to appear on the annual Communicators Hall of Fame ballot, which would have shifted that authority from the Directors to the Hall of Fame Screening Committee, was after a multifaceted discussion tabled pending a report from the new committee to be established to study the matter. Also to be the subject of investigation of a committee was the possibility of producing "past performance line"-type information to aid voters of the various Dan Patch Equine Awards at year's end.

USHWA continued its recent trend of financial responsibility and income production during 2018, showing a profit for the second straight year. Prospects for 2019 also received an early boost from the excellent sale of journal ads, sponsorships, and tickets surrounding the weekend's Dan Patch Awards Banquet.

As reported earlier, the Directors voted Ken Weingartner, media relations manager for the U.S. Trotting Association, and Phil Pikelny, former publicity director at the USTA and several tracks and also co-author of the book Rambling Willie: The Horse That God Loved, as ballot candidates for this summer's election for the status of being a member of the Communicators Hall of Fame.

The team of Officers in charge of guiding the fortunes of USHWA was returned for another year: Shawn Wiles, of Monticello Raceway, as President; Kim Rinker, of the Ohio Sire Stakes and Ohio Standardbred Development Fund, as Vice-President; and freelance communicators Barry Lefkowitz and Jerry Connors as, respectively, treasurer and secretary. The fifth Officer, the multitasking Tim Bojarski, remains as Chair of the Board, as that position is defined in the USHWA bylaws as the immediate past president of the organization.

At the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, USHWA's Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award, the highest honor voted on solely by the organization's members and given for longtime distinguished service to the sport, was bestowed on the top moneywinning Standardbred of all time, the $7,635,588 earner Foiled Again. And the banquet crowd was roused to a standing ovation when the 15-year-old Foiled Again, now in retirement, was himself walked into the banquet hall , displaying the equanimity (or should that be "equinimity"?) which had endeared him to so many harness fans on both sides of the fence during his long and illustrious career.

McWicked, the leading moneywinner of the 2018 season, took home both Harness Horse of the Year and Pacer of the Year honors, while the three-year-old filly Atlanta, conqueror of "the boys" in the prestigious Hambletonian Stake, won plaudits as Trotter of the Year on the 2018 racing scene.

Also on hand to be honored were Ted Gewertz, Joe Holloway, Jerry Silverman, and Linda Toscano upon their election to the sport's highest honor, the Hall of Fame, along with Mark Hall and Dave Little, who were voted into the Communicators Hall of Fame. This group will join with Hall of Fame electees Blair Burgess and Ted Wing to be formally inducted on the seventh of July at the site of the sport's Hall, Goshen NY.


Jerry Connors

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