Day At The Track

Dead heat in Stan Bergstein/Proximity Award

04:58 AM 31 Dec 2019 NZDT
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Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz
Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz
Racehorsephoto

HARRISBURG PA – There was a “dead heat for win” in the voting for the most prestigious harness racing award for which the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) are the sole arbiters – the Stan Bergstein/Proximity Award. The joint winners are New York horseman Joe Faraldo and the Ontario owning/breeding partnership of Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz – the first time there has been a tie in the top of the voting in the 68-year history of the award, which is voted on by the sport’s leading media organization.

Joe Faraldo, an attorney by trade and an owner/amateur driver, is heading into his 40th year as President and CEO of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, the horsemen’s group that serves Yonkers Raceway, the track which pays the highest purses in the North American sport. He has been a staunch advocate of horsemen’s rights, and is the only attorney who has argued a harness racing-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Faraldo has been a director of the U.S. Trotting Association for over 20 years, and currently serves as Chair of the USTA’s District 8-A (lower New York). He is the chair of the important Harness Racing Medication Collaborative, which not only keeps up to date with substances and testing procedure in the sport, but also seeks to find common ground among the pari-mutuel sports’ breeds and jurisdictions.

Faraldo is also an amateur driver of some note, and has driven in several countries during competitions. His international presence helped Yonkers re-establish the International Trot after a two-decade absence. He has been honored by Harness Horsemen’s International, the USTA, and USHWA.

Joe Faraldo

The partnership of Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, both of whom are in the southern Ontario real estate field, was not an instantaneous success by their own admission; the horse which started a turnaround for them was 1997 Meadowlands Pace winner Dream Away. But it is hard to miss the impression they have made on the owning and breeding of quality horses, especially in the last decade.

The racehorse list includes millionaires Ariana G and Dream Away; the most recent of their breeding accomplishments was the selling of the sport’s first million-dollar yearling, Maverick, a Father Patrick full brother to this year’s spectacular three-year-old Greenshoe, who sold for $1,100,000 at Lexington this past fall. Horses they have owned and/or bred have accounted for the Hambletonian, Kentucky Futurity, Canadian Trotting Classic and other world-class events. The pair have been honored on both sides of the North American racing border previously.

Libfeld/Katz were also the Presenting Sponsors of the 2019 Breeders Crown championships when they came to their nearby Woodbine at Mohawk Raceway, and the associated Breeders Crown Charity Challenge raised over $200,000 for area charities.

The Bergstein / Proximity Award honors the great trotting mare Proximity, who was Harness Horse of the Year in 1950, and Stan Bergstein, the sport’s only “double Hall of Famer” and an industry visionary and leader for going on half a century until his passing in 2011.

The remainder of the human and broodmare Dan Patch awardwinners are being announced today and tomorrow; the twelve racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands’ “pre-races” show, with media releases following (availability to view that announcement will be released shortly).

Joe Faraldo, Marvin Katz, and Al Libfeld will be honored at USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2019 will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet.

Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured; “post times” on February 23 are cocktails at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to follow. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630.  

Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA’s website, www.ushwa.net; a link to the hotel’s computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website).

From the United States Harness Writers Association

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