Suzanne D'Ambrose, of Neptune, N.J, is the winner of the 2014Award from the N.J. Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. The award honors an individual whose efforts on behalf of racing and cooperation with the media are in keeping with the example set by the late Hall of Fame driver and trainer , a native of New Egypt, N.J.
D'Ambrose, a retired high school teacher and mounted police officer, has given countless hours of both her time and that of her family-friendly 13 -year-old trotter, Independent Act, aka Indy, in doing outreach events for the Standardbred industry.
D'Ambrose and Indy have appeared at libraries throughout the state to help celebrate New Jersey's Month of the Horse each June. This month so far, the duo will be at the Howell Library at 6 pm on June 11, the Manalapan Library on June 30, as well as June 29 at Fair Winds Farm in Cream Ridge, N.J.
Indy has patiently been petted and fed carrots by hundreds of adults and children, many of them making their first ever equine encounter. He has often been the only "boy" at Girl Scout camps where D'Ambrose teaches horsemanship.
D'Ambrose, who is a freelance equine massage therapist, also volunteers extensively with the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) on fund raising events as well as helping with adoption outreach events. She even provides complimentary massages for horses rehabilitating from racing injuries and awaiting adoption.
Independent Act retired from racing at age 6 and now accompanies D'Ambrose as the two represent the breed in parades, hunter paces, Western trail classes and showmanship competition.
Previous winners of the Dancer Award, since1991, were drivers, , and ; trainers Robbie Siegelman, Kevin and , Kelly Stackowicz and .; the father-son team of Carl and Rod Allen; the duo of trainer and owner/amateur driver Mal Burroughs, the Meirs Family of Walnridge Farms for the Tour, Robert J. Sharkey, the go-to guy at Meadowlands, SBOA of New Jersey President Tom Luchento, Meadowlands General Manager Chris McErlean, the late veterinarian Dr. Pat Knapman.
By Ellen Harvey, for the New Jersey chapter of USHWA