When you sit and have a conversation with a new friend, it always feels like a job interview. When you sit down with the "little darling" of harness racing, Sydney Weaver, it is probably one of the most comfortable things you will ever do. On Saturday night, I got that opportunity to meet someone who adores harness racing more than I do, but at the same time shares the same passion for a sport that doesn't have the fire it used too. Then again, after an evening with Sydney, you have renewed hope for the industry if there are more like her around! Sydney came to Buffalo Raceway last night with no particular purpose other than to watch the sport she has always loved. She did much more than that last night as she spoke to many at the track including Jack and Maria Rice, Brandi Somerville, and Brittney Ohol. It started with the first meeting and the ideas this 14-year-old girl had were only something that could come out of a mature grown woman. I was in disbelief how she is not letting her disability get in her way at all, and how she just carried on. When we went for the barn tour it was like the most amazing thing you had ever seen. The first horse we stopped at to visit was named Welchkin, owned by Jeffrey Jacobs and trained by Maria Rice. A normally tough horse around people, he just sat as still as could be as Sydney sat in amazement. I put my hand on his head and immediately he remembered I was not her. Then when we continued down the row, it was like the horses knew exactly who she was and who she was about. As the night went on Sydney came up to the announcers booth for a race and she got to experience yet another new venture, seeing a race being called live. She just took it all in stride and you could see the excitement in her face. After the racing before they left, you could see the same big smile that had been seen all night long by a ton of the fans that were at the track. Let's hope that with Sydney's pure enthusiasm for harness racing that she never wants to try and call a live race or else I could be out of a job. I can honestly say that I have never seen such a positive person who in my opinion had every reason in the world to be down on herself because of her Celerbal Palsey. She was excited from the time the first baby race went off to the time the last horse hit the wire. Without a doubt it was a night I won't soon forget! Sydney... thank you for coming out and touching the lives of so many last night. By Michael Carter, track announcer Buffalo Raceway
The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association is proud to recognize five aspiring young reinsmen who have been competing in fair and qualifying races with the ultimate goal of obtaining their harness racing 'P' licenses and joining the driver colony in Western New York.
Possible stars of the future in the sport of harness racing will be on display when Batavia Downs Casino features the Rising Stars pace on Monday afternoon, Columbus Day (Oct.8).