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Harness Horsemen International met and concluded their Annual Meetings on March 5 at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa, Deerfield Beach, Florida.   Ten horsemen’s associations were represented throughout the four-day conference, including Cloverleaf SOA, Delaware SOA, Illinois HHA, Ohio HHA, Maine HHA, Meadows HHA, Western New England HHA, Pennsylvania HHA, SBOA of New Jersey and Kentucky HHA.   After HHI President Tom Luchento welcomed the assemblage, the current at-large members were re-elected to the HHI Board of Directors, and the decision to hold the 2015 annual meeting at this same venue was approved by the membership.   The “I Can’t Believe This is Happening” Panel continued their discussion on several issues facing harness racing, including: the status of racing in Michigan; funding for racing commissions; and states which are trying to do away with racing through different approaches, such as Iowa, where money is being offered back to the legislature in order to eradicate dog racing.   At the HHI Awards Luncheon, the 2013 Dominic Frinzi Man of the Year Award was presented to Robert Schmitz, Ohio State Racing Commission Chairman for his work on behalf of the Ohio horse racing community. John Brennan, a respected journalist, was honored with the 2013 Clyde Hirt Media Award, and Don Marean, a revered breeder from Maine, was feted via the 2013 HHI Appreciation Award.   A farewell breakfast for HHI association members will be held on Thursday, March 6.   HHI is comprised of horsemen’s associations from the United States and Canada who collectively represent the agriculture based industry of harness racing in North America. HHI’s governing body consists of representatives from its member associations.   by Kimberly Rinker, for HHI

Harness Horsemen International continued their Annual Meetings on March 4 at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa, Deerfield Beach, Florida.   Horsemen’s representatives from ten associations, including Cloverleaf SOA, Delaware SOA, Illinois HHA, Ohio HHA, Maine HHA, Meadows HHA, Western New England HHA, Pennsylvania HHA, SBOA of New Jersey and Kentucky HHA were in attendance.   T.C. Lane of the USTA offered the audience a first look at the new online entry system for horsemen, to be launched in the near future. Any USTA member will be able to access this user-friendly system, Lane stressed, which allows trainers to enter their horses at various racetracks via the Internet, free of charge.     Association reports continued, followed by HHI committee meetings. The Insurance Committee discussed current HHI coverage, including liability, fire, and disaster, and pending cases which could affect the horse industry, as well as possible changes in policies.   Instant racing in Kentucky and sports wagering in New Jersey were topics cited by the Legal Committee. The HHI Scholarship Foundation Committee passed a motion to use a universal scholarship application for all horsemen’s association scholarships, in order to simplify the process for applicants. A proposal by the HHI Convention Committee, to return to this same meeting place in 2015, will be voted on in the Wednesday General Session.   The March 5 meetings will begin with elections and a panel discussion entitled “I Can’t Believe This is Happening,” which will examine critical issues facing Standardbred horsemen, followed by the HHI Awards Luncheon.   The HHI Annual Meetings will conclude with a farewell breakfast on Thursday, March 6.   HHI is comprised of horsemen’s associations from the United States and Canada who collectively represents the agriculture based industry of harness racing in North America. HHI’s governing body consists of representatives from its member associations.   by Kim Rinker, for HHI

Deerfield Beach, FL --- Harness Horsemen International began their annual meetings Monday (March 3) at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa. HHI President Tom Luchento welcomed the group, which consists of horsemen’s representatives from ten associations including Cloverleaf SOA, Delaware SOA, Illinois HHA, Ohio HHA, Maine HHA, Meadows HHA, Western New England HHA, Pennsylvania HHA, SBOA of New Jersey and Kentucky HHA. USTA President Phil Langley expounded on the issue of medication testing and procedures, followed by Jay Hickey, President of the American Horse Council, who addressed the group on the national topics of tax benefits and issues, horse welfare and gaming platforms. Association representatives gave their individual “state of the industry” reports, commenting on concerns facing horsemen in their regions. Tuesday (March 4) begins with a general session and further association reports, with HHI committees meeting to discuss pertinent industry issues and concerns later that day. Wednesday (March 5) will begin with a general session, followed by the HHI awards luncheon. The HHI annual meetings will conclude with a farewell breakfast on Thursday (March 6). HHI is comprised of horsemen’s associations from the United States and Canada who collectively represent the agriculture based industry of harness racing in North America. HHI’s governing body consists of representatives from its member associations. by Kim Rinker, for HHI

Burlington, NJ --- Harness Horsemen International will hold their annual meetings and awards luncheon beginning Sunday (March 2) at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa, Deerfield Beach, Fla. Featured speakers include Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council; Phil Langley, president of the United States Trotting Association; and T.C. Lane, the USTA’s director of registry & member services. Registration starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, followed by a welcome reception at 5:30 p.m., with general sessions to begin daily on March 3, 4 and 5. In addition, HHI committees will meet on Tuesday (March 4) to discuss pertinent industry issues and concerns. As well, harness racing’s John Brennan, Don Marean and Robert Schmitz will be feted with HHI’s most prestigious awards for 2013 at the HHI awards luncheon on March 5. Brennan, a New Jersey-based writer, is the 2013 Clyde Hirt Media Award winner; Marean, a longtime Maine breeder, is the 2013 HHI Appreciation Award winner; while Schmitz, chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission, is being honored as HHI’s 2013 Man of the Year. The HHI annual meetings will conclude with a farewell breakfast on Thursday (March 6). HHI is comprised of horsemen’s associations from the United States and Canada who collectively represent the agriculture based industry of harness racing in North America. HHI’s governing body consists of representatives from its member associations. by Kimbery Rinker, for HHI

MANALAPAN, NJ – November 19, 2013 – Bergen Record columnist John Brennan has been selected to receive the Harness Horsemen International’s Clyde Hirt Media Award for 2013. Brennan and two others will be honored at the HHI’s Awards Luncheon at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa, Deerfield Beach, FL on March 5, 2014. “I’m very appreciative of this honor, especially because my focus on horse racing has more to do with ‘off-track’ issues than previous winners have had,” said Brennan.  “I realize that the fate of the Meadowlands Racetrack has been very much a focus of Standardbred horsemen throughout North America for the past five years or so. This year, progress on the track’s new grandstand, as well as the legal battle by New Jersey to add Vegas-style sports betting to state tracks and casinos, have drawn numerous visitors in the industry to the Meadowlands Matters blog.  I’ll continue to try to keep everyone up to speed on what’s going on off the track.” Meadowlands Matters [www.northjersey.com/Brennan] was selected “Best Blog” by the New Jersey Press Association in February 2011.  Brennan was also a 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist for local news reporting for an investigative piece with co-writer Jeff Pillets. The Riverdale, NJ resident has been on the “beat” since 2002 and a reporter for the Bergen Record since 1983.  He is a magna cum laude graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University. “His reporting and blog, Meadowlands Matters, are must read for those concerned about the fate of the New Jersey horse racing industry,” said HHI President Tom Luchento, who is also president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey.  “In an era of diminishing journalism, he is one of the last true reporters with a beat that embraces harness racing with equal concern to the NFL, NHL, NBA and other major sports.” In addition to Brennan, HHI will be honoring Don Marean & Robert Schmitz. “Each of these men have made a substantial impact on the sport of harness racing,” said Luchento. “These three individuals have worked tirelessly on behalf of the standardbred industry—each in their own respective niches—and all should be applauded for their efforts.” Don Marean is being honored with the 2013 HHI Appreciation Award.  Marean is a longtime breeder and owner of standardbreds and is a United States Trotting Association director.  He is also a director of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association. He was instrumental in establishing the USTA’s Save Our Standardbreds (SOS) Program and is a former president of the Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association.   As a four-year member of the Maine House of Representatives, he was a spokesman for the harness racing industry.  Marean is also a member of the Maine Farm Bureau Horse Council and was appointed by the governor to serve on the Animal Welfare Advisory Council. Robert Schmitz is the chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission and is being honored as HHI’s 2013 Man of the Year. Schmitz has been involved in the Ohio harness racing industry for nearly five decades as an owner, breeder and fan and was the lead lobbyist for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association from 1976 until he was appointed by the governor to serve as chairman of the Ohio Racing Commission in 2012.  His efforts regarding VLT legislation and standards have been invaluable to Ohio horsemen. by Carol Hodes for SBOA/NJ and Kim Rinker for HHI  

Chicago, IL --- Members of Harness Horsemen International today unanimously agreed to support the Sept. 25 decision by the Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International proposed model medication rules, and to withdraw the USTA membership from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, Inc. The harness racing industry has provided more than $1 million in funding to the RMTC in the past decade. The consensus from the USTA is that while they support uniform medication policies, breed customization should be mandatory, given that the breed characteristics between Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses are significantly different. “We believe the money can be better spent on research and testing in areas more concentrated on harness racing,” USTA President Phil Langley stressed. “We believe both breeds, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, will benefit from having rules concentrated solely on their needs. Trying to fit them together makes little sense.” “We work closely with the USTA,” confirmed HHI President Tom Luchento. “We are in full agreement with the decisions they have made regarding this issue.” The USTA, with the combined support of Harness Horsemen International and Harness Tracks of America, will ask RCI to maintain the current rules in effect for Standardbreds, instead of having one set of model rules for two breeds with significantly different requirements. by Kim Rinker for HHI

Chicago, Illinois …Shannon Lea Teed, 18, has been awarded the 2013 Harness Horsemen International $4,000 Jerome L. Hauck Scholarship. Shannon is the daughter of Standardbred trainer David Teed and caretaker Linda (Dunn) Teed of West Alexander, Pennsylvania, who are both employed by The Meadows-based Bendis Stable. Shannon plans to attend West Liberty University in late August where she will pursue a 4-year degree in Biology. Her goal is to become a conservationist specializing in environmental and biological research. This prospective scientist graduated from McGuffey High School in Claysville, Pennsylvania in Spring 2013, maintaining a 4.2 grade point average as a three-year member of the National Honor Society. “The experience with animals and the environment I developed through the Harness Racing Youth League, Olgebay’s Junior Nature Camp, FFA and 4-H contributed to my decision (to pursue this career path),” Teed wrote in her scholarship application essay. “Also, the close relationship that I have with my mother, who is a groom at The Meadows Racetrack helped. She taught me to love animals and the environment, and instilled the value of hard work and dedication in me.” Besides her academic accomplishments, Shannon earned numerous awards for writing and speaking, with her ambitions focused on forestry, wildlife conservation, the environment and 4-H. Shannon was an 11-year member of 4-H, where she showed rabbits, horses and ducks, and served as the organization’s treasurer from 2009-2012. She was also a Meadows Racetrack volunteer for eight years; a seven-year member of Olgebay’s Junior Nature Camp; and a co-host of the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 Blood Drives. In 2012, Shannon served as a Future Farmers of America Chaplin and penned an award-winning feature for the American Quarter Horse Association Journal . This multi-talented young lady has also worked alongside her parents as a caretaker for the Bendis Stable since 2008. Harness Horsemen International is delighted to present this scholarship to such a deserving candidate as Shannon Teed. by Kimberly A. Rinker  

Long winning streaks have been a harness racing meet-long happening. Back on Jan. 24, Come Together won his 10th race in-a-row while being claimed three times stepping up from the $12,500 Claiming ranks to win at $15,000, a $20,000 and for a $25,000 claiming tag.

Harness Horsemen International, who participated in the 2013 Harness Racing Congress held at the Westin Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on March 2 and 3, announced a new Board of Directors for 2013.

Freehold, New Jersey's Tom Luchento was voted president of Harness Horsemen International at the association's annual meeting on March 1, 2013 at the Westin Beach & Spa Resort in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

The founder and owner of Harnesslink - and International horse agent - John Curtin, of JC International, will speak at the sixth Harness Racing Congress at the Westin Beach Resort and Spa at Fort Lauderdale in Florida on Sunday March 3.

Dave Palone, Mike McLaughlin and Mike Paradise are being honored by Harness Horsemen International with a trio of prestigious awards for 2012. Palone has been named the recipient of the Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year Award, while McLaughlin is being honored with the HHI Appreciation Award and Paradise with the Clyde Hirt Media Award.

Representatives of horsemen's groups from Maine, Illinois, Ohio and Delaware, under the auspices of Harness Horsemen International, met at the Manalapan offices of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey on Monday, April 30, 2012, to discuss ways to offer their harness racing members the best insurance coverage for the best price.

Four major, national and international Standardbred racing organizations - Harness Horsemen International (HHI), Harness Tracks of America (HTA), United States Harness Writers' Association (USHWA) and United States Trotting Association (USTA) - have announced that they will participate in the 2013 Harness Racing Congress to be held from Feb. 28 through March 4 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. at the Westin Beach Resort & Spa.

Harness Horsemen International's annual meeting at the Embassy Suites Resort and Spa in Deerfield Beach, Fla., concluded with an awards banquet on Dec. 3 after three days of discussions regarding issues facing the nation's harness racing horsemen and racing industry.

Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey President Tom Luchento received an Appreciation Award from Harness Horsemen International on Saturday, December 3, 2011 at the Embassy Suites Resort and Spa in Deerfield Beach, FL.

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