Nominations are now being accepted for the 2013 Groom of the Year Award. The award, sponsored annually by Harness Tracks of America and Hanover Shoe Farms, recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport, the grooms who maintain the health and welfare of the sport's horses. All that is needed to nominate a groom for the 32nd annual Groom of the Year Award is a letter from an individual or group to Harness Tracks of America detailing the skills and special qualities of the groom. The winning groom receives an oil painting of himself or herself with the horse of their choice. All individuals nominated for the award receive a certificate of excellence and the first 50 grooms nominated also receive an embroidered jacket as a groom of the year nominee. The Groom of the Year Award was founded in 1982 after Delvin Miller, addressing attendees at the annual HTA meeting as its Messenger Award winner for that year, noted the sport gave no recognition to its grooms, its unsung stars. The 2012 Groom of the Year was Florzell "Georgie Boy" Daniels. The deadline for nominations is Dec. 31. All letters detailing why candidates are deserving of the honor as groom of the year should be mailed to Harness Tracks of America, 12025 E. Dry Gulch Pl., Tucson, AZ, 85749. Nominations also may be submitted by fax to 520-529-3235 or by e-mail to email@example.com. Letters must contain the name, address, telephone number and jacket size (S, M, L, XL, XXL) for the nominated groom, along with the name, address and telephone number of the nominator. Submitted by Harness Tracks of America
The Conger family is finding success in harness racing both on and off the racetrack. Hudson, Ohio’s Jeff Conger trained Colby D to victory in the ninth race on Wednesday (October 30) at Northfield Park, a mere two days after the Harness Tracks of America announced that his daughter, Ashley Conger, is one of three recipients of a $5,000 scholarship. Wednesday’s triumph marks the fifth win this year for Colby D (Emile Angus-Royal Two-Royal Troubador), who now has 13 career victories and earnings of $63,563. Ashley Conger, 17, is one of three recipients of the Harness Tracks of America’s (HTA) annual scholarship program. She is a 2013 graduate of Hudson High School with a 3.8 GPA. Ashley is a third-generation horsewoman with ties to harness racing that began with her grandfather, Joe Urban. As an owner, trainer and driver, Joe Urban has been involved with racing horses for 45 years. He campaigned horses such as Anastasia Brat and Anastasia AJ. Ashley’s parents Jeff and Linda Conger have been involved with racing as owners, trainers and have both driven horses. Jeff campaigned Northfield Park Wall of Fame inductee Berlin Flyer. He has 650 driving wins with purses totaling nearly $3,000,000 and Linda has 153 driving victories to her credit. Ashley received her groom’s license in 2012 and has spent a great deal of her free time working with her family in the standardbred industry. She has also been active in 4-H, holding officer positions within two clubs; both as secretary and president. Ashley is currently a freshman at the University of Findlay where she plans to study Pharmacology. She was one of 25 applicants this year according to Delight Craddock, administrator of the HTA scholarship program. 2013 marks the 40th year that the HTA has granted scholarships and have given 199 scholarships to 138 different individuals, for a total of $747,950. Ayers Ratliff
Three college students with high marks, high hopes and high ideals have been named winners of Harness Tracks of America’s 2013 college scholarships. Each recipient has harness racing family connections and each receives a $5,000 check toward their college education. Each of the winners has worked with harness horses and in harness racing. The 2013 winners are: CHELSEA FAHY, 22, Washington, Pennsylvania, daughter of William and Moira Fahy, harness racing owners, trainers and William is also a driver. A graduate of The University of Findlay, Fahy is now in her first year at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Fahy is a third-generation horsewoman who, along with her parents, has a successful stable of horses. She was active in the Harness Racing Youth League at the Meadows and worked as a veterinary assistant for Canon Hill Equine Clinic. She credits her positive experiences growing up at the racetrack to her lifelong dream of becoming an equine veterinarian and owning her own practice. AMY NAROTSKY, 20, Willowbrook, Illinois, daughter of Eliot Narotsky, director of racing/racing secretary for Maywood Park and Balmoral Park, and Jean Narotsky, financial manager for Francenter.- Narotsky is a sophomore at the University of Illinois studying Animal Sciences with plans to attend veterinary school upon graduation. She chose the University of Illinois because of the opportunity to work with Dr. Kevin Kline and the Standardbred breeding program there. Narotksy’s great-grandfather was racing when Maywood Park first opened. After discovering harness racing at Buffalo Raceway while in high school, her father “Doc” went on to become the youngest racing secretary of the time. She has spent her life “hanging around” in the race office with her father and a few years ago was offered the opportunity to work at the Illinois State Fair in the race office and as the ringmaster an experience she likens to a dream come true. She has since moved her way up to being a placing judge and helping in the race office at Maywood and Balmoral. ASHLEY CONGER, 17, Hudson, Ohio, is the daughter of Jeff Conger, a Standardbred owner/trainer, and Linda Conger, a physical therapist. Conger is a third-generation horsewoman with ties to harness racing that began with her grandfather, horseman Joe Urban, over 45 years ago. Both her parents received their racing licenses as teenagers and she has followed by acquiring her groom’s license in 2012 at Northfield Park. Conger has spent a great deal of her free time working with her family in the Standarbred business as well as holding the officer positions within two 4-H clubs; one as presidnt and the other as secretary. With a cumulative high school GPA of 3.8, Conger is studying Pharmacy at The University of Findlay. The winners were selected by HTA’s Scholarship Committee, consisting of 10 HTA directors and racing industry executives from around the country, cochaired by former HTA president Jeffrey Smith and David Snyder of International Sound Corporation. Submitted by Harness Tracks of America
Columbus, OH --- LaVerne Hill, a former vice-president of Scioto Downs and the wife of the late Charlie Hill, who was founder and chairman of the board of the Columbus racetrack, died Wednesday (Oct. 16) morning. Both Charlie (1985) and LaVerne (2001) won Harness Tracks of America’s prestigious Messenger Award, the first husband and wife so honored. Mrs. Hill was also presented with the Sulky Sweeties Good Guy award, the U.S. Harness Writers’ Presidents Award, HTA’s Good Gal Award and the Social Service Award from the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association. In 2001, Mrs. Hill was the honoree for the Delaware (Ohio) County Fair’s Lady Pace. Three years later, she donated the funds needed to finance the construction of the Jugette Barn at Delaware, a memorial to her late husband. The new barn was the largest single gift ever made to the Delaware County Fair. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Jugette Day in 2004 and the barn opened a year later. She was formerly a director of the Little Brown Jug Society and Harness Tracks of America. Mrs. Hill was active in many charities including the Buckeye Ranch and Recreation Unlimited. Arrangements will be posted when available. Reprinted with permission from www.ustrotting.com
Over the decades the Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA has held annual awards banquets to celebrate the accomplishments, both human and equine, at Monticello Raceway and Historic Track. Along with those accolades the scribes have also honored special individuals whose contributions to the sport have been exceptional. Tom Charters, president and chief executive officer of the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown, will be the recipient of this year's Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA's Lifetime Achievement Award at the chapter's upcoming banquet in mid-November. If you ever have the opportunity to listen to Charters talk about his life you'll hear a soft-spoken, almost humble, account of a long and meritorious career in harness racing. As he expounds his voice never changes a decibel but the more he tells of the people, places and things he been involved with, the more you realize you are listening to one of the true superstars in the sport. Like most who are successful, Charters didn't start at the top. A native Buckeye from Springfield, Ohio, he began his distinguished career as a groom for Dick Hackett. In the spring of 1968, while studying print making and painting at Ohio's Miami University he took a summer job grooming horses for legendary Hall of Famer, Delvin Miller, a move that was to play a key role in his life. After a two-year stint in Vietnam, Charters returned to college this time at the University of Kentucky earning his degree in animal science in 1973. "When I returned from Nam I wrote Delvin a letter stating if I bring my own rub-rags and my dog could I have a summertime job again to which Miller replied 'yes but leave the dog home and I'll supply the towels'. That was the last job application I ever made," Charters said with a laugh. Working for Miller for four years Charters cared for the 1974 Yonkers Trot winner Spitfire Hanover and then toured Europe with Delmonica Hanover, one of the greatest trotting mares the sport has ever known. "My family was real proud," Charters said with tongue in cheek. "Here I am with a college degree working for $100 a week caring for horses!" In February, 1976, Charters was named assistant racing secretary at The Meadows, the western Pennsylvania track founded by Miller, and in January 1980 he became racing secretary there. In May, 1983, he left the Meadows on a long jaunt to China, where he became director of racing and racing secretary for the newly opened Macau Trotting Club. A year and a half later, again at Miller's suggestion, he returned stateside to become executive director of the Breeders Crown, a year-end, the year-end championship series formed under the aegis of the Hambletonian Society, Inc., one of the most prestigious and important organizations in the sport. After ten years of distinguished leadership of the Crowns, Charters was named executive director of administration for the Society, overseeing its administration of 130 races it owns or services across North America, including the sport's ultimate prize the Hambletonian. Four years later in 1998, he was named president and chief executive officer. During his outstanding career Charters has been honored in the Standardbred industry with the 1993 Bill Haughton "Good Guy" Award from the United States Harness Writers Association and the 1998 Meritorious Award which is presented annually by the Ohio Chapter of that group to an native Ohioan for a dedicated and significant career in the harness industry over the previous two decades. He also was recognized by the Hambletonian Society in 1994 with the F. L. Van Lennep Memorial Award, citing extraordinary and important contribution to the harness racing industry and in 1999 by Sports Eye, the former New York area harness paper, with their William Haughton Award. In 2001 he received Harness Tracks of America's first Distinguished Service Medallion and in 2004 he was the recipient of the Proximity Achievement Award. Charters is a director of the Hambletonian Society, Inc., as well as the Society's representative on the Racing Committee of the American Horse Council and the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium. He is a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum, a steward of the Grand Circuit and formerly president of the American Harness Racing Secretaries, and trustee of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation,. He is a member of: the U.S. Harness Writers Association (N.J. chapter); the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, the University of Kentucky Alumni Association, the Cranbury Lions Club and a parishioner of the Queenship of Mary R.C. Church in Plainsboro, N.J. He resides in Cranbury, N.J. with his wife, Dr. Susan Saravalli, Ph.D. Charters will receive his Lifetime Achievement Award when the scribes hold their 55th Annual Awards Banquet at the Fountains in Middletown NY on Sunday, November 17. For reservations, or to place a congratulatory ad in the chapter's charity journal, please contact banquet chairman John Manzi at 845.794.4100x455 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org . by John Manzi for Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA
Dean A. Hoffman will join the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) in January, 2014. Hoffman will teach racing courses as well as support the Program’s marketing efforts and its yearly conference, the Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming. The announcement was made by RTIP director Doug Reed. Hoffman, long-time executive editor of the United States Trotting Associations’ Hoof Beats magazine, brings a wealth of talent to the Program and greatly increases the depth of knowledge of national and international harness racing to the faculty. “We are excited to have Dean join the team. He adds a tremendous amount of experience and greatly expands the diversity of the faculty here,” said Reed. After earning a degree with honors in Journalism, Hoffman started his career with advertising and public relations agencies before redirecting his skills to the harness industry and joining the USTA in 1981. Since then, he has written five books on harness racing and breeding including the recently published Harness Racing in New Your State, A History of Trotters, Tracks and Horsemen. Hoffman has won numerous awards for his contributions to racing including Harness Tracks of America’s Messenger Award, the highest honor given by the HTA, as well at their the Dan Patch Award for “immense contributions to the literature of harness racing.” In 2006, he was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame’s Communicator’s Corner. Submitted by RTIP
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
The Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association unanimously voted to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) proposed model medication rules on Wednesday. In a separate unanimous vote, the committee agreed that the USTA will immediately withdraw its membership from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, Inc. (RMTC). "We have carefully considered the RCI proposals and have come to the conclusion that the physical characteristics of the breeds are significantly different. Trying to fit them together makes little sense," said USTA President Phil Langley. "We believe both breeds, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, will benefit from having rules concentrated solely on their needs. "Many safeguards now in use in harness racing would never be acceptable to the more high-strung Thoroughbreds, including Lasix barns, two- to four-hour paddock times and racing on a weekly basis," added Langley. "On the other hand, both the frequency that Standardbreds race and the lack of catastrophic breakdowns in harness racing make the utilization of some therapeutic medications much different between the breeds." As a result, the USTA, with the support of Harness Tracks of America (HTA), 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. "After studying these proposed rule changes, it is apparent to us that they are entirely focused on the needs of Thoroughbreds with little consideration for Standardbreds," concluded Langley. The USTA supports uniform medical medication policies, but thinks that they need to be customized for each breed. "We want to make it very clear the USTA supports uniform rules," said Langley, "but we strongly believe they should be by breed. Things like blood doping, out- of-competition testing, EPO and Shock Wave Therapy are high on the list of USTA research projects." In other action, it was determined that the USTA will immediately withdraw from RMTC. During the last 10 years, the harness racing industry has supported the RMTC with more than $1 million in contributions. "While we applaud the intentions of the RMTC, we also feel that their efforts concentrate on the Thoroughbreds with little consideration for Standardbreds," explained Langley. "We believe that the money can be better spent on research and testing in areas more concentrated on harness racing." by Dan Leary for USTA
This week's celebrity sections come from a Dave Briggs. Briggs is the publisher and editor for the Canadian Sportsman magazine. He was presented the Harness Tracks of America's Dan Patch Award for exceptional media, publicity and public relations contributions to the sport of harness racing earlier this year. Little Brown Jug Top 10 Contenders By Dave Briggs - Canadian Sportsman 1. Vegas Vacation inherits top spot after winning the Simcoe and the connections of Captaintreacherous elected not to race in Delaware. Can trainer Casie Coleman win back-to-back Jugs? 2. Sunshine Beach was a solid second to Vegas Vacation for trainer Mark Steacy and has a 1:47.4 mark set a month ago beating Captaintreacherous in the Battle of Brandywine. 3. Sunfire Blue Chip has been a consistent money-maker all year for trainer Jimmy Takter and topped Vegas Vacation in the Adios on July 27. 4. Lucan Hanover, Casie Coleman's other horse, won the New Jersey Classic on Hambletonian Day and has been a solid producer all year. 5. Word Power was just a neck behind Captaintreacherous in the Cane Pace and the Larry Remmen trainee has cashed a check in all but one start this year. 6. Twilight Bonfire was second to Captaintreacherous in the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup in June and the Danny Collins pupil has cashed a cheque in six of the seven starts since. 7. Johny Rock has been a solid performer his last five starts for trainer John Butenschoen. 8. Wake Up Peter is, perhaps, the best winless sophomore pacing colt on the continent. Though a little on the inconsistent side, when he is on, he's near the front-runners. 9. Emeritus Maximus is a sizable longshot, yet the Alagna trainee has been on the board nine times this year in 14 starts against stakes competition and sports a 1:48.4 mile at Pocono. 10. Lonewolf Currier has won a third of his starts, but has been either on or out of it too much to be a serious Jug threat. 1. Vegas Vacation (Last Week #2) Owners: West Wins Stable (ONT), Adriano Sorella (ONT), Anthony Beaton (ONT) & Phyllis Saunders (ONT) Trainer: Casie Coleman Driver: Brian Sears & Scott Zeron Career Earnings: $646,516 Career Mark: 1:48.3 TgDn He won the $114,948 Simcoe Stakes (9/7) at Mohawk Raceway in 1:48.3, equaling his lifetime best. 2. Sunfire Blue Chip (Last Week #5) Owners: Christina Talker (NJ), John & Jim Fielding (ONT), Brixton Medical AB (SWE) and RAW Equine Inc. (ONT) Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Yannick Gingras Career Earnings: $476,819 Career Mark: 1:48.3 Mea The son of American Ideal was third in the Simcoe Stakes on September 7. 3. Sunshine Beach (Last Week #6) Owners: Hudson Standardbred Stable (QUE), Conrad Leber (QUE) and Diane Bertrand (ALB) Trainer: Mark Steacy Driver: Chris Christoforou, Jr./George Brennan Career Earnings: $531,565 Career Mark: 1:47.4 PcD He was second to Vegas Vacation in the Simcoe at Mohawk Raceway (9/7). 4. Johny Rock (Last Week #8) Owners: William C. Wiswell (WI), Jean A. Goehlen (IL) and Eugene W. Schick (IL) Trainer: John Butenschoen Driver: Andy Miller Career Earnings: $387,498 Career Mark: 1:48.0 PcD He set a new lifetime mark with a 1:48 win at Pocono Downs (9/7) in a conditioned event. 5. Lucan Hanover (Last Week #NR) Owners: West Win Stable (ONT) and Christine Calhoun (ONT) Trainer: Casie Coleman Driver: David Miller Career Earnings: $232,284 Career Mark: 1:48.3 M Finished third in a $114,948 division of the Simcoe Stakes (9/7). 6. Twilight Bonfire (Last Week #7) Owners: Robert J. Key (PA) Trainer: Danny Collins Driver: David Miller Career Earnings: $681,489 Career Mark: 1:50.1 Mea Took the fifth spot in the Cane Pace Final at Tioga Downs (9/2). 7. Wake Up Peter (Last Week #3) Owners: Wake Up Peter Partners (IL), Brittany Farms (KY), Louis Willinger (KY) and Eagles Soar Partners (NY) Trainer: Tony Alagna Driver: Ron Pierce Career Earnings: $532,680 Career Mark: Q1:50.0 M The son of Rocknroll Hanover has yet to win in 2013. He could set Jug history with a win. 8. Word Power (Last Week #9) Owner: Bradley Grant (ONT) Trainer: Larry Remmen Driver: Jody Jamieson Career Earnings: $225,802 Career Mark: 1:49.4 M He was just a nose short of an upset of Captaintreacherous in the Cane Pace Final. 9. Odds On Equuleus (Last Week #NR) Owners: Odds On Racing (IL) Trainer: Tony Alagna Driver: John Campbell Career Earnings: $622,801 Career Mark: 1:50.0 M Recently moved to the Tony Alagna Barn. He only has a couple of weeks to straighten him out. 10. Lonewolf Currier (Last Week #10) Owners: Francis Azur (PA) Trainer: Kevin McDermott Driver: John Campbell/Jason Bartlett Career Earnings: $274,495 Career Mark: 1:48.4 Mea Did not race last week. By Jay Wolf – Little Brown Jug Publicity Director
One night this week harness driver George Brennan will score his 8,000th career win. It is a major milestone in anyone’s professional sports career. When he scores number 8,000 it will rank him 23rd among the greatest drivers in the history of harness racing to have reached this plateau. As of Monday, August 12, he has 7,990 wins and needs just ten more to hit the mark. Let’s take a look back when this youngster from Monticello, NY first got sarted in harness racing. That was in 1981 and he had but one drive, did not finish in the top three but his horse did earned some money. “I can remember that day like it was yesterday,” Brennan recalled, “I was in an amateur drive’s race with a trotter named Myron’s Bunny. He made a break but we still came back to finish fifth and the horse earned $50. My share as an amateur driver was donated to charity. It was $2.50.” But it only took a few years more of hard work, patience’s and learning his trade and by the early 1990s George Brennan burst into the limelight. He had done well and then in 1995 stardom began. He went from winning under $300,000 a year with the horses he drove to not only surpassing the $1 million mark but earned over $2 million and that annual amount only increased every year. In 2012 the horses he drove won more than $10 million and that was down compared to the prior two years. “My whole career has been absolutely great,” Brennan said. “I always had a dream to be a top driver and it has come true. Growing up I was in awe of the top drivers. My father, Joe Ricco, Cat Manzi, John Campbell and Bill O’Donnell, I wanted to be like all the great drivers.” And with his special achievements came the accolades to go with it. In 1996 he was named by the United States Harness Writers Association as the Rising Star Award winner and then in 2010 and 2011 that same organization would name him the Driver of the Year. And he capped that off in 2012 by becoming one of the few drivers in the history of the sport to win both the $1.5 million Hambletonian Trot and the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks finals on the same day. He was also named Harness Tracks of America’s Driver of the Year back-to-back in 2011 and 2012 and that feat requires that you have the highest combined average of any driver in the sport in wins, money earned and driving percentage. The past two year’s George’s Universal Driving Rating (UDR) or “batting average” has been a super impressive .400. “I’m really proud of all my awards,” Brennan said, “It took a lot of work from starting out cleaning stalls and working my way up the ladder, but I would never trade it in.” When not traveling throughout North America driving the best horses in the nation, Brennan makes the hilltop at Yonkers Raceway his home where he has been the leading reinsman for years and in all likelihood will score win number 8,000 there. “I hope I can hit the mark at Yonkers this week,” Brennan added. “I’m not looking for anything special from racing. I just want to keep healthy, be safe and keep on driving good horses. A lot of people have supported me over the years with great horses to drive and I just want to keep on doing it.” By Steve Wolf
Harness Tracks of America (HTA) is proud to announce the addition of the Meadowlands Racetrack, Cal Expo and The Red Mile to its roster of member racing associations after approval of the application of each of the racetracks by the HTA Board of Directors.
Florzell "Georgie Boy" Daniels of Harrington, Del., has been named 2012 Groom of the Year in the annual harness racing competition sponsored by Hanover Shoe Farms and Harness Tracks of America.
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.
The U.S. Trotting Association, which will conduct its annual meeting in congress with Harness Horsemen International, Harness Racing Tracks of America and the U.S. Harness Writers’ Association from Feb. 28 through March 4, will provide live, online video streaming of several events and same-day online video coverage of several discussion panels.
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 Briggs, who since 1995 has been the editor of and writer for The Canadian Sportsman, Canada's oldest magazine, has won Harness Tracks of America's Dan Patch Award for exceptional media, publicity and public relations contributions to the sport of harness racing.