Just before the start of the second race, a major wind-driven rainstorm rolled into Genesee County and inundated the area. By the time that race was completed, the track had gone from fast to sloppy and continued to degrade from there. As a result, unsafe track conditions developed and the management of Batavia Downs decided to cancel the remainder of the 12 race card, sighting concern for the safety of the horses and horsemen. Todd Haight, Batavia Downs Director/Manager of live racing said "The track had washed out from the deluge of rain and became unsafe to race on so we had to do what was best for the horses when it became evident that conditions were not going to improve. It was unfortunate because we had a very large crowd on hand for Back to the Track night but it was the right thing to do." All Back to the Track activities originally planned for tonight has been rescheduled for next Saturday (Aug. 9) and will be combined with the Old Fashion Night promotion that was already assigned to that date. Patrons are also reminded to bring back their racing programs from tonight (Aug. 2) anytime for a free replacement the next time you come to the track. Live racing resumes tomorrow, Sunday (Aug. 3) at Batavia Downs with a 1:15 post. Tim Bojarski
Batavia, NY -- Batavia Downs is pleased to announce that national harness writer Tim Bojarski has joined their staff as a media correspondent of racing information. Bojarski is a 36 year veteran of harness racing and has actively participated in all aspects of the sport during that time. He currently writes a monthly column and periodic feature articles for the award winning Hoof Beats magazine, is a content contributor for the United States Trotting Association website and serves as the national vice-president of the United States Harness Writers Association. He has also reported as a live blogger covering every major stake including the Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug and Breeders Crown. Todd Haight, General Manager of live racing at Batavia Downs said "I received numerous e-mails about the job opening from some amazing talents in this business for which I am greatly appreciative. But in the end my choice was relatively easy." "Tim's knowledge of harness racing, Batavia Downs and his tremendous writing skills made him the right person for the position. Batavia Downs has worked closely with Tim in the past and we look forward to taking that relationship to the next level this season." Tim Bojarski will start his position immediately, preparing for the upcoming racing season which begins on July 23. Batavia Downs Media Relations Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:15:45 -0400 Subject: Press release From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Obviously, make any changes you like. Thanks -- Tim Bojarski Hoof Beats Magazine Columnist National Vice-President United States Harness Writers Assn President-Upstate NY Chapter www.ushwa.org, www.upstatenyushwa.com 716-572-1801 "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is try to do as much as you can in the time that you have."
Goshen, NY -- His nickname was 'Ace.' Many didn't know him as Jack. But after 38 years operating the television camera system at the Little Brown Jug, millions have enjoyed Jack Elliott's work. Although an Ohio legend now, Jack Elliott's first experience with communication equipment is different than you might think. Infantryman Elliott served in WWII active combat duty in the European theater as a forward observer radio operator. "I was 18 and turned 19 on the Rhine River before crossing on pontoon bridges into the main part of Germany," Elliott recalls. "I froze my feet in the Battle of the Bulge. Had to rub them with snow, to get them numb to be able to slide into the sleeping bag." After the war with Germany ended Jack was being sent home to another infantry division, the 8th, to head for Japan to fight. Fortunately half way home the war with Japan ended. Born in 1926 in Buffalo, New York, Elliott grew up in nearby Gowanda. After fighting in the Battle of the Bulge with the 79th Infantry as a teenager, Elliott came home and attended broadcasting school in Kansas City. He began his career with WBEN-TV in Buffalo and then with NBC's WNBK affiliate in Cleveland as that station's technical director. Jack remembers his learning curve with some of the equipment. "My first camera job was a disaster. In December 1947 I was assigned to run a camera at a professional wrestling match. It was in Buffalo and the place was packed. I had never seen a pro match before and thought it was for real. The crowd was very loud. There was a switch on the camera, that no one had mentioned to me, that could cut off the microphone, so I could hear the truck's control room better. "Well, I had a close-up of the two wrestlers in the middle of the ring, and as they rolled over to the side of the ring, I moved my head around the camera and did not pan with the wrestlers. I was really digging the match. The truck could not get me since the crowd noise was overpowering their signal. They sent a man up from the truck and he tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the viewfinder, which was showing nothing but an empty screen." That was simply a bump in the road as Jack tells it. "Back in the 50's I was the number one cameraman at the TV station owned by NBC. I was flown around the country doing football games and if a big star came to town, I was removed from my technical director's job and moved over to the number one camera. Bob Hope was just one of the stars I filmed." Neither fame nor technical glitches could get in the way of Jack's love for camera work and television. Ultimately, Elliott got into sales and made the deal with Northfield Park for its first TV system in 1967, and installed the first color cameras at Scioto Downs in 1974. While at Northfield in 1967, Jack recalls some of the earliest equipment he had to work with. "Back in those days there were no computers. Instead we had a room called the Calculating Room with about 32 men in it. Each had a Monroe Calculator which was a super adding machine. It could also subtract and divide, and had a big crank handle on the side. "The Mutuel department placed two men on each price. Their figures had to match for it to be an official payoff. They had runners who would take the results to the "propper" so the winning ticket holders could get paid. This took about 10 minutes after the race. My company installed about eight cameras in that room and we televised the price payoffs and sent them via cable to the proper area." Elliott continues, "We also installed the first race camera for the judges. I had a cable that went from my video playback room to the judges office on the backstretch. They could hold hearings and I would playback the video of the race in question. The General Manager hated to lose those calculating room guys when the computers came. The computers didn't bet on the races and these guys bet big time." In 1975 Elliott realized that the sport of harness racing was lacking celluloid history. He started gleaning footage from USTA films of historic races such as the Hambletonian and Little Brown Jug. This built the foundation for the groundbreaking series Great American Trotters and Little Brown Jug Greats through Elliott's company, Colorigination. Eventually, these premier works encouraged Elliott to produce four annual Year End Review collections for the best trotters and pacers, the Breeders Crown and Canada's Best, beginning in 1993. After nearly four decades filming the Jug, and 32 years as Scioto's director of televised production, Jack retired in 2007. The immortal Stan Bergstein noted in a 1997 issue of Times: In Harness that, "If video historian Jack Elliott of Circleville, Ohio had not started collecting and organizing the films and videotapes of the modern era's great races, the sport would have no visual record of its equine stars." The impressive collection of harness racing videos assembled by Elliott constitutes a catalog of greatness, invaluable to the history of the sport. A decade later in Hoof Beats, Bergstein reiterates, "the sport owes Jack Elliott a debt of gratitude." Museum director Janet Terhune agrees. "Back in the 90s the Sulky Sweeties of Scioto Downs awarded Jack their "Good Guy" award. But Elliott's efforts mean so much more to the sport than his pleasant demeanor. He has single-handedly ensured that the motion picture history of the Standardbred has been preserved and protected for generations to come." In addition to the videos Jack Elliott has contributed to the Harness Racing Museum's collections over the years, it is his intention to entrust his life's work to the Museum's care. That is only one of the many reasons that at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on July 6 in Goshen, Elliott shall be honored with the Museum's Pinnacle Award, which recognizes and provides appreciation for exemplary efforts put forth by members of the press and public relations professionals, in the promotion of the sport in general and The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in particular. By Chris Tully
The oportunity for eligible college students looking to apply for the 2014 Dewey Degree Scholarship is fading fast as there are less than three days remaining to get their paperwork turned in. The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association is looking for eligible high school seniors or returning college students from families of licensed owners, trainers, or drivers who participate full or part time in harness racing. Through the generosity of Ray Schnittker and Jeff Gural, UNY-USHWA is offering the scholarship named for Schnittker's Hambletonian winning trotter, Deweycheatumnhowe. The sixth annual "Dewey Degree Scholarship" is an annual fellowship given to an eligible student who meets the criteria and is chosen by the Chapter Officers and an impartial third party judge. It is a $1,500.00 one time, non renewable assistance award. The applicant must be entering college for the first time this fall or already in a college, university, or trade school and be enrolled as a full time student (12 credit hours minimum). Applicants' parent(s), grandparent(s), and/or legal guardian(s) must be a licensed horseman or horsewoman during the year prior to application. (In this case, 2012) Only one relative need be licensed to be eligible. The applicant must be at least a high school senior at time of application. Anyone living in the U.S. or Canada is eligible. Applicants are required to submit an essay discussing your background in harness racing, your work experience in harness racing, what you think could be done to better harness racing in the future, and how you see yourself as part of it. The essay should be around 600 words in length. You will also need to submit proof of your relatives licensing and a minimum of two letters of reference - one from a horseperson and one from a teacher or advisor in your current school. All documents must be postmarked by UNY-USHWA no later than May 31, 2014. The recipient of the 2014 Dewey Degree will be announced shortly thereafter and the scholarship will be presented in the winners circle at Tioga Downs this summer. We request the winner be present for that presentation. To download an application or to view previous winners of the scholarship, log onto www.upstatenyushwa.com. By Tim Bojarski, for Upstate NY Chapter of USHWA
The May 2014 Hoof Beats cover girl, Precocious Beauty, will be one of many stars to be on the track on Friday night at Vernon Downs. The Friday program includes three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies, as well as eliminations for the Empire Breeders' Classic for three-year-old colts and three-year-old fillies. The stars will also be in the bikes on Friday night with Tim Tetrick, David Miller, Jim Morrill Jr., Matt Kakaley, and many others coming into Vernon to drive on the twelve-race program. Precocious Beauty makes her official return to the races for 2014 night after participating in qualifiers at Pompano Park in April and Mohawk Raceway in May. The imposing filly is owned by James Avritt Sr. of Lexington, Kentucky, trained by Gregg McNair and will be driven by Douglas McNair on Friday night. Precocious Beauty is hoping to recapture her 2013 form, which saw her win divisional honors for two-year-old female pacers at the Dan Patch Awards last season. She was a winner in seven of eleven starts last year, including a victory in the She's A Great Lady Stakes, earning purses of $446,692. She has been installed at 5-2 on the morning line in Friday's seventh race, but she appears to have plenty of competition coming her way from Blush Hanover, to be driven by Tim Tetrick. Blush Hanover has three wins in four career starts, two at Harrah's Philadelphia and has also scored a win and a second in two tries at The Meadowlands. In the other two New York Sire Stakes divisions to be run, morning-line favoritism goes to the horses on the rail. The 5-2 favorite in Race 8 is Sweetnsinful, driven by Jimmy Whittemore. Sweetnsinful is owned by Connie and Homer Hochstetler of Crete, Illinois and James Michels of Muncie, Indiana. Homer Hochstetler doubles as the trainer of Sweetnsinful. She was the winner of the Madison at Hoosier Park last October and paced a Qualifier at Vernon Downs on May 16 in 1:58.2. The favorite in Race 9 is Medusa, also listed at 5-2. Medusa is owned W.J. Donovan of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, trained by Paul Kelley and will be driven by Chris Lems, who was at the controls for all four impressive wins the filly has registered this season at Vernon Downs. The Empire Breeders' Classic eliminations also are on the docket for Friday night at Vernon Downs. There are two eliminations for each division. The 7-5 morning-line favorite for the first division of three-year-old colt trotters is Lukas Hall, runner-up in the Simpson at The Meadowlands on May 9 and runner-up in a New York Sire Stakes race at Tioga Downs on May 23. Lukas Hall is owned by former New York Jets Wide Receiver Wayne Chrebet of Colts Neck, New Jersey and Little E LLC of New York, New York. Little E LLC is owned by Vernon Downs owner, Jeff Gural. The second division of three-year-old colt trotters is led by 9-5 choice, Expressive Action, winner of a New York Sire Stakes race on May 23 at Tioga Downs. Expressive Action is owned by John Grasso Stable Inc. of Hawthorne, New York. Grasso is also the trainer, while the driver on Friday night is Mike Simons. The three-year-old fillies also have two eliminations on Friday. A winner of a New York Sire Stakes race at Vernon Downs on May 17, Lady With Credit, has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the first division. Lady With Credit earned her first career win with that Sire Stakes score in 1:55.1. She is owned by White Birch Farm of Allentown, New Jersey, and trained and driven by Trond Smedshammer. The second division also features a New York Sire Stakes winner from this season at Vernon Downs. Glowngold is 6-5 on the morning line off of a two and a quarter length win in 1:56.1 on May 17. Glowngold is owned by the Andy Miller Stable of New Jersey, S. Demeter and Blue Chip Bloodstock, both of New York, and Highland Green Farms of Florida. The Finals for the Empire Breeders' Classic races will be run as part of a special Sunday night program on June 8, which will also include the New York Sire Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers. The twelve-race program will kick off at Vernon Downs on Friday night with a first post time of 6:45pm. by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs
Do you have a son or daughter who enjoys harness racing as much as you do? Or perhaps you have the horse racing bug and would love to consider a career in the industry? Then look no further than the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program (RTIP). Established in 1974, this Bachelor of Science degree program offers two different paths of study. One prepares students for the business side of the industry, which includes careers in track management, regulation and pari-mutuel operations. The other path is designed for students interested in working more directly with the horses and prepares them for careers in racing, training and bloodstock enterprises. The RTIP focuses both paths on quality education, emphasizing integrity and professionalism; the program offers personal mentoring and professional development opportunities and utilizes its deep ties to alumni working in the industry. While at the program, students gain invaluable hands-on experience through internships and create a network of industry professionals through their interaction with speakers brought to campus during each semester to lecture in the classroom. The most recent “guest professor” was Rachel Ryan, the Meadowlands’ head of public relations. The “who’s who” of the racing business who gather in Tucson each December for the Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming (hosted by the RTIP) are also a great resource for the students. One of the most important industry gatherings in the racing industry, the Symposium attracts experts and officials from throughout the world, bringing them right to the student’s doorstep. What is most impressive is the list of graduates who have gone on to great positions working in the harness racing industry including Peter Koch, race secretary at the Meadowlands; Barry Brown, director of racing operations at Harrah’s Philadelphia and Heather Belmonte, executive assistant at the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. And on faculty at the RTIP is none other than Hall of Famer Dean Hoffman, former head of Hoof Beats at the USTA! Graduates from the Thoroughbred side of the roster include top trainers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher; Martin Panza, senior VP of racing operations at New York Racing Association; Thomas Ventura, president, Ocala Breeders' Sales Company; Peter Rotondo, VP – television, Breeders' Cup Limited and Jim Kostas, president, Daily Racing Form. The school’s rate for job placement within the industry is nearly flawless. This reporter can vouch for that having hired a graduate during my racetrack management days and working with numerous graduates over the years. Check out their website as it is full of information about the program, alumni, special services, grants, scholarships and more. The site is at http://ua-rtip.org/. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Award winning equine photographer Barbara Livingston, whose popular books Old Friends and More Old Friends, painted a sentimental portrait of champion racehorses long gone from the spotlight, has completed a third edition of that series. While her first two books focused on Thoroughbred racehorses, the latest, Standardbred Old Friends, focuses on the distinctly American breed that evolved from a horse that carried the family to church, raced at the county fair and now competes world-wide at a trot and pace. The book, at $30, is ready for pre-order now at www.harnessmuseum.com. Standardbred Old Friends portrays 43 horses, from age 19 to 37, most of them multimillionaire world record holders with Hall of Fame membership, but some of more modest distinction, occupied as show horses, in law enforcement or hardworking, blue collar performers. With writer Ellen Harvey telling the rich tales of horses from Sweden to southern California, from Maine to Florida, Livingston has captured images of horses whose achievements are now decades past, but whose memories will last a lifetime. The collaboration, ready for shipment in June, grew from a 2008 Hoof Beats magazine article featuring ten champion Standardbreds over the age of 20. The article, with Livingston's photos and Harvey's stories, won top honors for journalism at the 2009 World Trotting Conference in Norway. In 2012, the two started a trek of nearly 10,000 miles to capture the lives of nearly four dozen horses whose commercial worth is long gone, but who are cherished ever still. The book's 153 photos and 43 stories were gleaned from thousands of photos and 150 interviews. Standardbred Old Friends looks at the lives of 43 horses like North American and European superstar Mack Lobell, now 30, at his home along the shores of Lake Malaren in southern Sweden, 2004 horse of the Year Cam's Card Shark at historic Hanover Shoe Farm in central Pennsylvania and mother-daughter Hall of Famers Country Kay Sue and CR Kay Suzie among the live oaks at their home in central Florida. The senior "old friend," 37-year-old Waco Hanover, was depicted against the deep snow of his home in the foothills of Vermont's Green Mountains. An autumn sunset in the tide pools of Maine's Popham Beach State Park was the setting for Dreamy Starlet and McKeever Hanover, a pair with 297 races over 13 years, with 4 foals between them, now in their 20s, but active in the show ring and hunt field. For a video sample of the photos in the book and a look at the making of Standardbred Old Friends, featuring 30-year-old champion Standardbred roadster Autobahn at Cane Run Farm in Kentucky, click here. Cover images are attached; Mack Lobell on the front, Dreamy Starlet and Elizabeth Tewksbury on the back. For more information on Barbara Livingston's work, as well as her earlier books, Saratoga, Four Seasons of Racing and Horses in Living Color, click here. Standardbred Old Friends can be purchased from the Harness Racing Museum or by calling 845-294-6330. To contact Ellen Harvey, email oldfriendsbook@hotmail or call 732-616-6092. The horses included in the book are: Armbro Feather Cam's Card Shark Country Kay Sue and CR Kay Suzie Dreamy Starlet and McKeever Hanover Dust Devil Flat Foot Fluzy Giant Victory Hattie Heatherjeankillean Hi IQ Hot Lead Incredible K Jate Lobell Jo Jo Geronimo/Jupiter Keystone Wallis Lady Ashlee Ann Larks Crown Lilting Laughter Mack Lobell Matt's Scooter Miss Easy Moni Maker Monterey Rebel and Saddle The Wind NL Loren Oriental Express Sir Taurus Stacey's Echo Staying Together Supergrit Tap In Tarport Mark Town Sweetheart Victory Tilly Waco Hanover Western Dreamer White Birch Mares: Three Mile Island, Town Pro, World Order Winky's Gill Winnies Guy/Autobahn by Ellen Harvey
Columbus, OH --- The USTA reported today that William J. "Bill" Perretti, 87, the founder of Perretti Farms in New Jersey, died yesterday, March 13, 2014. Mr. Perretti was featured in a 2006 story in Hoof Beats magaine. It may be read by clicking on this link. Additional details and a complete obituary will be posted when one is available.
The entire Dan Patch Awards Banquet, which was held at Dover Downs on Sunday, February 23, is now available for viewing "on demand" at the home of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), www.ushwa.org . Thanks to the USTA and Roberts Communications, the entire production has been archived and made available to everyone through a link at the top of the USHWA homepage. If you were an honoree or presenter, this is a great opportunity to see exactly what the live and simulcast crowd saw as you were on stage. And if you weren't able to attend in person or watch the live broadcast that night, you can now enjoy the show in its entirety. Once again, USHWA would like to thank the USTA and Roberts Communications for making this available on our site. by Tim Bojarski, for USHWA
Whether or not you attended the 2014 Dan Patch Awards Banquet in person, here is your opportunity to experience all the excitement of the night's activities first-hand. If you log onto the United States Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) website (www.ushwa.org ) you will find full listings of all the award winners, fully captioned presentation pictures from that night for every category (both human and equine), a downloadable version of the entire 160 page color Journal that includes pictures, bios and well wishes from industry insiders, and a bank of over 150 professionally taken, high resolution pictures of all the night's events (including the Red Carpet) that you can downloaded and printed. So if you did attend, take a minute and find yourself among the pictures and remember what a great night it was. And if you didn't, you'll find out why almost 400 people did. Mark Hall of the USTA and Frances Blazer of Fotowon photographed the pictures that we are making available for download on our website. USHWA would like to thank them for providing their photographic talents and excellence for your enjoyment. by Tim Bojarski, 1st VP National USHWA
Columbus, OH --- The United States Trotting Association is seeking a full time employee with in-depth knowledge of harness racing and social media to help create and implement the USTA’s social media strategy. This position, located at the main office in Columbus, Ohio, will be in the Communications Department at the USTA and requires an in-depth knowledge and extensive experience with social media and social media platforms. In addition, the position requires the ability to write and edit stories for various USTA media vehicles,especially the newsroom on the company website, www.ustrotting.com, as well as for the USTA’s monthly magazine Hoof Beats and other media. The Social Media Promotion and Publicity Manager position will include travel and some weekend and weeknight rotating shifts. An undergraduate or associate degree is preferred as well as professional experience utilizing social media platforms and campaigns, and writing and editing for publications and websites. Applications for this position close on March 7. More information on working for the USTA, the full job description and information on how to apply for this position can be found here. Submitted by the USTA
Well known horse racing photographer John E. Jones, 81, passed away November 2, 2013 in Markham, Ontario, Canada after a long illness. Born in Toronto in 1932, his interest in photography was developed while a student of agriculture at the University of Guelph when he began photographing livestock. His skills at capturing horses in action landed Jones a position with Michael Burns Photography. For eighteen years he worked as a track photographer for the Ontario Jockey Club's family of racetracks throughout the province of Ontario, photographing both Thoroughbred and Harness racing. He was one of the official track photographers working at Woodbine the day Secretariat ran his last race there in October of 1973. After forming his own company in the late 1970's, Jones became one of the best known photographers of harness horse racing in Canada until his retirement in 1997. His iconic images appeared in every major harness racing publication in Canada and many in the United States, including Hoof Beats magazine. His beautiful black and white action shots taken from the inside rail during the home stretch battle to the wire became his signature. His photo of Niatross setting a world record time trial of 1:49.1 at the Red Mile in the fall of 1980 brought Jones international attention when John Cashman, then manager of Castleton Farm, used the photo to promote the young stallion.
Dave Briggs, writing for the Guelph Mercury newspaper, and M. Kelly Young, writing for Hoof Beats magazine, were named the winners in the 52nd annual John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing journalism, the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) announced Monday. Meadowlands Racetrack photographer Michael Lisa and Dave Witten of Horseman and Fair World magazine were the winners in the 14th annual George Smallsreed Awards for excellence in harness racing photography. Woodbine Entertainment won the 30th edition of the John Hervey Award for excellence in broadcasting for a feature on Sydney Weaver, a 13-year-old with cerebral palsy who is a licensed groom, horse owner, award-winning writer and public speaker. Briggs won the news/commentary category for his story titled “Horse barns at Mohawk ‘silent as a grave,’” which examined the shutting of the backstretch stables at Mohawk, and appeared in the Jan. 9, 2013 edition of the Guelph Mercury newspaper. Briggs has been awarded a record six Hervey honors. Melissa Keith received honorable mention in the news/commentary division for her story, “What Women Want; Can Racing Attract the Female Horseplayer?” It appeared in the April issue of Trot magazine. In the feature category, Young won for her story, “Win One for Ryan; Pacer races for stricken youngster,” which appeared in the November issue of Hoof Beats. The story recounted the chance meeting between Marc Reynolds and Marie Hunt and Reynolds naming a horse, River Run For Ryan, in honor of Hunt’s son, who has a rare genetic disease called Hunter Syndrome. Susan Higgins and Lauren Lee received honorable mention in the feature category. Higgins was recognized for her story, “‘Make Sure Things Go Right;’ Maine Cast fulfills a dying wish with sire stakes championship,” which appeared on the U.S. Trotting Association website on Nov. 21 and in the December issue of Hoof Beats. Lee was recognized for her story, “The Cornerstones,” about Meadowlands media duo Bob Heyden and Sam McKee entering the Communicators Corner of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, which appeared in June 20 issue of The Canadian Sportsman. The writing categories were judged by a panel consisting of longtime horseracing writer Neil Milbert, Dorf Feature Service newsroom assistant/writer Lou Monaco and Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn. In the photography categories, Lisa won in the race feature division for a photograph of driver David Miller heading onto the track on a snowy night at the Meadowlands. The photo appeared in the March 13 issue of Horseman and Fair World as well as the March 14 issue of The Canadian Sportsman. Witten won in the race action category for a photograph of the first turn of the Hambletonian. The photo appeared in the Aug. 15 issue of Horseman and Fair World. Claus Andersen and Mark Hall received honorable mention in the race action category; Andersen for a photo of Bee A Magician winning the Hambletonian Oaks that appeared on the Oct. 17 cover of The Canadian Sportsman and Hall for a photo of Pet Rock winning the Winbak Pace that appeared on the USTA website on Sept. 19. Dave Landry and Barbara Livingston received honorable mention in the race feature category; Landry for a photo of John Campbell driving with his great nephew Tyler McLinchey that appeared on the Sept. 12 cover of The Canadian Sportsman and Livingston for a photo of retired star Staying Together and Kentucky Horse Park Equine Operations Director Wes Lanter that appeared on the USTA website on Oct. 1. The photography categories were judged by Bill Denver, the track photographer at Monmouth Park and Parx Racing as well as a regular contributor to the New York Daily News and Wall Street Journal, and Phil McAuliffe, a longtime newspaper and magazine photographer who worked as a harness racing groom while a teenager. In the broadcast category, Woodbine’s feature on Sydney Weaver was written, voiced and produced by Paul Salvalaggio. It originally aired on June 26 as part of the one-hour North America Cup presentation on The Score television network. To watch the video, click here. The writing categories were judged by a panel consisting of award-winning longtime horseracing writer Neil Milbert, Daily Racing Form Programming Manager Lou Monaco and Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn. Hervey Award winners will be honored as part of the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 23 at Dover Downs. For more information about the banquet, visit www.ushwa.org. by Ken Weingartner for USHWA
Akron, NY--The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the award winners for top performing horsemen for 2013 as well as the Batavia Downs meet. Ray Fisher Jr. has been named the western New York driver of the year. 2013 was an enigma for Ray Fisher because a mid-year accident that could have just as easily killed him ultimately drove him to produce one of the best years of his career. On July 12 at the Buffalo Raceway meet he was the leading reinsman at; Fisher went down in a horrific accident involving half the field and suffered a fractured pelvis and two broken vertebrae. Despite the dire diagnosis, Fisher was seen at his barn the following morning and returned to driving only 20 days later. Without missing a beat, the 45 year-old Geauga, Ohio native righted the ship and went back on a driving tear that hasn't slowed up since. For the year, Fisher has scored 233 wins, 190 seconds and 182 thirds from 1,349 starts. His $1,198,955 in purses is a career best and his .296 UDR was his second best ever. Those numbers push his career totals to 3,537 wins and $14,183,533 in earnings. Fisher was the leading dash driver at the completed Buffalo meet and is currently second at Batavia with only two nights of racing left. The western New York trainer of the year is John Mungillo. To say that John Mungillo had a career year would be an understatement. His 775 starts, 154 wins and $675,746 in earnings were all lifetime bests for him by a good margin. And his .309 UTR was not far off his previous best effort. Those numbers bring his career stats to 731 wins and $2,820,586 in the bank. Mungillo will also be recognized as the trainer of the meet for the current Batavia Downs session. His 65 wins, 38 seconds and 37 thirds earned his owners $252,134 and solidified his spot as the top conditioner at the Genesee County oval. The Batavia Downs driver of the meet is Shawn McDonough. 23 year-old Shawn McDonough has accomplished quite a bit in 2013. Finding himself a commodity among trainers this year, he parlayed that in-demand status into some pretty impressive numbers. He found the winners circle at the Downs 94 times and has a legitimate shot to break the century mark by Saturday night. And checks amounting to $452,740 have been distributed to his respective owners as a result of his performances. For the year McDonough has 173 wins, 176 seconds and 193 thirds from 1,252 starts and has pocketed $896,204 in spoils. Those are all career-best totals by far. Shawn McDonough is a fourth-year provisional driver and is a rarity to be a "P" and a dash winning champion for a meet. Ray Fisher Jr., John Mungillo and Shawn McDonough will be presented their awards during the UNY-USHWA "Night of Distinction" this Saturday night (Dec. 7) in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs. Here is a complete list of award winners that will be honored: WNY Driver of the Year- Ray Fisher Jr. WNY Trainer of the Year- John Mungillo Batavia Downs Driver of the Meet- Shawn McDonough Batavia Downs Trainer of the Meet-John Mungillo WNY Comeback Driver of the Year-Ron Beback Jr. WNY Rising Star-Drew Monti Good Guy Award- Paul White WNY Horse of the Year- Naked News Batavia Downs Trotter of the Meet-Mystical Escapade Batavia Downs Pacer of the Meet- Fireyourguns Tim Bojarski Hoof Beats Magazine Columnist United States Harness Writers Assn. National VP-USHWA President-Upstate NY Chapter
NL Loren (1:57.4, $59,512), the 1986 seasons leader for four-year-old trotting geldings, died this morning at Craftwell Farm in West River, Maryland, his home for the past 21 years, and now his place of burial. NL Loren was a pacing-bred trotter, owned by Jane and Doug Murray and trained by Doug. He won 22 races in 97 starts over 8 years of competition, including a year missed completely while recovering from an injury. He was featured in a 1986 Hoof Beats story titled, "The Twelve Least Likely 2:00 Trotters." NL Loren's mark that year was accomplished in an open trot at the Springfield (Illinois) State Fair. His time was more than four seconds, 20 lengths, faster than he'd ever trotted. He was purchased in 1986 with tax refund money, as a birthday gift from Doug to Jane. "Jane wanted to use it for something else, but I thought it would be better spent on a horse," said Doug Murray. NL Loren's career was marked by brilliant performances at unlikely times, mixed with a feline-like propensity for disasters that never quite caused his demise. He beat the stakes-winning two-year-old trotter BJ's Superstar by a nose in a Breeders Crown prep race at Pompano Park at a time when the younger horse had $150,000 more on his card than did NL Loren. Alternating between Pompano in the winter and his "home" track of Quad City Downs in the summer, NL Loren came back from a lacerated tendon sustained in a race in 1987 when he was winning regularly and attracting potential buyers. The tendon healed and NL Loren was on his way back to the races when he colicked in his trailer, somewhere in Georgia, in the pre-cell phone, pre-GPS era. "We were at a truck stop in Georgia," said Doug Murray. "I got a vet's name from a phone book, got directions to his farm. I unloaded the other horses and we worked on Loren the rest of the night. He came through and we got back on the road the next morning." Three straight wins followed and it looked like the Murrays had a Meadowlands horse on their hands. They sent him to race at the New Jersey flagship track. "We watched at a sports bar in Florida," Murray said. "He looked like he was going to win for fun, but as he came out of the hole, he caught his right front leg between the wheel and the sulky of the horse in front of him." Surgery for a bone chip and 18 months of recuperation followed and like Lazarus, he rose again, to race at Rosecroft Raceway, where he competed for the last time in 1992. The Murrays have boarded NL Loren since 1992 at Craftwell Farm, where Jane Murray took him for the occasional trail ride. He also served as babysitter for yearling Thoroughbreds until arthritis in an ankle progressed to the point where he could no longer be kept comfortable. "He opened a lot of doors for us," said Doug Murray. "He didn't make a lot of money or anything like that, but he provided a little bit of name recognition. He doesn't owe me a dime, it's just payback." by Ellen Harvey
As is my annual tradition, it's time for my annual 'Things to be Thankful For' list. I am sure I am missing some people so forgive me ahead of time. Here is this year's list with the entries in no particular order. Captaintreacherous and Bee A Magician - Who would think we would be at the conclusion of the 2013 racing campaign and still have a debate about who may be the recipient of Horse of the Year Honors? Sure, Bee A Magician right now is in front, but a victory by Captaintreacherous in the TVG FFA Series Final against older horses would result in the Captain taking the honors away from this fantastic filly at the last possible moment TVG and the Meadowlands for the TVG FFA Series - With all due respect to the Cleveland Classic, without this partnership of TVG and the Meadowlands, most of the top FFA horses would have called it a season after the Breeders Crown. This partnership is giving us two great races and shows what can happen when ADWs and tracks work together. I could mention the Gural team at the Meadowlands for their efforts in bringing Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment to fruition but it is time we mention someone within Team Gural for praise. For that reason, we are thankful for Nick Salvi, a man without a title but is everywhere. In addition to his duties at the three Gural-operated tracks, he write press releases for the Breeders Crown, The Red Mile, and is seen at the sales and of course Lexington. Did I mention that Nick is also Vice-President of the Grand Circuit? Nick may not have made his mark as a driver/trainer, but the sport is richer having Nick on the business-side of the industry. Once again, we are thankful for John Manzi - Not only does he attempt to keep racing in the forefront as much as possible at Monticello Raceway, Manzi is another Press Release King. Let's see from memory, in addition to writing press releases for Monticello Raceway, he writes press releases for the CKG Billings Series, NAADA, USHWA Monticello-Goshen Chapter, Historic Track and others. If there is a press release to be written, they know who to call, John Manzi. Brett Boyd, President of the MHHA - The situation in Michigan is becoming worse every year and most people wouldn't want to be stuck in a position of leadership, yet Boyd keeps fighting the battle on behalf of Michigan Harness Horsemen no matter how poor the odds are. The horsemen in Michigan should be thankful they have someone like Boyd fighting for them and maybe he will be able to pull victory out of the lions mouth. We should be thankful as well. Dave McCaffrey - The leader of the Illinois Harness Horsemen Association has been put through the screws this past year with the fight over ADW wagering in the Prairie State. Would you like to be the leader of a group facing the possibility of only 13 days of racing in 2014 if the politicians can't be won over? Neither would I but we are thankful McCaffery still is working on leading the harness industry in his state to a renaissance. . Bob Marks - Now a man without a portfolio since Peretti Farms has had its dispersal sale, we can say how much racing has been blessed to have Marks on our side. From Top Trotter, to writing articles for Hoof Beats, to marketing Peretti stallions and yearlings, he has done it all. Marks may be talking about life outside of racing but I don't think having Marks outside of racing is in our best interests. While we are thankful for what Marks has done, hopefully someone ropes him in, at least on a part time basis, so he remains in racing. Heather Vitale - Ms. Sunshine is a wonderful spokesman for the sport with her hosting and producing Post Time and co-hosting PA Harnessweek with her partner in crime Steve Ross. Despite being run down in the effort of putting together her Post Time show, she maintained her good nature. When she is not producing these shows, she takes care of her two children and volunteers with non-profit organization. Heather gives it all for the sport and the time has come for this regional treasure to be given national exposure, perhaps working the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown. Jodie Doherty - In addition to raising children and being the backbone behind a small family stable, this young lady spends her time educating people on the plight of unwanted race horses and about those looking to take advantage of those good-natured people trying to help them. She doesn't just talk the talk, she also walks the talk as she has her own barn of pensioners, including a thoroughbred horse. There are others who do similar work be it running rescues or have a higher profile to speak from but Doherty's pretty effective just the same. Horse Rescues (legitimate) - Harness racing and for that fact all of racing should be thankful for their respective rescues. Yes, there is a flood of unwanted race horses but these rescues do their part by saving as many horses they can while constantly fundraising and struggling to pay the bills. It's a thankless job but they are doing it. We thank these rescues and those who volunteer their time helping them. A thank you to their donors needs to be said as well. Monica Thors - She had put her racing stable on hiatus for the past three years working on a labor of love, the documentary I Am a Harness Racing Horse. She battles to get this film telling the story of harness racing and its equine stars despite running into roadblocks when she shouldn't have to. As the film is now in post production, she is slowly ramping up her racing stable for its return to the racing wars. We are thankful for her spirit to never say no. Those tracks and horsemen groups which go the extra mile and support efforts to promote those groups who support horse rescue. Yes, things are tight these days but there are ways to help bring attention and funds to these groups and even get some publicity out of it. Yet it is surprising how many groups when asked to make a relatively small donation to help promote these groups say no. I just hope those who say 'No' when asked are doing their part in other ways. Otherwise, shame on them. Finally, we are thankful to all those who are doing what they can for Anthony Coletta who is battling to recover from a nasty accident at Harrah's Philadelphia. From those who have the resources to do a lot to those who don't have the resources to do much, we are thankful that you are doing what you can. Allow me to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. by Allan Schott from View From the Racetrack Grandstand firstname.lastname@example.org