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 email@example.com
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
HARRINGTON, Del. - Harness racing driver Montrell Teague will be interviewed live on Fox Sports 1's "Crowd Goes Wild" sports discussion program Thursday. "Crowd Goes Wild" is a live sports entertainment talk show airing weekdays from 5 to 6 p.m. and is hosted by TV legend Regis Philbin. The program has taken a recent interest in harness racing at Harrington Raceway by following the career of Regis The Horse and broadcasting his last five races live. Teague is the regular driver of Regis The Horse and son of trainer George Teague Jr., who trained 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue as well as many other top horses over the past 15 years, including most recently 2-year-old Dan Patch Award winning filly Somewherovrarainbow. Montrell Teague, a 22-year-old native of Harrington, Delaware, was recently invited by the "Crowd Goes Wild" producers to be on the show to do a live on-set interview. "I think it's an honor to represent the industry," said Teague. "It's great to know people are watching worldwide and learning more about harness racing." To learn more about the genesis of Regis The Horse, a recent article was featured in Hoof Beats click here. by Matt Sparacino for Harrington Raceway
Columbus, OH-Hoof Beats magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) covering harness racing and the Standardbred horse, celebrated its 80th anniversary by launching a dynamic new version of its digital edition, Hoof Beats Direct. Using technology built by Publishers Press, the new Hoof Beats Direct has several features that set it apart from both the print version of Hoof Beats, launched in 1933, and the original Hoof Beats Direct, launched in 2007 as a PDF product: The magazine is browser-based, so readers will no longer have to download an entire PDF file. It is compatible with both desktop computers and all major mobile platforms, meaning readers can access the magazine wherever they go. It is available to read on the date that the magazine is mailed, reaching readers several days sooner than the print version. Rich media features include links to extra content such as videos and photos. Readers can share selected stories through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Best of all, the magazine is accessible to ALL readers that order-or currently have-a Hoof Beats print subscription. Readers can access the magazine through USTA Online Services at myaccount.ustrotting.com. Those living outside the U.S. who wish to receive the digital version only will see reduced subscription rates. Now, Hoof Beats Direct only is $17.50 for USTA members and $35.00 for non-members. "For years, Hoof Beats has been producing content in two different worlds: print and online," said Executive Editor T.J. Burkett. "Now we can combine both to bring our readers a magazine that is interactive, compelling, convenient and more timely." In order to share the new Hoof Beats Direct with all fans of harness racing, the September issue of the magazine, including its award-winning Hambletonian coverage, is available for FREE to those who have an account through USTA Online Services. Visit myaccount.ustrotting.com to create an account or to log in. by Ellen Harvey
Peripheral Vision is one lucky race horse. In 2008 Jason Turner did a story for Hoof Beats entitled, 'Blind Ambition' paying tribute to the courage and talent of this harness racing filly. Tall and well-built, she was bred to race, but she was born with bilateral juvenile cataracts that rendered her sightless in one eye and nearly blind in the other. Fortunately, she didn't seem to notice.
Racing fans attending the Little Brown Jug festivities at the Delaware, Ohio, Fairgrounds will once again have the opportunity to meet and chat with harness racing's stars during the fourth annual USTA Speakers' Series.
The Marie Hill Youth Writing Contest is back for 2011. The contest is a chance for kids, ages 16 and under, to win cash and prizes by submitting original stories about Standardbreds and harness racing. This year the contest will run from Friday, June 3, until Friday, Aug. 13.
T.J. Burkett has come a long way fast in harness racing. After graduating from Michigan State University with an agricultural communications degree just six years ago the talented 29-year-old is now the executive editor of the United States Trotting Association's monthly Hoof Beats magazine.
Freehold, NJ --- Two members of the Noel Daley Stable are on the comeback trail -- highly regarded trotter Broad Bahn and the harness racing trainer Noel Daley himself. Broad Bahn, you might recall, was sidelined by a fracture after winning his elimination for the Breeders Crown last October.
In Part 3 of 3 Tim Tetrick 'A Day in the Life' were heading back to the Meadowlands for night of harness racing..We're with TimTetrick in the locker room, the paddock area and the track.
In Part 2 of Tim Tetrick 'A Day in the Life' were off the Harrah's Chester for a full afternoon card of harness racing.We cover the races from all different angles. Tim had (2) 1st's..(1) 2nd's (1) 3rd's (2) 4th place finishes.
The Hoof Beats crew spent the day (Friday June 4th) with driver Tim Tetrick. We followed Tim from his house to qualifiers at the Meadowlands to an afternoon card at Chester then back to the Meadowlands for some nightime races and back to his house.. He covered 309 miles and 20 miles on the track.
The season of giving and receiving will soon be in full swing, and Hoof Beats has a way you can enjoy both! It's the return of the popular buy one, get one free offer for Hoof Beats subscriptions -- an ideal way to share the enjoyment of harness racing's most colorful and informative monthly, and ideal to either give or receive as a holiday gift.
The August issue of Hoof Beats (USTA's monthly magazine) is the special Yearling Edition, which is packed with stories all about raising, selling and buying harness racing yearlings. The USTA has got so much great stuff in it that we couldn't wait to get it to you. Now you can access all the yearling-related stories from the August issue by downloading a free PDF version.