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Monticello, NY --- Shawn Wiles, president of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), today named Communicators Hall of Famer Steven Wolf to serve on USHWA's Hall of Fame Screening Committee for a six-year term. The Screening Committee reviews all harness racing nominations for the Hall of Fame from the USHWA Chapters. It then decides which candidates are placed on the ballot for all eligible USHWA and Hall of Fame members to vote on. Nominees must receive 75% of the yes-no votes cast to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Wolf, currently President of the Florida Chapter of USHWA, owns and operates his own consulting firm, which provides public relations, marketing and social media needs to harness racing organizations world-wide. He also heads the North America and European operations for He is the former Senior Director of Racing Operations at Pompano Park and the former Director of Marketing/PR at Freehold Raceway. He has been involved in the industry for 42 years. His career in harness racing started as a co-owner/breeder and groom with Leo Wolf & Son, Inc. (Steve's grandfather and father Manny) at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 1977. He then worked the Liberty Bell Park-Brandywine Raceway circuit as a publicity assistant from 1979 to 1984. Wolf then became the marketing and publicity director of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey through 1987 before working at Freehold Raceway for 13 years. In 2000, Wolf moved to south Florida where he worked ten years at Pompano Park before opening his own firm, Steven Wolf, Consultant. Wolf was the first-ever USHWAn to be voted the organization's Member of the Year twice, in 1990 and 2000. He has received the Clyde Hirt Writing Award (2004) from Harness Horsemen International and the Harness Horse Youth Foundation Service to Youth Award (2006). He was inducted into the national Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame in 2017 and was voted into the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame's Communicators Corner in 2014. Wolf was elected Preisdent of USHWA at the 2014 national meetings and served the standard two-year term at the head of the organization. He has served on its Board of Directors for 15 years. Steve was a former president of the USHWA NJ Chapter and has been the president of the Florida USHWA Chapter for more than five years. He also serves on various other USHWA committees including the Integrity Committee, Dinner Committee, Location Committee and the Sponsorship Committee. Wolf will now join Tim Bojarski, Moira Fanning, Robert 'Hollywood' Heyden, Jason Settlemoir and Judy Davis Wilson on the screening committee. "I know that with his vast knowledge and superb experience in the harness racing industry, Steve Wolf will be a valuable member to the USHWA Screening Committee," Wiles said. "I also want to thank Communicators Hall of Famer Leon Zimmerman for his years of service on the committee as his six-year term has expired." From the United States Harness Writers Association Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Under patient handling from Anthony Napolitano, the Bettor's Delight mare Betabcool N rallied off of a fast pace to win in 1:52.3 while taking the $14,000 featured harness racing pace for mares at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the mountain track starting its 2019 scheduling of 4 p.m. post time on Mondays and Tuesdays. Betabcool N was pinned in behind an early-moving flow as fractions of 27, 55.3, and 1:22.4 were posted, mostly by pacesetting Vorst. She retained the lead into the lane, but Always A Z Tam swung wide off cover midturn, with "ANap" and Betabcool N following that one wide. In deep stretch the New Zealand import proved to have the most late kick, winning by a neck over Always A Z Tam, who nosed out Vorst for second. Jose Godinez, who teamed with Anthony Nap for another come-from-behind victory with the trotter Crazycat earlier in the card, conditions the winner of $460,062 for the Blindswitch Racing Stable. Some younger horses looking to make their mark in the upcoming Weiss Series at Pocono showed themselves ready with Tuesday victories. The most impressive of the trotters was the Explosive Matter sophomore filly Spring In Paris, whose final time of 1:56.4 was not only a lifetime mark but a North American season's record. Spring In Paris brushed from first-over to take the lead on the far turn, then drew clear by four lengths for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Steve LeBlanc, and the ownership of Leblanc Racing Inc., Glenn Dyke, and Douglas Johnson The Muscle Massive gelding Teardown This Wall (named after what President Reagan advised Gorbachev to do about the Berlin Wall) posted his maiden victory and improved his Weiss outlook, rallying from the pocket for a half-length tally in 1:59 over pacesetting favorite Dawn Of Glory. Tyler Buter handled the Muscle Massive gelding out of the $540G+ stakes-winning mare Vernon Blue Chip for trainer Rob Harmon and the Harmon Stable Racing Stable. (Harmon also sent out the upward-bound trotter My Lindy Winner, who took a new mark of 1:55.1 to remain undefeated in two seasonal starts.) On the pace Turbo Hill, a four-year-old son of American Ideal, ran his lifetime record to 5-for-6 with a blistering front-end tally in 1:51.1 for trainer/driver Hunter Oakes and owner Tom Hill, certainly stamping himself as a big consideration in his Weiss division. A Weiss filly counterpart, the four-year-old Sportswriter mare Lady Ella, came into her Tuesday race not having won since her career debut, 636 days ago, but she looked strong in a 1:54 triumph for trainer Andrew Harris, giving driver George Napolitano Jr. his sixth sulky success on the twilight card.   PHHA / Pocono

HARRISBURG PA - Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred racehorse of all time with $7,635,588 and now retired from the racetrack, caused a sensation at the recent Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Orlando FL when the now 15-year-old actually showed up at the harness racing fancy dinner to "accept" the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award he was voted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) for outstanding contributions to the sport. And Foiled Again is now receiving another award - the Mary Lib Miller Award, the highest honor given by the Keystone Chapter of USHWA, for his unmatched career as racehorse and ambassador. It's not like Foiled Again has never been honored before by Keystone USHWA - he was the journalists' PA-Sired Horse of the Year from 2011 to 2013, the same three years he was voted national division champion for the free-for-allers. But the group thought to mark the retirement of the evergreen pacer, whose last campaign was a barnstorming Farewell Tour which took him to 19 different racetracks, by voting him its highest award, especially an award named after the ever-present and gracious mate of "Mr. Harness Racing" himself, Hall of Famer Delvin Miller. McWicked, the 1:46.2 pacer who was 2018's Harness Horse of the Year and led all competitors with seasonal earnings of $1,575,364, got the nod for PA-Sired Horse of the Year as well - he was also voted co-PA Sire Stakes Horse of the Year by the Keystone Chapter four years ago. The breeders of McWicked, the Prushnok family of Andray Farms in western Pennsylvania, will receive the Pennsylvania Breeder of the Year award for having producing harness racing's top 2018 performer. The only two Pennsylvania Sire Stakes performers who led their division in preliminary point accumulation and then went on to win their respective finals, the three-year-old males Dorsoduro Hanover (pace) and Crystal Fashion (trot), were picked as the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horses of the Year for their respective gaits. The duo were two of the top four moneywinners in the sulky sport last year; Dorsoduro Hanover also won his Breeders Crown event at Pocono en route to being named divisional champion. For Pennsylvania Harness Horse of the Year honors (50%+ of starts within Pennsylvania), the world's fastest trotter, Homicide Hunter (1:48.4 at Lexington in the fall), was the consensus champion. Homicide Hunter won his Breeders Crown at Pocono, and he also took four legs of the Great Northeast Open Series before setting a world record over 1¼ miles in the GNOS Championship. In a close race between former honorees, George Napolitano Jr. edged out Aaron Merriman for Pennsylvania Driver of the Year. Merriman was named 2018 North American Driver of the Year for being the first sulkysitter to post 1000+ victories in two years, but Aaron won "only" 262 of those races in Pennsylvania, while Napolitano won 637 times within the confines of the Keystone State, taking his fifth straight crown at Harrah's Philadelphia and his seventh consecutive title at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Schadel brothers, Todd and Tony, both earned a place in the spotlight during 2018. Todd was the leading trainer and driver at the PA fairs by a wide margin to earn election as Pennsylvania Fair Horseman of the Year; he also captured a North American title with the highest UDR in the 300-499 starts class. Tony was driver and co-owner of the two-year-old Aflame Hanover, who in winning his Fair Championship posted a clocking of 1:51.4 - the fastest time ever in a Pennsylvania Fair Championship, faster even than any three-year-old; for that milestone, Aflame Hanover was voted a Special Achievement Award. These honorees will be presented their trophies by members of Keystone USHWA during trackside ceremonies at their respective ovals, or when they come to Pennsylvania, within the next couple of months.   Keystone Chapter, U.S. Harness Writers Association

HARRISBURG PA - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the leading organization of harness racing's chroniclers, held its annual meetings at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL for the second consecutive year this past Saturday and Sunday. The writers' meetings were held in conjunction with the group's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, which on Sunday evening celebrated the best of brightest of the sport during the 2018 racing campaign (including an attending "mystery guest" - more on him near the end). Saturday's meeting gathered the organization's board of directors, while Sunday's session was an open gathering for all of USHWA's members. The major by-law change passed by the USHWA directors gave a fuller oversight authority to the group's Integrity Committee, who now is empowered to take action during all stages of all of the awards processes, from the start of the nominations all the way through and beyond the awarding of any honors. As a result of discussion during the meetings, two new USHWA Committees were formed. A proposal to transfer final decisionmaking power on journalists to appear on the annual Communicators Hall of Fame ballot, which would have shifted that authority from the Directors to the Hall of Fame Screening Committee, was after a multifaceted discussion tabled pending a report from the new committee to be established to study the matter. Also to be the subject of investigation of a committee was the possibility of producing "past performance line"-type information to aid voters of the various Dan Patch Equine Awards at year's end. USHWA continued its recent trend of financial responsibility and income production during 2018, showing a profit for the second straight year. Prospects for 2019 also received an early boost from the excellent sale of journal ads, sponsorships, and tickets surrounding the weekend's Dan Patch Awards Banquet. As reported earlier, the Directors voted Ken Weingartner, media relations manager for the U.S. Trotting Association, and Phil Pikelny, former publicity director at the USTA and several tracks and also co-author of the book Rambling Willie: The Horse That God Loved, as ballot candidates for this summer's election for the status of being a member of the Communicators Hall of Fame. The team of Officers in charge of guiding the fortunes of USHWA was returned for another year: Shawn Wiles, of Monticello Raceway, as President; Kim Rinker, of the Ohio Sire Stakes and Ohio Standardbred Development Fund, as Vice-President; and freelance communicators Barry Lefkowitz and Jerry Connors as, respectively, treasurer and secretary. The fifth Officer, the multitasking Tim Bojarski, remains as Chair of the Board, as that position is defined in the USHWA bylaws as the immediate past president of the organization. At the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, USHWA's Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award, the highest honor voted on solely by the organization's members and given for longtime distinguished service to the sport, was bestowed on the top moneywinning Standardbred of all time, the $7,635,588 earner Foiled Again. And the banquet crowd was roused to a standing ovation when the 15-year-old Foiled Again, now in retirement, was himself walked into the banquet hall , displaying the equanimity (or should that be "equinimity"?) which had endeared him to so many harness fans on both sides of the fence during his long and illustrious career. McWicked, the leading moneywinner of the 2018 season, took home both Harness Horse of the Year and Pacer of the Year honors, while the three-year-old filly Atlanta, conqueror of "the boys" in the prestigious Hambletonian Stake, won plaudits as Trotter of the Year on the 2018 racing scene. Also on hand to be honored were Ted Gewertz, Joe Holloway, Jerry Silverman, and Linda Toscano upon their election to the sport's highest honor, the Hall of Fame, along with Mark Hall and Dave Little, who were voted into the Communicators Hall of Fame. This group will join with Hall of Fame electees Blair Burgess and Ted Wing to be formally inducted on the seventh of July at the site of the sport's Hall, Goshen NY.   Jerry Connors

ORLANDO FL -- Ken Weingartner, the Media Relations Manager for the U.S. Trotting Association's Harness Racing Communications arm, and Phil Pikelny, who worked as a publicist, broadcaster, and co-author of a biography of the great pacer Rambling Willie, were selected for places in the mid-summer balloting which could lead to their being elected to harness racing's Communicators Hall of Fame, in voting conducted this afternoon (Saturday) by the directors of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA).   Weingartner, who first went to the racetrack pushed by his father in a stroller, graduated from Lycoming College and then worked in the central Pennsylvania area before returning to his native New Jersey. Ken's column "Horse Play" in the Allentown (NJ) Morning Press was honored in 2001 by the New Jersey Chapter of USHWA and brought him to the attention of the USTA, for whom he has worked in his present position since 2002.   In 2007 he was voted the Golden Pen Award by the Standardbred Media and Marketing Association, and Ken was doubly-honored in 2015, by USHWA's Monticello-Goshen Chapter and by Harness Horsemen International. Weingartner serves as the chair of USHWA's Journalism Awards Committee and is co-chair of its Hirt Sports Media Workshop Committee.   Pikelny was spotted by double Hall of Famer Stan Bergstein when he started a harness racing club at Northwestern University near Chicago, and then became the youngest publicity director in any major sport when he went to the U.S. Trotting Association at age 23. He combined with author Don Evans to produce the book Rambling Willie: The Horse That God Loved, which followed the career of the sensational standardbred who set records for both 2:00 victories and earnings -- with 10% of those earnings going to the church of Vivian Farrington, the wife of Willie's trainer. In 1981 Pikelny and the horse then went "on tour" throughout America, appearing at racetracks, shopping malls, and other media opportunities.   Phil worked as publicity director at Scioto Downs (OH) and at the standardbred meet at Del Mar (CA). He then went on to a long career in many facets of communications while continuing to speak at harness conventions and mentoring young publicists.   Pikelny and Weingartner will now be joined during mid-summer balloting by Hall of Fame nominees who will be decided in early July. Those that receive 75% of the yes-no voting will go on to receive the sport's ultimate prize, enshrinement in their respective Halls of Fame in Goshen NY.   The voting for the summer ballot spots for the communicators was very tight, with Weingartner getting 11 votes, Pikelny 10, Jay Bergman and Joe Kyle 9 each, and Bill Fidati 5 -- the last-named three sure to be strong candidates in upcoming years.     Jerry Connors

BEDFORD PA - Following the afternoon annual meeting of USTA District 7 (Pennsylvania), the Omni Bedford Springs Resort in this southwestern Pennsylvania city hosted the annual harness racing Pennsylvania Fair Banquet, co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, the U.S. Trotting Association, and the Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association. After a greeting from "host" (and Bedford native) Sam Beegle and an excellent buffet dinner, many awards were distributed under the microphone guidance of Harrah's Philadelphia announcer Mike Bozich, the first group getting a blanket in their stable colors as the connections of the leading pointwinners during the Pennsylvania Fair season. Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt/Gelding : KEYSTONE BENTLEY, c, Cantab Hall - Armbro Blusher, trained by Todd Schadel, and co-owned by Todd and Christine Schadel. (blue and white) Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly: BUMPER HANOVER, Muscle Massive - By A Nose Hanover, trained by Todd Schadel, and co-owned by Todd and Christine Schadel. (blue and white) Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt/Gelding: WAY TO CLOSE, g, Western Terror - Tootsie J, trained by Todd Schadel, and co-owned by Todd and Christine Schadel. (blue and white) Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly: CREW SOCK HANOVER, Well Said - Chantal Hall, trained by Dave Brickell, and co-owned by Dave Brickell and Mitchell York. (light blue and white) Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt/Gelding: GRAPPLE HANOVER, g, Andover Hall - Girls' Getaway, trained by Wayne Long, and owned by Denton Barrett and William Kreutzer. (red and green with white) Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly: BLOW BACK, Explosive Matter - Greatest Desire, trained by Roger Hammer, and co-owned by Vicki Fair and Roger Hammer. (blue and red with yellow) Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt/Gelding: CIRRUS DE VIE, g, Real Artist - Walk On The Beach, trained by Roger Hammer, and co-owned by Vicki Fair and Roger Hammer. (blue and red with yellow) Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly: GEISHA SEELSTER, Well Said- Goddess's Princess, trained by Roger Hammer, and co-owned by Vicki Fair and Roger Hammer. (blue and red with yellow) A moment of silence was then held to honor Sue Brickell, Pennsylvania fair stalwart and organizer, who passed away this past May. Then the folks behind the winner of their Fair Sire Stakes Championships at The Meadows in October received a warm jacket with their accomplishment stitched on in lettering: Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt/Gelding: WATCH ME OVER, g, Muscle Massive - Wherley, trained by William Daugherty Jr., and owned by Susan Daugherty. Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly: RT GLORIA DE DIOS, Muscle Massive - RT Sun Poco, trained by Bob Rougeaux III, and owned by the Brocious Racing Stable Inc. Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt/Gelding: AFLAME HANOVER, g, Russell Hanover - Applique Hanover, trained by Linda Schadel, and owned by Tony and Linda Schadel. Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly: SURE R LOOKIN GOOD, Well Said - Treat Me Good, trained by Bob Krenitsky Jr., and owned by Julie Krenitsky. Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt/Gelding: WILLIE B WORTHY, g, Cantab Hall - Penn Worthy Lane, trained and owned by Lisa Dunn. Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly: WORLDLY HANOVER, Donato Hanover - Wherley, trained by Harold Brocklehurst, and owned by Double R Farms LLC, David Obley, and Richard Williams. Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt/Gelding: LEGENDARY RON, g, A Rocknroll Dance - Safe From Harm, trained by Ron Burke, and owned by Matthew Dugan and Michelle Rosato. Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly: KEYSTONE DIAMOND, Somebeachsomewhere - Keystone Dawn, trained by Todd Schadel, and co-owned by Christine and Todd Schadel. The Schadel brothers, Todd and Tony, were invited back to the spotlight to honor special achievements they made this past season. Tony, along with wife Linda, were recognized for the outstanding Fair Championship-winning performance of their freshman pacing gelding Aflame Hanover, who won by open lengths in 1:51.4 - the fastest Fair Championship win ever, whether two- or three-year-olds. Todd received two further prizes: one for sweeping the 2018 Pennsylvania fair horsemen's championships with 71 driving victories and 78 training victories, and another for leading all of North America's drivers in the "300-499 start" category with a UDR of .378. The drawings for equipment and other prizes generously donated by a host of PA fair supporters again allowed the average $40 ticketbuyer to emerge with a profit on the evening, such were the value of the drawing prizes. Winning a Pennsbury jog cart was Mary Martin, and bringing home a Spyder sulky was Sophie Twaddle. Jerry Connors

BEDFORD PA -The annual meeting of District 7 (Pennsylvania) of the U.S. Trotting Association was held Saturday afternoon in this southwest Pennsylvania city. District 7 Chairman Sam Beegle presided; also in attendance were District 7 directors Russell Williams (who, as the USTA President, served as the organization's representative) and Rich Gillock, along with Tom Leasure, director of harness racing at The Meadows who recently joined the District 7 directors. Fred Strathmeyer, deputy secretary of the PA State Department of Agriculture, attended the meeting, and said that interviews for the vacant position of Director of the Bureau of Standardbred Racing within the State Horse Racing Commission should be starting shortly, and they hoped to have a person in place within a couple of months. He also promised to work on the selection of the 2-day Sire Stakes host sites, beginning with the annual Fair Meeting at Hershey this coming Thursday and the upcoming Horse Racing Commission meeting. Chris McErlean, Vice-President of Racing for Penn National Gaming, attended the meeting as his group recently purchased The Meadows, and spoke briefly. Russell Williams then guided the assembled through the proposed USTA Rule Changes, so that the Directors could speak the mind of their constituents when the USTA full board meets in March in Columbus. Below is how the District 7 members voted: 1. Extended break -- REJECTED 2. Media in paddock -- ACCEPTED 3. On track 5 min. before post time -- REJECTED 4. No diff. ext. and nonext. wins - REJECTED 5. Who can claim -- ACCEPTED 6. Number of trailers - ACCEPTED with the AMENDMENT that at non-ext. meets there should be a maximum of one trailer regardless of age. 7. Purses if DQ -- REJECTED 8. Secure entry process -- ACCEPTED 9. Electronic display of entries -- REJECTED 10. PP 1-4 / PP 5-8 -- REJECTED 11. Horses coming to gate -- ACCEPTED 12. Speed of gate -- ACCEPTED 13. Charging the gate -- ACCEPTED 14. Starting rules violations -- ACCEPTED 15. "Holding horses" before start -- REJECTED 16. Position of second-tier horses -- REJECTED 17. Amateur driver -- REJECTED 18. "AP" driving license -- REJECTED 19. Racedriving violations -- REJECTED 20. Whip color -- TABLED 21. Rules on breaking -- REJECTED 22. Mud aprons - ACCEPTED with the AMENDMENT at end " ... pari-mutuel tracks, at which time the track shall be rated 'sloppy'." 23. Number of mares bred -- ACCEPTED 24. Submission of "Mares Bred" list -- ACCEPTED 25. Reusage of horse names -- ACCEPTED 26. Licensed trainer - ACCEPTED. Jerry Connors

HARRISBURG, PA - John Polvinale, who started the Facebook page Harness Racing History to share his extensive collection of memorabilia and has curated it to grow into one of harness racing's most popular sites in the new technology, has been named the winner of a President's Award by U.S. Harness Writers Association head Shawn Wiles for its contribution to the knowledge and enjoyment of the sport by people both inside and outside of the sport. Polvinale first went to the races at Roosevelt Raceway when the track's age was still in single digits, then furthered his knowledge on the backstretch of Freehold Raceway, where trainer "Big Mike" Petito urged him to purchase a horse named Steady New Yorker in 1979. "In his first start for me, he went off at double digits, but he still won by eight lengths, with Jack Moiseyev driving. I thought this sport was going to be a piece of cake - which, of course, has not turned out to be the case." But the inevitable ups and downs of racing did nothing to deter Polvinale's enthusiasm for the game, with his love of history also leading him to assemble a large collection of harness-related materials, books, trophies - you name it. "I had started to watch race replays on the Internet and social media, and with the encouragement of friends who wanted me to share my collection, I decided to use these emerging media to start Harness Racing History." Extensive collection of memorabilia Polvinale soon found that his new site had struck resonantly with many harness racing fans - and also with people with only a passing or little knowledge of the sport. "It started with people that I knew," John remembered, "but then those people talked to people in their own 'circles,' including those not in racing," and a "ripple effect" was soon evident, with those outside the sulky community finding items and people that interested them. Harness Racing History just broke the 30,000 "member" plateau, and in a given month will have 100,000 "engagements" (posts, comments, likes, views). The site's viewership is 60-40 male-female, and 60% fall within the desired 25-54 age range demographic. It was Polvinale who started the Facebook page, doing most of the early postings, and he still checks the site "about once during most of my waking hours," watching for any signs of commercialism or incivility, both of which are quickly eradicated. However, he is very proud that now "it's mostly the members, the visitors to the site who have determined its 'shape,' and are the drivers of what appears on the website. We know of certain trends, say people who want to see the replays of certain races at certain times, but it's really our audience who are the content shapers with their postings and comments. "One of the things that gives me the greatest satisfaction is that the site has become a place where 'family reunites' - people who haven't heard from another party for 20 or 30 years will see some experience they had in common and make a comment, and old friendships are reborn." Polvinale's catchwords for operating the site are "pure" and "simple," and those feelings resonate so much that when USHWA president Wiles told John of his winning the award, Shawn used those very words in congratulating Polvinale - "and it was evident he had captured the spirit of the site exactly." John Polvinale will be honored at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2018 will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2019 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $175, with a filet mignon dinner featured; "post times" on February 24 are cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at or 302 359 3630. Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA's website,; a link to the hotel's computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at (the 2018 journal is online at the writers' website). From the United States Harness Writers Association

HARRISBURG PA -- Heather Vitale, secretary of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), international harness racing video journalist, self-proclaimed "Harness Racing's Firework," two-time Sam McKee Broadcasters Award winner, and probably the only person in harness racing who both holds Madonna as a role model and also has her own Wikipedia page, has been announced by USHWA President Shawn Wiles as the organization's Member of the Year. "Make no mistake about it, there is only one Heather Vitale!" USHWA president Wiles said. "Her colorful and lively persona always adds excitement to any event. We look forward to seeing Heather again at this year's Dan Patch Awards Dinner, on the Red Carpet, as we have for many years. She has been a great voice and face for Harness Racing in her region and for USHWA." Heather comes from a multi-generational harness family in Delaware. Her mother, Jo Ann Looney King, was the first woman to drive a winner at The Meadowlands, and she is the co-owner of 2018's outstanding pacing mare Shartin N, trained by husband Jim King Jr. Heather is a graduate of Monmouth (NJ) University, with a focus on public relations/journalism, and she chose to follow that career path rather than working with the horses. Her show "Post Time" has aired on the CBS affiliate in the Delmarva region for some twenty years, and she also co-hosts the weekly show "Pennsylvania Harness Week," a position in which she has served for nearly a decade. She has worked for ESPN and for the Little Brown Jug network. But a person of Heather's ambition, flamboyance, and talent cannot of course be confined to any one country. Her journalistic travels have taken her not only to Canada, a logical extension because of the fluency of the U.S./Canada harness crossing, but also to Ireland and Australia, where she appeared as an on-air reporter during a major stakes day. (And speaking of international recognizability, Heather was also a driving force behind getting the richest harness horse world-wide, Foiled Again, into the famous "stable" of Breyer collectible horse models.) Heather is a prolific user of social media since its inception, with many followers of her frequent postings on the various platforms. "I'm not a bettor," she says, "so I focus my stories on the horses and the people in the sport, trying to tell their interesting stories, and trying to appeal to people to come out to the track and watch the races. I want to expose the sport outside of the fans we already have." Her presentation is tirelessly upbeat and positive in the service of harness racing. Perhaps the best summation of Heather Vitale was offered by Joe Thomson of Winbak Farms, who once told her, "The best business I could be in is to bottle your attitude and sell it." The Harness Writers Association has benefited a great deal from her attitude and her talents, and that's why she has been named USHWAn of the Year. Heather Vitale (and her family in their connections to Shartin N) will be honored at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2018 will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2019 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $175, with a filet mignon dinner featured; "post times" on February 24 are cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at or 302 359 3630. Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA's website,; a link to the hotel's computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at (the 2018 journal is online at the writers' website). Jerry Connors      

Horsemen are reminded that nominations should be postmarked by February 15 for the many and varied early and late closers that will highlight the 2019 racing season of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The famed northeastern Pennsylvania oval will begin the 134-day race meet on Saturday, March 16. Starting off the season - right from opening night -- will be a new late closer, The Secretary's Series, with 6 different divisions, and no nomination fees. An initial group of three divisions will be programmed for four year old & older horse & gelding pacers, mare pacers, and trotters in general, with separate mare divisions if entries warrant for the trotters. These three events will be for non-winners of $50,000 in 2018 for those that have started 10 or more times in 2018. The 3 preliminary legs will go for a purse of $12,500, with a final of $25,000 (there will be consolations for those classes that fill such a race). The second group for the same type of horses will be for non-winners of $75,000 in 2018 for those that have started 10 or more times in 2018. Purses for these events will be $17,500 for the preliminaries and a $30,000 final (again, consolations are part of the plans). If a horse won less than $50,000 in 2018 with the required ten starts, he or she can also enter the parallel division of this second late-closing series, to be raced entirely after the completion of the first group. The Bobby Weiss Late Closing Series for 3- & 4-year-old horses will return this season in April with four events for non-winners of 2 extended pari-mutuel races or $30,000 lifetime as of & including February 1, 2019. The separate events will be for male pacers, female pacers, male trotters and female trotters. Each Weiss will consist of three $15,000 legs and a $30,000 final. This year there will be consolations for each event. Returning this year will be the Great Northeast Series for open class horses for pacers, mare pacers and trotters. Legs will be going for $30,000, which will alternate between The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah's Philadelphia from May to September. (The June 29 card at Pocono, the Sun Stakes Saturday card, will also contain the mares pace and open trotters events normally raced on Sundays at Pocono.) The $100,000 finals will be held on Monday, September 9 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono going a distance of 1 ¼ miles. In these late closers, each horse that actually starts will receive 25 points along with any points they get from their official placings in each leg (on a 50-25-12-8-5-4-3-2-1 finish position basis). All of the late closers will have no nominating fees, including the Weiss Series for the first time. The Pennsylvania All Stars, an early closer for Pennsylvania Sired 3-year-olds, will make their will be raced in 2019 in May and June, with their counterpart 2-year-old races in July. Nominations for the 3-year-old events of the Pennsylvania All Stars are due on February 15; nominations for the 2-year-old events are not due until March 15. Sun Stakes Saturday will, once again, usher in the summer portion of the racing season. The Championships for the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr Memorial 3-year-old open trot, $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial 3-year-old open pace, $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial 3-year-old filly pace and $500,000 Ben Franklin FFA Pace will be on Saturday, June 29. The eliminations for these races will be one week earlier on June 22. If entries for the eliminations warrant, there will be a $75,000 consolation for the Beal, Hempt and Franklin races and a $50,000 consolation for the Lynch. Complete racing conditions and payment information for all these racing events are listed on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono's website, on the Horsemen page. Jerry Connors Jr

HARRISBURG PA – Marvin Bachrad, a member of harness racing’s Communicators Hall of Fame, a former president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) with 35 years as a director of the association, and such an influence on generations of harness journalists that he won the Harness Horse Youth Foundation Service To Youth Award, passed away on Friday evening in Phoenix AZ at the age of 82. Born to the late Max and Freda (Lipow) Bachrad on December 28, 1935, Bachrad was already doing sports journalism while at Norristown (PA) High School, into whose Hall of Fame he was inducted in 2015 – he gained fame by entering sports trivia contests and acquiring a massive collection of sporting equipment. After graduation, he served his country as director of the Armed Forces Radio Services at a camp station in Fort Jackson SC. His burgeoning radio career started in Beckley WV then gravitated back to his native Philadelphia area, initially his hometown of Norristown, where he conducted the first sports call-in show. Two contacts proved important in Philadelphia: Tommy Roberts, owner of a radio station in Camden NJ (near Garden State Park) and a thoroughbred broadcaster who was an influence on Bachrad’s being knowledgeable about both breeds of racehorses (he had no family connections to racing); and the sports staff of Philadelphia’s KYW Newsradio, where he quickly made his talents evident and covered the city’s major sporting events for over 40 years, with a 1982 induction into the Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. Bachrad worked as an announcer at Liberty Bell Park and as assistant publicist to the legendary “Colonel” Dave Herman at Brandywine, and upon Herman’s retirement after the 1979 season became the track’s director of publicity. Working with the Electronic Race Patrol of Sid Alpert and his son Mark, with whom he worked while doing thoroughbred publicity at Garden State Park, Bachrad was a pioneer of pre-race handicapping on tracks’ closed-circuit TV system, and an innovator in doing attractive and detailed video profiles of horses and horsemen competing at Brandywine. Marvin later worked at TIMES: in harness, the Harrisburg PA publication that was the first major entry into the electronic reporting of harness racing news. He then was summoned back to the outskirts of his Delaware Valley roots when the state of Delaware passed slot machine gaming. He became publicity director at Dover Downs, a track that so profited from the new gaming that its late 1995 Invitational purse in three successive weeks was $2000-$5000-$9000, and which rose from 55th of 57 harness tracks in terms of purses to second a couple of years later. Bachrad served as publicity director for over two decades at the capital city track, using the combination of innovation, hard work, and attention to the needs of the fans that had hallmarked his career. Bachrad also gave back to the sport on a national level. He was president of USHWA in 1992-1993, and at the time of his passing, his 35 years of being a director for the organization was tops among living directors of USHWA. He was a president of the Harness Publicists Association, winning that group’s Golden Pen Award. With such ability and success of course came many awards, with the crown his 1997 election to the Communicators Hall of Fame. His 1988 Service To Youth Award meant very much to him, being a mentor to many of harness racing’s “next generations” of media – three of which have followed him into the Communicators Hall of Fame. He was the winner of Harness Tracks of America’s Dan Patch Award for excellence in communications in 2005, and received a 2010 Special Appreciation Award from the Delaware Standardbred Owners Association, in addition to the other tributes mentioned above. Marv was also a harness horse owner for over 40 years, from the early days of Liberty Bell, where a newcomer named Herve Filion was the trainer/driver of his horses, right up to July of this year, when his sophomore trotting filly Star Sapphire won a $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Race Fund Championship at the State Fair in Harrington. He possessed a detailed knowledge of pedigrees. Bachrad leaves behind two brothers Allen (Marci) of Phoenix AZ and Ronald (Eileen) of Boca Raton FL; a bachelor, he also leaves behind four nieces/nephews and six grandnieces/grandnephews. His “extended” family, a lifetime of colleagues and friends, will also greatly miss his sagacity and kindness. There will be a graveside service at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at Montefiore Cemetery, 600 Church Road, Jenkintown PA 19046. Donations in his honor may be made at your discretion or to the Mitzvah Circle, 1561 Gehman Road, Harleysville PA  19438. UPDATE Detail Update on Marv's Service on Tuesday -- Note new time and Luncheon Details   Tuesday December 4, at Montefiore Cemetary, 600 Church Rd, Jenkintown, PA 19046 at 11.30 am.    There will be luncheon at the Monte Carlo Restaurante, 8080 Old York Rd., Elkins Park, PA  19027 directly after the services.  All are welcome.   Also..... a religious service called Shiva will be observed at the Tiferet Bet Israel Synagogue,  1920 W Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422  at approximately 7.00 pm on Tuesday.  (I know this is very late for most people in DE and NJ.)    Don't forget to bring your GPS. Jerry Connors

Ormstown (QUE), just above the New York State northern border, held the last scheduled stop on the 2018 Quebec regional circuit on Saturday afternoon, with the track record for pacers first being tied, then broken, and then the new mark being tied again.   El Torero, owned, trained and driven by Denis Audet, won both heats of a two-heat race, in the second heat covering the mile in 2:01.4, which equaled the previous Ormstown standard shared by Trys Little Prince, Bali, and Camco Richie.   In the race after that, owner/trainer/driver Audet came back with Northern Juno to obliterate that mark, winning on the engine from the rail in 2:00.1.   In that race after that, Whitemountain Nemo, who had won in 1:54.4 at Rideau Carleton Thursday night, came right back on Saturday afternoon to equal that newly-minted 2:00.1 Ormstown mark. Owned by 9267 7327 Quebec Inc., Whitemountain Nemo was driven by Samuel Fillion for trainer Charles Gaudreault.   by Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Trainer Mike Deters and driver Anthony Napolitano combined successfully for the second time on a dank (55 degrees, "sloppy +1" surface) Sunday night card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono when Prairie Fortune won the $17,500 featured trot in 1:53.4. "Ant'ny Nap" used the rail to advantage and worked out a good two-hole trip behind pacesetter Crazshana with the victorious altered son of Arapa Victory, then pulled away in the lane to be 3½ lengths clear of that rival at the finish, coming his own last half in 56.3. Trainer Deters co-owns the winner of $398,495 with Laurie Lee Poulin. Earlier, the backers in the crowd were few but were loud, as 99-1 shot College Hanover overcame a first-over trip for driver Drew Chellis to hold off 85-1 shot Takethemoneyandrun by a head in 1:55, returning $336.40 for a $2 ticket. That number was the biggest win mutuel at Pocono since November 17, 2015, when Lady Of The Lake and driver Joe Antonelli returned $400.60 to win after a nose victory. College Hanover, trainer by Richard Dunn for the MBC Stables LLC, did have some license in his pedigree - he is a Well Said out of the $590G winner Castanet Hall, and his ¾ brother Cashendash Hanover pushed his earnings over $575G when he won at Philly last Sunday. But the crowd was discouraged by College Hanover's 0-for-32 lifetime record - not knowing that the 33rd time would be the charm for the sophomore. Pocono is scheduled for a "dark night" tomorrow, as the scheduled annual local golfing tournament is as rabidly followed and enjoyed as much as a Super Bowl or a Wrestlemania card. The weather gods just may smile on the golfers, although rain is the 2-5 favorite at the moment (but if a horse can pay $336.60, ...).   Jerry Connors Jr.

The record books at the Quebec Regional Fair harness racing meet at Brome, about 65 miles southeast of Montreal, took a big pounding during a card of racing on Labor Day Monday.   The track trotting mark of 2:03.1 was equaled by Federal Strike, who came his last quarter in 28.4 to tie the mark for owner/driver Sylvain Fontaine.   The track pacing mark of 1:58, which dated back to 1993, fell in both heats of a two-heat race. Hawaiian Five Roll won the first heat in 1:57.1; in the second heat, My Lucky Bluejeans and driver Tyler Jones lowered that newly-minted mark to 1:57.   Jones then added himself to another line in the Brome track records. There was no listed record for 1 1/2 miles on the pace, so when Jones guided pacer Clever Thing home first in 2:59.4, he also claimed the track record for the extended distance.   by Jerry Connors    

HARRISBURG, PA -- Trainer Ron Burke, freshly over $200 million in career earnings, added another milestone to his huge collection when he trained the 9000th winner of his career on Tuesday night, winning with On The Virg at Northfield for the magic tally.   It helps to have the skills of a railroad conductor in trying to keep track of Burke and any national statistics he generates. Starting the day at 8994 career wins, he bagged three wins at The Meadows and one at Scioto during afternoon racing, running his tally to 8998. Victory #8999 came with Southwind Storm as she finished a sweep of her four prelims in the PA Stallion Series for 2TF with a Pocono victory.   That win came at 9:14 p.m. A check of the USTA stats exactly two hours later saw Burke still hovering at 8999, but then two late results were made "official" within the system, which is how the totals rise in PATHWAY. The milestone #9000 came at 9:41 at Northfield with On The Virg, who wasn't even favored in a "nw3500L4" class, but was 14 lengths clear of the field in 1:50 -- reaching the achievement in style.   And the night still wasn't over for Burke, as at 10:18 he won a New York Sire Stakes event at Saratoga with Bicorne Hanover, the first step on his undoubted way to 10,000 career training victories according to official records.   by Jerry Connors    

D J Power, who was one of the two harness racing horses to pace in 1:57.1 last time at St-Joseph-de-Lepage in Quebec, raced for the all-age track record, won the first of a two-heat race Sunday in 1:59.   He was scratched from the second heat, so the 10-year-old Washington Hanover, second to D J Power in the first heat, took advantage and won the second heat for driver Pascal Berube in 1:56.4, which is the new all-age track record. Also SOS Mach Xtreme won in 1:58.1. Those were the only sub-2:00 miles of the days races.   Brussebeach, the other horse who went into the day co-holding the 1:57.1 track record, won again Saturday, but he was in a series final at 1 1/2 miles: he won in 3:05.3, far off their track record of 3:01, but he did come his last three quarters in 1:29.1.   At Bedford QUE, probably the fastest of the regional circuit in Quebec, there were no records, although there were five miles under 2:00, including a 1:54.3 by Allstar Seelster.   by Jerry Connors

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