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An interesting footnote to the life of General "Bubba" Washington Jr., who recently passed away and whose obituary was listed on the sport's websites, is that he was the first African-American man to win a not-$100,000 race. Here's what we mean.   Washington had qualified Mary Ann Hobbs for the New York Sire Stakes three-year-old filly trot Championship, scheduled to race for a purse of $100,000 on October 8, 1974. I believe 1974 was the first year of the New York Sire Stakes Championships, based on an article written by Times writer Joe Nichols in the October 9 edition of the paper, which can be found online.   Going for the big money, Washington was going to put Herve Filion (who would win his 5000th race the next night) down to drive her, but I remember a story that one of Washington's sons, perhaps Cedric, who still campaigns at Monticello, persuaded "Daddy" to drive the horse himself, and Washington resolved to do so. (This parallels to some degree the Hambletonian of 2005, where a Pennsylvania horseman was bringing his horse to the big race, and was going to ask Cat Manzi to drive him, but Manzi told him -- Roger Hammer -- to drive, saying, "If you win, you'll remember it for the rest of your life." Hammer did drive Vivid Photo, and the rest is well-documented history.)   So Washington did drive Mary Ann Hobbs in the Championship, and she made a break. But so did three of her six other rivals. And Washington was able to rally Mary Ann Hobbs to the victory in the Championship.   Time: 2:12.1.   So General Washington Jr. became the first African-American driver to win a $100,000 race, right? Well, ...   The 3-5 favorite for the race, Coral Belle, warmed up lame before the race, and the judges ordered her scratched (necessitating an $80,000+ refund). Another figure that changed was the purse, as the official purse for the contest is listed as $98,000. It's just a guess that there was a $2000 starting fee, and with the scratch the starting fee was refunded, and thus the purse dipped to $98,000. But a good case can be made that it was "a $100,000 race."   Upon the man's passing, this seemed to be the time to tell this story, as one of the pioneer African-Americans in a sport where Wiggle It Jiggleit is currently the best pacer in North America.   Jerry Connors  

WILKES-BARRE PA - Can't I, a two-year-old daughter of Cantab Hall out of the harness racing world champion trotting mare Buck I St Pat, is now 2 for 2 lifetime after winning a $14,000 conditioned trot Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.   Buck I St Pat was voted Older Trotting Mare of the Year in 2008-2009-2010, and won the Breeders Crown for her section in the latter two campaigns for her owners Howard Taylor, Edwin Gold, Abraham Basen, and R. R. Fuller. She twice had years of 10 victories and twice years with nine while amassing 51 career triumphs, fastest in 1:51 at The Meadowlands in 2010 at age 7, while earning $2,320,637. She was also indirectly responsible for probably the ugliest pair of men's short pants ever seen in harness racing, which owner Taylor wore whenever she raced and insisted were his "lucky Buck I St Pat pants."   It looks like Buck I St Pat might be reproducing her racetrack prowess in the breeding shed, for Can't I followed up on her career debut victory in a Stallion Series event with a game two-move win in the Monday night slop at Pocono. The freshman and Hall of Fame driver John Campbell got away fourth from post eight, then had to come again first-over, but Can't I said "Why can't I?" in the stretch and gamely carried on to overtake her 8-5 cofavored rival French Press and score by ¾ of a length in 1:57.3.   Bob Stewart is the conditioner of Can't I, who is owned by the same foursome mentioned above as involved with Buck I St Pat - Taylor, Gold, Basen, and Fuller. One may have bad fashion sense, but all four are longtime smart businessmen who know enough to hold on to a horse that may turn out gold-en for them as well.   Jerry Connors

WASHINGTON, PA, July 30, 2016 -- Saturday's harness racing card at The Meadows, highlighted by the $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids and the $110,950 Adioo Volo, featured four other Arden Downs stakes. Here's a recap of those Grand Circuit events. $56,418 Ned McCarr -- 3-Year-Old Filly Trotters Glidinthruparadise lost her duel for the early lead and had to slink back to third, a disappointment that would frustrate many young trotters. But the daughter of Yankee Glide-Chowda wasn't discouraged at all, moving first over to put away the leader, Hot Curry, and score for Brian Zendt in a career-best 1:55, matching the stake record of Upfrontluckycarol. "She's a little headstrong leaving the gate, and she was going forward no matter what," Zendt reported. "I didn't want to sit third, but they were going enough that she had more trot than any of them late." Ameliosi finished second, 1-3/4 lengths back, while Moots completed the ticket. Lisa Dunn trains Glidinthruparadise, who was won six of her eleven starts this year, and owns with Leslie Dunn Zendt. Keystone Taylor took the other Ned McCarr split for Dave Palone, trainer Jenny Melander and owner Steve Organ. $76.764 Gov. David L. Lawrence -- 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers The fastest two-year-old of 2016, Fear The Dragon, again put in a huge mile, overcoming both the sloppy surface and a determined late bid by Don'ttellmeagain to win in 1:52.4. The son of Dragon Again, trained by Brian Brown for the Emerald Highlands Farm, went a mile that might have been as impressive as the 1:50.3 mile he went here on July 20 to make him the fastest freshman so far, regardless of track size. Hall of Famer David Miller whooshed the precocious baby to the lead from fourth coming on the first turn, with Don'ttellmeagain, undefeated in three previous starts, relinquishing the lead going into turn two. From there it was basically a two-horse contest, and Don'ttellmeagain did himself great credit by cutting into the leader's margin steadily. In the end, Fear The Dragon held his tough rival off by a neck with a 27.4 kicker. Cinnabar Dragon finished third. The very next race on the card was another division of the Lawrence, and fans could be forgiven at headstretch if they thought they were watching a replay: the first race went in splits of 27.4, 56.1, and 1:25.1 with the pocket horse second choice moving out to challenge the favorite, while the second division featuring fractions of 27.3, 56.1, and 1:25.1, with the second choice two-holer moving to challenge. The difference was that Every Way Out, the pocket horse, proved the better late over front-stepping Normandy Beach, gaining into a 27.2 last quarter to win by a length in 1:52.3 to tie his mark. Southwind Yukon completed the ticket. The son of If I Can Dream is a New Jersey Sire Stakes champion and undefeated in four starts for driver Tim Tetrick, trainer Dylan Davis and owners Howard Taylor, Abraham Basen, Ed Gold and Thomas Lazzaro. Tetrick indicated he had little to lose by vacating the pocket early. "I wanted to give my horse a chance," he said. "From the middle of the turn on, he's supposed to be able to pace with that horse (Every Way Out). I thought I would win or be second either way. For a 2-year-old, he's pretty seasoned -- and he'll get better, too." When 1-5 favorite Downbytheseaside broke his overcheck going to the gate and caused a recall, it may have been an omen that it wouldn't be his day. Indeed, after being sixth by 8-1/2 lengths just before the last half of 55.1, he could only rally for third, as second-choice Filibuster Hanover came out of the pocket in the 27 last quarter to catch front-stepping Bettor's Western by a head. The time of 1:52, the fastest divisional clocking and only two ticks off the stakes record, was also a personal best for the Somebeachsomewhere colt. Yannick Gingras drove for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, JT45, Joseph DiScala, Jr. and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The first three divisions produced a favorite and two second choices as winners, but in the last division, the longest shot on the board, 39-1 Bellows Binge, followed Eddard Hanover around the final turn, then caught that rival in the last couple steps. He posted a nose victory in 1:53, lowering his mark five seconds for trainer Dirk Simpson and owners Desyllas Racing LLC, William Beck and Carol Rieken. Driver Dan Rawlings guided the son of Bettor's Delight -- Jerry Connors $58,466 James Manderino -- 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trotters Truemass Volo shot the Lightning Lane and triumphed in 1:56.2 for Matt Kakaley, trainer Doug Hamilton and owners Jon Erdner and Martin Garey. Meadowbranch Memo rallied for place, 3/4 lengths back, with Mac Deeno third. Truemass Volo was parked the first quarter, but when Kakaley released Mac Deeno to the lead, Truemass Volo gained valuable cover. Hamilton said that after facing tough competition in the Beal and the Stanley Dancer, the Muscle Massive-Tresbien Volo gelding was able to show he belongs with his division's elite. "I don't think he can beat them on a consistent basis, but he's one of the top ones," Hamilton said. "He just hasn't showed it yet. He's had a lot of bad luck, and we've been going through an educational process with him." Truemass Volo extended his career bankroll to $187,255. Rocco's Tacos overcame post 8 to capture the other Manderino split in 1:56.4 for Zendt, Melander and owners John DeVito and Rocco Manniello. $62,965 Mary Lib Miller -- 2-Year-Old Filly Pacers Pittstop Danika, benefiting from a first-quarter break by favored Watch What You Say, made every pole a winning one in posting a 3-1/4-length victory over Dangerous Woman in the first division The daughter of Yankee Cruiser took a maiden mark of 1:55 in the off going, with Matt Kakaley handling the lines for trainer Ron Burke (who got checks with each of his three entrants in the division) and the partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and M1 Stable. Watch What You Say, who went into the infield to get squared away, made a fine recovery and survived an inquiry to be third. "This was a little bit easier spot for her," Kakaley said. "Outside posts against sires stake horses are real tough. She's been racing good. She has a good attitude, and she has a good future." Burke came right back in the second division with Make Mine Mocha, a Bettor's Delight filly who visited Victory Lane for the first time after drawing off to a 2-1/4-length victory in 1:54, with the track upgraded to good for the last two Miller cuts. Mike Wilder quarter-moved with Make Mine Mocha, and the pair was not in doubt thereafter while winning for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Phil Collura, Michelle Yanek and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The final division produced an impressive winner in another daughter of Yankee Cruiser, Keystone Rampage, who moved to the lead in front of the stands, then scooted home in 28 to trip the timer in 1:53, two ticks off the stakes record. Dave Palone was in the sulky behind the victorious filly, who took a new mark for trainer Kevin Lare and owner Frank Chick. -- Jerry Connors The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

DAYTON PA - The two-year-old harness racing trotters continue to put on a speed show on the Pennsylvania fair circuit in 2016, with the track standards at the oval in this westcentral Pennsylvania borough rewritten for both sexes during Fair Sire Stakes action for freshmen on Saturday.   First to add his name to the local records was the Great George Two gelding Gee Wizz George, who battled outside of pacesetter Sortie Hanover for over the last quarter mile, then was just along at the wire by a head in 2:04.2, lowering the best time ever posted locally by a baby colt trotter (Albany House, 2012) by a tick while taking a new mark. Trainer Jean Rastetter handles the fast freshman for owners Maryann and Richard Rastetter; for Ron Harvey, now driving only intermittently, his only two sulky successes since 2008 have come behind "George."   But the title of "fastest two-year-old trotter ever at Dayton" was then transferred in ... gee wizz, how long was it? ... fifteen minutes, as in the very next race the Lucky Chucky filly Lovebeinglucky dispatched her competition by 8¼ lengths, coming home in 29.3 to complete a 2:04.1 mile.   That clocking beat both the previous filly standard (2:05, Classical Original, 2003) and the newly-etched mark for overall fastest 2YO trotter ever locally. Lovebeinglucky, who also added a personal speed badge, became the first horse to set two sectional standards at the fairs this year (her first came in a 2:05.4 mile at Butler) for red-hot trainer/driver Rick Beinhauer, who shares ownership in the precocious miss with Regina Beinhauer.   A third Dayton record was missed only by a fifth, as the Dragon Again filly Camera Lady sped off to a 28.4 personal last quarter to win in 2:01.2, just a tick off of DVC Jaded Attitude's 2012 local record. Both of these fillies share the link of owner/trainer Dave Brickell, with Brickell also owning Camera Lady, now a winner four times in five starts, with Mitchell York.   On the human side of the equation, the day was dominated by 23-year-old driver Shawn Johnston, who had five victorious sulky assignments on the day - after never having had more than a one-day driving double in his 49 previous triumphs.   The quintet raises Shawn's fair total to 13 for the season, one behind Chris Shaw, who teamed with brother/trainer Jason for a win with 2PF Gemalous to give them a category-leading 14 fair winners.   The three-year-olds take to the track for their PA Fair Sire Stakes races tomorrow (Sunday), with the first of a dozen races set to go behind the gate at 1 p.m.   by Jerry Connors for the PA Sire Stakes Fair  

GRATZ PA - The Pennsylvania harness fair season traveled eastward for the first time in 2016, making its third stop of the season at this central Pennsylvania community for a Fair Sire Stakes 2-day event.   Over the last few years, Gratz and Bloomsburg have by general consensus consistently rated as among the fastest tracks on the Keystone State twicearound circuit, and the oval kept its reputation intact during racing on Saturday (2YOs) and Sunday (3YOs).   Star Of Terror, fresh off tying Audie K's 24-year-old all-age track record at Butler (2:00.2), posted the fastest time of the young season with a 1:57.1 win in a division of the three-year-old colt pace.   The Western Terror gelding moved to the lead off the first turn for driver Chris Shaw and rang up splits of 29.1, 58.2, and 1:28.1 en route to the drawing clear victory. This was only the eighth lifetime start for Star Of Terror, trained by Jason Shaw for owners Fortunate One LLC, and the clocking was the fastest on the state fair circuit in almost two years, with Gordo pacing in 1:57 at Bedford on July 21, 2014.   The colts' distaff counterparts had clocked the first 2:00 mile of the season a few races early when the Demarvalous filly Marvalous Jet overcame a tough first-over journey against pacesetter Gymnast Hanover, finally wearing down that game rival late by a neck in 1:59.3. Shawn Johnston, capturing his second of the three divisions for 3PFs, sulkysat for trainer Kevin Johnson and owners Winbak Farm and Rocknridge Racing Inc.   Perhaps the most impressive mile on the Sunday card for sophomores was one that did not break 2:00, but darned near did - and it was posted by a trotting filly. The SJ's Caviar filly Real Caviar put the nonbreakers in a roe row behind her and then rattled off splits of 30, 1:00.2, and 1:30.1 en route to a clocking of 2:00.1, which missed by only a tick the Gratz divisional track record of 2:00 co-held by Heirodynamic (2007) and Petiti (2008). Todd Schadel, who handled Petiti in her record mile, was also up behind Real Caviar, a filly he trains and co-owners with Dr. John Egloff.   Todd Schadel, who was the leading driver (5 wins) and trainer (4) of the two-day weekend at Gratz, swept the two-year-old colt pace on the Saturday card, with two sons of Yankee Cruiser, the colt Teen Cruiser and the gelding Cruiserwillwin, both stopping the timer in 2:02.1 after effective rallies. Mike Gillock trains Teen Cruiser for owner Bob Key, while Schadel is the conditioner of Cruiserwillwin and also the co-winner with his wife Christine.   Team Shaw - owner and four-year-old Mason Shaw, father/trainer Jason, and driver/brother Chris -- continued their mastery of the specific discipline of two-year-old pacing fillies, taking both cuts. The Ponder filly Keystone Nikki rated a moderate pace, then sprinted at the end of a 30.3 last quarter to finish out her mile in 2:06.1, while Gemalous, a daughter of Delmarvalous, rallied in the lane to catch frontstepper Keystone Zeta by ¾ of a length in 2:03.2.   After three stops, Chris Shaw heads the drivers colony with 13 victories; Shawn Johnston is having a breakthrough year and is second with 8, with perennial kingpin Roger Hammer next at 6. Jason Shaw also has 13 trips to the winners circle to lead the trainers, with Hammer and Bob Rougeaux III tied for second at 6.   FINISHING LINES - Apologies to Ron Harvey for not identifying him as the driver behind Gee Wizz George, a winner on June 30 at Butler. Harvey, driving infrequently in recent years, posted his first sulky victory since March 18, 2008 at The Meadows with Smiling Ruthie (for the same trainer, Jean Rastetter) ... Next stops for the fairs is at Dayton PA, with racing action this Saturday and Sunday.     by Jerry Connors for the PA Fair Circuit

PROSPECT PA - The Big Butler Fair opened a two-day stand as the second stop on the 2016 Pennsylvania fair circuit on Thursday, and the northwest Pennsylvania has never remotely seen a parade of two-year-old trotting speed as it did today, with track records for both sexes obliterated.   Butler traditionally races just before the Fourth Of July, so quick baby miles, especially from trotters, could not be expected - the old marks were 2:09.1 for colts and 2:08.2 for fillies. But we're glad nobody showed today's freshmen the record books before they raced.   The Broadway Hall gelding Toolbox Tuesday was the first recordbreaker to take to the track, and he left the old divisional Butler standard somewhere over by the Ohio line as he roared home in 2:05.3 - yes, 3 3/5 seconds faster than the male mark established by KT Tag I'm It in 2010. The fast freshman made quite an impression in breaking his maiden for trainer/driver Roger Hammer, who is also the co-owner with Vicki Fair.   (A thought should be spared here for the Great George Two gelding Gee Wizz George, who was victorious in another section of the baby colt trot for driver Leo Harvey, trainer Jean Rastetter, and owners Maryann and Richard Rastetter. His time of 2:07.3 would also have shattered the old Butler mark - if his race hadn't come one race after Toolbox Tuesday's.)   The fillies weren't about to miss out on the record action on the fine fairgrounds half-miler, and in the race after Gee Wizz George's, the Lucky Chucky filly Lovebeinglucky stopped the stopwatch in 2:05.4, leaving the old mark of 2:08.2, set by Trustworthy Gal in 2014, way up the stretch. Lovebeinglucky, trained and driven , and owned in partnership with his wife Regina, by Rick Beinhauer, continued Beinhauer's assault on the fair record book - in two stops he's had this mile, and he drove the three-year-old Major Matter, who's in at Butler tomorrow (Thursday) , to a 2:04 victory which equaled the fastest trot mile ever during Wattsburg's 2016 seasonal opener.   Roger Hammer also trained the fastest winning freshman pacer of the day - and his time too was 2:05.3, just like Hammer's trotter Toolbox Tuesday. The fast pacer was a filly, the Delmarvalous miss Marvalous B T, who was driven here by Steve Schoeffel for conditioner/owner/breeder Hammer.   FINISHING LINES - The three-year-olds take center stage on the Friday Butler card, with 12 races starting at 10 a.m. Major Matter is in the third ... Roger Huston said to tell everyone that he really likes the chances of the one horse in the first race at Butler on Friday.   By Jerry Connors, for the PA Fair Circuit   Apparently the photo of Toolbox Tuesday did not work out -- we apologize, and if we find a remedy, we'll send it along. Here's a photo of 2TF recordsetter Love Being Lucky.

A reminder that this Sunday, July 3 is Hall of Fame Day at the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York. Tickets to attend Sunday evening's Hall of Fame Dinner can still be had. Individual tickets are $125. Call the Museum at 845-294-6330 for information. There will be live harness racing at neighboring Goshen Historic Track Friday through Monday, July 1-4, including the classic Hall of Fame Invitational Trot on Sunday, Hall of Fame Day. Post time is 1:00 each day. Admission is $5 and children 12 and under are free. If you can't make it to Goshen this weekend, watch live streaming video of the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the USTA's website at Festivities begin at 7:00 p.m. ET. While you're online, visit the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame's new, redesigned website at Museum news, Hall of Famer biographies and historic harness racing photographs make up just some of the updated content you can explore at our informative new site. From the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame

HARRISBURG PA – The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the trade organization of harness racing communicators and the largest organization of its kind in the world, has announced that it will be holding its 2017 Dan Patch Awards Banquet at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort and Casino on Sunday, February 26, with the organization’s annual meetings to be conducted the day before and that day. A part of the Caesars chain of gaming resorts, Planet Hollywood started operation on its present site, formerly the Aladdin casino/hotel, on the famous Las Vegas Strip next to the Vegas and Bally’s casino/hotels, in 2007, and the property was acquired by Caesars in 2010. It was the first resort operated by Planet Hollywood, which is an upscale restaurant chain owned by many Hollywood stars and founded in 1991. Among its features at the Las Vegas site are The Miracle Mile, a 170-store shopping mall, and AXIS, the largest auditorium on the Vegas strip, where performers such as Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Lionel Richie have performed “in residence.” Its variety of on-site eating establishments run the gamut from a Gordon Ramsay-overseen restaurant to a Starbuck’s. The Dan Patch Awards Banquet annually honors the best and brightest performers, both human and equine, of the previous season. The awardwinners are selected by USHWA, which will be holding its Directors meeting on Saturday and its General Membership meeting on the banquet Sunday. The United States Trotting Association (USTA) will be meeting in Las Vegas starting the day after the banquet, Monday, February 27, headquartered at the Rio Hotel and Casino; Harness Horsemen International (HHI) is also having its annual meetings in Las Vegas in the general timeframe. A synergistic joint session of organizations is under discussion, but nothing has been finalized yet. “I’d like to thank chairman Gordon Waterstone and his entire Banquet Location Committee for its hard work in exploring options and then selecting and signing with Planet Hollywood,” said Tim Bojarski, president of USHWA. “Our organization is excited at the prospect of again going to Las Vegas, and Planet Hollywood has all of the necessary accommodations and infrastructure so that we can continue to present a first-class Dan Patch Awards Banquet, truly honoring the champions of our sport.” Details will be made available at the USHWA website,, and through trade media as they become available. by Jerry Connors, for USHWA

HARRISBURG PA - Ron Battoni, recently-retired executive vice-president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association and one of the leaders of Pennsylvania's re-emergence to the uppermost ranks of North American harness racing, has been selected to receive the Mary Lib Miller Award, the highest annual honor given by the Keystone Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), for long and meritorious service to the Commonwealth's Standardbred industry.   A former horseman, Battoni served for over a quarter-century at the helm of PHHA, and was one of the leaders for the horsemen's viewpoint when the enabling legislation of expanded gaming opportunities was being drifted in the early- and mid-00's. He along with other influential horsemen "rode herd" on the drafting of the bill, known as "The Race Horse Development and Gaming Bill," to maintain that some semblance of that pecking order would be, and has been, maintained in the decade since slots came to Pennsylvania - fittingly, first at Battoni's home track of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in November 2006.   Battoni also was the first to recognize the changing relationship between racetracks and horsemen's organizations, often bringing promotional ideas and other information to track management, so that both sides could participate in a win-win partnership that added a third winner -- the state's harness racing program. Ron also never lost sight of the fact that he and his PHHA board were the protectors of the horsemen, both large and small, and constantly championed their rights within the ever-changing relationships within the sport's gaming interests.   The Keystone Chapter of USHWA has also announced winners for outstanding performance in Pennsylvania (and beyond) during the 2015 racing season:   PA DRIVER OF THE YEAR - George Napolitano Jr., who set single-season records for dashes won at both the Downs and Harrah's Philadelphia, the latter arguably the single-toughest drivers' community in North America, and who had four months of 100 or more winners en route to finishing second in the North American dashwinning derby.   PA TRAINER OF THE YEAR - Ron Burke, again the dominating trainer of not only his home base of The Meadows, but also of the entire North American scene, with early development of future stars at The Meadows and the state's other tracks leading to a stable which produced 984 victories and $24.9M in pursemoney.   PA BREEDER OF THE YEAR - Hanover Shoe Farms, the leading breeder in North America every year since records began to be kept in 1949; this past year they outdid even themselves by posting a single-season record of $30,167,751 in earnings from their "graduates."   PA-SIRED HORSE OF THE YEAR - Pinkman, 2015 North American Trotter of the Year, winner of $1.8M in 2015 including the prestigious Hambletonian; he also won at all three PA tracks in 2015, including the Beal Championship at Pocono.   PA SIRE STAKES HORSE OF THE YEAR - Pure Country, also the national champion after going undefeated in 10 starts and winning the Breeders Crown; half those ten wins came in PA Sire Stakes company, where she swept her prelims and the Championship, setting a Sires single-year money record of $286,918.   PA HORSE OF THE YEAR, for a horse who campaigned with great success in overnight races at the state's racetracks - Atta Boy Dan, who raced in Pennsylvania's top classes, primarily at The Meadows, in 10 of the 12 months, won in nine of them, and won in sub-1:50 in six of them, fastest 1:49.1 at The Meadows.   These awards will be presented in mid-spring to the winners and/or their connections, at their home Pennsylvania tracks or when they come to the state for stakes competition.   by Jerry Connors for the Keystone Chapter USHWA    

HARRISBURG PA -- Within the space of 24 hours and 9 minutes, from Saturday night to Sunday night, Hall of Famer David Miller drove 10 winners, at three different tracks.   Miller's first winner of this "hot period" came with Relentless Dream at 8:34 p.m., the 4th race at The Meadowlands, after which he added Western Fame (5th) and City Hall (10th).   Shifting to Harrah's Philadelphia Sunday afternoon, the Buckeye got off to a slow start, then finished at a sub-26 rate, winning with Hickory Icon (7th), Mach To The Max (8th), True Blue Hall (11th), Stolen Car (12th), and Dabestleaderever (14th).   Miller then headed to Pocono Downs, where he won in the 4th with Some Fancy Filly and the 5th with Worth Watching, the latter victory coming at 8:43 p.m., just outside of a 24-hour span from his first in the series.   David's last three at Philly and two at Pocono came in five straight drives for him; in fact, had Mr Hasani N been able to win instead of finishing third in the ninth at Philly, Miller would have had eight straight successes in sulky appearances.   David is a regular at Harrah's Philadelphia, and currently he is second in the standings with 12 wins, one behind Yannick Gingras. At Pocono, he has turned up for Weiss Series action, and his four victories ties him for eighth in the standings of the young meet. The Meadowlands has been racing all year, while Miller took most of the winter off to stay in Florida, but he still has amassed 10 wins ther, putting him in a tie for 13th -- but his 17.9% win rate is higher than any driver above or equal to him in victories.   The sport's historians have another reason to be looking at Miller. After Sunday night's action, trotters and pacers guided by Miller have generated a career total of $199,496,035 -- so it shouldn't be long before Miller joins fellow Hall of Famers John Campbell and Ron Pierce as the exclusive members of the $200 Million Club.   Miller takes today (Monday) off, then has scheduled engagements Tuesday in morning qualifiers at Philly and during the twilight card at Dover.   by Jerry Connors  

Jason Settlemoir, a "youthful veteran" of the sport who has spent a quarter-century working in harness racing at several of its premier locations, has been selected for a six-year term as a member of the Hall of Fame Screening Committee, appointed by Tim Bojarski, president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, per the organization's By-Laws.   Settlemoir started his harness career as a teenager, being associated with the Terry Holton Stable and working in various media and operational capacities at Ohio's racing venues, including the Little Brown Jug Grand Circuit meets at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Settlemoir was then tapped to be an executive by Jeff Gural when he purchased New York tracks Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, and again later when Gural took over operations of Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. There, Settlemoir continued on to his present position of General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the world-famous mile oval.   He also serves on the executive boards of the U.S. Trotting Association and Harness Tracks of America.   Settlemoir has already served two years on the Screening Committee as a voting member while president of USHWA between 2010 and 2012, as all USHWA presidents are voting members of every USHWA committee.   "Jason Settlemoir is a rare combination of old school and new breed when it comes to harness racing. Despite his age, his vast experience in the sport began while working for midwest racing legends 20 years ago and continued to develop through today, where he now oversees meets that feature the best trainers and drivers in North America," said Bojarski.   "Settlemoir's high moral standards, hands-on knowledge of harness racing and overall love of the sport make him uniquely qualified to view potential Hall of Fame candidates through the eyes of both horseman and administrator. And it's that perspective that will vet and deliver the best possible candidates to the highest accolade in racing."   The USHWA Hall of Fame Screening Committee gathers together the biographies of nominations for the Hall, which must come from the chapters of USHWA, and discusses them at meetings over the Fourth of July weekend in Goshen NY, the home of the Hall and the Harness Racing Museum.   The nominations are also discussed with an Advisory Committee of members of the Hall of Fame, and then the group's choices for ballot candidates are decided and go before the electorate, eligible USHWAns and Hall of Famers, later in the summer.   Jerry Connors    

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the major trade group of harness racing communicators in North America and worldwide, will be making a $1,000 contribution towards the fund created to assist the people affected by the tragic fire of March 16 at the South Florida Training Center which claimed the lives of 12 horses, injured others and severely affected the lives of many owners and trainers stabled at the Center.   "USHWA hopes this donation, along with the other harness racing groups and individual horsemen contributing to the situation at the training center, will aid in trying to restore some sort of normalcy to those involved in this devastating situation," stated USHWA President Tim Bojarski, who was elected when the group held its annual meetings in nearby Fort Lauderdale the first weekend of March.   "Owning a stable of my own, I am intimately aware of how overwhelming losing a horse in this (or any) manner can be. These animals are not only a livelihood, they are also family members and to have something like this happen is just heartbreaking. I, and the entire membership of USHWA, send out our thoughts and prayers to everyone who was affected and hope for a quick calm for them after this terrible storm."   "Several USHWAns visited South Florida Training Center the weekend of the organization's annual meetings and many connected with the center either attended the Dan Patch Awards Banquet that Sunday or have supported USHWA when they have had a horse of their own honored in the past. As they have been supporters of USHWA, USHWA supports them in their time of need" said Bojarski.   Funding will be donated through the GoFundMe account ( set up by announcer Michael Carter of the Post Time with Mike& Mike podcast. In the nine days since the creation of the account, over $42,000 has been raised to aid the plight of the South Florida horsemen.   Jerry Conners  

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono previewed its 51st season of harness racing, which begins this Saturday night, at a Wednesday noontime press gathering for a group of local media whom Downs Vice President of Racing Operations Dale Rapson called "people who have been great in working with us over the years," citing the press, local horsemen, and Mohegan staffers as major parts of a renaissance which has led, as Rapson noted, "from Pocono being a place you went if your horses wouldn't do elsewhere" into one of the sport's North American leaders.   Rapson, starting his 38th season of employment at the northeast Pennsylvania oval, mentioned the track's signature cards, Sun Stakes Saturday (July 2) and Super Stakes Saturday (August 20), each offering over $2 million in purses, along with the inaugural Pennsylvania Classics for the state's three-year-old pacers which will offer $1 million in purses as part of a Kentucky Derby Day doubleheader card at The Downs. "We'll be bringing back (baseball great) Pete Rose to Pocono this year," he stated, then mentioned that "we are in negotiations for a couple more bigname sports figures to be making appearances at Pocono this year."   The related 1-2 punch that brought Pocono the most to its lofty position today was the authorization and then introduction of slots and casino gaming, the former of which led to the interest in and purchase of Pocono by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. Michael Bean, president/CEO of Mohegan Sun Pocono and president/GM of the Downs racetrack, noted in his remarks, "It seems hard to believe that it's been ten years since Mohegan came to northeast Pennsylvania. Since then, we've grown from Pocono Downs racetrack to become a world-class entertainment destination," with a full modern hotel, first-class restaurants and shopping, and of course racing and gaming.   During the press conference, held in the popular Pacer's Clubhouse, the media had as a backdrop sixteen qualifying races. Fastest performer of the day was the Armbro Deuce pacing gelding Rude Boy, wire-to-wire in 1:53.2 for driver Matt Kakaley and trainer Jason Robinson; equally-impressive was the Swan For All trotting gelding Sonnyforall, who stormed his third quarter in 27.4 to grab the lead entering the final turn and drawing off in 1:54.4 for trainer/driver Bill Mullin.   Pocono will open its 2016 racing season starting this Saturday on a Saturday-Tuesday basis in March, adding Sundays on April 3 and Mondays on April 11; this four-day-a-week configuration will be the main schedule for the year at Pocono. In a change, Sunday racing will begin at 7:30 p.m.; the trotters and pacers will be called to first post at 6:30 p.m. on the other three nights. The racing on the thoroughbred Triple Crown Days will again be a featured highlight, as will the early-season $250,000 Bobby Weiss Series for developing youngsters.   Jerry Connors

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the world's largest organization for harness racing industry communicators celebrating its 70th year of chronicling the sport through its membership, conducted its annual two days of business meetings this past weekend at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Resort. The weekend culminated in the Sunday evening celebration of the sport's best and brightest stars of 2015, both human and equine, at the annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet.   Per its usual two-year rotation policy, the presidency of USHWA changed - but not its strong commitment to exploring ways in which emerging social media can be utilized to solidify harness racing's present fan base and help build towards that of its future.   Tim Bojarski, publicist at Batavia Downs, Hoof Beats columnist, and the Webmaster for the organization's website, ascended from the first vice presidency chair to become president of USHWA, succeeding Chris Tully, the Goshen NY-based multi-media talent and chairman / driving force of the committee which produced the excellent Journal which accompanied the Dan Patch Banquet. Tully will become the USHWA Chairman of the Board, as the USHWA bylaws dictate, and was named a Lifetime Member of USHWA.   Shawn Wiles, the point person for all racing-related activities at Monticello Raceway, moved up to the 1st Vice Presidency position, while Kim Rinker, now directing the Ohio Sire Stakes efforts, was elected 2nd Vice President. Judy Davis-Wilson, a past president of the organization, elected not to stand for her Treasurer position after years of vital service to the group; with that, the Directors elected Barry Lefkowitz, former Roosevelt publicist and the head of USHWA's Audit and Finance Committee, as overseer of the organization's finances. Jerry Connors was revoted as USHWA Secretary.   The most important piece of USHWA business took place early in the two days of sessions, as Gordon Waterstone and Steve Wolf were chosen to be on the summer ballot for election to the sport's Communicators Hall of Fame. Waterstone made his mark in his native Michigan and environs, primarily at Detroit's Hazel Park, before becoming assistant editor at The Horseman and Fair World, and if elected will join his editor Kathy Parker as Communicators Hall members. Wolf, the Dinner Committee chairman of this year's successful affair, was an innovative publicist and dedicated USHWAn (one of only three people to win the organization's Member of the year twice) in his home area of New Jersey and metro Philadelphia before coming to Florida, where he ascended to the racing general manager position of Pompano Park prior to his becoming a respected media consultant for several cutting-edge harness organizations.   During the many committee reports and discussion at the USHWA meetings, the talk turned, as it does in most harness organizations in these days of consolidation, to formulating plans to continue ensuring the financial health of the organization, which performs among many others two vital functions mentioned above - the electing of Hall of Famers, and the sponsorship of the annual Dan Patch Banquet honoring the stars of the sport. Several plans and ideas were examined during the discussion sessions; incoming treasurer Lefkowitz said that initially his focus will be on increasing USHWA revenues despite the contraction of the times, as expenses usually stay within a small annual variance. He further noted that all members will need to become "contributors" to USHWA, in the workrate and communication sense to attract more interest surrounding the Dan Patch Banquet, which is USHWA's primary source of cash influx, with new methods of fundraising efforts, still under study, no less important.   One bright note at the meetings was the announcement of an increase in USHWA membership in the past year, reversing a trend that has carried through the current consolidation period. Many communicators now have the important tool of developed social media skills in their reporting arsenal, and other avenues of using emerging media were presented and explored during a U.S. Trotting Association/USHWA co-sponsored workshop on using social media in aiding awareness of major races. David Carr, who was honored for his recent election to the Communicators Hall of Fame at the Dan Patch Banquet, joined Rob Key, who has been the point man for harness racing's emergence in social media, and others presenting their views on how this new and important tool can best be "harnessed" to maximum effect for the sport.   With future 2016 efforts defined and assigned, the USHWA meetings ended with a look towards the group's 2017 conclave, which may be held in Las Vegas, likely in conjunction with the USTA's annual meetings, and possibly with the participation of other industry organizations.   Jerry Connors

BEDFORD PA - The Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association, in conjunction with their good friends at the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, honored their best and brightest harness racing stars of 2015, both human and equine, at the annual awards banquet traditionally held after the USTA District 7 (Pennsylvania) meeting.   The event was held at the historic Bedford Springs Omni Hotel and Resort, in the hometown of USTA District 7 Chairman and PHHA President Sam Beegle, who presided over the distribution of awards with Darryl Breniser of MH Eby, Inc., always among the most generous of suppliers of door prizes, with this year's prizes climbing by one unofficial count to approximating $15,000. 20-30 inches of snow fell over different parts of Pennsylvania during the 36 hours before, during, and after the banquet, but of the 180 ticket purchasers approximately 100 attended (and those that didn't but called in and canceled were included in the door prize drawings).   The highlights of the evening were the inauguration of two awards which will become annual Fair Banquet events. The first award was the Walter "Boots" Dunn Rising Star Award, named after the former Chairman of District 7, fair legend, and possessor of the spirit of a colt even if the body has bouts with lameness. Boots himself was present to give the award to Brady Brown, the up-and-coming western Pennsylvania horseman who was fourth in the fair driving standings last year. At age 22, Brown already boasts three drives behind Fair Championship winners, and when you consider that there are only twelve drivers who have more in their career - and their names are Hammer, Schadel, Merriman, Hall, Offutt, Zendt, McNeight, Bolon, Schoeffel, Palone, Stillings, and Wilder, a collection which has to his credit two Hall of Fame members, two national dashwinning champions, and four national UDR champions - and you can see the sky is the limit for young Brown.   The second new award was the Top Gun Award, which was given in its inaugural year to the legendary Roger Hammer, not merely because of his resemblance to Tom Cruise, but for the fact that for the umpteenth year Hammer led all Pennsylvania fair horsemen in driving wins (86) and training wins (81).   A third award was presented in absentia to Ron Battoni, longtime executive vice-president of the PHHA who semi-retired (Beegle kept emphasizing the "semi-") at the end of 2015, and who was one of the major driving forces behind the fair horsemen getting their share of the prosperity generated in the Keystone State with the introduction of slots. Battoni was going to drive from his brother's birthday party in North New Jersey Friday night to Bedford (Meadowlands to Bedford is 269 miles), but the snow put paid to that idea; quick-thinking PHHA marketer Ed Kobesky did a panorama cell phone shot of the crowd applauding Battoni, which he will no doubt enjoy.   Two sets of eight horses and their connections earned awards last night - and there were 16 different winners because none of the leading pointwinners during the 20-stop fair season could come back to win their Fair Championship race at The Meadows October 10, showing what a tightly-matched group from top to bottom this year featured.   Pointwinning leaders:   2TC - Keystone Shotgun, owned by Roger Hammer and Todd Schadel, and trained by Hammer; 2TF - A Little Laid Back, owned and trained by Hammer; 2PC - Billy's Falcon, owned and trained by Hammer; 2PF - Unbeamlievable, owned by Mason Shaw and trained by his father Jason;   3TC - Wimborne Hanover, owned by Susan Daugherty and trained by Bill Daugherty Jr; 3TF - Peoplesaimnogood, owned and trained by Hammer; 3PC - R N Nate, owned and trained by Hammer; 3PF - Betterthanrevenge, owned by the Thomson Sisters Racing Stable and trained by Harold Brocklehurst (who, surprisingly, was the only native of Albuquerque, New Mexico at the banquet).   Fair Championship racewinners:   2TC - Major Matter, owned by Rick and Regina Beinhauer and trained by Rick Beinhauer; 2TF - Waterview Hanover, owned by Susan Daugherty and trained by Bill Daugherty Jr.; 2PC - Wagon Master, owned by Bob Key and trained by Mike Gillock; 2PF - Worthy Jackie, owned by the Bay Pond Racing Stable and trained by Sam Beegle;   3TC - Simeon, owned by Dave and Delores Wade, Jerry Brittingham, and William Peel III, and trained by Dave Wade; 3TF - Piano Rose, owned by Ralph Del Priore Jr. and trained by Steve Schoeffel; 3PC - Royaltyhasarrived, owned by Virginia & Kathy Schoeffel and Michael Munn and trained by Steve Schoeffel; 3PF - Crumcake, owned by Mike and Yvonne Medors and trained by Pat Medors.   A final note - you may have done the division of those $15,000 of door prizes by even all 180 tickets sold and gotten about $85 for an average "swag takeaway" for a $35 ticket. We invite you to come to the Pennsylvania Fair Banquet next year!   (And who won the most "swag," including a $6000 Spyder racing bike? Well, if your guess has initials other than "RH," you need to spend more time at the Pennsylvania fairs next year!)   Jerry Connors  

Aaron Merriman won three races yesterday, giving him a total of 836 sulkysitting victories for 2015 to increase his leading in this year's North American harness racing dash championship to four over George Napolitano Jr., who had the definitive reiteration of his season being finished given by himself and his wife Kathy.   There had been a brief flurry of interest yesterday when Napolitano's name was down on two Chris Oakes-trained horses at Pompano on Sunday, but immediately contacted George, and both he and Kathy restated that George would not be back into the sulky into 2016. "Chris Oakes wanted me to fly down on Sunday, but our son (Kristopher) is in school until Friday, and we have things to do around here (Pennsylvania)," Napolitano told   Aaron Merriman began adding to his lead on Wednesday by posting a driving double at The Meadows during afternoon racing, reporting home first with the up-and-coming trotter Kirty Dream in the fifth, and then taking the 15th and final race by a head with another trotter, Bella Palazzo, who paid $16.20 after going first-over and then holding off the late charges of the two favorites.   Aaron's staying until the last at The Meadows meant that he did not get to Cleveland's Northfield Park until the fifth race and had only nine drives in all, but he did add another tally to his continent-leading total by sweeping his field in the last quarter with the pacer Card Dealer.   Thursday is a dark day for both tracks; on Friday, Northfield has its usual nighttime scheduled card, but The Meadows, with groups looking to hold holiday parties at the track, switched his normal afternoon racing to nighttime on Friday, and Merriman has decided to race at the Pittsburgh track that night.   After tomorrow, The Meadows has three cards left on its 2015 schedule, daylight sessions next Monday through Wednesday. Northfield has nine more nighttime cards planned: this Sunday through Wednesday, and then Saturday the 26th (making up the card that normally would fall on Christmas Day) through its closing on Wednesday, December 30.   This, then, should be the last report of its type. We leave Aaron Merriman with a lead of four, 13 more possible programs of participation to extend that lead ... and a clear path on the road leading to his first North American crown.   Jerry Connors

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