Alan Horowitz, a major force in California harness racing over the last several decades and a member of the California Harness Horsemen's Association Hall of Fame, passed away peacefully at his home on Saturday at age 73. Mr. Horowitz, who wore many hats in the business, started out as a partner with longtime friends Donald and Barbara Arnstine and Steve Desomer with a $25,000 claimer named Quaker Byrd. Quaker Byrd won his first race for the partners and Alan was hooked. Moving on, Alan would eventually become a board member and president of CHHA. In 1994, Horowitz was instrumental in bringing harness racing back to Cal Expo in the form of Capitol Racing and was also its successful general manager. Alan was serving as the Executive Secretary of the CHHA at the time of his retirement in 2013 and continued to stay in touch with the sport that he loved so much. Mr. Horowitz is survived by his son Michael; his daughter Jessica Rhoades; and two grandchildren, Emerson and Campbell Rhoades. A memorial race and special ceremony will take when harness racing returns here to Cal Expo in the fall. "It is impossible to overstate Alan's importance to the harness racing industry in California," said David Neumeister. "Simply put, if it were not for Alan, the sport would no longer exist in this state. "Between his time as executive director of Western Standardbred Association (now CHHA) and owner/ manager of our only yearling sale company when racing was flourishing in California and his decision to retire from CHHA a few years ago, against all odds and some very powerful adversaries, Alan almost single-handedly took us from the brink of extinction in the mid-90s and formed and led Capitol Racing in Sacramento to several very successful years of harness racing in that city. "Were it not for his quiet determination and tactical brilliance, we would not be racing here today. In addition, as my wife said the other night when she heard of his passing, 'Alan Horowitz was probably the nicest man I have ever known'." By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness
With much regret and a saddened heart, I wish to acknowledge the sudden passing of Mrs Dot Redwood, wife of VSTA president Mr Colin Redwood and aunty of VSTA treasurer, Ms Katrina Knight. Dot was aged 79 years. Dot was mother and mother-in-law to Darren and Lauryn and Janine, grand-mother to Teigan, Jarryd, Brayden, Mackenzie and Hunter. Dot was a friend to all. Dot was still actively involved in the operations of Colin's stable, regularly driving the jogger to assist Colin. Small in stature, but a giant in every way with a heart of gold. The Victorian Square Trotters Association expresses their deepest sympathy to Colin, Katrina and their families of offer our support in any way possible. The funeral for Mrs Dorothy Redwood will be held at the Napier Park Chapel, 420 Napier St, Bendigo on Tuesday April 18 at 1:30pm, followed by a committal service at the Bridgewater Cemetry at 3:15pm. A wonderful woman who will be sadly missed by all. by Ian White (Secretary Victorian Square Trotters Association)
PAVILION — Duke Dranichak, age 74, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on April 10, 2017. Duke was the son of the late George and Rose (Mikitka) Dranichak. He is survived by his loving wife, M. Christine (Bass) Dranichak; his children, George Dranichak Jr. of Macedon and Melissa (Kevin) Mayeu of Wake Forest, N.C.; brother of Edward (Sue) Dranichak and of the late Gregory Dranichak. Known as “Gumpa” to his grandchildren, he was a generous and loving grandfather to George III and Tyler. Duke was born and raised in Binghamton and lived most of his life in Pavilion. He graduated from Niagara University in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business. After college, he became a member of the Horseman’s Association, where he raced harness horses professionally. After which he became a judge. Duke retired from the NYS Racing and Wagering Board which he served on as the Director of Racing Officials for all of harness and thoroughbred racetracks in the State of New York. Duke’s family will receive friends from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Falcone Family Funeral & Cremation Service Inc., 8700 Lake Rd. (Rt 19), Le Roy. His Celebration of Life Service will be held at the Holy Spirit Church in Binghamton, at a later date. Your memories and condolences may be shared with the Dranichak family at www.falconefuneralhome.com. Todd haight
Max R. Walton, age 73, died, Thursday, March 30, 2017 at his farm home in Newark, Del. Mr. Walton was a well-known harness racing horseman who owned a well-drilling company and was a builder, inventor and innovator in Delaware. A graduate of Newark high school, Walton attended Pennsylvania Military Academy, and then enjoyed a 57-year career with Walton Corporation, a subsurface investigation company started by his father. He served as Chairman of the Delaware Water Well Licensing Board for over 30 years, and was active in the National Ground Water Well Association. In the early days at the late Brandywine Raceway, he owned and trained dozens of Standardbred horses and was the track's leading trainer several seasons. In recent years his best horse was hard-hitting top class pacer Mustang Art. Walton also served on the Delaware Standardbred Owners Association (DSOA) board of directors. He was a 45 year member of Hiram No. 25 AF & AM, Masonic Lodge. Every Friday, Max enjoyed hosting a cocktail hour at his farm where he welcomed friends and family for "Cheers" for over forty years - even through his long struggle with ALS. Max Walton's most endearing quality was his constant willingness to help others. He was a mentor and friend to many. He was married to his wife, Mary, for 50 years. He is survived by his son Max B. and his wife Anne, daughter Katherine Siegel, and her husband Josh, and by four grandchildren, Grace, Reilly, Sarah and Charlie. A visitation will be held between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at R.T. Foard & Jones Funeral Home, 122 W. Main St., Newark, Del. 19711. A service in Max's honor will be held on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 11AM, where family and friends may begin visiting at 10AM. A private burial will follow. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to Mt. Aviat Academy, 399 Childs Road, Childs, Maryland, 21916. To send online condolences, visit -: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/delawareonline/obituary. Marv Bachrad
Pompano Beach, FL...March 21, 2017...Longtime harness racing horseman Frank Tagariello, 79, passed away on March 20, 2017. Born in Mineola, New York on May 18, 1937, "Tags," as he was affectional known, was a star athlete at Farmingdale High School, excelling in football and track. He began his career under the tutelage of Joe Adamo and also worked for Eddie Cobb, George Sholty and Stanley Dancer before opening his public stable in 1965. When Pompano Park was in its infancy, Tagariello found success with horses like Yankee Sis, Frontier Marshall and Leroy Hanover-mostly $2,000 claimers-but, as "Tags" once said, "In this business, you start at the bottom rung on the ladder and take a step at a time. If you work hard enough, you can climb the steps of the ladder pretty quickly, but when guys like Sholty and Dancer and Haughton are campaigning, it's very tough to get to the top rung." Tagariello's tan, brown and white colors reached the winner's circle on 746 occasions during his career as a driver with much of his success coming on the tough New York circuit at Roosevelt Raceway and Yonkers. In the 1980's, he drove exclusively for prominent owners Benjamin and Gertrude Schaefer with Adventura's Eagle, Laura's Champ, Effervescent and Rambling Warren among the campaigners under his care. During his "prime," Tagariello often worked the day-night shift, traveling by helicopter with the great Herve Filion from The Meadowlands to Roosevelt or Freehold to the New York tracks. He also sat back of Bossman Lobell, and Fulla Napoleon during a career which he has enjoyed for nearly a lifetime. His most recent success was with the outstanding trotter V Eight, a son of Royal Prestige, who he trained from August of 1994 to October of 2002, compiling 42 wins and well over $300,000 in bounty. Hall of Fame driver Wally Hennessey recalled Frank Tagariello with fondness saying, "he was a very good horsemen and, even more important, a wonderful gentleman." In recent years, "Tags" spent much of his time in the friendly confines of Hoosier Park to be closer to family. "People ask me all the time if, with all the ups and downs in this business, if I would change anything and, to tell you the honest truth, with the amazing people I have met over my lifetime, I can honestly say that 'I wouldn't change a thing.'" Services for Frank Tagariello will be private. John Berry
It is impossible to put a figure on the number of lives touched by Sam McKee. Whether through his race calls, studio interviews, work at horse sales, or personal interactions, Sam left an indelible mark on harness racing and the people in and around the sport. And it would be difficult to find a person more respected and universally liked than Sam McKee. When news of Sam's passing at age 54 due to complications from a stroke suffered in early February filtered through the industry Wednesday, the outpouring of admiration, love and support to his family on social media and beyond was a testament to Sam's ability to make, as harness racing writer Dave Briggs wrote on Harness Racing Update's Facebook page, "everyone feel like the biggest person in the room, when in truth, it was always him." Ken Warkentin, Sam's colleague at the Meadowlands Racetrack and fellow announcer, spoke for many when he said, "This is undoubtedly one of the saddest days in the sport in a long time. Many like myself are in shock, devastated, in a state of disbelief and just plain sad. Sam was the modern day Mr. Harness Racing. It seemed like he knew everybody and everything about the sport. "And Sam could do it all. He was talented, passionate, positive and an inspiration to all. And everybody knew it. He was so much fun to work with. He just made people and everything around him better." Hall of Fame driver John Campbell, who has called the Meadowlands home for decades, echoed those sentiments. "We were so fortunate that Sam chose harness racing," Campbell said. "With his talent, personality and knowledge, he could have been an announcer in any sport, whether it was NASCAR, football, or whatever. We were very fortunate that he turned his talents and abilities toward harness racing. He was such a shining light. "He just had that bubbly, exuberant personality for what he was doing. When he was doing interviews, I think it rubbed off on a lot of people. I know it did me. He was always very upbeat. The interaction I had with Sam, whether it was on camera or off camera, was always fun and it was always something I felt good about. It was genuine. His enthusiasm for harness racing and people was right from his heart. "The most important thing was the friendship I had with him. He was a very good friend." A native of Michigan, Sam's interest in harness racing and announcing can be traced to his earliest days, virtually from the time he could speak. His family raced Standardbreds as a hobby at the county fairs and small tracks. Sam more than once told the story about being 4 or 5 years old and "calling races" with toy horses that had numbers taped to them. When he was 10, Sam began writing letters to horsemen and others in the industry. He began a letter-writing friendship with legendary announcer Roger Huston, who became instrumental in helping launch Sam's career behind the microphone. Huston invited Sam to The Meadows, where Sam had the opportunity to call qualifiers and a junior driving championship. After hearing Sam's work, Huston persuaded Bobby Williams, the speed superintendent at the Clinton County fair in Ohio, to give the then-14-year-old Sam a job announcing races there. "I was just flabbergasted at how good he was," Huston told hosts Mike Bozich and Mike Carter last month on a "Post Time with Mike and Mike" podcast. "He had the voice of a 13-year-old, but he was seasoned even without ever being on the PA system. He was born to be an announcer, there's no question in that. The amount of advice I had to give him was very minimal. "It's very seldom that somebody at the age of 6 determines what they want to do in life. He made it happen. He knew what he wanted to do and we were just so happy we had a part in getting him started." When he learned of Sam's passing, Huston posted on Facebook yesterday, "A part of me will never be the same." A day after graduating from high school, Sam was hired as the track announcer at Saginaw Valley Downs and later Sports Creek Raceway. From there he moved to Raceway Park, where he called races and worked as director of group sales in addition to being involved in the publicity and television departments. A stint in the publicity department and announcing booth at Ladbrokes Detroit Race Course followed and in the early 1990s he served as director of operations at Northville Downs. In the late 1990s, Sam was hired at the Meadowlands. He shared race-calling duties and soon added the role of TV coordinator at the track. In 2007, he also became the director of simulcasting. Sam also worked the Grand Circuit meets at the Delaware County Fair, where he hosted the Little Brown Jug week simulcast, and The Red Mile. He was elected to the Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2012, he received the sport's highest honor when he was elected to the Communicators Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y. Mike Tanner, the U.S. Trotting Association's executive vice president, first met Sam when he was working at Detroit Race Course. Tanner was an intern at the time. "It was my first front-side job in racing, and I was kind of in awe of him," Tanner said. "He was a terrific announcer, even back then. But he was so kind, encouraging, and down to earth, and we became friends. When I got hired there on a full-time basis the next year, he might have been happier for me than I was for myself. That's just the way he was. "I can't think of anyone in our industry better liked or more respected. I feel badly for anyone that never had the chance to meet him, and worse for those of us that did, because we know what we've just lost. He was special." The stories of Sam helping others, encouraging others, are countless. Gabe Prewitt, the executive secretary of the Kentucky Harness Horsemen's Association and a multiple-track announcer, first heard Sam calling races at The Red Mile in the early 2000s --- Prewitt's introduction to harness racing --- and acknowledged Sam's role as a mentor, "so supportive of me from Day One," on last month's Post Time with Mike and Mike podcast. Sam's influence stretched beyond the announcer's booth, Prewitt said. "Just on a personal level, his kindness, his class, how he treats everyone; I learned as much from him on a personal basis - just by observing him for that matter - as I have professionally." Jason Settlemoir, the chief executive officer and general manager at the Meadowlands, told Mike and Mike that Sam always had the ability to sense when someone was having a bad day. And he was always there to discuss the situation and help in any way possible. "By the time the conversation was over you always felt enlightened by him," Settlemoir said. "You'd walk out of talking with him being much happier." Meadowlands broadcaster and statistical guru Bob "Hollywood" Heyden, who was inducted to the Communicators Hall of Fame with Sam, recalled seeing Sam several years ago helping a lady who had fallen in the parking lot following a snowstorm during a Saturday night card at the Big M. Because the snowstorm hit during the card, the parking lot was not yet plowed. Heyden later found out that Sam had fallen several minutes prior to helping the woman, who was a waitress at the track, and injured his back. "The only way I found out was by seeing the pills he was taking the following weeks," Heyden said. "He didn't say anything, and wouldn't, because he was once again Sam being Sam." Beyond the racetrack, Sam was an accomplished horseman (see sidebar following this story) and a go-to choice as a pedigree reader at the industry's horse sales, where his knowledge, expertise and demeanor made him a natural. "Sam had an exacting job --- make a good impression for the horse in 15 seconds or less, give current update information about the horse with perfect accuracy, and be ready to jump back in at any moment if the auctioneer decides to pause the auction for emphasis," said Russell Williams, the newly elected president of the U.S. Trotting Association as well as chairman of both the Standardbred Horse Sales Co. and Hanover Shoe Farms. "Sam's work in this area was virtually flawless, and he did it with that wonderful voice of his. "We at Standardbred Horse Sales Company have lost a great announcer, but we're conscious now that we've lost a cherished friend. We offer our condolences to Sam's family. You will be in our thoughts." Sam's surviving family includes his wife Chris and daughters Meagan, Melissa and Lindsey. "He was an amazing family man," Warkentin said. "He was a true Hall of Famer; a great person, honest and pure. A true friend to many and a real gentleman. "When I first heard of his passing I said it couldn't be possible. And the first thing I thought was he wasn't going anywhere. He's always going to be here with us in so many ways. We will never forget Sam McKee." Sam McKee was a part of so many of harness racing's greatest moments and biggest events. Here, we remember him with a few of our favorite Sam McKee moments, and some that were his favorites as well. To view the videos, click on this link. * * * * * * * * * * Sam McKee was as accomplished on top of a horse as he was skilled behind a microphone. He often competed in speed events, such as barrel racing, with his retired Standardbred Who's Your Buddy, or simply, Buddy. Helene Gregory, the vice president of the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of New Jersey, recounted the following story about Sam and his competition with renowned equine advocate and author Alex Brown: "One year Sam was at the National Standardbred Show with Buddy and I had my retired Standardbred JB (Jambalayabar Man) there as well. My friend Ellen Harvey had earlier approached me asking if a friend could get on JB. He was an exercise rider for some Thoroughbred racing trainers, but had never been on a Standardbred before. His name is Alex Brown and not only has he ridden thousands of Thoroughbreds, he is also an author of a book (Greatness and Goodness: Barbara and His Legacy) and had a big social media following. I thought it was a great idea because it would bring some attention to our Standardbreds. So we entered Alex and JB in the 'Ride a Buck' class, which is ridden bareback with a dollar bill under the rider's knee. "The riders then have to follow the commands of a judge --- walk, trot and canter (if they get that far). It was a big class, always a fun class to watch. One by one the riders lost their dollar bills, but two riders were not giving up. Sam had just interviewed Alex the night before at the track about his book and less than 24 hours later they were facing each other in what quickly became a two-man contest. "They were battling it out, Sam joking with Alex to please give up because he couldn't hold on to his dollar much longer and Alex saying he would never give up. The audience was cheering them on and the judges gave more and more commands, turn right, turn left, trot, turn without stopping and go the other way, to try to force them in to a mistake. Finally they got up to a canter and Sam's dollar floated to the ground, while Alex's was right where he put it. JB and Alex were victorious, but Sam was grinning from ear to ear. It was a joy to see these two grown men have fun and laugh like little kids. "This was what Sam was, always a good sport, always smiling and always had kind words to everyone he met. Whenever I would see him he always stopped for a few words, didn't matter if he was on the run, in the TV studio at the Meadowlands or anywhere else. He always made time to listen. He will be deeply missed by the entire harness racing community." The following anecdote, recounted by Ellen Harvey, the director of the USTA's Harness Racing Communications division, further demonstrates Sam's ability, knowledge and thoughtfulness: "In 2011, the World Trotting Conference came to the U.S. and the USTA was host for leaders of harness racing from all over the world. They visited a variety of farms in New Jersey in between meetings and I was asked to put together a demonstration of Standardbreds in other disciplines showing off their athletic ability. "I asked Sam if he would show off his ex-racehorse Buddy's skill in barrel racing and he very nicely obliged. Sam and Buddy were the last team in the demo; they screeched around the barrels and came to a full stop, kicking up a spray of dirt, right in front of the audience, from a dead run. "When they got over their shock and horror at being nearly run over, the audience gave him a big round of applause. "My then 86 year-old dad, Harry Harvey, lived near the site of the demo - at the Standardbred Retirement Foundation's facility. I invited him and my mom to come see the demo and they were tucked away in chairs in a corner of the ring, watching. Walking on an uneven surface was hard for my dad by then. "After Sam was finished greeting the guests, I asked him to bring Buddy over and show dad that he had controlled that horse at maximum speed with no bit - he used a bitless bridle that put pressure on the horse's nose, not his mouth. "Sam brought the horse so close he was almost in dad's lap. Dad struggled to his feet to watch intently as Sam explained all the things he'd tried to control Buddy, how he finally arrived at the bitless bridle and showed dad every part of it and the mechanics of how it worked. My father was transfixed - learning something new about training horses at age 86. He talked about that day for months afterward. "The next time I saw Sam at the track, I thanked him for taking the time to show my dad this new gizmo for riding horses. His response was typically modest, 'I couldn't believe that I was teaching a Hall of Fame trainer something about rigging a horse.'" Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager
Eleanor Gillock, matriarch of a longtime Meadows racing family, passed away on Sunday, February 12 at the age of 87. A resident of Belle Vernon, she was often in attendance at The Meadows watching her sons' horses race. She was preceded in death by her husband of 50 years, Michael J. Gillock, along with 10 brother and sisters. She is survived by three daughters, Brenda (Bill) Sutton of Washington, Barbara (George) Popelas of Houston and Debra Hawker of Smithfield; and two sons, Michael and Richard (Linda) Gillock of Belle Vernon. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Both Michael and Richard are longtime Meadows-based trainers, and Richard currently serves as the President of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. Friends will be received from 3-9PM Tuesday (February 14) in the James C. Stump Funeral Home, 580 Circle Drive, Belle Vernon. A funeral service will be held at 11AM on Wednesday, February 15 with Pastor Joe DiDonato officiating.
Christina Talley, 50, passed away after a long two-year battle with cervical cancer at Penninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Md. on Feb. 10. Ms. Talley, who was born in Bel Air, Ohio, daughter of the late Jack and Martha Talley, is survived by her significant other, Curtis Daniels, four children, five grandchildren and several uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. A horse enthusiast throughout her life, she cared for horses owned by her father, a renowned Delmarva-area harness race caller Jack Talley, who also owned and trained a number of harness race horses. Later she became an owner of horses with Go Nurse, she favorite. Go Nurse won Horse of the Year at Ocean Downs in 2001. A funeral Service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at 11 a.m. at Salisbury Baptist Temple, Salisbury, Md. At 10 a.m., a one-hour visitation will be held prior to the services. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Salisbury Baptist Temple, 6413 Hobbs Road., Salisbury, Md. 21804. Arrangements are in the care of Holloway Funeral Home, P.A., 501 Snow Hill Road, Salisbury, Md. 21804. To send condolences to the family, please visit www.hollowayfh.com
James W. “Doc” Johnson M.D., 82, of Knightstown passed away Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at Middletown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He was born January 16, 1934 in West Williams, Canada, the son of the late John and Catherine Johnson. James was a physician for 38 years and was a Standardbred owner and breeder who loved to attend horse races. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus 4th degree, American and Ontario Medical Associations, United States Trotting Association and St Rose Catholic Church of Knightstown. James was also a longtime director for the Indiana Standardbred Association. “Doc” owned horses for 56 years. He bought his first horse shortly after graduating from medical school. A 56 year career in horse ownership needs to be described in eras. Ontario (1960’s & 1970’s) Doc’s first horse was trained by neighbor and family friend, Murray Mackey. Doc often commented on Murray’s work ethic as a dairy farmer. He thought very highly of Murray’s horsemanship, and thought Murray would have been a heck of a horseman if he had chosen it as his primary vocation. Most of Doc’s horses in the era were handled by another local horseman and friend, Bill Woodburn. Similar to Murray, Bill (and his father Lyle) were very good horsemen and devoted full-time farmers. If the horses needed to leave the local racetracks of London, Clinton, Goderich, or Dresden, they were handled by Fred and Shelley Goudreau on the Windsor/Hazel Park/Detroit Race Course circuit. Michigan and Ohio (1970’s) Doc and his good friend Don McIlmurray were inseparable in this era. They really had a lot of laughs together. They had some good luck together as well. Star Blend ($301,825) and Merrimac Hanover ($308,621) were products of this era. Doc was always impressed with Don’s ability, and creativity, in hanging up a trotter. Ontario (1980’s) Gerald Aiken, Mike Kostor, and Ray Ramsey handled Doc’s horses during this time period. Gerald Aiken developed J R Bright ($219,357), and Ray Ramsey developed Ellies Rebel ($104,679) and Classic Crystal ($83,526). While Gerald did a lot of driving prior to his health issues, Mike and Ray helped introduce Doc to the era of the catch driver. Special thanks to favorite drivers Terry Kerr and Bill Gale. Michigan (1990’s) Ted Taylor handled the raceway horses, and Kelly Goodwin handled the colts during this time period. Kelly developed Harbortown North ($156,548), which was one of Doc’s all-time favorites. Indiana Some people retire to warmer climates, but Doc retired to Indiana to be with the horses. Outside of family and friends, the horse business was Doc’s passion and he wanted to spend his free time enjoying his passion. Doc had a special way with the horses. They enjoyed him as much as he enjoyed them. Thankfully, Joe Putnam was there to help Doc enjoy his remaining years in the horse business. Joe was both friend and partner to Doc. They had a lot of fun and success together. Some of the better known horses campaigned by them on the Indiana circuit included BL Kidswillbekids ($169,082), Jim’s Lucky ($101,611) and California Joe ($117,875). Doc often commented on how Joe has many of the best qualities of the aforementioned trainers and drivers all rolled into one. Good horsemanship, patience, common sense, business sense, and competitive spirit were qualities Doc admired in Joe. Joe was like a son to Doc. Doc was able to develop some great friendships in the business, but his time in Indiana was special. He was able to immerse himself in his passion. Special thanks to Dwayne and Imy Rhule, Dianne Branham, Karl Miller, Devon Beachey, Jim Smith, Jacob Smith, Trent Stohler, and the late Dave Stohler, and all the other folks that have been at the farm over the years that called Doc friend. While Doc had some very nice horses over his 56 years in the business, he never had the pleasure of owning a truly dominant horse. The closest he came was watching Phil Peavyhouse and Don McIlmurray with the great Duchess Faye and Larry Miller and Joe Putnam with the great ABC Mercedes. Doc said that the horse business was designed for optimists, and was always happy to see his friends succeed in the business. He said that you should get out of the business if you can’t find joy in others’ success, because it’s frequently hard to find your own. Survivors include daughter, Anne Long of Morris, Ill.; sons, James A. Johnson of Knightstown and John Michael Johnson of Glen Ellyn, Ill.; granddaughters, Paige McKinley, Nora Johnson; grandson, Henry Johnson, three brothers and two sisters. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife of 55 years Janet Johnson in 2013 and brother Ron Johnson. A memorial service was held at St. Rose Catholic Church in Knightstown with Rev John Hall officiating. Burial was held at Sacred Heart Church, Parkhill, Ontario, Canada. Memorial donations may be made to St. Rose Catholic Church P.O. Box 209 Knightstown, IN, 46148. Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Condo and Son Funeral Home in Wilkinson.
Andrew Torre of Amherst, N.Y., a long time harness racing horseman in Western New York, passed away on February 5, 2017 at the age of 82. Mr. Torre competed at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs over the years as a owner, trainer and driver, and was a member of the Western New York Harness Horseman's Association. Born on May 24, 1934, Mr. Torre was the husband of the late Betty Jane Torre, father of Andrew (Kristen) Torre, Michael (Roslyn) Torre and Carolyn (Todd) Reynolds. He was also the grandfather of Bryna, Nicole, Isabelle and Camille and the brother of James (Diane) Torre and Catherine Torre. He is also survived by many relatives and friends. Visitation will be on Tuesday (Feb. 7) from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Lombardo Funeral Home (Northtowns Chapel) on 885 Niagara Falls Boulevard near Eggert/Sheridan Drive. A Mass of Christian Burial for Mr. Torre will be celebrated at St.Christopher's Church at 2600 Niagara Falls Boulevard in Tonawanda on Wednesday (Feb. 8) at 9:30 a.m. Please assemble at the church. Entombment will be at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Online condolences can me made at www.lombardofuneralhome.com by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HOUSTON, Del.----Elmer M. Wilson, 95, passed away peacefully on January 28, 2017, at his home surrounded by his family. A resident of Houston, Del., Mr. Wilson was a longtime harness horseman who followed the horses throughout his adult life. He served his country proudly in the United States Army during WWII, where he was a crane operator in the Army and saw action in England, France, and Iceland. Following military service, Mr. Wilson worked at the DuPont Co. plant in Seaford, Del. as a power service operator upon retirement in 1981. He also was a chicken and crop farmer for many years. For more than six decades, Mr. Wilson had been active in the harness racing industry. He owned and often drove several horses during his lifetime, and when younger, was considered one of the best local drivers in area racing. In his spare time, he enjoyed bowling on a league team and enjoyed fishing and owned several boats over the years. Every morning, he ate daily with the "Harrington Breakfast Club," a group of men who enjoyed eating and talking. Almost every night, he could be found at the Harrington Raceway Simulcasts watching the races. Mr. Wilson will be remembered as a quiet and reserved person who was very giving, almost to a fault. He was generous by nature, and dearly a family man. Mr. Wilson was a member of the United States Trotting Assoc., Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners' Association, Houston United Methodist Church, in his younger days he was member of the Houston Fire Co., and the Milford VFW. The Wilson Family would like to send their appreciation and thanks to Seasons Hospice for their care of Mr. Wilson. He is survived by his loving wife, Ruth Wilson of Houston, Del.; daughter, Holly (Joseph III) Ventura of Milford, Del.; and grandson, Joseph Ventura IV. Services took place at the Thomas E. Melvin & Son Funeral Home, 15522 South DuPont Hwy., Harrington, Del., on Saturday, February 4, with Interment at Hollywood Cemetery, Harrington, Del. Arrangements are by the Thomas E. Melvin & Son Funeral Home Inc, Harrington, Contact www.melvinfuneralhome.com to send flowers or sign condolence book. Marv Bachrad
Tom Kirwan, a former harness racing trainer/driver who spent nearly 30 years as the stall superintendent at The Meadows, passed away on Friday, January 27, 2017 at the age of 70. Kirwan, of Meadow Lands, Pennsylvania, was the grandson of Michael J. Kirwan, a longtime United States Senator from Youngstown, Ohio. Tom was raised by his parents, John and Ruth, in the Washington, DC area. In the fall of 1964, at the age of 18, Tom came to Western Pennsylvania to visit his aunt and uncle, Michael and Jewel Kirwan. During that visit, the Kirwans took a trip to The Meadows for an evening of harness racing, and Tom was hooked. Through an ad in the newspaper, he discovered that trainer George Beinhauer was looking for barn help, and he took his first job as a caretaker soon after. "Flaky," as Tom was known, worked for the Beinhauer Stable for several years, living at the Beinhauer's Von Valley Farm. He started driving horses in 1966 at The Meadows and around the Pennsylvania fair circuit. In 1976, he took a job for horseowner Ed Ryan, who was starting his own stable after racing horses with Beinhauer. Kirwan became the Ryan Stable's main trainer and driver. During the 1970s through the early 1980s, he drove 453 winners and was one of the Meadows' leading drivers. In the late 1980s, when Ryan was a co-owner of The Meadows, Kirwan transitioned from the barn to the race office. He took over as the track's stall superintendent, a position he held for three decades until his retirement in 2015. Away from the track, Tom loved cheeseburgers and playing poker. He is survived by his wife, Sharon, who works in the paddock at The Meadows, and his mother, Ruth, along with three sisters and six brothers. Funeral arrangements are not yet available. from the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association
James Ty Case III, a longtime Delaware harness racing horseman who overcame numerous personal difficulties, passed away at age 60 on Jan. 13 after a courageous lifetime battle to live, with his wife Holly, at his side. A native of Dover, Del., his lifetime passion was harness racing. He raced ponies as a boy and after graduating from high school in 1973, he began training and driving Standardbreds in his father Jim Case's High Hope Stable. At the time he worked alongside his friend George Teague in the stable, whom he credits with teaching him ways to develop young horses. One of Ty's favorite horses was High Hope Leslie, who held the Dover Downs track record for older acing mares which stood for seven years. In his teens, Ty developed diabetes which in his late 30s began to take its toll. He had kidney failure and went on dialysis. In 1993, he had a kidney/pancreas transplant and within three months went back to training an driving horses. In 1995, while in the hospital for a partial foot amputation, he suddenly went completely blind and never regained any sight. He next ad a quadruple heart bypass in 1997 and in 2012, he had six stokes and underwent a successful intracranial indict bypass on his brain. After meeting Holly Holden at the Delaware State Fair, they began dating but her family moved away to Virginia. The distance became too much, and they went on to marry others. But 32 years later, they reconnected and married in 2005. They build their home, "Second Chance," and joined friends in numerous horse partnerships and were lucky to have a number of outstanding race horses. Their most recent is the Indiana-bred champion trotter Bluebird Reverend, and Artrageous. Even though Ty could not see, he often attended races at Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway with his wife and guide dog at his side. He visualized how races were playing out as he listened to announcers and race fractions. After blindness, Ty became a switchboard operator at Dover Air Force Base, working for the Delaware Division of Visually Impaired. He was voted the Delaware Outstanding Employee of the Year by his co-workers. From a pool of 6,000 nationwide candidates competing for the Peter J. Salmon Award for the National Employee of the Year, he was the ultimate winner of this prestigious honor presented to him in New Orleans at the National conference. Two months before his death, Ty still rode a van daily from Dover upstate to Newcastle, Del. where he continued to work for the Del. Division of Visually Impaired. An inspiration to all that knew him, no matter for the disabilities and obstacles, he would not give up. Overcoming his terrible handicaps, Ty learned to use the computer for talking software, research things on the internet, prepare Excel spreadsheets and help his wife with her business. He would laugh and tell people he was "the autopsy that lived.' Ty Case is survived by his loving wife, Holly; daughter, Leslie DiPietro (Tony); son, James T.Case IV, "JT" (Kris); stepsons, Rick Carrol land Michael Carroll (Brittney); and five grandchildren. He is also survived by his mother, Janet Brown, his brother, Todd Case (Lisa) and his beloved guide dog, Max. Ty's last request would be for people to consider being organ donors. Two of his friends, Pamela Benton of Seaford, Del. and Lisa Berry of Wyoming, Del. had volunteered and were tested to be living organ donors for his failing kidney, but his body gave out before a transplant could take place. To celebrate this extraordinary man's life, A Gathering of Friends and Family will be held at Pippin Funeral Home, 119 W. Camden-Wyoming Ave, Wyoming, Del. on Thursday, Jan 19, from 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Marv Bachrad
The Australian harness racing industry was saddened today to hear of the passing on the weekend of Beulah Manea, widow of past Harness Racing Australia President, Dr Ern Manea, AO (1984-2000), and a notable person in her own right. Beulah "Snookie" Manea was born Claudine Beulah Snook in 1929. Her childhood was spent in the Perth Hills suburb of Roleystone and she later trained as a nurse during which time she also performed in some musical theatre. Clearly her social life didn’t impinge on her nursing studies as in 1950 she finished second in the final examination for general nurses. On 18th August 1949 she shared a kiss with one Ernest Cosmo Manea, who was serving an internship at Royal Perth Hospital where she worked, and the rest as they say is history. Years later Ern Manea admitted that the only person who could make him change his mind was Beulah and they were very much a team. They moved to Bunbury in 1952 and not only developed a major medical practice but threw themselves into their new community in a broad range of areas. She was a very good public speaker, and her contribution to the Bunbury community was significant with her involvement in a huge number of community groups. Her service was recognised nationally when she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in June 2006 for service to the community of Bunbury through conservation, health, welfare and sporting organisations. She had earlier been awarded with the Centenary Medal in 2001 for long and voluntary service to the development of the Bunbury community and saving its heritage. The Bunbury City Council made her a Freeman of the City. The contribution of Beulah and Ern Manea was also acknowledged in the naming of the Manea Senior College in 2008. Her list of community work was extensive: President, Bunbury Timber Jetty Environment and Conservation Society since 1996; Member since 1990. Chair, Collections Committee, Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, 1980-1991; involved with the establishment and opening of the Gallery in 1987; Life Member. Member, Bunbury Regional Hospital, 1994-1998; involved in the collocation of the St John of God Hospital with the Bunbury Regional Hospital. Involved in establishment of Bunbury Meals on Wheels 1966; volunteer, for many years; Life Member. Lady Mayoress (spouse Mayor 1966-1972 and 1988-1997); supported her husband during his two terms as Mayor; 'Freeman of the City', 1997. Instigator; Member, Cemetery Board, since 1990. Supporter, South Bunbury Football Club, 1969-1972; fundraising and catering. Founder, Senior Citizens Craft Group (Group operated 1968-1977), Bunbury Senior Citizens Association; Life Member. Involved, collaboration on and publishing of Reminiscences of a Rural Practice: Dr Foster and Associates 1947-1999, 2000. Assisted spouse (in his role as Director, of the former South West Development Authority, 1982-1988) as an advocate for the South West region of WA. As well as being mother to her own children, Mark and Denis, Beulah and Ern accepted a young Aboriginal footballer, Syd Jackson, in to their family home for a period, and he too became a part of their family. On behalf of the harness racing community we extend our deepest sympathies to the extended Manea family. Please note: The celebration of the life of Beulah Manea will be held at St Boniface Cathedral, Bunbury, commencing 11am on Friday 20/01/2017. For further information, please click here.
The tragic passing of West Australian horsewoman Alysha Johnston has had a widespread effect on the harness racing industry even on the Eastern Seaboard. Johnston took her own life on Tuesday morning, aged 27, having driven at Pinjarra the night before. Leaving behind her seven-year-old son Corey, the industry was shocked by her passing. There has been a flow of support for the family since and Johnston's friend Jamie Durnberger-Smith, part-owner of Arms Of An Angel and Breeders Challenge Semi Final winner Decapria, has since set up a 'GoFundMe' page for Corey. So far $5,430 has been raised. "Alysha and I worked together at Gary Hall's stable for many years and became good friends," Durnberger-Smith said. "I only spoke to her a couple pf days before her passing. "I didn't feel like it was my place to do this but I had to do something to help her son so I have set up a GoFundMe page to ensure his future after consulting with the family. "Corey will be able to access the trust fund when he turns 21. "We've had great support already." Durnberger-Smith will also be contributing his share of earnings from Arms Of An Angel's last two wins. Sydney trainer-driver Kevin Pizzuto recently got to know Johnston when campaigning his pacer Freyberg in Perth for the Inter Dominion series. Johnston was teaching Pizzuto's son how to ride and spent a lot of time with her when over in WA. For more information or to make a donation head to www.gofundme.com/the-corey-johnston-appeal AMANDA RANDO
Jo Ann Hertlein, 69, of Bronxville, N.Y., daughter of the late Anna and Joseph Stivala, died after a battle with cholangiocarcinoma on Dec. 17, 2016. She was born and raised in Scranton, Pa., before moving to Bronxville upon her marriage. For the last several years she had faithfully worked as an office administrator for the SOA of NY. She will be remembered for her incredible warmth and kindness, her delicious meals and her contagious laughter. She is survived by her devoted husband of 42 years, William; loving daughters and sons-in-law, Victoria (Marco) and Deborah (James); and her brother, John Stivala. Calling hours are at the Fred McGrath & Sons Funeral home, Bronxville N.Y., on Tuesday (Dec. 20) from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 21) at St. Joseph’s Church. Private interment at Cathedral Cemetery, Scranton, PA. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to Save the Children. from the SOA of New York