BEDFORD PA - The United States Trotting Association's annual meeting for District 7, which covers Pennsylvania, was held here Saturday afternoon (January 17) at the Bedford Springs Omni Hotel Resort, in the hometown of District 7 Chairman Sam Beegle, followed as traditional by the Pennsylvania Fairs Awards Banquet. Beegle presided over the District meeting, which included presentations by USTA's executive VP Mike Tanner, reviewing 2014 activities and highlighting 2015's major projections for the organization, and Ron Battoni of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, who discussed several major economic factors that Pennsylvania racing would need to address in this year of a new state governor, Tom Wolf. The annual review of the proposed USTA bylaw changes was handled by USTA Director, lawyer, and Bergstein Proximity award winner Russell Williams. Among important decisions made by the membership for their Directors to take to the USTA annual meeting were rejection of a rule changing pylon size and placement, along with rejection of a change detailing a progressively-severe punishment schedule for drivers found guilty of kicking; among items accepted were the "uncoupled owner/driver" rule, amended to include only pari-mutuel races, and the end of forcing a horse to requalify with the removal or addition of hopples. Tabled were the proposals dealing with Racing Under Saddle (RUS) as pari-mutuel events, as Pennsylvania law does not allowing wagering on saddled harness racing contests. The annual Fair Banquet must rank among the "best values" in all of harness racing, as for the $35 price banquet attendees enjoy outstanding food as well as drawings for over $10,000 in harness equipment, generously donated, including a Spyder race bike. Equine fair prizes fall in two categories: a set for those who earn the most points during the regular fair season, and an award for the horses who capture their Fair Championship in the fall at The Meadows. Winners in the point category were: 2TC - Police Navidad; 2TF - Peoplesayimnogood; 2PC - Nippy (the season's leading pointwinner over all divisions); 2PF - Tropical Terror; 3TC - Fly Past Hanover; 3TF - Cantabs Lightning; 3PC - Mister Chaos; 3PF - La Fiesta. The championship winners were headed by 3TC Fly Past Hanover, who not only was the only horse to win both his points title and Championship, but who also was the only sophomore who repeated a freshman Championship victory. Others in this category were 2TC - Wimborne Hanover; 2TF -- Isabella Carina; 2PC - Marshmallow Fluff; 2PF - Keystone I Wish; 3TF - Sheema Star; 3PC - Wellsaidandone; and 3PF - Wiggle It Hanover. Singled out for special praise were trainer Bill Daugherty Jr., for his campaigning of both Fly Past Hanover and Wimborne Hanover - the fourth 2TC Champion for the Daugherty barn in the last six years; and Team Shaw - owner Mason (now all of three years old), trainer/father Jason, and driver/uncle Chris, primarily for their prowess with freshmen Tropical Terror, Marshmallow Pulse, and Nippy - who among them won 43 races in 56 starts, and amassed $136,325 in fair campaigning. And to round out the Pennsylvania Night of Youth, six-year-old Owen McMullen won the Spyder race bike. Local racing hopes these two, from royal racing pedigrees in PA, stay around the business for a long time to come. by Jerry Connors
Harrisburg – Standardbred horse owners must register their stallions and broodmares by the February deadlines for Pennsylvania programs that reward breeders who turn out top racers. Stallions must be registered for the Sire Stakes Fund by Feb. 1. Broodmares but be registered “PA-resident” by Feb. 15 to ensure their foals are eligible for Breeders Fund awards. Stallions must remain in Pennsylvania at a declared facility from Feb. 15-July 4 for their offspring to be considered eligible. Stallions used as racehorses must be approved by the commission and returned to their Pennsylvania facility after each out-of-state race. Broodmares must live in Pennsylvania for at least 180 contiguous days, including foaling, and be in foal to a registered Pennsylvania stallion, for their offspring to be eligible for the award. Registration forms are available by contracting Pennie Dodson at 717-787-5196 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search “harness racing.” From the PA Department of Agriculture
Chester, PA --- Sam Beegle, president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, today announced major additions to the 2015 stakes schedule at Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack. On Sunday (May 24), a new Open Pace for colts and geldings, named in honor of Jerry Taylor, will join the Maxie Lee Open Trot and Betsy Ross Open Mares Pace to round out a trio of invitationals. The purse for each race is $150,000. Also new is the Liberty Bell series of early closers scheduled for September. Each of the eight races for Pennsylvania sired horses carries an estimated purse of $75,000. The schedule is as follows: 9/13--3-year-old colt and gelding pace 9/16--3-year-old filly pace 9/17--3-year-old filly trot 9/18--3-year-old colt and gelding trot 9/20--2-year-old filly pace 9/23--2-year-old filly trot 9/24--2-year-old colt and gelding pace 9/25--2-year-old colt and gelding trot "With the addition of the Liberty Bell series, we hope to extend the excitement of prime summer racing well into September and provide new opportunities for Pennsylvania sired horses,” said Beegle. “We’re also pleased to honor the memory of Jerry Taylor by adding his name to our May invitationals." Taylor, who passed away in 2013, was a Philadelphia attorney who raced at Liberty Bell Park and Brandywine Raceway for years. Among the many horses he owned was New Jersey Sire Stakes and Grand Circuit champion Devil’s Adversary. He is the father of prominent Standardbred owner Howard Taylor. Complete information will be available on the PHHA’s website, www.pahha.com. by Ed Kobesky, for the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association
To help spread positive awareness of our sport, the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association (PHHA) has donated a copy of the book Standardbred Old Friends to 132 schools in 52 counties across Pennsylvania. The book portrays, in the photos of renowned equine photographer Barbara Livingston and the words of Ellen Harvey, the lives of 43 senior Standardbreds of distinction. The subjects are primarily Hall of Fame racehorses and broodmares, now in the twilight of their lives and aging with dignity from Sweden to southern California and Maine to Florida. "There is a lot of very good news in harness racing, and we want to do whatever we can to bring attention to that news. This book highlights the lifelong responsible care and attention given by so many owners throughout our sport, whether the horse is a financial windfall or not," said Sam Beegle, president of the PHHA. "Young people in high schools and colleges throughout Pennsylvania are our future fans and in some cases, our horsemen and women." The PHHA is a trade group whose member tracks include Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The books were donated to high school libraries and colleges with an equine program in areas where there is a fair meet, a pari-mutuel track or breeding farm. For information about Standardbred Old Friends, view this video, order it from www.harnessmuseum.com , 845-294-6330 or email email@example.com by Ed Kobesky, for the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association
Wilkes-Barre, PA --- The PHHA is issuing an important reminder that, beginning this year, those wishing to participate in the end-of-year bonus program must register by no later than November 1, 2014. As in previous years, the program is open to qualifying Pennsylvania resident owners and trainers at Harrah’s Philadelphia and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, except that win bonuses will be paid only on purses of less than $20,000. To register, you must provide copies of the following: (1) state-issued PA driver’s license; (2) state-issued PA vehicle registration issued on or before September 1, 2013; (3) previous year’s PA state income tax return and (4) copy of both sidesof cancelled check for payment of PA state income taxes. Failure to register by November 1 will render the individual ineligible for 2014. By registering, you agree that eligibility will be determined solely by the PHHA and that alldeterminations are final. Please note that the PHHA has closed our Lemoyne office, so information should be directed to our offices at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (1280 Highway 315, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702) or Harrah’s Philadelphia (1001 Harrah's Blvd., Chester, PA 19103). For questions, call 610-874-5200. From the PHHA
The first day of the two-day meet at the Arden Downs racetrack, during the Washington (PA) County Fair, was limited to two divisions of the three-year-old filly pace before a widespread band of rain overswept the area around 10:30 a.m. and forced the cancellation of the day's remaining races for sophomores. Getting to the Washington winners circle before the skies opened and the rest of the card was washed out were the Real Desire filly Southern Sweetie, a 2:01.4 winner for driver Brady Brown, trainer Mike Gillock, and owner Rich Gillock; and the McArdle miss TSM Soul Sister, now 5 for 8 this campaign after a 2:02.2 triumph for driver Todd Cummings, trainer Bob Krenitsky Jr., and owner Ted Tomson. With a break in the weather for tomorrow, the two-year-olds will try to get their racing in at Washington, with a 10 a.m. first post (unfortunately, those nationally-acknowledged handicappers at The Weather Channel say that showers and thunderstorms are about even money to hit the area shortly after midnight). ***** Lewisburg WV, home to the West Virginia State Fair and an annual four-day harness meet in conjunction with the fair, is 223 miles almost directly south of Washington, and the same line of wet stuff falling to its north had taken hold of its area, too, lasting until early afternoon. The WVSF's racing had one advantage, though: post time there was 5:30 p.m., and when the skies closed, lead trackmen Glen Ford and Joe Hayes Jr. did a terrific job of refurbishing the half-mile oval to the point that it was safe and raceable, and its curtainraising 5-race card was held. Featured was a $1700 Open trot, going to the Victory Sam gelding Calling A Victory in 2:07.2 over the sodden oval. Driver J D Wengerd figured out early that the front end was very desirable in these conditions by winning the first race in that way, and he again used those tactics in the finale to complete a driving-training double for himself and conditioner Shane Heasley. One other event, a $1500 pace, should be mentioned, taken in a tremendously-courageous performance by the Camtown Fella gelding Go Easy On Me in 2:03.4. Both driver Jeff Lieberman, behind Call Him Clint from post three, and driver Chuck Perry, behind Go Easy On Me one gate spot outside him, wanted the lead in this contest -- and Lieberman kept Perry hung through a vicious 29.2 opener. Go Easy On Me finally backed off for the two-hole nearing the 3/8, and the revved Call Him Clint went on to hit the half in 59.3. But then Perry, again not heeding the name of his horse, moved him back outside at the 1:31.2 3/4s, and went by his early tormentor on the turn. Don'tforgetmysugar was proverbially licking his chops sitting just off this duel, but Go Easy On Me found more in the lane and held off his late rival in 2:03.4 for driver Perry and trainer/owner Henry Lewis - as game a showing as you'd see in a 1:52 mile at a pari-mutuel track. Again, with atmospheric cooperation (and Lewisburg's forecast is identical to Washington's except for more likelihood of rain in late morning), the second day of the WVSF meet will have the first of its six races at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Jerry Connors
The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is all set to go for their annual five-day overnight harness horse camp at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association. The camp begins Monday, July 21st,, and the children will be arriving bright and early, prepared to learn all about harness racing. The event wraps up Friday, July 25th with races featuring all participants. Post Time for the races is 5:30 p.m., and all are invited to attend to cheer on their favorites. This year, children from across Pennsylvania, as well as Michigan; Massachusetts; New Jersey; and Maryland; will be working hands-on with the HHYF's stable of Trottingbred horses. Among the topics covered are care and grooming, equipment, conformation, lameness, history, stable management, and equine careers. Each day will consist of barn work; jogging, bathing, and feeding the horses; a quiz consisting of terminology and facts about harness racing; and fun events when the day is over. The camp is one of ten across the country being conducted by HHYF this summer. The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses, in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation was established in 1976 and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs and educational materials. For more information on opportunities through HHYF and its mission, go to www.hhyf.org. by Jennifer Starr, for Pocono Downs
WILKES-BARRE PA - One of the greatest cards on the yearly schedule of world harness racing was made even better today, as the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association (PHHA), in conjunction with Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs racetrack, announces increased purses in the consolation races of three $500,000 stakes events, a new consolation for the $300,000 James Lynch Pace for sophomore fillies, and a brand-new event, the $100,000 "Mohegan Sun" Invitational Trot for world-class older horses. "The Pennsylvania 'racing revolution' has helped our state become of the brightest spots on the national and international harness racing scene," noted PHHA President Sam Beegle, "and 'Sun Stakes Saturday,' to be held in 2014 on June 28, is one of the greatest days of the season for all harness racing fans - as 'bright' as the 'Sun.' We are now pleased to announce that we have made a great day of racing even greater with these added events and purses." The three $500,000 events are the Ben Franklin Pace for free-for-allers, the Earl Beal Trot for three-year-old males, and the Max Hempt Pace for three-year-old males. These three events saw $50,000 consolations staged last year, and the consolations yielded the co-fastest mile of all-time on a 5/8-mile track (Bolt The Duer's 1:47.4) and an equaling of the world record for sophomore geldings (Beach Memories, 1:48.2) - and remember, these were consolations, for horses who the previous week had not qualified for the Finals! This year, all three events have had their consolation purses boosted to $75,000. The Franklin consolation for 2014 had been announced previously; the sophomore colt events now join it. The Lynch Pace for fillies will have a $50,000 consolation race, if, as in all the other races, enough horses who do not make the Finals show enough interest to race right back. "We have also added an event for what many people consider to be the best crop of free-for-all trotters of recent years, the $100,000 Mohegan Sun Trot," added Beegle. "This will be conducted as an Invitational event, so trainers of top older trotters interested in competing at Pocono on June 28 should contact Rick Kane in the Pocono race office immediately at 570 831 2126." With the four finals, the Invitational, and the consolations added together, Sun Stakes Saturday's card will be worth $2,175,000 - just for these races alone! (And don't sell the Sun undercard short - last year Abelard Hanover equaled the world record for older geldings of 1:48 in the Preferred pace, in a driving rainstorm!) Supplemented starters are allowed to compete in the four sets of elimination races for the headliners, held one week before (June 21), if paying the proper fees as noted in the USTA Stakes Guide - contact Mr. Kane for further details. It's a card no one will want to miss -live patrons and simulcast fans, trotters and pacers, owners and trainers alike. Sun Stakes Saturday has gotten even better - and it all will unfold at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday, June 28. Submitted by the PHHA for Pocono Downs
Harness Horsemen International continued their Annual Meetings on March 4 at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa, Deerfield Beach, Florida. Horsemen’s representatives from ten associations, including Cloverleaf SOA, Delaware SOA, Illinois HHA, Ohio HHA, Maine HHA, Meadows HHA, Western New England HHA, Pennsylvania HHA, SBOA of New Jersey and Kentucky HHA were in attendance. T.C. Lane of the USTA offered the audience a first look at the new online entry system for horsemen, to be launched in the near future. Any USTA member will be able to access this user-friendly system, Lane stressed, which allows trainers to enter their horses at various racetracks via the Internet, free of charge. Association reports continued, followed by HHI committee meetings. The Insurance Committee discussed current HHI coverage, including liability, fire, and disaster, and pending cases which could affect the horse industry, as well as possible changes in policies. Instant racing in Kentucky and sports wagering in New Jersey were topics cited by the Legal Committee. The HHI Scholarship Foundation Committee passed a motion to use a universal scholarship application for all horsemen’s association scholarships, in order to simplify the process for applicants. A proposal by the HHI Convention Committee, to return to this same meeting place in 2015, will be voted on in the Wednesday General Session. The March 5 meetings will begin with elections and a panel discussion entitled “I Can’t Believe This is Happening,” which will examine critical issues facing Standardbred horsemen, followed by the HHI Awards Luncheon. The HHI Annual Meetings will conclude with a farewell breakfast on Thursday, March 6. HHI is comprised of horsemen’s associations from the United States and Canada who collectively represents the agriculture based industry of harness racing in North America. HHI’s governing body consists of representatives from its member associations. by Kim Rinker, for HHI
The end of the breeding season is near, and harness racing stakes season is starting. It is the time of year to see what your foals of 2010 and 2011 are doing on the track. For some, it is an exciting time. For others, not so much. We have all been there, and the good times keep us in the game.
Saturday Night at the Races, which features live radio broadcasts of many of the top harness racing in North America, will begin its fourth year June 1 with a show featuring the Art Rooney Pace and the Lismore at Yonkers.
The Historic Stakes, some of the oldest and most prestigious harness racing events on the Grand Circuit, conducted for more than 80 years, have a new venue for freshman pacers and trotters.
The Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association advises harness racing horsemen of a general membership meeting to be held Sunday, January 13 at the Indiana County Fair Office in Indiana, PA.
Vivid Photo, one of harness racing's greatest underdogs and winner of the 2005 Hambletonian, continued breaking records and thrilling fans in the years since his crowning victory.
The Keystone Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers' Association recently gave out two harness racing awards for outstanding performance in the Keystone State.
The Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association will hold a meeting on Sunday, May 6 in the Fair Office at the Indiana County Fairgrounds in Indiana, PA.