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London, January 3, 2019 -- Veteran trotter Spicey Victor and pacing mare Casino Classic will headline the winners of the Raceway at Western Fair District's 2018 harness racing awards. Spicey Victor captured both Aged Male Trotter and Claiming Trotter of the Year while Casino Classic picks up her second Raceway Award - she will be honoured as top Older Pacing Mare after capturing Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year last year. Officials with The Raceway have announced the majority of the track's 2018 award winners to be honoured during the Western Fair's annual awards night, which will take place this year on Saturday, February 23. The Raceway's top performers for 2018 will be honoured in a variety of categories. Awards for the three-year-olds and older horses are based on the top money earners who made at least six starts at The Raceway during 2018. The top claimer awards are based on total number of claiming wins at The Raceway in the same calendar year. Trainer Patrick Shepherd will take home his first Raceway Trainer of the Year award while Scott Coulter will be honoured with his first Top Driver award. The Owner of the Year award, sponsored by Standardbred Canada, goes to the owner who finished in the top 10 for money winnings and had the highest number of starters during the season. The popular Caretaker of the Year award will be handed out once again. To qualify, caretakers must be nominated by Friday, February 1st. To nominate someone, send an email outlining their contributions to one of the following: gblanchard@westernfairdistrict.com, sdoyle@westernfairdistrict.com, ggangle@westernfairdistrict.com, or aotoole@westernfairdistrict.com. The Raceway will announce its Horse of the Year the night of the event. The Dave Wall Outstanding Service Award, Caretaker of the Year and Ruth Herbert Horsewoman of the Year awards will also be announced at the event. The evening will include dinner and dancing. Tickets go on sale beginning Friday, January 11th with the deadline to purchase on Wednesday, February 20th. Anyone interested in attending should note that tickets for this year's event will not be sold at the door so are urged to purchase before the deadline. They will be available in both the race office and marketing department. For more information, call 519-438-7203 (Ext. 299). A list of the 2018 Raceway Award winners appears below. Older Pacing Horse • Artistic Pick Older Pacing Mare • Casino Classic Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt • Maximus Power Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly • Together We Run Older Trotting Horse • Spicey Victor Older Trotting Mare • Espoir Go Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt • P C Glideline Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly • Miller Time Claiming Pacer • So Long Sugar Claiming Trotter • Spicey Victor Driver • Scott Coulter Trainer • Patrick Shepherd Owner • Rebecca Williamson Greg Blanchard  

HARRISBURG PA -- Heather Vitale, secretary of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), international harness racing video journalist, self-proclaimed "Harness Racing's Firework," two-time Sam McKee Broadcasters Award winner, and probably the only person in harness racing who both holds Madonna as a role model and also has her own Wikipedia page, has been announced by USHWA President Shawn Wiles as the organization's Member of the Year. "Make no mistake about it, there is only one Heather Vitale!" USHWA president Wiles said. "Her colorful and lively persona always adds excitement to any event. We look forward to seeing Heather again at this year's Dan Patch Awards Dinner, on the Red Carpet, as we have for many years. She has been a great voice and face for Harness Racing in her region and for USHWA." Heather comes from a multi-generational harness family in Delaware. Her mother, Jo Ann Looney King, was the first woman to drive a winner at The Meadowlands, and she is the co-owner of 2018's outstanding pacing mare Shartin N, trained by husband Jim King Jr. Heather is a graduate of Monmouth (NJ) University, with a focus on public relations/journalism, and she chose to follow that career path rather than working with the horses. Her show "Post Time" has aired on the CBS affiliate in the Delmarva region for some twenty years, and she also co-hosts the weekly show "Pennsylvania Harness Week," a position in which she has served for nearly a decade. She has worked for ESPN and for the Little Brown Jug network. But a person of Heather's ambition, flamboyance, and talent cannot of course be confined to any one country. Her journalistic travels have taken her not only to Canada, a logical extension because of the fluency of the U.S./Canada harness crossing, but also to Ireland and Australia, where she appeared as an on-air reporter during a major stakes day. (And speaking of international recognizability, Heather was also a driving force behind getting the richest harness horse world-wide, Foiled Again, into the famous "stable" of Breyer collectible horse models.) Heather is a prolific user of social media since its inception, with many followers of her frequent postings on the various platforms. "I'm not a bettor," she says, "so I focus my stories on the horses and the people in the sport, trying to tell their interesting stories, and trying to appeal to people to come out to the track and watch the races. I want to expose the sport outside of the fans we already have." Her presentation is tirelessly upbeat and positive in the service of harness racing. Perhaps the best summation of Heather Vitale was offered by Joe Thomson of Winbak Farms, who once told her, "The best business I could be in is to bottle your attitude and sell it." The Harness Writers Association has benefited a great deal from her attitude and her talents, and that's why she has been named USHWAn of the Year. Heather Vitale (and her family in their connections to Shartin N) will be honored at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2018 will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2019 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $175, with a filet mignon dinner featured; "post times" on February 24 are cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630. Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA's website, www.ushwa.org; a link to the hotel's computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com (the 2018 journal is online at the writers' website). Jerry Connors      

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - The New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) hosted its Annual Awards Banquet December 2 at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel, honoring the top horses, trainers, drivers, owners and breeders of the 2018 harness racing season. Awards were given to the 2 and 3-year old champions across the three racings series: the New York Sire Stakes, the Excelsior Series and the County Fair Series. This season's NYSS "Night of Champions" was held at the Yonkers Raceway on September 22. Taking home a combined $1.8 million in purses were champions Winndevie (Credit Winner-Vida De Vie), Gimpanzee (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows), Money Shot Hanover (Art Major-Marinade Hanover), Reigning Deo (Rock N Roll Heaven-Little Miss K), Plunge Blue Chip (Muscle Mass-Dunk The Donato), Helpisontheway (Chapter Seven-Porque), Wisdom Tree (Betterthancheddar-Wisdom), and Rockapelo (Rock N Roll Heaven-Capelo Rose). The title of Leading Breeder went to Winbak Farm, Linda Toscano took home Leading Trainer and Jim Morrill Jr. was honored with Leading Driver of 2018. The 2019 Night of Champions' date was unveiled during the awards banquet. New York's richest night of racing will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at Batavia Downs. The evening honored the NYSS Excelsior Champions, who took home $55,000 each at Saratoga Casino Hotel on September 23. The 2018 champions are Lifetime Credit (Credit Winner-Mariah De Vie), Labadee As (Conway Hall-Smith Hall), Heavens Challenge (Rock N Roll Heaven-Challenge Accepted), Cal (American Ideal-Hula's Z Tam), Michando (Muscle Mass-Haul'n Fanny), Nows The Moment (Credit Winner-Glide By), Special Kay Deo (American Ideal-Little Miss K), and Thor De Vie (So Surreal-Pebblebeach De Vie). The evening also celebrated the NYSS County Fair Champions, crowned at Monticello Raceway on September 6, following two months of racing at 20 county fairs across New York State. Each final carried a purse of $10,000, collected by Golden Gypsy (Ulay Boko-Uffra Girl), Hereyago (Muscle Mass-End of Innocence), Lily Hammer (So Surreal-Jens Underdog), Cal (Roll With Joe-Crystal De Vie), Good Luck Ginny (Lucky Chucky-Classical Ginny), Royal Bahama (RC Royalty - Becca J), Heaven's Diva (Rock N Roll Heaven-Village Bolero), and Super Roll (Roll With Joe-Calista). Joseph Chinado Sr. took home Leading Trainer, and his son, Joseph Chindano Jr. took home the title of Leading Driver of 2018. "It's always a special evening to be able to reflect on the past season and relive so many of the impressive moments from the New York Sire Stakes," said M. Kelly Young, executive director, Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. "We want to thank Batavia Downs for their incredible hospitality and we look forward to being back here next fall for the 2019 Night of Champions." The USTA District 8 Champions recognized at the banquet included Winndevie, Thunder (Conway Hall-Cr Oh Suzanna), Brooklyn Lilacs (Rock N Roll Heaven-Sombodythatiustono), Hickfromfrenchlick (So Surreal-My Girl's A Star), Atlanta (Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip), Perlucky (Lucky Chucky-Paper Girl), Alexis Faith (American Ideal-Cannae Cammie), and Trump Nation (Betterthancheddar-Late Flyin N). Atlanta took home the coveted title of Horse of the Year, while Toscano was named as Trainer of the Year, Morrill Jr. as Pari-Mutuel Driver of the Year and Chindano Jr. as County Fair Driver of The Year. The Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal was awarded to longtime NYSS supporter and Standardbred owner, Kenneth Jacobs. The medal is presented annually by Harness Horse Breeders of New York State in recognition of outstanding contributions to harness horse racing and the improvement of breeding Standardbred horses in New York. About the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund: The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund (the Fund) is a public benefit corporation established in 1965 by the Laverne Law (Laws of New York, Chapter 567 of the Laws of 1965). The mission of the fund is to promote agriculture through the breeding of Standardbred horses and the conduct of equine research within the state. To carry out its legislative mission, the Fund administers the New York Sire Stakes races, Excelsior/State Fair Series races, and County Fair Races. Jason Politi | Baker Public Relations

Plainville, MA --- With the 2018 Plainridge Park harness racing meet coming to a close last Thursday (Nov. 29) the Harness Horseman's Association of New England (HHANE) has announced their award winners for outstanding performances by both equine and human participants from this past year. Horse of the Year: Quick Shot (P, 6, Art Major-Cannae Cindy) Owner: Kathleen Brewer Trainer: John Bowman Plainridge meet: 28-7-7-6 $87,640 1:50.4 Lifetime: 145-28-30-27 $313,670 1:50.3 Pacer of the Year: Western Stepp (P, 5, Western Maverick-French Stepp) Owner: Diane Dunn Trainer: James Dunn Plainridge meet: 19-5-5-3 $62,540 1:51.3 Lifetime: 83-26-15-12 $237,231 1:51.3 Trotter of the Year: Quicksilver Kemp (T, 3, Andover Hall-Smarty Had A Party) Owner: Joel Wheeler Trainer: Joel Wheeler Plainridge meet: 26-6-10-3 $65,355 1:55.4 Lifetime: 35-6-10-5 $73,021 1:55.4 Claimer of the Year: Panhellenic (P, 11, No Pan Intended-Panne Ala Vodka) Owner: John Sears and Alfred Lang Trainer: James Dunn, Bryant Sears, John Sears Plainridge meet: 22-8-4-5 $35,666 1:53 Lifetime: 276-34-32-40 $169,765 1:52.3 Iron Horse of the Year: Hailstorm Volo (T, 10, Classic Photo-Hail Mary Hanover) Owner: Tony Gruppo and Tim Bojarski Trainer: Scott Rollins Plainridge meet: 26-3-7-8 $23,374 1:57.2 Lifetime: 226-34-45-34 $234,522 1:54.4 Senior Horse of the Year: Hopeful Artist (P, 14, Real Artist-D-Na's Hope) Owner: Joel Wheeler Trainer: Joel Wheeler Plainridge meet: 20-0-1-2 $3,130 Lifetime: 346-25-33-48 $175,021 1:53.1 Driver of the Year: Drew Campbell Plainridge meet: 807-160-169-135 $1.25M .370 UDR Trainer of the Year: Jim Nickerson Plainridge meet: 221-56-34-33 $601,342 .389 UTR Joel Wheeler was selected as HHANE's Horseperson of the Year. All the winning horses will receive a personalized cooler emblazoned with their name and award won and their connections will receive framed certificates. All human award winners will receive jackets as well as framed certificates. The HHANE annual meeting, awards presentation, and holiday party will be held on Saturday (Dec. 15) from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Foxboro V.F.W. Post on 337 Cocasset Street. Reservations need to be made by Wednesday (Dec. 5) and a reservation form can be downloaded from HHANE's website (www.hhane.com).   By Tim Bojarski, for HHANE  

Feelin Red Hot crossed the finish line faster than any other five year-old-and-up pacing mare on a half-mile track in the history of harness racing when she won the $16,500 F&M Open Handicap in 1:50.1 on Saturday (May 5) at Northfield Park. In fact, the clocking tied the all-age record for distaff pacers on a half-mile oval which was held by Call Me Queen Be (3, 2016, Dela, Scott Zeron). The former five and-up world record was held by Mach It Par (6, 2016, YR, Brian Sears) and the Northfield record was held in a tie by Beyonces Rockin (5, 1:51, Ryan Stahl) and Olivia V (6, 1:51, Aaron Merriman). The partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC own Feelin Red Hot. Ron Burke is her conditioner and Ryan Stahl was in the sulky for the winning drive. Feelin Red Hot (Feelin Friskie-Red Rapid Girl-Red River Hanover) started from post five. She left from the gate and led the entire mile through times of :26.4, :55, 1:22.2 and 1:50.1, besting her competition by three lengths. Feelin Red Hot now has five wins in 12 starts this year. Saturday's victory represents her ninth career score and bolstered her bankroll to $119,739. She was heavily favored and returned $3.20 to win. Ayers Ratliff

HARRISBURG PA - Aaron Merriman, who was won more races than any other harness racing driver in North America for each of the last three seasons and who recently became the 13th - and youngest - sulkysitter in continental history to record 10,000 career victories, has been voted the Mary Lib Miller Award, the most prestigious award given by the Keystone chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. "Ironman" Merriman commutes on many racing days between The Meadows near Pittsburgh and Northfield Park on the outskirts of Cleveland - a lot of miles, and on a tight schedule that is hard to maintain (in winning an award in Florida recently, the "background music" as he approached the stage was the wail of a police car's siren). But Aaron has much more success on the racetrack than he does on the interstate - last year he won 1095 races, second-highest yearly total ever and almost 500 victories ahead of his nearest competitor. The Mary Lib Miller Award is named after the wife of The Meadows' founder, Hall of Fame horseman Delvin Miller, who was the goodwill ambassador and hostess to scores of dignitaries who raced at The Meadows. (How much she would have seen of Merriman, who always seems to be racing a horse or racing to a car to drive at another track, is difficult to say.) Hannelore Hanover, 2017 Harness Horse of the Year, was the logical choice for Pennsylvania-bred Horse of the Year. Raised at the renown Hanover Shoe Farms (another Keystone Chapter honoree after breaking their own record for yearly earnings with $31.5M), the trotting mare posted the second-fastest mile on her gait, a 1:49.2 mile at Lexington, and often defeated male company. The Meadows-based horse, trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing, Weaver / Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables, bankrolled just over a million dollars in a championship campaign. A filly who many think may soon rank in the stratosphere is Manchego, a Jimmy Takter-trainee who was voted Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horse of the Year. Last year at two she was undefeated in 12 outings, including two prelim wins in the Sire Stakes and then an authoritative victory in the Championship, with her 1:54.2 time in the final matching the stakes record of Wild Honey. Horses purchased by the Bill Bercury stable after successful stakes campaigns in their youth were named the PA Overnight Pacer and Trotter of the Year. The sidewheeler is Dapper Dude, who beat Sweet Lou in his PaSS championship at two and now has gone in 1:50 in each of the six years since, with 13 wins and $163,000+ at age eight in 2017; the trotter is Barn Girl, who has won 19 times since being acquired by Team Bercury in October 2016, including 15 triumphs last year while amassing over $200,000. Team McMullen added their second Small Stable of the Year award to the one they earned in 2012. Headed by patriarch John McMullen Jr., the three-horse stable ran up a UTR of .660 at the fairs, and had two Fair Final champions: Hockey Hanover, a two-year-old trotter who became the first PA horse to win his Stallion Series Championship and his Fair Championship in the same year, and All Set Lets Go, the only repeat Championship winner from two to three in 2017, and the top pointwinner at the fairs this summer. The freshman pacing colt Venier Hanover earned a Special Achievement Award for the unprecedented speed show he put on at the fairs this season, setting eight track records, going seven times in 2:00 or better, and tying the all-age track record of 2:00.1 at Wattsburg under the guidance of Dave Brickell. This elite group of Keystone State campaigners will be awarded their trophies in racetrack ceremonies throughout the state's pari-mutuel tracks, and at the fairs when they resume in early summer. Keystone Chapter, U. S. Harness Writers Association

WASHINGTON, PA, March 17, 2018 -- Aaron Merriman, whose quest for career win 10,000 suffered a temporary setback this week when an administrative ruling cost him two 2017 victories, got the harness racing milestone mile Saturday at The Meadows when he piloted Icy Crystals to victory in Race 6. Merriman collected win 9,999 with I'm Feelin Good in Race 3 and win 10,001 with Gee Wizz George in Race 9.. Merriman, 39, harness racing's "winningest" driver in each of the past three years, became the 13th driver to reach the 10,000 plateau. On Friday, Merriman thought he had 9,999 wins and needed only one victory among his assignments at Miami Valley to reach 10,000. He got that win. Earlier in the day, however, Merriman learned that the appeals of disqualifications of two horses he drove to apparent victory last October had been denied, thereby reducing his win total by two. "It was just one of those things," Merriman said. "I actually laughed about it. I try to block out all those things when I'm going into a race. I just literally enjoy racing horses." Merriman maintains a hectic schedule, working daylight cards at The Meadows and often driving at either Northfield or Miami Valley -- in his native Ohio -- in the evening. He said he likely will maintain that pace for the foreseeable future. "It's not the racing, it's the travel that wears on you," he said. "But it's the way I make my living. I am worried about my family, and I would like to spend more time with my kids." To create that family time, he indicated he might be more selective about accepting Grand Circuit assignments this year. "It's a special feeling to be part of the Grand Circuit, especially when you get an opportunity to drive a nice horse," he said. "I might not chase the longer shots like I've been doing. I may evaluate things a little bit differently." Even as he celebrated his milestone win, Merriman said his thoughts were elsewhere -- with fellow driver Matt Kakaley, who was injured in a mishap at Yonkers last Tuesday. "I'd like to give Matt a shout out," he said. "I talk to him about every day. He's doing well, but it's a scary thing. Here I'm enjoying this accomplishment, and he's in the hospital. It doesn't seem fair. My heart goes out to him."  LORD OF WINTERFELL SPRINGS 35-1 SHOCKER IN MEADOWS $20K PACE Lord Of Winterfell blew up the tote board when he angled off the cones late and exploded past the tiring leaders to pull off a 35-1 shocker in Saturday’s $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Lord Of Winterfell was a ground-saving fourth for most of the mile, biding time while stablemates Lincolnjames and Mykindachip waged a protracted duel for the lead. When Brady Brown asked him for pace, the 5-year-old Western Ideal-Caila Fra gelding charged down the center of the track and scored in 1:53. Lincolnjames saved place, 2 lengths back, with A Real Miracle third. Norm Parker trains Lord Of Winterfell, who raised his career bankroll to $122,846, for Jacobs Creek Racing. It was one of three wins for Brown on the 10-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino  

Try and not let a glaze come over your eyes but the harness racing All Stars team just keeps setting records. And they get more extraordinary even by the week. Last week the stable posted 10 wins from 10 races competed in. If that had ever happened before it was rare indeed. But five days later the score is 17 races and 17 successive wins. You can bet your  pyjamas that hasn't happened in any professional stable before. But that, as they say, is not all. Seven wins at Addington on Friday night is not a new  record in itself amazing as it might be. But it is if you consider it was a 10 race progamme. All Stars's previous 7 win records have been set on  12 race programmes. Never easy. But a little easier than a 10 race programme even if it not a Premier meeting as the others were  As is occasionally brought out driver Doug Watts drove seven winners on an eighr race programme at Reefton back in the day. Six of them were trained from one stable but the devil in the detail is that three horses won two races each. To train seven winners at Addington with seven different horses is an astonishing feat. The races were not just a+b=c either. Ohanzee had to work a bit harder than Turn It Up in the running and that made the difference (2.22.9 / 27.7) Anthem had to overcome a difficult draw and drag a puncture for the last round to run 2.22.3 / 28.4 but convincing in the end with game Duplicated third. Enchance Your Calm has, not surprisingly, something to learn about racing according to Mark but  getting some nice sectionals he outclassed his 2yo trot opponents while Elle Mac chalking up a second stable quinella with Bettor Trix, didn't run great time but ran a great race winning easily in the end after doing her fair share of work in 2.23.1 /27.8. Winterfell took advantage of stablemate Stress Factor's keenness to get on with the job trailing on the outer and just being too strong for Mark over the final stages in a very good 2.25.7 /29.3  before Funatthebeach really stood up in the open race left sitting parked and giving Alta Orlando the trail but fighting off the older former G1 winner with a game display in 2.23.5 but home in 26.6!. Then Tim joined the party with Tennyson Bromac also sitting parked and still too strong over a G1 placegetter in 2.22.1  /27.7  which was actually the fastest time of the night Courtesy of All Stars Stable website http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/ Turn It Up Anthem Enhance Your Calm Elle Mac Winterfell Funatthebeach Tennyson Bromac

Outstanding standardbreds, harness racing trainers, drivers and owners were honoured last Tuesday (Feb. 27) at the 2017 BC Standardbred Industry Awards. The evening was held at Cloverdale’s Fraser Downs racetrack — the only remaining standardbred racetrack in B.C. The awards are hosted annually by Harness Racing BC, an organization that represents trainers, drivers, owners, breeders and grooms in the industry. More than 100 people came out to recognize the hard work that each and every person — and horse — puts in at Fraser Downs. Trainers, drivers, grooms, standardbreds and more were honoured, highlighting the range of talents needed to make the track successful. Awards were given to both racing veterans with decades of experience and promising up-and-comers, a nod to the industry’s past, present and future in B.C. Horseperson of the Year, awarded for horsemanship, success on the track, integrity, and an outstanding dedication to community involvement, went to Gordon Abbott. Breeder of the Year was given to the team of Douglas Neyhart, Erik Neyhart and Donna Scrannage. Douglas Neyhart went on to win Owner of the Year as well, and Donna Scrannage was awarded the Pat Brennan Memorial Award for her years of exemplary service to the BC standardbred racing industry. Shirley Waite took home the Doug Gillespie Award, given in recognition of the original food services manager at the Cloverdale and Sandown Raceway and awarded to a person who demonstrates superior leadership and service excellence. Wayne Pinette won the Hy Class Award, for his significant contributions to the racing industry. The driver and trainer awards went to the following: Driver of the Year (20–100 starts): Kelly Hoerdt Driver of the Year (101–250 starts): Serge Masse Driver of the Year (over 250 starts): Jim Marino Driver Dash Winner: Jim Marino Rookie Driver of the Year: Robert E. Scrannage Trainer of the Year (20–100 starts): Serge Masse Trainer of the Year (101–250 starts): Rod Therres Trainer of the Year (over 250 starts): Jim Marino Trainer Dash Winner: Jim Marino Rookie Trainer of the Year: Blaine Chappell Groom of the Year: Annie Chappell Backstretch Award: Debra Dalton For the full results of the evening, including the awards given to the standardbreds themselves, visit harnessracingbc.com. By Samantha Anderson Reprinted with permission of The Surrey Now-Leader

Pompano Beach, FL…February 13, 2018…Harness racing driver Tom Eichas has been named Florida Amateur Driving Club’s Driver of the Year. In making the announcement, F.A.D.C. President Dein Spriggs noted Eichas’ overall contributions on the club’s behalf along with his U.D.R.S. of .444 during the 2016-2017 season. “Tom has been our Secretary-Treasurer for the past six years and has made remarkable contributions in the promotion of our sport and its contributions to worthy charitable organizations and society, in general. “He has also demonstrated his prowess in the sulky with his skill enabling that lofty .444 batting average.” Eichas is no stranger to harness racing, having purchased his first horse back in 1978. He has been a member of the Florida Amateur Driving Club since its inception in 1998 and is part of that organization that has donated their driving fees totaling over $180,000 to charity. Upon learning of his award, Eichas humbly remarked, “We, meaning our entire club, don’t do this for the recognition. We do it because we believe that this is what our sport can do for society. Of course, I am appreciative of the award and am gratified, but this will only provide me with more incentive to work on behalf of this great sport.” Eichas will receive his award at the upcoming FSBOA Awards ceremonies on Sunday, February 18. by John Berry for the Florida Amateur Driving Club

BIBLE HILL, N.S. – Chantel Gillis never expected to receive an award for doing something she’s enjoyed her entire life. But she recently received national recognition for being an outstanding harness racing groom. The 22-year-old Bible Hill resident was presented with the award during a ceremony in Toronto earlier this month. “I feel a lot of grooms deserve this award, so it was amazing to win,” she said. “It was a great experience, with a red carpet and everything beautifully done.” Gillis was unaware her sister, Christina, had nominated her. In January, she was informed she was one of the finalists, but she didn’t know she was the winner until it was announced at the event. “I felt fine until about 10 minutes before the award and then I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s happening!’” she recalled. It was her first time at the O’Brien awards and she was thrilled to both receive an award and have the chance to meet so many people from other parts of the country involved in harness racing. The trip also gave her a chance to visit her sister, who lives in Toronto. Chantel grew up helping her parents, Arleen and Joe, in the barn and has always found it a comfortable place. “It’s a relaxing, fun and challenging environment,” she said. “I like doing everything around the barn and, somehow, some way, I’ll definitely always have a horse. Helping with the horses is what I enjoy.” Gillis is in her final year at Dal AC, studying toward a BSc in agricultural business, and enjoys stopping by the barn after class. On her days off she’s at the barn early, helping her boyfriend, Paul Langille, with the horses he trains. She is a part owner of two geldings, Rusty Riley and Neigh Monster, and has complete ownership of a mare called Maiden Heaven. She should soon have another horse of her own, as the mare is now in foal. Kyle Burton, the track photographer at Truro Raceway, was also recognized. He received an Outstanding Photography award. By Lynn Curwin Reprinted with permission of the Truro Daily News  

Dave Briggs swept the writing categories in the 2017 John Hervey Awards competition, capturing the feature division with a story written for Hoof Beats magazine and the news/commentary division with a story written for Harness Racing Update, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Monday. In addition, the U.S. Trotting Association's ustrotting.com was selected the winner of the Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing broadcasting and Chris Gooden and Jacob Cohen were named the winners in the George Smallsreed Awards for excellence in harness racing photography. The winners will be recognized at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando. Meadowlands Racetrack Chairman Jeffrey Gural is continuing his longstanding sponsorship of the Hervey and Smallsreed awards by providing banquet tickets for the winners. Briggs won in the feature writing category for his story on John Campbell's retirement, "End of an Era," which appeared in the October issue of Hoof Beats. Click here to read the story. He won in the news/commentary category for his story, "What the heck happened in the Hambletonian," which appeared in the Aug. 12 issue of Harness Racing Update. Click here to read the story. With the two wins, Briggs extended his record for Hervey honors to 11. Honorable mentions in the feature category went to Steve Montemarano and Rich Fisher. Montemarano was recognized for his story on trainer Dan Ater and his battle with cancer, "Picture of Courage," which appeared in the November issue of Hoof Beats. Fisher was recognized for his story on driver Mike Lachance's retirement days, "Out of the Spotlight," which appeared in the August issue of Hoof Beats. Honorable mentions in the news/commentary category went to Gordon Waterstone and Darryl Kaplan. Waterstone was recognized for his story on the Hambletonian, "Swedish Surprise," which appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of The Horseman And Fair World magazine. Kaplan was recognized for three segments of his series, "On the Road: Horse Racing 250," that was published on the Standardbred Canada website between June 30 and July 2. The writing categories were judged by a panel consisting of former Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn, BloodHorse Racing Editor Alicia Wincze Hughes, and Associated Press racing writer Mike Farrell. In the broadcast division, ustrotting.com was honored for its coverage of John Campbell's retirement. The video was produced by Rich Johnston and the reporters were T.J. Burkett, Allison Conte, and Dave Briggs. Click here to watch the video. Honorable mention went to CBS Sports Network's coverage of the Sam McKee Memorial, with a tribute to McKee, produced by Oz Colon. The segment was co-produced by Peter Lasser. The broadcast category was judged by multiple Emmy Award and Hervey Award-winning producer Bruce Casella, who has covered Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing throughout his career. In the Smallsreed competition, Gooden won in the race action category for his photograph "Shadow Racing," which appeared in the December issue of Hoof Beats. Cohen won in the feature category for his sunset photograph of a horse on the track at Woodbine Racetrack that appeared on the Woodbine Facebook page on Oct. 19. Honorable mention in the race action category went to Clive Cohen for his photograph "Fog," which appeared on the Woodbine Facebook and Instagram pages. Honorable mention in the feature division went to Michael Burns for his photograph "Into the Sun," which appeared on the Woodbine website. Judges for the photography categories were racetrack and newspaper photographer Bill Denver, multiple Eclipse Award-winning photographer Barbara Livingston, and former harness racing groom and longtime newspaper/magazine photographer Phil McAuliffe. For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet, visit www.ushwa.org. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

Pompano Beach, FL...December 29, 2017...Winyard Hanaover, driven by Wally Hennessey for trainer Mike Deters, set the world record for a five-eighths mile dash on a five-eighths mile track by scorching the South Florida harness racing oval Pompano Park in 1:08. The seven year-old gelded son of Cam’s Card Shark, leaving from the track’s coveted five post, sizzled panels of :27 and :54.3 before a 13.2 final eighth mile sealed the victory and the world record.  Winyard won by a comfortable 2 3/4 lengths over Sucrose Hanover, driven by John MacDonald, with Rebel Jet and Fern Paquet, Jr. teaming up for third. Mach Power and Kirktons Credit were next in the speedy sextet. At the outset, Winyard Hanover left from his “center-of-the-track” post to take charge heading into the initial turn and hardly had time to take a breath as he widened his margin throughout the journey. Said pilot Wally Hennessey after the race, “he was sizzling all the way tonight. It’s kind of advantageous leaving from a the center of the track in a situation like that where there’s not a heck of a lot of distance to the first turn.  “I though, ‘it’s now or never in a sprint like, so I sent him. I know he’s done that before in a mile race, so I wasn’t at all concerned about sending him hard. He’s a very good horse and can handle it. “To tell you the truth, I thought he was going more at the end of the mile.”  Winyard Hanover eclipsed the former record of 1:08.1 by Anais Kicker at The Meadows back in 2009 with Dave Palone in the bike. Owned by trainer Deters along with Joel Warner, Winyard Hanover won for the ninth time this semester in 32 starts to complete his 2017 campaign with earnings of $42,831. Lifetime, Winyard Hanover has banked $217,125 to go along with his Pompano Park mark of 1:51 set earlier this year. As the 4 to 5 tote-board favorite, Winyard Hanover paid $3.80 to win Racing continues on Saturday night with the Super Hi-5 jackpot carryover standing at $32,011.59. Post time is 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park

TORONTO, December 26, 2017 - The 2017 Woodbine Standardbred racing season wrapped up Tuesday afternoon with a special 12-race harness racing matinee card. The finals of the Valedictory and Niagara Series highlighted the final card of 2017. An 18-day break between starts was no issue for Jazzy Image in the $34,400 Niagara Series final. The Aaron Lambert trained three-year-old pacing filly got away mid-pack with driver Trevor Henry and came first up in the third-quarter to pull to within a length turning for home. In the stretch, Jazzy Image was able to out duel the leader Cloud Diva to win by a length in 1:54.4. Purchased privately in November by Trent Stohler Stable Inc, Jazzy Image shipped up to Woodbine and captured an opening leg division of the Niagara on December 8, but did not compete in the second round on December 15. The daughter of Rockin Image is now five for 31 this season with $63,285 earned. Jazzy Image paid $7 to win. Sophomore pacing fillies, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2017, were eligible to the Niagara. Tony O'Sullivan trainee Windsun Gotham, who won a first leg division, braved the elements and came first up to win the $34,000 Valedictory final in 1:54.1. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Windsun Gotham got away mid-pack and waited patiently while things shook out up front. The O'Sullivan trainee was moved first up at the half and grinded up to the wheel of leader Brave World at three-quarters. In the stretch, Windsun Gotham powered to the lead and was able to hold off an inside charging Homey Joe to win by a neck. Better B Rolling, who was going for a series sweep, got a second-over trip and finished third. Owned by Thomas Pollack and O'Sullivan Racing Inc, Windsun Gotham is now six for 19 in 2017 after making just one start as a two-year-old. The gelded son of American Ideal pushed his career earnings to $78,122 with Tuesday's score. The O'Sullivan trainee paid $12.20 to win. Sophomore pacing colts and geldings, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2017, were eligible to the Valedictory. There was no drama on the final day when it came to the driver, trainer and owner titles for the season. Doug McNair, 27, captured his first Woodbine Entertainment driving title by leading all reinsmen in victories during 2017. The Guelph, Ontario resident finished the season with 294 wins, $5.5 million in earnings and was the top driver during the Woodbine Winter meet and Mohawk Summer meet. Louis Philippe Roy finished second in the driver standings with 275 wins. For the third consecutive season, Richard Moreau was the leading conditioner in 2017 at Woodbine and Mohawk. The Puslinch, Ontario resident won 167 races and sent out the winners of over $2.9 million this season on the Woodbine Circuit. Carmen Auciello finished second in the trainer standings with 91 wins. McNair and Moreau teamed up to win three-races on Tuesday's card. Brad Grant led all owners in victories for the second consecutive season. The Milton, Ontario resident had 60 victories during 2017 at Woodbine and Mohawk, many of which he teamed up with McNair and Moreau. Grant also led all owners in earnings, as his horses banked over $1.2 million in 2017. Grant, McNair and Moreau were recognized for their exceptional campaigns with a special presentation during Tuesday afternoon's card. Also on Tuesday, trainer Isaac Waxman picked up his 500th career victory in the afternoon's fourth-race with claiming pacer Prince Giovanni. Waxman entered the afternoon just two wins shy of the milestone and picked up a victory early in the day at Western Fair before scoring his 500th at Woodbine. Live Standardbred racing at Woodbine is now on a 10-day break. The Standardbreds will get back to action for their first card of 2018 on Saturday, January 6. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie Woodbine Entertainment          

Harrisburg PA -- With voting currently underway for the top harness racing horse and human performers of 2017, there has been one major change made to the format of the announcements of this year's winners by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA). The process this year will have the pacer, trotter and horse of the year announced at the conclusion of the Dan Patch Awards Banquet that will be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida on Sunday. February 25. There will be no advance release of these three winners. On Thursday (Dec. 21) at 12 noon, USHWA will announce all the divisional winners for both genders and gaits via a Facebook Live stream hosted by Emily Gaskin and available for viewing on both the USHWA and Hoosier Park Facebook pages. A general press release will then be sent to all e-outlets following that broadcast. All human category winners will be announced via press release the week after Christmas starting on Tuesday (Dec. 26) and running through Friday (Dec. 29). USHWA member voting for all categories closes on Wednesday (Dec. 20) at 9 a.m. Follow all the news and announcements at www.ushwa.org . The live stream of the divisional announcements can be viewed at www.facebook.com/USHarnessWriters/ or www.facebook.com/HoosierParkCasino/ .  

It was unanimous. The USHWA National Amateur Driver of the Year Award Committee has named "Yankee Joe" Lee the National Amateur Driver of the Year for 2017. The ever- improving 38-year-old Bronxville, NY native is enjoying his best season in the harness racing sulky while being a member of multiple amateur organizations. When contacted, Lee was at Yankee Stadium where he is the New York Yankee's assistant equipment manager, thus the moniker "Yankee Joe." When told of his recent accolade, Lee paused a moment and then said: "I'm greatly honored and I'm humbled by the award. This is only my third full season of amateur driving and I love it. And I'm especially grateful for the confidence that the owners and trainers have shown in my abilities" Lee could be considered a true amateur in that he owns no racing stock nor does he have any specific trainer to drive for exclusively (save Bruce Aldrich, Sr. at Monticello Raceway) and has taken the reins from at least 15 different trainers this year alone. This National Award comes on the heels of the local Amateur Driver of the Year Award from the Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA ,which, by the way, pioneered showcasing the talents of amateur drivers back in the 1980's. Currently Lee has a career best 15 driving victories to go along with 11 seconds and 10 thirds. Arguably the most prolific was the triumph in the 1-1/4-mile $25,000 CKG Billings Gold Cup Final at Yonkers Raceway with Dizzy Rizzy on November 26. However, it didn't come easy. And Lee recalls that triumph vividly. "We had tough trip that that night but we got the job done. I tried leaving but Steve Oldford , with Gonna Fly, was giving Paul Minore and Wygant Prince a tough time. I then tried to slip down along the pylons to no avail but got lucky when Bob Krivelin's horse made a break. "Sitting third I thought I had a good spot. Then Oldford pulled the pocket with over a half mile to go so I got to slip into the two hole. At the top of the stretch I rolled out of the pocket grunted at her (Dizzy Lizzy) a little and she scampered past the leader and got there in time. I was real honored to win the Billings Gold Cup for her connections." However, Lee's fastest victory this year was a 1:54.3 triumph with Soul Train at the Meadowlands on September 8th for trainer Al Annuziatta. Not bad for a kid who began with show jumpers. "Once I jogged a (harness) horse I never had anything more to do with jumpers," he said. Lee credits his friend Buzzy Sholty as his mentor. " I love the sport and once this game gets into your blood it consumes you. And the more involved you become the more dedicated you are to the sport of harness driving." Lee alleges. Says competitor and two time National Amateur Driver of the Year, Dein Spriggs: "Joe Lee demonstrates what I feel is required to receive the 2017 National Amateur Driver of the year Award" "He's a strategic driver using tactics and not losing composure during a race while readjusting strategies during the race to overcome his competition. He's of good character and moral standing besides being the 2017 Billings Gold Cup winner." Lee will receive his accolades at the National US Harness Writers Awards Banquet in Orlando, Florida during late February, 2018. by John Manzi for USHWA National Amateur Driver of the Year Award  

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