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TV host for PA Harness Week and her own show, Post Time, Heather Vitale is joining the group of hall of fame drivers, announcer and journalist who are all heading over to Ireland this weekend for the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial series at Portmarnock Trotting Track outside of Dublin. Vitale, a third generation horsewoman, first read about the race back in June. “I read about the Vincent Delaney Memorial for the first time on Harnesslink,” Heather said. “It was back in June when they announced that Roger Huston was going over to call the races. “Then, it seemed like every time I turned around there was something else written about this big race weekend,” Heather said, “So I got very curious. “I’m the kind of girl who hates to miss a race that has this much excitement surrounding it.” Heather added, “I live for events where people like Derek and James Delaney have a passion for the sport and they are remembering their brother Vincent in this spectacular way.” Heather said that she has traveled to Europe before but never to Ireland. “I’ve been to England a couple of times,” Heather said, “And to several other countries in Europe, but I’ve never been to Ireland. I am beyond excited about going.” And don’t be fooled by Heather Vitale’s last name! “My late grandfather was a top horse trainer named Elmer Looney,” Heather explained, “I was told as a child that our family on my mother’s side was originally named O’Looney but they dropped the “O” when they came to America from Ireland. “So I’ve already started looking up the name O’Looney in Dublin,’ Heather said, you never know, maybe I’ll run into someone with that last name. Plus, my first name is Heather and that is the native wildflower in Ireland. “I'm Irish and Italian, Heather said, “And I've been to Italy twice so I've seen the country where my dad's family came from. Now I get to travel to the country of my mom's ancestors. “ Heather will arrive in Dublin Friday morning off the red-eye along with Hall of Famers Roger Huston, USA/Canada’s Wally Hennessey, New Zealand’s star Anthony Butt and Harnesslink’s reporter Steve Wolf. There is a full agenda for the working guests with a trip to the breeding farms Friday afternoon and a gala dinner that night. Then a meet and greet at the Portmarnock track early afternoon Saturday followed by the special auction items finale and then the early evening race card that will feature the elimination divisions for the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial. The series is for two-year-olds with elimination races Saturday and the finale on Sunday afternoon plus both days will feature other special trotting and pacing events. Heather Vitale is on a whirlwind tour for harness racing as last month she did the CBS SportsNet Meadowlands Pace broadcast and next month will do the CBS SportsNet live broadcast of the Little Brown Jug from Delaware, Ohio. “On Tuesday morning I fly out of Dublin non-stop to Philadelphia,” Heather said, “Then I go directly to Harrah’s Philadelphia and shoot this week’s edition of PA Harness Week with my co-host Steve Ross. I know that sounds nuts but the flight is only seven hours and non-stop so I’ll sleep on the plane and there’s a Starbuck’s in the Philly airport that I am familiar with! “I am going to shoot lot of video for myself and my show Post Time (which airs in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia on the local CBS affiliates), “Heather explained, “I love doing features on what harness racing is like in different parts of the world. So many people are familiar with racing Down Under, in North America, and even over in Sweden and France, but what about Ireland and England? I don’t know that much about harness racing in Ireland so this is going to be a great education for me and for my TV viewers.” It will also be a special time for Heather as she will be interviewed herself on Irish TV. “It is so great that Heather Vitale is joining the list of special guests coming to Ireland for my brother’s race,” Said Derek Delaney. “When the arrangements were finalized for Heather coming over, one of the Irish TV stations that will be covering the races asked if they could do an interview with her about all she does in covering harness racing in the USA. I think that is more than fitting and will make for a great interview.” “I never get tired of telling people how fantastic our sport is,” Heather said. “Whether it’s on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, meeting race fans at the Hambletonian or doing an interview in Ireland, I’m ready to talk with everyone about harness racing!” Heather’s mother, Joanne Looney-King and her sister Susan Looney were harness racing driving stars during their careers in racing. Mom still owns and trains while her sister Susan is an attorney. Both held long time records at the Meadowlands and Heather had her trainer’s license before switching full time to journalism. So whether it’s being interviewed, doing interviews, learning about Irish harness racing or maybe even finding her “roots” or perhaps even a long lost “O’Looney” family member, Heather Vitale is set for a big weekend in Ireland. By Steve Wolf, for

Feature story appeared Sunday in Dublin's Independent Newspaper

With less than three weeks away from the race weekend, it’s time to take at look at some of the leading contenders for the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series at Portmarnock’s Harness Racing venue in Dublin, Ireland the 9th and 10th of August. The series is for two-year-old pacers and have been developed into the richest series ever in the history of harness racing in the British Isles with more than €30,000 euros ($40,000 US) in total purses. Conditions are tough for the freshmen pacers as there will elimination races Saturday evening, August 9th and then the mixed final on Sunday afternoon, August 10th. Fillies will draw for inside post positions in the final on the half mile track. At the time of writing there are a record number 52 two-year-olds that are eligible for the series. Currently the 6/4 favourite and leading contender is Alexander Camden, who was the highest priced yearling ever sold in Ireland and the United Kingdom last season, fetching £38,000 sterling ($53,000 US) at the York Standardbred Sale last year. His is sired by Cambest out of Lola making him a full brother to two sub 1:49 pacers Canyon Wind and Paragon. In his short career on the track, Alexander Camden seems to be living up to his purchase price as the good looking youngster is being trained by English maestro Mick Lord for Scottish owner Davy Morton. In his four races so far, the colt has two wins and two seconds with his fastest victory in 2:02.3 at York Raceway, the UKs premier half mile track. However, the fastest of the freshman pacers so far this season is a filly, Carmel Camden, who is owned and trained by Dubliners Derek and James Delaney, who originally developed and sponsored the race back in 2012 in memory of their younger brother Vincent, who tragically past away in 2011 at age 27. Since the inception of the event, the brothers have dearly sought to have a runner in the line-up and last October they acquired Carmel Camden, a £12,000 sterling ($17,000US) daughter of No Pan Intended out of Pan Cullottes, who were both US Breeders Crown winners respectively back in 2003. Carmel Camden has made three starts so far and remains undefeated. Her fastest win was 2:01.7 over Portmarnock’s half mile oval, just a few ticks shy of tying the track record for two-year-old fillies. Gaining in popularity with each renewal, the Delaney brothers have gone all-out to make this year’s memorial to their brother a world class event and have invited Hall of Fame drivers Wally Hennessey from North America and Anthony Butt from New Zealand to compete in the series. Both drivers are booked to drive some horses over the weekend adding an exciting new dimension to the meeting. In addition, they have also invited Hall of Fame and world renowned track announcer, Roger Huston, to call the races both days at Portmarnock. Racing fans in Ireland and the UK will be in for a real treat as Huston’s inimitable style of race calling will inevitably have the people standing up and cheering throughout each race. Another top prospect is Titanium, who was a bargain £3,400 sterling ($5,000 US) yearling purchase and is by super sire Hasty Hall, who has dominated the ranks of the juvenile classic winners in the UK in recent years. Owned and driven by leading lady driver Vicky Gill of Yorkshire and trained by Vicky’s Dad, John Gill, of the Emerald Stables, Titanium has won two of his three starts so far and has a personal best time of 2.02.2. Vicky and dad John won this race just last year with Camden Tino, so the combination know just what it takes to win the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial. Other contenders include Lyons Premier, another son of Hasty Hall, who has but one start so far and scored a strong win at York Raceway in 2:03.3 for Welsh owner/breeder Geoff Mound. He races pacers all over Canada and the USA under the Lyons prefix; Mikey Camden, by Cambest, who is a £27,000 sterling ($38,000US) yearling purchase, has one in after three starts in 2:03.1 and locally owned Meadowbranch Ideal, an imported son of Western Ideal who has been impressive in three qualifiers so far, but as yet to win at the Dublin venue. With less than three weeks to go before the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend of racing, there will be more two-year-olds qualifying and prepping for the big series and competition is guaranteed to be fierce among trainers right across the British Isles, all eyeing up the lucrative €13,000 ($22,000US) first prize, a record purse for a pacing race in all of Europe.   By Steve Wolf and Thomas Bennett, for

The Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series for two-year-old pacers has truly become an international affair as Australasia’s leading harness racing driver, Anthony Butt, has announced he is heading to Dublin, Ireland’s Portmarnock Trotting Track to compete in the series. “I had read the stories on Harnesslink about Derek and James Delaney developing the series to honor their lost brother,” Anthony Butt said, “and then Irish Joe Hanney, who is a friend of mine in the USA, got in contact with me asking if I was interested in going up for the race weekend. When I looked at the dates and it fitted in well with my schedule, I jumped at the opportunity.” “How great is it that one of the leading drivers from Australasia, Anthony Butt, is coming here to Ireland to drive,” said Derek Delaney. “Now we have two world class drivers from the other sides of the globe, Wally Hennessey and Anthony, coming to Portmarnock for my brother’s memorial series. This is going to be one super weekend of racing. Plus we also have the world renowned announcer, Roger Huston coming over from the USA to call the races both days.” Anthony Butt hails from three full generations of harness racing in his family. His grandfathers, Wes Butt and Derek Jones, belong to the short-list of New Zealand’s outstanding trainer/drivers. Little Anthony began working in the stables at age 9. Starting out as a driver and entering the sport as a 17-year-old in 1983, Anthony began carving out a distinguished career with a victory in just his third start in a race. His first season saw him win the New Zealand Junior Title. From there it has been a career dreams are made from by his Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final victory with the great Lyell Creek (2000) and Take A Moment (2001 and 2003). He also scored a Pacing Grand Final victory in 2009 (Mr. Feelgood USA). His success in the industry has also been a family affair as his brother Tim does the training for the stable and has been instrumental in Anthony’s and the stables success. Anthony has consistently been in the top 10 of New Zealand reinsmen since the 1990’s and his career was recognized by his peers and fans as he was inducted into the New Zealand Trotting Hall of Fame. Between driving in New Zealand, Australia and the United States, Anthony has more than 2,176 career wins and $19.8 million in purses won with the horses he has driven. Has Anthony ever been Ireland or the United Kingdom? “I have only been to England on holiday, Anthony said. “I have visited Newmarket/Ascot a couple of times to have a look at the Thoroughbreds. A great friend of our family is Sam Ballentyne, who was a leading trainer/driver in Scotland before he emigrated to NZ in the 1970's. I have driven many winners for Sam over the years and always enjoyed his stories of trotting in the UK back then. Also quite a few New Zealanders were involved with harness racing in Wales back in the 1960/70's. “We have had several people work for us over the years from the UK,” Anthony added, “including Richard Haythornthwaite, who is from a famous harness racing family in the UK. Anthony talked about how great a trip this will be. “This is a great opportunity to visit and drive in a new country,” Anthony explained, “As well as to help Derek and his family promote the race meeting worldwide. It’s fantastic to see harness racing taking off in a country like Ireland and any chance we get we should do whatever we can to support occasions like this. “I can’t wait to experience harness racing in Ireland and meeting the people involved. They appear to have a real passion for the sport and hopefully a meeting like this can really give the sport a boast there. It looks to be a unique kind of meeting.” Anthony said. The Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series has 54 two-year-old colt and filly pacers nominated. The series has $2,000 elimination heats Saturday, August 9 and the $35,000 final will be raced Sunday, August 10. Fillies in the final will draw for the inside posts on Portmarnock’s half mile oval. There is already a reported golf match schedule Monday morning after the race meet between Derek Delaney, Wally Hennessey and Anthony Butt. “I have no idea how good Derek is so by the sounds of it definitely Wally, I am only a hacker and I might be better driving the cart with the drinks in it,” laughed Anthony. 'There is also a reporter for a Dublin newspaper and the Standardbred Ireland Facebook page, Eric Haughan, who will be playing with us so I am sure everyone will be able to read about the golfing went." The Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series has developed into an exciting weekend of racing in Ireland and promises to have plenty of action and drama for those who are fortunate enough to attend the meet live. By Steve Wolf, for

Goshen, NY --- Owner-breeder William Weaver and driver David Miller, along with communicators John Pawlak and Carol Cramer, were the human guests of honor as 2014 inductees into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame at ceremonies on the Museum lawn in Goshen, N.Y., on Sunday (July 6). The annual induction dinner followed a full day of activities that included racing at the neighboring Historic Track, including the annual Hall of Fame race, the grand opening of the Roosevelt Raceway exhibit and a cocktail reception in the William R. Haughton Memorial Hall. he Meadows and Little Brown Jug track announcer Roger Huston, who served as emcee, called fellow Hall of Famer Bill O’Donnell to introduce the night’s first inductee. The former driver thanked Weaver for allowing him to drive Valley Victory and applauded him for his dedication to his horses. “Some of the old horses he raced, he still boards those horses and lets them live out their lives,” said O’Donnell. “He should be commended for that.” Weaver, who has enjoyed success with his Valley High Stable, said he didn’t expect this honor. “I’m humbled, happy and surprised to be here today,” said Weaver. “The last two years of my life, there have been some setbacks. I figured this was just someone throwing the screws in.” He thanked the Dancer and Duer families for training his horses over the years and acknowledged the big horse who got him to the Hall of Fame. “One of the main reasons that I’m here tonight is because I was the breeder of Valley Victory,” added Weaver. Huston’s superlative introduction of the next inductee highlighted a couple of his nicknames. “At the Meadowlands they call him Buckeye, but in Ohio he’s known as Purple Jesus,” said Huston before cueing the crowd to a resounding response of “Miller time” when he asked, “What time is it?” Miller can be a man of few words, but he was emotional as he talked about how important this honor is to him and the people who supported him along the way. “I think Roger said everything that I was going to say,” said Miller to open his acceptance speech. “I love horses and I love what I do. It’s more than I ever dreamed of.” He thanked his family for their support. “I definitely didn’t get here by myself,” added Miller. “I have the best family. I have to thank my wife Misty who does everything but drive the races.” The first communicator to be recognized spurred even greater emotion from everyone in attendance. John Pawlak, the USTA’s director of marketing known for his writing, broadcasting, announcing and editing of theTrotting and Pacing Guide, made his first industry, public appearance in a wheelchair since undergoing four surgeries for a brain tumor discovered last October. Well known for his humor, Pawlak used that talent to help his industry colleagues feel more at ease about his tribulations. “It was about the size of John Manzi’s head,” said Pawlak, referring to Monticello’s public relations man in describing his tumor. “The doctors told me it also had a moustache and toupee.” To conclude, Pawlak thanked many of the colleagues that he has assisted in his various roles at the USTA. “It is humbling and I have to thank all of the writers from USHWA for this honor,” said Pawlak. Former USTA employee Carol Cramer, known for her work as a long-time Grand Circuit steward and secretary as well as her involvement in the publishing of integral industry publications, especially the annual stakes guide, joined Pawlak in the Communicators Hall of Fame. “I love this industry with a passion,” said Cramer. “It was the joy of my life when I got to go work for the USTA and when I met Jim Harrison. We did the first Care and Training book.” She thanked the numerous race secretaries who attended to be a part of her induction. Also inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday were broodmare Hattie, 2007 Horse of the Year Donato Hanover and 1991 Horse of the Year Precious Bunny. The horses Green Speed and Windsong's Legacy were inducted as Immortals of the Hall of Fame. by Dan Leary, for the USTA

He already has his plane ticket, and it will be another adventure and addition to the long list of harness racetracks where Hall of Famer Roger Huston has called the races. Huston has been invited, and has accepted, to be the track announcer for the Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend race program on August 9 and 10 in Dublin, Ireland. Huston could not be more excited about this new conquest. “I first heard about the Delaney Memorial on the internet,” Huston said. “I was very moved by what these two brothers, Derek and James Delaney, were doing in memory of their younger brother who had passed away. Little did I know that Derek would be contacting me and that I would be flying over to call the races for the two-day meeting. What a thrill this will be.” “The reason why I thought of having Roger over for the weekend festival memorial,” Derek Delaney explained, “is because I wanted to raise the bar and the profile of my brother’s event even more than it has already achieved in its short life spam of three years to date. “Roger is a huge voice,” said Derek, “and an ambassador of harness racing across the world in my eyes. My older brother James and I have been meaning to go to the Little Brown Jug for some time and for some reason or another we just have not gotten there yet. I think it’s Roger that makes the Jug so exciting and the quality of horses that race there also,  listening to his voice on YouTube at the Jug just makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, it’s a brilliant atmosphere altogether at the Jug.” The Delaney Memorial has been developed by Derek and James Delaney into the richest stakes event in the history of harness racing in Ireland and the United Kingdom. It’s a two-year-old stake for pacers that will feature elimination races on Saturday, August 9 and the final, for 25,750 euros ($35,000 US) , will be held on Sunday, August 10. Portmarnock is a half mile track and there will be both filly and colt elimination divisions, but it will be open in the final with the fillies drawing for the inside positions. A total of 52 two-year-olds were nominated to compete in the two-day event, also a record for any stakes series in Ireland or the UK. On average they have from 8 to 10 races each day, both for trotters and pacers and each dash is one mile. “I did call the harness races at Tregaron Racetrack in Wales, England back in 2009,” Huston said. “I was there for just four days and what a great time I had. I consider these trips more of a vacation than work. And I think many of the people I met and saw race in Wales will also be coming to Dublin, so it will be good to renew past friendships while I am there. I have some friends in England on Facebook who once they heard I was coming over contacted me to say they had horses that they were bringing to Ireland to race that weekend. “The attitude of horsemen in Europe,” Huston explained, “is totally different from that of people here in North America. We had a seminar at Tregaron and a trainer from England, who had worked in the USA, said, “I just had to come home. It is too much of a business in the states. It becomes a rat race and I just had to come home to my roots and truly enjoy working with the stable.” “I have never met such friendly people as in the United Kingdom,” Huston said. “When I went to Wales, Sweden and Norway, the people are just so great. It has become a business here in the states and rightly it should. But it is great to go overseas and meet people who just love racing for racings sake. Their purses are nothing compared to what we go for here but they are just as happy being in the sport and they enjoy what they are doing.” “ We feel we are trying to recreate something here at Portmarnock like the atmosphere is at the Little Brown Jug,” Derek Delaney explained, “and with Roger and the quality of good bred horses we have entered in this year’s event, I think there is every chance we can do it.  To create an atmosphere that will be electric at Portmarnock that weekend, and this, to my brother James and I, will really be a dream come true for both of us. I'm sure if I was to bet on it, every other harness racing fan in Ireland and the UK would dream it too. “Having Roger Huston calling our brother’s race in our own backyard is just unreal,” Derek said. “And to think it all stemmed from a negative like my brother’s death is also mind boggling that we all get a chance to attend a dream meeting in his memory. I think with the quality of commentator Roger is and the quality of the horses’ pedigrees in the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial entries in 2014, it’s sure to be a weekend to remember for many years to come.” “It makes me feel good if my coming over to Ireland to call the races helps them have a great meeting.” Huston said. “And with that being said I would come back every year for this special weekend if they want me to! “I looked at the list of stallions that have sired the horses eligible to the race and it was as if I was at a Harrisburg yearling sale.” Huston added. “They have bred their mares to some top stallions from the USA, they have purchased good mares in foal from the USA and they are really improving their race program in Ireland and the UK. I am looking forward to calling these races.” “We have a great quality batch of two-year-olds, Derek said. “The likes that have never been seen in the history of harness racing in Ireland or the UK before and hopefully we will see it rise again for the 2015 race. And it will be an honor to have Roger Huston call such a milestone event in Irish harness racing history.” Does James and Derek Delaney have any more surprises up their sleeves for their brother Vincent’s memorial race weekend? You can bet they do and there will be more to come in the next few weeks so stay tuned. By Steve Wolf, for

If you didn't know Mike Jeannot, I'm sorry you missed the opportunity. Mike served in various leadership capacities at The Meadows for over two decades until ovetaken by the one foe no one in racing, or in life, can withstand in the stretch -- death -- when he succumbed to cancer last week at age 61, a very young, vibrant, and humorous 61. The horseshoe of trainers and drivers in their colors, often with a led horse ahead of an empty sulky parading in front, along with family and other friends, forming in front of the grandstand in tribute to a departed member of the extended racing family, is, for me after 35 years working in the business, still one of the most moving sights in all of racing -- and believe me, I've seen far too many of them. But The Meadows, headed by the matchless Roger Huston, video wizard Jeff Zidek and coworkers, and track chaplain Pastor Joe DiDonato, may have put together one of the most moving of such ceremonies -- and certainly a world-class video -- when they honored Mike, his memory, and his legacy before their card on Friday. I'm supposed to be a writer, and I have many memories -- every one of them positive -- of Mike, but for once I will agree that "a picture is worth a thousand words." The entire 10-minute ceremony is attached with this story, and nothing I could say could capture the man and the moment as this video of the ceremony does. Mike, I'm glad I can do one last thing for you -- to "introduce" you, through the link to this video, to many people who otherwise may not have known what a very good racetrack manager, and even better human being, you were, and always will be to those you touched. Pastor Joe got it right: "Mike modeled behavior he wanted to see in others." When I cash in, if I could have something 1/10 as complimentary said about me, I'd considered my life well worthwhile. Mike Jeannot's life was extraordinary.   by Jerry Connors for  

His nickname, “The Voice”, is on his license plate. His signature harness racing announcer voice is known by everyone in North America and throughout the world who has ever listened to harness racing. And most recently he called his 165,000th race. He’s Roger Huston, the voice of The Meadows Racetrack in Washington, PA., and today is the 30th anniversary of The Meadows going live with its television broadcast show. And Roger has been there and hosted the show in nearly every performance since its inception. “It was on Wednesday, October 16,” Huston said, “My 165,000th race call was the third race and it was won by Tomasso and driver Mike Wilder in 1:58.3. It was an $11,000 Claiming Trot.” Most people would not be able to recall such data in a moment’s notice. That’s not the case for Roger Huston. His memory of racing dates, events, horse names, drivers, trainers, records, the whole nine yards, is part of his trait as one of the best racetrack announcers of any horse breed in history. But where does keeping all those statistics both horse related and personal come in? “I have always been a stats person,” Huston explained. “It started from my teenage days watching the Cleveland Browns. I then started keeping stats during the game for the Sports Information Director at Wilmington College and the Mid Ohio Conference. Keeping Wilmington and League stats and writing stories for newspapers and the schools in Wilmington, Cedarville, Ashland, Defiance, Bluffton, Ohio Northern and Findlay. “So when I started announcing,” Huston added, “I also started keeping track of the races and time trials and a complete itinerary for each year. 128 different venues I have called races at and 165,128 races going into today’s card at The Meadows.” Huston is also very proud of his records as an announcer. Records that will most likely never be broken as Huston, age 71, has no plans on retiring any time soon. He has also called races at 37 different locations for remote broadcasts of the Meadows races. At these venues Huston actually called the races at the Meadows from the other tracks, watching them on television. “My first remote broadcast was pretty unique,” Huston said. “I called the races at the Meadows from my parent’s house in Xenia, Ohio. It was their 50th wedding anniversary. It was covered by two newspapers and three Dayton TV stations. “I once called a race from a viewer’s swimming pool.” Huston recalled. “We did a remote from the residence of horse owner Jim Schamming. They had a party that night with about 35 people and we did the whole TV show from his living room and the swimming pool.” I asked Roger if that was the most unique venue to have called a race from, but he shook his head, laughed and said no way. “Aside from horse races,” Roger said, “I have called actual baby races, pig races, turtle races, you name it but one of the most unique races I called was from 2,000 feet above the Three Rivers in a Medivac helicopter and it was broadcast by a Pittsburgh radio station. The race was between the inclines of Mt. Washington and Duquesne. It was trolley cars racing down the incline.” When it comes to different racing venues, Huston has done most of them. He has called at 37 different county fairgrounds in Ohio alone. Then there are the fairs in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota and more. But Roger, you forgot New Jersey! Only because this reporter was there, working at Freehold Raceway and I got to co-host the show that night with Roger Huston. It was great. We were set up in the hallway at the restaurant entrance, an eight foot table, head sets, one 19” TV monitor, broadcast equipment and tons of Roger’s stat books and race programs. People stayed and watched us all night. They wanted to personally meet Roger and get his picks for the night. But most exciting was to see Roger call the Meadows races on TV yet it sounded just like he was at his home track. As for calling races outside the USA, Roger has done that too. He has called at tracks all over Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Wales and even in Australia. “And to this day I still keep records each year,” Huston said. “I use them for the TV show which I am so proud is celebrating its 30th anniversary today! Our first show was Tuesday, November 1, 1983. Jerry Connors was my co-host for the first two shows and then we had various drivers, trainers, owners and caretakers on the show.” It is an amazing feat for Roger Huston and he never tires from traveling to remote fairs and events to call races. It’s what he lives for and enjoys. By Steve Wolf for

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 1, 2013 — On Nov. 1, 1983, The Meadows introduced The Meadows Racing Network, a bold new vehicle to bring live racing into the homes of viewers. When it debuted, the MRN likely was the most extensive live racing show in North America. Friday is the 30th anniversary of the historic launch, and a few things have changed. The Meadows has expanded into a full-service entertainment destination called The Meadows Racetrack & Casino while the MRN is now Meadows Live!. Instead of reaching cable and satellite subscribers only, Meadows Live! now is available at simulcast sites across the continent and can be streamed in real time by computer and phone. But the purposes of the venture — to promote harness racing and enable fans to enjoy the sport via platforms they choose — haven’t changed. Hall of Famer Roger Huston, who has hosted the network for all 30 years, notes its success in creating and retaining fans. “In those early days,” Huston recalls, “our signal wasn’t scrambled, so anyone with a satellite dish could pick us up. I remember getting a letter from a viewer in Alaska and hearing from a viewer in Germany who picked us up at a U.S. Air Force base. “Many tracks have shows now, but I don’t think anyone does it like we do. We’re constantly providing information and updates and not wasting time with music. I think we’re still the model.” Sophisticated as Meadows Live! is now, its first few shows had their awkward moments. Jerry Connors, today an executive with the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission, joined Huston as co-host for the first two shows. His memories of the experience, which first appeared in The Meadows’ Golden Anniversary Commemorative Journal, are below. Snow, White Loafers & a Roast Beef Sandwich — the Birth of the MRN By Jerry Connors When I think of the beginnings of the Meadows Racing Network, three images pop into my mind: white snow, white loafers and a roast beef and cheddar sandwich. As you will read in the rest of this celebration of The Meadows’ first 50 years, the track has always been in the forefront of racing innovations and experiments, starting with the Tartan Brand Surface. One of the reasons The Meadows has achieved such a lofty reputation among the trotting set is that it has not been afraid to try new things. As is to be expected with inventions, not all have turned out perfectly, but certainly enough have been successful and a few spectacularly so. Among them is the Meadows Racing Network, now called Meadows Live!, which has had a dramatic, positive impact, not only on the local scene but throughout all racing as well. As The Meadows itself, the MRN this year is celebrating an anniversary, its 30th. Meadows Live! is a sharp, polished show, but during the first two MRN broadcasts, for which I was co-host, we were a little rough around the edges. In 1983, The Meadows was determined to maximize the capacity of its new phone-betting system and, as noted, The Meadows seldom did anything in a small way. So the track planned to simulcast the races every night — viewers would need a special decoder to pull the scrambled signal from the sky — on the theory that people would wager, and wager more, on races they saw, which proved to be correct. A dry run of the system was conducted on 1983 Adios Day (which included Ralph Hanover’s win and the famous Steeplejack/It’s Fritz contest), and finally the target date of Tuesday, Nov. 1 was picked. I had done some work with The Meadows in my capacity then with the USTA, so I had the honor of being alongside Roger Huston for the ship’s christening. Preparations were mostly complete when the first of November hit. The camera and production crew were well trained and capable; commercials had been sold for airing between traces (more on that later), and the co-hosts seemed to be in sync. One thing out of sync, however, was the construction of the booth from where the broadcasters would work. It wasn’t so bad that the booth had an open window in front of the broadcasters so they could see the racetrack — that had been planned. What was a little disconcerting, though, was sitting in the new work area at 5:45 PM, getting ready for the shiny debut, with the sounds of power saws and hammers surrounding you. Yes, it was literally that close in making the box inhabitable and workable for the maiden voyage of the Starship Meadows. The other thing out of sync was the snow. Remember, this was Nov. 1, and we were facing an open window for broadcasting. You’d watch the race, then turn back to your program on the counter in front of you – and you’d have to brush snow off the program before making your notes or marking times. Perhaps it was the pervasive cold that led to my most bizarre comment that first broadcast. As I said, the Meadows staff had sold spots to advertisers — all four of them. Which meant that the same set of four 15-second commercials ran, in the same order, after every race. (Bob Prince was a pitchman for one of them.) One of the advertisers, and the last of the four shown, was Arby’s, which was introducing the beef-and-cheddar-sandwich-on-an-onion-roll that is still popular 30 years later. Roger and I had eaten before the broadcast, but it was getting on towards 9:30-10:00, and I was watching that commercial and salivating after every race. Finally, when we came back from commercial after maybe the 10th race, the very first words the audience heard were those of the whiney co-host: “Roger, I’m hungry!” Never did get that beef-and-cheddar, but one appetite I learned to curb that night was being an amateur judge on air. There was an inquiry for bumping wheels in one of the races, and as we showed a replay of the incident, I saw what I thought was contact and blurted out, “And that’s where it happened.” Roger turned his mic off, turned mine off, and calmly noted, “You can’t say that while the inquiry is ongoing; it can reflect on the judges.” And he flipped the switches back and went on. Roger was absolutely right, of course. Having worked for racetracks, I should have thought of that myself. Even though I was right about the point of contact and the subsequent disqualification, I was wrong in the bigger sense, and I’ve become very, very cautious about opening my big trap when inappropriate. The track was dark Wednesday but was back racing the next day, and I stayed on to co-host the second night. The weather had turned much warmer, and Roger, ever the fashion plate (How many announcers had a track-financed clothing allowance in 1983?), had slipped into a pair of white loafers for that evening’s broadcast. It was a curious choice, since viewers wouldn't see Roger’s shoes . . . unless he stuck his feet out the open broadcast window and dangled them a good eight inches over the edge. That’s exactly what he did. I caught it at the last moment and alerted the crew, and the first picture back from commercial was surely one of the most unusual ever at a racetrack — a disembodied pair of socks and ankles, with unquestionably white loafers (tassels too, I believe) at the end, all in sharp focus with the background deliberately fuzzed out. Quite the memorable shot. I’ve had the good fortune to be on the MRN many times in the intervening years, although not as frequently recently, since my job at the PA Harness Racing Commission makes it unwise for me to offer public selections (possible perception of conflict). I’ve loved every minute of it and am grateful for the opportunity. And I think everyone in racing should be grateful that, from the first, the MRN was entrusted to the hands — and “Voice” — of Roger Huston. I can’t think of anyone else who could have had the stamina and quality to make the MRN the class operation that it has been for three decades. The show and Roger were tailor-made for each other, and both have profited enormously from the partnership. by Evan Pattak for The Meadows  

HARRISBURG PA, October 15 , 2013 The Keystone Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association is pleased to announce the first inductees into the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Hall of Fame. They are: BOWMAN BROWN SR. ROGER HUSTON MAX C. HEMPT DELVIN MILLER DAVE PALONE ED RYAN LAWRENCE SHEPPARD JOHN SIMPSON SR. PAUL E. SPEARS MARY MC CUNE (veteran) All but Mary McCune were elected by the membership of the Keystone Chapter from a list of candidates prepared by the Chapters Hall of Fame Committee. This Committee also selected Ms. McCune as a Veteran honoree by the Hall for her achievements in the sulky sport before the modern pari-mutuel era. This format will be used for the first couple years of selecting inductees; after a large part of the sports modern pioneers have been honored, the intake each season will be smaller. A Keystone Chapter website, focusing on honoring this initial Pennsylvania Hall of Fame class, is currently under construction. There will be ceremonies at tracks and other important gatherings honoring Hall of Famers of a particular area in the next few months. A search for a place for a permanent display honoring the Pennsylvania Harness Hall of Famers would benefit from any and all suggestions. Here are brief biographies of the inaugural Pennsylvania Harness Hall of Famers (much longer bios, giving more idea of the depth and breadth these Hall of Famers had on Keystone harness racing, will appear on the shortly-following website): BOWMAN BROWN SR. President of the important trade publication The Harness Horse; vice-president of the sales company holding the huge annual autumn auction in Harrisburg PA; breeder of top sires Hickory Smoke (a Hambletonian winner) and Hickory Pride. ROGER HUSTON The Voice of Harness Racing; racecaller and TV host at The Meadows racetrack; announcer for the Little Brown Jug and Grand Circuit Week in Delaware OH; master statistician; probably the most-traveled and busiest racing announcer in the sports history. MAX C. HEMPT Founder and operator of Hempt Farms, the Home of the Keystones, with the likes of Horse of the Year Keystone Ore going on to be champions. Owned Hambletonian winner Stenographer. Influential and longtime member of the sports leading organizations. A 68 talented amateur driver, DELVIN MILLER Mr. Harness Racing, Harness Racings Good Will Ambassador. Master horsemen in eight different decades. Founded The Meadows. Stood Adios, arguably the sports most influential sire. Introduced many celebrities to the sport. Suggested Meadowlands be a mile track. Friend to all. DAVE PALONE - The leading dashwinning driver of all-time in North America, with over 16,000 visits to the winners circle, and fast closing in on the world record of the German Heinz Wewering, which will likely be about 17,000 when Dave goes even. Has led the Meadows driving ranks for over two decades. ED RYAN A leader in the home construction business, Ryan and business associate Joe Hardy purchased The Meadows in the 1970s, and under Ryans stewardship The Meadows helped usher in the eras of telephone wagering and television broadcasting. Also a noted amateur driver. LAWRENCE SHEPPARD The pioneer of the Hanover Shoe Farms dynasty, Simpson began with the 1926 purchase of the Cox disbursal to acquire the top broodmares and, later, stallions, to build the leading Standardbred nursery in the world. President (1950-1958) of the U.S. Trotting Association. JOHN SIMPSON SR. A top-level horseman when joining the Hanover team as trainer/driver, Simpson continued to produce champions, and then became Lawrence Sheppards personal choice to take on oversight of the entire Hanover dynasty. Sire of two national Hall of Famers, John Jr. and Jim. PAUL E. SPEARS Parlayed his entre to Hanover as an accountant into progressively-more responsible positions in Hanover administration, rising to the farms President and Chairman, and in the Sales Company management. The most successful high-level amateur driver of the last 50 years. MARY MC CUNE (Veteran) A driving force behind the promotion of amateur racing across the country for the first half of the 20th century. Set a world record to wagon for an amateur, the 2:05 with the trotter Mignola when Ms. McCune was only 17 years old. by Jerry Conners for the Keystone Chapter USHWA  

Columbus, OH --- John Campbell, Hall of Fame driver and president of the Grand Circuit, headlines a star-studded group for the USTA Speakers’ Series, to be held Wednesday (Sept. 18) and Thursday (Sept. 19) at the Delaware (Ohio) County Fairgrounds. Campbell, who will drive Twilight Bonfire in the Jug’s third elimination heat, will answer questions from fans in the USTA/OHHA tent, located on the Delaware backstretch, on Thursday from 10–10:45 a.m. The USTA will also solicit questions from fans around the world through its Facebook page ( and on Twitter (hashtag #Jug13). Also appearing on Thursday (9–9:45 a.m.) will be defending Driver of the Year Tim Tetrick and trainer Tony Alagna. The duo will send out Emeritus Maximus and Odds On Equuleus in the second and third Jug eliminations, respectively. Starting off the Thursday schedule (8–8:45 a.m.) will be Roger Huston, the voice of the Little Brown Jug, who will be joined by Delaware simulcast show co-hosts Dave Bianconi and Sam McKee. The trio will handicap the Little Brown Jug, as well as selected undercard races. Wednesday (9-9:45 a.m.) features defending Jug champion trainer Casie Coleman, along with driver Brian Sears, who will team up to send out probable Jug favorite Vegas Vacation. Sears also made news this year when he won both the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks on the same day with Royalty For Life and Bee A Magician. Rounding out the Wednesday schedule (10–10:45 a.m.) will be author Les Roberts and horseman Dan Kennedy, who collaborated to write Win, Place or Die, a harness racing murder mystery novel. Roberts is the author of 17 mystery novels featuring Cleveland detective Milan Jacovich (pronounced MY-lan YOCK-ovitch) as well as 11 other books. The setting for Win, Place, or Die is Northcoast Downs, a fictional harness racetrack filled with odd characters, suspicious activities and danger. Dan S. Kennedy is a strategic business and marketing advisor, consultant, and professional speaker. He is the author of more than 20 business books. He was born, raised, and lives in the Cleveland area, and is a regular trainer-driver at Northfield Park. Following the Speakers’ Series session, Roberts and Kennedy will be available to sign copies of their books, with book sales to benefit New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. They will also have a meet-and-greet in the Hospitality Pavilion starting at 11 a.m. Click here for an excerpt. A complimentary breakfast will be served each morning, courtesy of the USTA and NTRA Member Benefits Program. Those who cannot attend the series can watch a live video stream at the USTA’s Little Brown Jug mini-site. Here is a complete schedule of participants:   Wednesday (Sept. 18) Speakers 9 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. Driver Brian Sears and trainer Casie Coleman 10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Author Les Roberts and horseman Dan Kennedy present Win, Place, Or Die. (Click here to read an excerpt) Thursday (Sept. 19)   8 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. Roger Huston, Dave Bianconi and Sam McKee handicap the Jug Day racecard 9 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. Driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Tony Alagna 10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. John Campbell, Hall of Fame driver and president of the Grand Circuit by T.J. Burkett for USTA

Delaware, OH – Sitting in the Log Cabin, waiting for the draw to be completed for Thursday’s Little Brown Jug program, is perhaps the one man whose voice alone reminds tens of thousands of people where they are and who he is. It’s none other than Roger Huston, the voice of the Little Brown Jug. It’s Monday, September 16, 2013 and it’s Roger’s 71St birthday. It’s ironic that the man who has called the Little Brown Jug race card for the past 46 years usually celebrates his birthday at the racetrack.  “I actually started calling races at the Delaware State Fair the year before,” Huston recalled. “It was because Hank Thomas had left that season and they asked Stan Bergstein to call Jug Week but he said he could only do the Little Brown Jug Day so I got the call to come and do the first few days and got to call a few races on Jug Day. “I had been coming to the Jug since Adios Butler won it in 1958,” Huston said. “I was in high school and loved racing but never did I dream I become the Jug’s announcer.” Over the year’s Roger Huston has called and seen the greatest three-year-olds in the history of harness racing go in the Little Brown Jug. “I can’t tell you which one race was the best Jug I ever saw or called,” Huston said, “There have been so many races and everyone was dramatic and special to me. Even some of the other races on Jug Day were impressive to me. I remember when Tom Harmer had Falcon Seelster and he was not eligible to the Jug so he raced him on the program in an invitational race against older horses. “That was the race where he set the world record and I coined one of my best phrases as an announcer,” Huston explained, “I knew by the three-quarters he was going so fast that he had a great shot at the world mark so I said “If you have never been on your feet before…you better stand up now!” And sure enough Falcon Seelster went faster than any horse ever did on a half mile track and in 1:51. Later that day Nihilator won the Jug in 1:52.1.” There have been so many other great Jug Day events that Huston loves to talk about. “I’ve loved them all,” Huston said. “When Herve Filion won with Nansemond against Stanley Dancer and Albatross in 1971 was a classic. Stanley had told a reporter he thought all he would have to do is go around the track and Albatross would win the Jug. Well, some people make copies of the story and placed it all around the fair and come time for the post parade they booed Stanley and when Herve won the crowds were screaming and cheering for them. “In 1977 Governor Skipper was almost scratched,” Huston said, “He was chewing on the wood in his stall and got a big sliver in his gum. But they got him a big rubber bit and he raced and dominated the Jug.  And there was Big Bad John in 2011. I called 11 of his starts and he never lost one of them including the Jug. His trainer said when he came back the next year that he would hear my voice on the loud speaker and pick his head up by the window and when another announcer called a race he wouldn't’t pick up his head. So when he won again that day his owner, Ed Telle, gave me a duplicate of the trophy. That was very special.” What does Roger do to prepare for Jug Week? “Nothing special,” Huston said. “It’s almost like a normal week of calling the races at The Meadows except for Jug Day. I make sure I have plenty of Halls eucalyptus cough drops and some of my special elixir in case my throat gets sore. But Jug Day is never normal, it’s very emotional to me.”  Before allowing Huston to later head out to celebrate his birthday, the big question for Little Brown Jug Week had to be asked. Who would win this year? “Before the Adios,” Huston said, “I really liked Vegas Vacation so I’m sticking with him to win the Jug. But now I also have a long shot to consider in Lone Wolf Currier. Last week with Dave Palone driving him he was boxed in for his life in the $260,000 PASS final and nearly pulled it off late in the mile.” Happy Birthday Roger Huston! By Steve Wolf for

Washington, PA – Talk about missing the curtain call, Lady Broadway never even made it to the theater for her $260,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship Final at The Meadows Friday night. As track announcer Roger Huston looked through his binoculars and counted the horses on the track for the 6th race final for three-year-old trotting fillies, they could only count seven fillies. Everyone kept waiting for Lady Broadway to come out of the race paddock so the race could go off. She never showed and after a long delay it was announced that Lady Broadway was scratched and refunds and exchanges could be made on wagers that included her in the betting. Eventually the field got behind the starting gate and the results were that her two stablemates, Classic Martine and Frau Blucher, finished in a world record dead heat for win in 1:53.2. It was the fastest dead heat finish in the history of trotting races. Trainer Chris Oakes could not have been happier, maybe… Oakes also trains Lady Broadway and said that she was sick and never left her stall to come to the races Friday. “I was kinda surprised that no one noticed,” Oakes said. “She never showed up for the six hour detention barn.” The communications breakdown happened early on at The Meadows and was never realized until long after the post parade for the race. It seems hard to believe in this day and age of added security and check lists that not one racing official would notice and question that a horse never showed for its detention barn requirement, that it never came to the race paddock and had ID or equipment checked, its stall, saddle pad and head number never touched, failed to post parade and caused all the other horses in the race to have to stay on the track milling around for twice the normal time. Perhaps the communication breakdown was only between the race officials and the mutuels department. Needless to say it seems that a lot more went unnoticed than just Lady Broadway missing her opening act! By Steve Wolf for

Delaware radio station WINF (98.5-FM) and Marysville radio station WQTT (1270-AM) will broadcast all of the harness races from the Delaware County Fair, September 15-19 concluding with Thursday's 68th Little Brown Jug. The broadcast will be streamed online on the worldwide web at and for listeners around the world. The broadcasts include the live call of each race from the track announcers, interviews, handicapping analysis of each race, updated odds and complete mutuel results. Airtime begins 30 minutes before each day's post time. There will be no racing on Monday, September 16. Hosting the broadcasts will be Don Berman and Hall of Famer Dean Hoffman, two harness racing experts from Central Ohio. Berman is a veteran broadcaster, handicapper and longtime fan. Dean Hoffman is a harness historian, former editor of Hoof Beats magazine and columnist for several harness racing magazines. Hall of Fame announcer Roger Huston, the voice of the Little Brown Jug since 1967, will also make his handicapping selections each day and his calls will be the centerpiece of the broadcasts. "We are pleased to have radio coverage for the fourth straight year," noted Phil Terry, director of marketing for the Little Brown Jug. "Although a number of our guests are on the grounds, sometimes our fans are not able to see the races because they are out in the barn area or partying at their tailgates. With the online stream the fans that are unable to attend can feel the excitement of the Little Brown Jug." By Jay Wolf – Little Brown Jug Publicity Director  

Roger Huston, the dean of harness racing racecallers known as 'The Voice' of The Meadows and the Little Brown Jug, has been voted the Proximity Award in balloting conducted among the U.S. Harness Writers Association.

It comes as no surprise whatsoever that Ohio harness racing legend, Roger Huston has been nicknamed 'The Voice'. The 69-year-old recently called his 45th consecutive Little Brown Jug and astonishingly is now zeroing in on his is 159,000th race call since first picking up the microphone back in the mid-1950s.

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