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The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association is looking for eligible high school seniors or returning college students from families of licensed owners, trainers, or drivers who participate full or part time in harness racing. They can now submit an application that could bring them $1,500.00 closer to completing their college education. Through the generosity of Ray Schnittker and Jeff Gural, UNY-USHWA is offering the scholarship named for Schnittker's world class trotter, Deweycheatumnhowe. The sixth annual "Dewey Degree Scholarship" will be given to an eligible student who meets the criteria and is chosen by the chapter officers and an impartial third party judge. It is a $1,500.00 one time, non renewable assistance award. The applicant must be entering college for the first time this fall or already in a college, university, or trade school and be enrolled as a full time student (12 credit hours minimum). Applicants' parent(s), grandparent(s), and/or legal guardian(s) must be a licensed horseman or horsewoman during the year prior to application. (In this case, 2013) Only one relative need be licensed to be eligible. The applicant must be at least a high school senior at time of application. Anyone living in the U.S. or Canada is eligible. You are required to submit an essay discussing your background in harness racing, your work experience in harness racing, what you think could be done to better harness racing in the future, and how you see yourself as part of it. The essay should be around 600 words in length. You will also need to submit proof of your relatives licensing and a minimum of two letters of reference - one from a horse person and one from a teacher or advisor in your current school. All documents must be received by UNY-USHWA no later than May 31, 2014. The recipient of the 2014 Dewey Degree will be announced shortly thereafter and the scholarship will be presented in the winners circle at Tioga Downs this summer. We request the winner be present for that presentation. You can click here to download a copy of the application. By Tim Bojarski, for Upstate NY Chapter USHWA  

The entire Dan Patch Awards Banquet, which was held at Dover Downs on Sunday, February 23, is now available for viewing "on demand" at the home of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), www.ushwa.org . Thanks to the USTA and Roberts Communications, the entire production has been archived and made available to everyone through a link at the top of the USHWA homepage. If you were an honoree or presenter, this is a great opportunity to see exactly what the live and simulcast crowd saw as you were on stage. And if you weren't able to attend in person or watch the live broadcast that night, you can now enjoy the show in its entirety. Once again, USHWA would like to thank the USTA and Roberts Communications for making this available on our site. by Tim Bojarski, for USHWA  

Whether or not you attended the 2014 Dan Patch Awards Banquet in person, here is your opportunity to experience all the excitement of the night's activities first-hand. If you log onto the United States Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) website (www.ushwa.org ) you will find full listings of all the award winners, fully captioned presentation pictures from that night for every category (both human and equine), a downloadable version of the entire 160 page color Journal that includes pictures, bios and well wishes from industry insiders, and a bank of over 150 professionally taken, high resolution pictures of all the night's events (including the Red Carpet) that you can downloaded and printed. So if you did attend, take a minute and find yourself among the pictures and remember what a great night it was. And if you didn't, you'll find out why almost 400 people did. Mark Hall of the USTA and Frances Blazer of Fotowon photographed the pictures that we are making available for download on our website. USHWA would like to thank them for providing their photographic talents and excellence for your enjoyment. by Tim Bojarski, 1st VP National USHWA  

At the recently completed national meetings of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) Monticello Raceway's Shawn Wiles was elected vice president of the organization. President Steve Wolf ended his two year term at those meetings which then opened the position of second VP as other officers moved up the chairs. Wiles will now serve in his newly elected capacity for two years. Presently the general manager of the Monticello Raceway, Wiles has been a longtime member of the Monticello -Goshen Chapter USHWA and currently is the chapter's vice president. "I am excited to work with the present youthful USHWA Board," Wiles said. They are an extremely capable bunch of young men, who I can learn from." Wiles is referring to his newly elected president, Chris Tully and vice president, Tim Bojarski, both of whom moved up the chairs to their current two year positions. Wiles has long been a director of United States Trotting Association from District 8 where he now serves as the chairman of that district. His career in harness racing started in the backstretch of Monticello Raceway during the 1970s where he worked as a groom for Richard Sturgis, Robert Camper and Jim Grundy. He then went on in search of a Grand Circuit stable to work for and found success with the famed trotting specialists of Continental Farms under the guidance of Hakan Wallner, Hall of Famer Berndt Lindstedt, and Jan Johnson. Wiles was the first American second- trainer to work for the famed Scandinavian trotting experts from 1980-1986. During his tenure as a groom he rubbed many top performers, most notably the crack stakes filly Dominant, and then worked for Castleton Farms from 1986-1988. Wiles joined Monticello Raceway in 1996, working under John Manzi in publicity and Bill Sullivan in operations. Wiles was initially promoted to assistant GM of Monticello Casino and Raceway, and lately promoted to General Manager of the entire facility. He was recently lauded by the local scribes on his tough stance on racing integrity. Wiles is actively involved in many civic and community oriented endeavors. He is a past president, now trustee, of the Fallsburg Central School District Board of Education, past president of the Woodridge Housing Association, and a longtime AYSO soccer coach as well as vice president of the Monticello-Goshen Harness Writers Association, The proud parents of Brody , 19, and Samantha, 16, Wiles and his wife, Lisa, Superintendent of the Ellenville School District, reside in Woodridge, N.Y. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway  

DOVER DE - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing's principal organization for media workers, held its annual meetings this past Saturday and Sunday at the Dover Downs complex, with the weekend culminating in the Dan Patch Awards Banquet held Sunday (Feb. 23) night, attended by almost 400 people and streamed worldwide for live viewing. During the Saturday meeting, the Directors of the Association voted for Bob Marks and Kathy Parker to be on the Communicators Hall of Fame voting ballot this summer. Marks has been a leading force in many harness dimensions over his 50 years in the sport, most recently as Marketing Director for Perretti Farms, while Parker, from a prominent harness family, worked her way through the ranks at the Horseman and Fair World weekly magazine until becoming editor in 1995 and later general manager of the Horseman Publishing Company, positions she maintains to this day. At the conclusion of the meetings, the membership voted in their slate of association Officials for 2014-15. Chris Tully, an MBA marketing specialist and writer whose digital literacy and social media acumen has helped bring USHWA to the cutting edge of communications technology, was elected President of the association, succeeding Steve Wolf of Harnesslink.com; Tully's "first official act" was to present Wolf, who now becomes the Chairman of the Board, with a gold Lifetime Membership pin. Tim Bojarski, writer/blogger for the USTA, moved up a chair to 1st Vice President, with the 2VP position going to Shawn Wiles, Monticello Raceway chief racing officer and a longtime USTA and USHWA director. Judy Davis-Wilson, who is based in Dover and worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the weekend, especially the banquet, was returned as Treasurer; Alan Prince, who attended his 48th consecutive USHWA meetings weekend, remains as Executive Treasurer. Also elected was Jerry Connors as USHWA secretary. Much of the discussion during the two days of meetings focused on the sport's Halls of Fame in Goshen NY, where plans for renovation and modernization are starting to advance rapidly, and where USHWA makes a significant contribution. In addition to the physical reconfiguration of the Halls of Fame area, the directors and membership discussed several by-law and rules change relating to the Halls, especially the re-establishment of a Seniors category for both. Debate was plentiful, lively, and well-reasoned on all sides, and some of these matters were tabled until a Committee, soon to be appointed, can focus on the merits - and the eventual wording -- of the varied proposed changes. The attendees heard reports from the many committees that keep USHWA functioning throughout the year, and were glad to hear from Davis-Wilson, voted the organization's member of the year, that the treasury was in a very good shape, pointing to future success in USHWA's upcoming progressive efforts. The Dan Patch Awards Dinner was as always the highlight of the gathering, with superstar sophomore trotting filly Bee A Magician "finishing her unbeaten season" by being elected Trotter of the Year and then Harness Horse of the Year; her contemporary, the pacing colt Captaintreacherous, took down overall honors for that gait after a brilliant campaign showing speed and courage in equal amounts. Also honored were the quartet to be inducted into the Halls of Fame Sunday, July 6 in Goshen: Harness Racing Hall of Famers David Miller and William Weaver, and Communicators Hall inductees Carol Cramer and John Pawlak. by Jerry Connors for USHWA

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Studio City needed every step of the mile to run down the front running Lutetium in the $10,500 Open Trot at Buffalo Raceway Friday night (Feb. 7).   Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) set the fractions with marks of 29.1, 1:00 and 1:31 and tried desperately to make every step a winning one. He was close but no cigar.   Studio City and Buffalo Raceway's leading driver Billy Dobson had other ideas. Starting a first over trip down the backstretch the final time, Studio City ($7.10) began a slow but methodical grind in chasing down Lutetium. Then in the shadow of the wire, he managed to poke a head in front to capture the win in 2:01.2 over the good track.   Cedarridgetag (Peter Wrenn) took the show position.   It was the first victory in four starts for Studio City this season. He has now earned $9,135 in 2014 and $133,868 lifetime. The 5-year-old gelding is owned by Scott Woogen and Lisa Denison and is trained by Lisa Lederhouse.   Racing will resume on Saturday night with a 12-race card scheduled to start at 6:40 p.m.   For more information including race replays, results, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

The fans have spoken and the votes are in; the winners of the 2013 USHWA-USTA Railbird Recognition awards have been selected. One was a winner by open lengths and the other eked out victory in a photo finish. Jeff Gural was voted horse person of the year for his enormous contribution to the sport by the fans of harness racing. Gural has been the driving force behind the resurgence of harness racing in New Jersey with the opening of the impressive $88 million dollar grandstand at the new Meadowlands Racetrack, and in the process helped to ensure the stability of the sport in North America. This year's balloting produced the highest amount of votes ever cast in this category (4,559) and Gural received 1,499 of them (33%). This is the second time Gural has won this award as he was presented this same honor in 2011. The racing moment of the year went to Bee A Magician's perfect 17 for 17 2013 campaign. In what turned out to be her closest race all season, Bee A Magician beat out Foiled Again topping the $6 million mark for his career by only two votes, 818 to 816. A total of 3,113 votes were cast in that category and the top two moments combined to take 53% of all the tallies. Jeff Gural and the connections of Bee A Magician will be honored on Sunday, February 23 at the USHWA Dan Patch Awards Banquet, the climatic event of the 2013 racing season, to be held at Dover Downs in Dover, Del. Further information about the banquet, hotel reservations and purchasing dinner tickets is available at www.ushwa.org. The Railbird Recognition Awards are a fan voted honor that is co-sponsored by the United States Harness Writers Association and the United States Trotting Association. Voting in this year's Railbird's displayed a total of 7,672 ballots cast online on the USTA homepage during the month of December, which was a 24% increase over last year and the second highest voting total in the history of the award. By Tim Bojarski for USHWA  

BATAVIA, NY --- America's oldest lighted harness track, Batavia Downs Gaming, concluded its 67th season of live harness racing on Saturday night (Dec.7) with a 13-race program, billed as the Night of Distinction. Awards were presented in several categories by the President of Upstate NY Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, Tim Bojarski. Also trackside was delegate Sam Pendolino. Closing night featured a must pay out Pick-6 contest that over 300 racing fans participated in. Steven Bennett of Rochester and Daniel Coughlin of nearby Oakfield, picked the most winners and took home $500 each. For the second consecutive week, Dont Say Goodby ($16.60) used a strong drive in the lane to rally from far back and capture the featured $8,500 Open Pace in 1:54.4 over the fast track. OK Braveheart (Ken Holliday) sent the fractions of 27.1, 56.2 and 1:25.3 but called it a night just past the three-quarter marker. But it was a wake-up call for Dont Say Goodby there as driver Drew Monti sent him four-wide around the final turn and was by far the strongest in the race to the wire. He finished a length in front of Unicorn Hanover (Jim McNeight) while JS Tango (Ray Fisher Jr.) finished in third. "He's a really good horse," Rising Star Award recipient Drew Monti said. You just have to point him, he was loaded (with pace) at the wire. Trained by Charles Stewart and owned by Derek Menchhofer, Dont Say Goodby has now won seven times and has earned $67,827 this season and $165,487 lifetime. The meets dash leading reinsman, Shawn McDonough, ended the Western New York racing season with a driving four-bagger. John Mungillo was the Downs top conditioner. Live racing is tentatively scheduled to resume at Batavia Downs on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, pending New York Gaming Commission approval. Effective Sunday, December 8, simulcasting wagering is offered on a daily basis. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs

Akron, NY--The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the award winners for top performing horsemen for 2013 as well as the Batavia Downs meet. Ray Fisher Jr. has been named the western New York driver of the year. 2013 was an enigma for Ray Fisher because a mid-year accident that could have just as easily killed him ultimately drove him to produce one of the best years of his career. On July 12 at the Buffalo Raceway meet he was the leading reinsman at; Fisher went down in a horrific accident involving half the field and suffered a fractured pelvis and two broken vertebrae. Despite the dire diagnosis, Fisher was seen at his barn the following morning and returned to driving only 20 days later. Without missing a beat, the 45 year-old Geauga, Ohio native righted the ship and went back on a driving tear that hasn't slowed up since. For the year, Fisher has scored 233 wins, 190 seconds and 182 thirds from 1,349 starts. His $1,198,955 in purses is a career best and his .296 UDR was his second best ever. Those numbers push his career totals to 3,537 wins and $14,183,533 in earnings. Fisher was the leading dash driver at the completed Buffalo meet and is currently second at Batavia with only two nights of racing left. The western New York trainer of the year is John Mungillo. To say that John Mungillo had a career year would be an understatement. His 775 starts, 154 wins and $675,746 in earnings were all lifetime bests for him by a good margin. And his .309 UTR was not far off his previous best effort. Those numbers bring his career stats to 731 wins and $2,820,586 in the bank. Mungillo will also be recognized as the trainer of the meet for the current Batavia Downs session. His 65 wins, 38 seconds and 37 thirds earned his owners $252,134 and solidified his spot as the top conditioner at the Genesee County oval. The Batavia Downs driver of the meet is Shawn McDonough. 23 year-old Shawn McDonough has accomplished quite a bit in 2013. Finding himself a commodity among trainers this year, he parlayed that in-demand status into some pretty impressive numbers. He found the winners circle at the Downs 94 times and has a legitimate shot to break the century mark by Saturday night. And checks amounting to $452,740 have been distributed to his respective owners as a result of his performances. For the year McDonough has 173 wins, 176 seconds and 193 thirds from 1,252 starts and has pocketed $896,204 in spoils. Those are all career-best totals by far. Shawn McDonough is a fourth-year provisional driver and is a rarity to be a "P" and a dash winning champion for a meet. Ray Fisher Jr., John Mungillo and Shawn McDonough will be presented their awards during the UNY-USHWA "Night of Distinction" this Saturday night (Dec. 7) in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs. Here is a complete list of award winners that will be honored: WNY Driver of the Year- Ray Fisher Jr. WNY Trainer of the Year- John Mungillo Batavia Downs Driver of the Meet- Shawn McDonough Batavia Downs Trainer of the Meet-John Mungillo WNY Comeback Driver of the Year-Ron Beback Jr. WNY Rising Star-Drew Monti Good Guy Award- Paul White WNY Horse of the Year- Naked News Batavia Downs Trotter of the Meet-Mystical Escapade Batavia Downs Pacer of the Meet- Fireyourguns   Tim Bojarski Hoof Beats Magazine Columnist United States Harness Writers Assn. National VP-USHWA President-Upstate NY Chapter  

Akron, NY--With 2013 coming to a close and racing getting ready to take an early winter break in western New York, year-end awards are something that many people look forward to. With that in mind, the members of the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association have cast their votes for the top gait performers for the Batavia Downs meet as well as their pick for the top horse overall. UNY-USHWA has named Naked News as the western New York horse of the year. Naked News (1:54.1 $266,433 Passailed-Santiago Sissi) is a tough veteran race horse that made every one of his starts this year at either Buffalo Raceway or Batavia Downs. In those 39 outings, he had 10 wins, 7 seconds and 7 thirds for total earnings of $72,598. This 10-year-old working man started the year in high claimers and made his way to the top condition class on the grounds where he captured four Open wins between the two tracks. He took his lifetime mark of 1:54.1 this year at Buffalo on August 10 and had career high totals for starts, wins and earnings as well. His lifetime bank now totals $266,433. Naked News seemed to get better with age as his last three years were his best. And he was the only horse this year to maintain a continuous level of success at both tracks from his first win at Buffalo on February 9 through his last win at Batavia in an Open II on October 26. Naked News is owned by Joseph Caligiuri's Summer Wind Stable of Hamburg, NY and is trained by Bob Gruber. The Batavia Downs trotter of the year is Mystical Escapade (1:56.3 $149,702 Valley Victor-Armbro Orbita) Mystical Escapade had only six starts at Batavia Downs after racing at Saratoga and Yonkers earlier in the year. The 4-year-old mare shipped in after a month layoff and quickly made folks take notice. Her first start was in the Brian Schroeder Invitational on October 5 where she finished third. But her performance after that became historic. The following week Mystical Escapade drew post 7 and was the sole mare in the Open trot with a full field of horses and geldings. With two breakers in front of her off the gate, she got away 14 lengths behind the field. But pulling past the half, the daughter of Valley Victor put a circle around the group and pulled away to a two length win in 1:56.3. The time was a lifetime mark for her and a new track record for aged trotting mares for Batavia Downs. In 6 starts, Mystical Escapade had 3 wins, 1 second and 1 third, all in the top trotting class on the grounds and all as the only mare racing against the boys. Those starts also helped propel her annual earnings to over $89,000. Mystical Escapade is owned by Stephen Andzel, Mark Briandi and Stephen Grant of Empowered Racing and is trained by Carl Smith. The Batavia Downs pacer of the year is Fireyourguns (150.2 $124,561 American Ideal-Villa Hanover) Fireyourguns did not have a ton of starts at Batavia, but made the ones he did, count. He won four Open paces and was 2-lengths away from winning two more. In his 9 starts at the Downs, the speedy 4-year-old had 4 wins, 2 seconds and 1 third, all in the top pacing class. He took a half-mile seasonal mark of 1:53.4 and pocketed $27,675 in purse money from the meet. On October 5 he competed in the Kane Memorial Pace, facing off against $6-million winner Foiled Again and the national 3-year-old pacing colt of the year for 2012, Heston Blue Chip, and finished third in a 1:52 mile. Fireyourguns is owned by Terence McClory and Robert and Jennifer Lowe, and is trained by Terence McClory. All the connections of these horses will be presented their awards during the UNY-USHWA "Night of Distinction" this Saturday (Dec. 7) in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs. The driver and trainer awards will be announced tomorrow. Tim Bojarski for UNY Chapter USHWA  

Akron, NY-- Each year the members of the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association look to honor someone who adds to the racing experience by being a constant resource for those who participate and who is willing to pitch in when help for any event is needed. Paul White has been doing just that locally for the last twelve years and for that he has been named the 2013 Good Guy Award recipient. White is the track photographer at both Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway and is a big part of the racing community. As the area's pictorial historian, he documents the nightly events that occur at these tracks for all who participate. Through all kinds of weather, he is at his post at the finish line to capture each victory as they occur and the celebration of the winning connections afterward. And if you want a special shot, just ask and he'll take care of that too. Besides chronicling the races, White makes himself available to photograph the various parties and groups that are hosted in the clubhouse to make those race goers experience more memorable and their special occasions even better. White also comes in early or stays late when the need is there, to cover any functions or charitable events to help anyway he can. From a media standpoint, White always makes his work available for press releases or magazine articles and does it in a timely manner. This is vital in the continuing promotion of the sport both in print and on the web. He has added to the quality of racing in western New York and for that reason he is receiving this award. Paul White will be presented his award during the UNY-USHWA "Night of Distinction" this Saturday night (12-7) in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs. Other year end award winners including horses and drivers of the year will be announced later this week. by Tim Bojarski for Upstate NY Chapter of USHWA  

Akron, NY--The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced that Drew Monti will receive its Rising Star Award for 2013 as the most promising up and coming driver in western New York and Ron Beback Jr. will be recognized as the Comeback Driver of the Year. Since being granted his Provisional license this past April, Monti's career has not only been on the rise, it's been meteoric. The affable 19 year-old scored his first pari-mutuel victory within days of getting the night time nod from the judges and has not looked back since. Taking full advantage of the driving opportunities afforded him midway through the Buffalo Raceway meet, Monti has produced numbers that (according to USTA statistics) have made him the leading first-year Provisional driver in the country. To date his 660 starts have produced 73 wins, 83 seconds and 92 thirds while depositing $367,294 in the coffers of the owners he drives for. At the current Batavia Downs meet, "Drivin' Drew" is seventh among all reinsmen for starts and wins and has become a very in-demand catch driver locally. 52 of his 73 wins have been recorded at the Downs. Ron Beback Jr. was both trainer and driver of the year locally in 2008 and followed that up with career years in both 2009 and 2010. But as thing go in this business, the last two years were not as kind. With an influx of new drivers on the scene, Beback's catch drives were diminished and his numbers dropped substantially. However this past year saw some of those drivers move to other tracks and several more sidelined by injury. So local connections looked back to the crafty veteran for help and he did not disappoint. Once again finding his groove, Beback posted gaudy numbers that put him back in the race for top driver at the current Batavia Downs meet. Year to date his 982 starts have yielded 153 wins, 146 seconds and 138 thirds for $721,997 in purses. Those numbers represent the second highest win and purse earning totals of his career. Beback has also conditioned 61 winners this year that bankrolled over a quarter million dollars in earnings. That output was also his best since 2010. Drew Monti and Ron Beback Jr. will be presented their awards during the UNY-USHWA "Night of Distinction" this Saturday night (12-7) in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs. Other year end award winners including horses and drivers of the year will be announced later this week. by Tim Bojarski, President UNY USHWA  

Just when you thought the quality of stallions in the Empire State couldn’t get better, four speedy sires have taken up residency here for the upcoming breeding season. Panther Hanover, Glidemaster, Betterthancheddar and Rockincam have put the competition on notice and are looking to make a name for themselves in this very competitive market.  Panther Hanover (Rocknroll Hanover-Panned Out 1:47.2 $367,877) became one of the fastest 3-year-old colts ever when he registered a 1:47.2 victory in the $275,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic. He battled a game Hurrikane Kingcole down the stretch in the hard fought win to record the fifth fastest mile ever recorded by a pacer of any age and the fastest time by a 3YO in 2012. He followed that up by taking the $257,571 Simcoe Stake, defeating the heavily favored A Rocknroll Dance and Michael’s Power. Panther Hanover then closed out the year by finishing second by a head in the Breeders Crown elimination before placing fifth in the final in a race that saw him parked out to the half in 53.4 before taking the lead. For the year he scored six wins in ten starts with two seconds and bankrolled $347,990 for his efforts. Panther Hanover will stand at Win Place and Show Farm in Champlain, New York for a fee of $3,000. (http://winplaceandshowfarm.com or call (518) 297-3506) In conjunction with Panther Hanover’s first season at stud, his owner Jim Carr is giving away a complimentary breeding to the promising young stallion through a promotion to be held at the Harrisburg Sale. To be eligible, those attending the sale are asked to go to the New York Sire Stake promotions table and fill out an entry blank. The drawing will be held on Thursday night, November 7 at 5 PM. 2006 trotting Triple Crown champion Glidemaster (Yankee Glide-Cressida Hanover 1:51.1 $1,968,023) has relocated to the Empire State and looks to continue his production of exceptional race horses to compete at the top level here. Glidemaster was a world champion 2-year-old, equaling Mack Lobell’s mark of 1:55.3 in only his second lifetime start. At 3 he won the $1.5 million Hambletonian, $117,903 Simcoe Stake, $526,000 Kentucky Futurity and the $728,930 Yonkers Trot. When he retired after that campaign, he was the highest single-season money winning trotter and fastest 3-year-old trotter of all time. This resulted in him being named the 2006 3-year-old trotting colt of the year and overall horse of the year by the United States Harness Writers Association and being awarded the 2006 HTA Nova Award as 3-year-old trotting colt of the year. Since entering the breeding ranks he has sired winners of $6.25 million as well as 10 performers in 1:55 including the millionaire mare Maven (1:51.4 $1,379,969) who is a two-time Breeders Crown champion and set multiple world records this year. Other top campaigners include Blue Porsche (1:54 $637,646), For You Almost Free (1:53 $309,139) and Punxsutawney (1:53.2 $295,453). Glidemaster will stand at Winbak Farm in Walden, New York for a fee of $4,000. (http://www.winbakfarm.com  or call (845) 778-5421) Betterthancheddar (Bettor’s Delight-Lady Ashlee Ann 1:48 $1,635,364) has the kind of versatility that any breeder can appreciate. He was quick off the gate and quick out of a hole and his world records on both a half and five-eighth’s mile tracks should prove to be a recipe for success for him in New York State where he will begin his stallion career. At 3, Betterthancheddar got extra sharp late in the year and creamed the competition in four major stakes. He won the $342,875 Cane Pace, both the elimination and final of the $500,000 Breeders Crown, the $225,000 American National and the $175,000 Windy City, which helped him bank $777,283 for the year. At 4 he won the final of the $500,000 Ben Franklin in a world record time of 1:48, the $174,735 Des Smith and the $216,500 Bobby Quillen in another world record time of 1:49.2. He had nine wins and two seconds in eleven starts with $799,936 in earnings and his efforts garnered him the 2012 O’Brien Award for aged pacing horses. Betterthancheddar will also stand at Winbak Farm in Walden, New York for a fee of $4,500. (http://www.winbakfarm.com  or call (845) 778-5421) Finally, career Open pacer Rockincam (Cambest-Migraine $795,237) brings a hard-hitting style to town for his first year in service. This working man’s horse made a living the hard way; he earned it in overnights from day one facing the toughest top-class pacers in the country for most of his career. His lifetime mark of 1:48.1 came at age 5 in the Graduate Pace elimination when he beat Golden Receiver and Foiled Again. He also won the $200,000 Dan Patch in 1:51.1 and the Winbak Pace in 1:50 flat. In 62 lifetime starts, he won 25 and banked a hefty $795,237. In those 62 starts, he paced 20 sub-1:50 miles, both in victory and defeat. He closed out his career in 2013 with three consecutive 1:48 and change miles. His speed and ability to compete over any size track is an attribute that should well serve his offspring. Rockincam will stand at Majestic View Farms (845-255-2357) in Gardiner, New York for a fee of $2,500.  Bred in New York to take on the world is not just a slogan, it’s a business model. The New York Sire Stakes is the nation’s oldest harness racing breeding program of its kind and continues to lead the industry by annually producing some of the finest standardbreds to circle a race track.  by Tim Bojarksi for Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

LATHAM, NY---The Harness Horse Breeders of New York State are proud to announce that Wanda Polisseni has been selected as the 2013 recipient of the Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal. For the seventh consecutive year, this award recognizes an individual who has shown outstanding integrity in the sport and also has taken the time to give back to both harness racing and their community in the State of New York. Wanda Polisseni has certainly exemplified these traits since becoming involved in the industry. Polisseni was born and raised in Yates County and her love of harness racing started early as her family boarded Standardbred horses on their farm in the town of Potter, New York. However she would not buy her first one until after her husband, Gene, passed away in 2001. That is when she decided to do something she had always wanted and purchased her first six Standarbreds. Living in Fairport, Polisseni is only minutes from Finger Lakes Racetrack and also enjoys Thoroughbred racing. So she decided to invest in some of those too. Before long, the Purple Haze Stable (the business name chosen for her daughter Kimberly’s favorite color) was home to over 100 horses; about a 50/50 split between both breeds. Polisseni has always been a big supporter of the New York Sire Stakes program and has been heavily invested in New York bred stock since getting into the business. Her successes there have been many and horses like Dajarmbro and Blacktuxwhitesocks have also made names for themselves on the Grand Circuit as well. But there is one thing she enjoys more than watching her horse’s race; and that is helping others. The Polisseni Foundation was formed in the memories of Wanda’s daughter (Kimberly, who died in an auto accident) and husband (Gene) and has the mission statement “Improving the quality of life in upstate New York”. Since its inception in 1983, it has donated millions of dollars to worthy causes in an attempt to make the lives of those in Rochester, New York and the surrounding suburbs better. And they have certainly accomplished what they set out to do. A short list of contributions include building the Polisseni Center for minimally invasive surgery and Endoscopy unit at the Rochester General Hospital, the new ice hockey rink at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the new track and field complex at St. John Fisher College, a state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging center at the F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua, and they have also made major contributions to the Special Olympics of Monroe County, Advent House, Golisano Children’s Hospital, Marine Corp scholarship fund, Upstate Guide Dogs, Equicenter (horseback therapy for the physically impaired), National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Hunter’s Hope Foundation. Wanda Polisseni personally takes part in and contributes to any and all track sponsored fundraisers that occur during the racing year. Polisseni was also a driving force in the formation of a horse rescue foundation called the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program (FLTAP). Her contribution there built “The Purple Haze Center”, which is a 10,000 square foot facility housing 12 x 12 foot stalls with stall doors that have a fold down design that allows the horses to interact with barn visitors. Outside there is a 70 x 72 foot riding arena as well as four 60 x 60 foot paddocks for turnout and two 60 foot round pens that allow the horses time on grass. Over 400 horses have been placed in new homes through the efforts of the FLTAP. Character, accomplishment and benevolence are the qualities the Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal seeks to honor every year. And there is no one who displays those more than Wanda Polisseni. The Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal will be presented to Polisseni at the New York Sire Stakes/USTA District 8 awards dinner on Sunday, Oct. 27, at 5:30 p.m. at Tioga Downs. For reservations or more information, contact the Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858 or info@hhbnys.org. by Tim Bojarski for Harness Horse Breeders of NY State  

On Saturday (9-7) four of the most prominent drivers from the golden era of racing in western New York donned their silks one more time and competed against each other for the first time since 1978 in the inaugural Batavia Downs Legends Pace.   Gaston Guindon, Fred Haslip, Gerry Sarama and Dick Welch are immortal names when discussing the racing scene in that part of the state as this famous-foursome earned the respect of their fans by scoring a combined 9,218 wins during their careers. As time passed, they stepped aside from active driving and the new generation of fans could only be told about races between "The Gasser”, “Steady Freddy”, “The Man with the Hands” and “The Dazzler”. But on a rainy night in Batavia, the past came to life as the gate swung open and the veteran reinsmen guided their horses (who were “stage-named” after some of their most prolific performers) around the track they know so well to once again treat the fans to a thrilling stretch drive and photo finish. Sarama still trains a public stable full time at Batavia with one of the more successful outfits on the grounds and Haslip maintains a stable of his own as well. However like Guindon and Welch, neither has driven full time in a while so the local racing enthusiasts had the opportunity to see some of the best ever back in action.   The current driver colony at the Downs enjoyed spending time with them in the paddock and reminisced about watching them back in the day, and the fans engulfed the winners circle to cheer them at the wire and applauded when they came back for a presentation. When it was all said and done, Fred Haslip with “Diamond Sparkler” beat Gaston Guindon and “Lake Shore Dolly” by a nose for the win. Dick Welch steering “Pine Hill Time” was third and Gerry Sarama was fourth with “Cambiance”.   You can watch the whole race by clicking here. The video is provided courtesy of Batavia Downs Gaming.   by Tim Bojarski USHWA National Vice-President  

This Saturday night (9-07) Batavia Downs will present a night of nostalgia when it celebrates the 25th anniversary of their hosting the 1988 Breeders Crown aged mare trot along with reuniting five of the most popular drivers ever circle their surface, to once again compete against each other in the first Legends of Batavia Downs race.   The 1988 Breeders Crown was the richest purse ever offered at the Genesee County oval as well as the only leg of that prestigious series to be held there. The record purse of $268,756 saw top drivers Bill O’Donnell, Doug Brown and Ben Webster compete and a packed house was anxious to witness the sport’s top stars.        Scenic Regal was coming off a second place finish to Mack Lobell at Yonkers and was the post time favorite. But the Armstrong Brothers entry of Armbro Fling and Armbro Flori were a formidable team to beat. In front of a roaring crowd, Larry Walker got Armbro Flori home by a head over the fast closing Scenic Regal in a time of 1:59.3. A pedestrian clocking by today’s standards, it was only 2/5th’s of a second off the all-time track trotting record when it happened.   To commemorate the silver anniversary, there will be $25 betting vouchers given away starting after the fourth race, for five consecutive races. All the fans on hand will be eligible to win.   Also that night will be the first ever Legends of Batavia Downs Pace. It will be 1970 all over again when the driving titans of a bygone era are brought back to the track to relive one of the most exciting times the track ever had. Hall of famer Clint Galbriath will be back in the bike to tangle with fellow western New York stars Gerry Sarama, Gaston Guindon, Dick Welch and Fred Haslip in a one mile race for the ages.   Clint Galbraith has 3,062 wins and $19 million in earnings. He scored his first dash title at Batavia Downs in 1963 and will be forever synonymous with the legendary Niatross who won 37 of 39 starts and was named the horse of the year in 1979 and 1980. Another great Galbraith student was Call For Rain who won the Breeders Crown twice.The list of accomplishments attained by Galbraith is as impressive as any horseman ever to go behind a starting gate.   Gerry Sarama has 2,630 wins and $11.5 million in earnings. He started driving at an early age and quickly found himself at the top of the driver colony at Batavia. Although he made a move to Roosevelt Raceway for a while to compete with the best in the nation, he eventually found his way back home and was always a highly sought after catch driver. Some of his most memorable horses were Jambo Bea, Free Chase, and his personal favorite, Cambiance. Sarama was known as “the man with the hands”.   Gaston Guindon has 3,080 wins and $6.9 million in earnings. He moved to Batavia Downs in 1969 and it wasn’t long after that his career took off. The horses he drove were a who’s who for years and included names like the venerable Mr. Coal, Keystone Spectrum, Harbor Smoke, E C Oakie, Willow Hill Boy, Mucalee Bunt, Hot Shot Hamde, Skipper Frank and River Mouse. He is affectionately known by the locals as “The Gasser”.   Dick Welch has 923 wins and $1.7 million in purses. He started driving at Batavia Downs in the late 1960’s and was the trainer for the powerful Marks Stable of Buffalo. Two of the most memorable pacers ever to race locally came from his barn; Pine Hill Time and Pine Hill Fred. Both were perennial Open class performers and shuttled between home and New York to race the best the east coast had to offer. His last pari-mutual start was in 1978 when he shifted gears to become a racing official. Welch was known for his trademark toothpick as you seldom saw him without one.   Fred Haslip has 2,585 wins and has earned $5.9 million in purses. The lifelong resident of Basom, NY started driving at fairs in 1959 and scored his first pari mutual win in 1960. The list of horses that Haslip has teamed over the years is long and includes names like Diamond Sparkler, Happy Sparkler, Keystone Astro, Kay El, Jack the Baron, Coaltown Smoke, Flawless Sparkler and Princess Dee Dee. But Haslip is probably most noted for developing the former double gaited world record holder, Excalibur.   Todd Haight is the General Manager of live racing at Batavia Downs. He remembers watching this group compete against each other in their prime and looks forward to “getting the band back together” to relive the good old days.   Haight said “We are proud and excited to have these gentlemen come back and thrill our fans one more time. They were responsible for so many great races and memories that many of us still recall when we stand by the fence and reminisce. This is the first Legend’s race we’ve held and we look forward to doing it every year moving forward.”   There will be a meet and greet with an autograph session on the apron from 5:30 to 6:25 and there will be a special picture insert in the program perfect for signing. The race itself will be held after the seventh event of the night. The whips used in the race by the five drivers will be autographed and given away to the fans in a random drawing. After the race, Gaston Guindon will be honored by the track and his colors will be hung in their track Hall of Fame where he will join other Batavia Downs immortals Jeff Gregory, John Schroeder, Ben Webster, Patsy Rapone and Bob Altizer.   Post time is 6:30 for this action packed night of racing.  by Tim Bojarski   

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