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Goshen, NY - The Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, an organization that has been raising money for local harness horse racing venues for the past six decades, will sponsor the inaugural Iron Horse Motorcycle Poker Run to benefit Goshen Historic Track and the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 26, 2018. Chapter Vice President/Secretary Janet Terhune noted, "We are thrilled to host this exciting inaugural event, the Iron Horse Poker Run, which will bring well over 100 new visitors to the Museum and introduce them to Harness Racing." The Harness Racing Museum in Goshen has been selected as the home base for the ride, a 70-mile loop with three additional checkpoints located throughout Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties; O'Toole's Harley-Davidson in Wurtsboro, the Mountain Brauhaus in Gardiner, and the Angry Orchard in Walden. Terhune, the Museum's Director, continued, "We will serve the participants brunch in our beautiful Haughton Hall during the event registration, and welcome them back for prizes, raffles and additional refreshments following the run. This is a great opportunity for harness racing to reach out to a relatively untapped demographic that enjoy taking part in benefit activities." Shawn Wiles, the Chapter's Vice President/Treasurer agreed. "Once this event becomes popular, it will grow into a great kick-off for the Goshen Historic Track season, with matinee racing beginning the following weekend in the 'Cradle of the Trotter.' A donation of $20 for all partakers includes food and refreshments before and after ride, as well as door prizes, raffles, 50/50's, and a grand prize of $500 for the best poker hand. Although motorcycles are preferred, cars, trucks and vans are also welcome. Registration and brunch starts at 10:30 am at the Harness Racing Museum, 240 Main St., Goshen. Kickstands up at 12 noon. The primary beneficiaries of the funds raised by the Chapter are the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and Goshen Historic Track...two distinct entities that share the same hallowed ground and a mutual purpose of preserving and promoting harness racing. Lifetime donations by the Chapter to these iconic organizations are approaching $100,000. For more information about the Iron Horse Poker Run go to ironhorsepokerrun.com or contact Chris Tully attullytrot@yahoo.com or call 845-807-7538. by Chris Tully for the Iron Horse Poker Run  

Goshen, NY - When the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association held their annual meeting on Sunday, April 22, it was confirmed by the officers that the Chapter would host a Motorcycle Poker Run to benefit Goshen Historic Track and the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 26. Newly elected chapter Vice President/Secretary, Janet Terhune noted, "We are thrilled to host this exciting inaugural event, the Iron Horse Poker Run, which will bring well over 100 new visitors to the Museum and introduce them to Harness Racing." The Harness Racing Museum has agreed to be the start and finish venue for the ride, a 70-mile loop with three additional checkpoints located throughout Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. Terhune, the Museum's Director, continued, "We will serve the participants lunch in beautiful Haughton Hall during the event registration, and welcome them back for prizes, raffles and additional refreshments following the run. This is a great opportunity to reach out to a relatively untapped demographic that enjoy taking part in benefit activities." Shawn Wiles, the chapter's Vice President/Treasurer agreed. "Once this event becomes popular, it will grow into a great kick-off for the Goshen Historic Track season, with matinee racing beginning the following weekend." In other business, long-time Chapter leader John Manzi was elevated to the office of Chairman of the Board, stating, "We work hard to raise money for the Hall of Fame and the (Historic) Track. This year certainly illustrates our commitment ...it's our 60th annual awards banquet. The Chapter has been giving local horsemen and women awards since 1959!" The popular event will be held at the usual location, The Fountains at Wallkill Golf Club, on Sunday, December 2, 2018. This year, the Chapter's lifetime achievement award honoree will be Frank "The Elder" Antonacci of Lindy Farms fame. Of course, the primary beneficiaries of the funds raised by the Chapter are the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and Goshen Historic Track...two distinct entities that share the same hallowed ground and a mutual purpose of preserving and promoting harness racing. Lifetime donations by the chapter to these iconic organizations are approaching $100,000. For more information about the Iron Horse Poker Run go to ironhorsepokerrun.com or for opportunities to sponsor our Annual Awards Banquet please contact Chris Tully at tullytrot@yahoo.com or call 845-807-7538. by Chris Tully, President, Monticello-Goshen USHWA  

HARRISBURG PA - If you have everything prepared for a winning effort, and that effort results in success, and you have the same people in place for the next time - why make any changes from a winning formula? So thought the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading group of journalists, who are announcing that their 2019 meetings and Dan Patch Awards Banquet will return to the wildly-popular 2018 site, the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. "We received unprecedented praise and high marks for bringing our night to honor 'the best and brightest of the sport' to Rosen Shingle Creek in 2018," said USHWA president Shawn Wiles. "The facility proved great for our purposes, the cooperation of the staff was terrific, and above all our Banquet honorees really enjoyed their surroundings. So it's back to the Rosen Shingle Creek for USHWA in 2019!" The Harness Writers will have their annual meetings on Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24, 2019 in the central Florida location, with the Dan Patch Banquet held on Sunday evening. More information about prices, journal advertising, reservations, and the like will appear over the next few months on USHWA's website, www.ushwa.net. From National USHWA      

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

HARRISBURG PA - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the leading organization of harness racing's chroniclers, held their annual meetings this past Saturday and Sunday at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, in conjunction with its annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, which on Sunday evening celebrated the best of brightest of the sport during the 2017 campaign. Saturday's meeting gathered the organization's board of directors, while Sunday's session was an open gathering for all of USHWA's members. Two major developments, one affecting the size of the Board and one broadening the parameters of USHWA membership, took place on Saturday as the directors voted on amending USHWA's By-Laws and Rules & Regulations (R&Rs). A by-law change saw the number of directors from each of the sport's "chapters" (regions) reduced from two to one, in part of the organization's ongoing effort to streamline in keeping with the harness racing times. There will now be 5 Officers, 11 Past Presidents, and 13 chapter directors guiding the affairs of the organization. In an effort to encourage younger harness fans to explore the possibilities of sulky journalism, the Board created a "Youth" category of membership, with interested parties able to gain a non-voting membership at a lower price while increasing their exposure to established members of the sport's media. More information on the process of applying for USHWA Youth membership status will soon be posted on the organization's website, www.ushwa.net. An operation R&R change will see the organization reaching out to racetracks to allow full USHWAns access to horsemen, the race paddock, and other important sources of stories, while an Awards R&R sets new parameters for the Rising Star Award, which honors an up-and-coming young trainer or driver. Another Awards change saw the Broadcasters Award for outstanding achievement in video named after the late Sam McKee, the Hall of Famer (and former winner of the award) who set the highest standards for the sport as an announcer, media director, and other employments in communications areas. USHWA continued its renewed efforts to improve the financial situation of the organization, with a profit being shown in 2017, and every expectation of another plus figures after the highly-successful Dan Patch Banquet. The group seeks to establish a winning association of streamlining costs with growing revenue sources such as advertising in the annual Dinner Journal and with sponsorships of the Association's activities. As reported earlier, USTA photographer Mark Hall joined with Meadowlands media man and former New York Daily News Racing Editor Dave Little as ballot candidates for this summer's election for the status on being a member of the Communicators Hall of Fame. Shawn Wiles, Executive Director of Racing and Facilities at Monticello Raceway in the Catskills of New York, was voted president of the organization after Tim Bojarski, who now becomes the Chairman of the Board of Directors, completed his two-year term at the top, a standard length of service in USHWA. Kim Rinker will now serve as the organization's Vice President, with Barry Lefkowitz and Jerry Connors returned as treasurer and secretary in the voting. At the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, trotting matron Hannelore Hanover was named Harness Horse of the Year, as that announcement was reserved for the banquet this year to heighten excitement. Hannelore was also named Trotter of the Year, while the richest harness horse of 2017, Downbytheseaside, won honors as Pacer of the Year. Also honored were Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg upon their election to the sport's highest honor, the Hall of Fame, along with were Carl Becker and Dave Briggs, who were voted into the Communicators Hall of Fame. This quartet will be formally inducted on the first of July at the site of the sport's Hall, Goshen NY. Jerry Connors

Come this Sunday night, February 25, the United States Harness Writers Association will host its annual Dan Patch Awards Night and part of the festivities will be the largest silent auction in the history of the event. Thanks especially, to all the donors who came forth with some super items. "Members from all corners of the harness racing community have really supported our silent auction with donations this year," said Tim Bojarski, president of the USHWA. "and as a result, we have a plethora of quality items for everyone to bid on. With a large live crowd expected and with the opportunity for anyone to bid in advance from home, this auction could prove to be one of the most profitable ever. "And all the proceeds will help fund worthy initiatives within the industry, spearheaded by the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and USHWA," Bojarski concluded. There are 26 unique items in the silent auction, great vacation and racing packages, superb artwork, special collectables, gift certificates, media services and even private handicapping lessons. Something for everyone. The items in the auction are listed below with the donor(s) for each item. For complete information, item descriptions, available photos and bidding instructions, please visit www.ushwa.org or call Steven Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Ellen Taylor at 317-908-0029.  Rosen Shingle Creek Package (Rosen Shingle Creek) 2018 Preakness Package (Maryland Jockey Club) Phillies/Mets Package (Nick Saponara) Batavia Downs Package (Batavia Downs) Red Mile Package (Red Mile Sponsorship Team) Always B Miki Print (Michelle Hogan) NY Yankees tickets vs Houston Astros plus food and beverages (Bob Boni/Northwood Bloodstock) Autographed baseball from C C Sabathia (Bob Boni/Northwood Bloodstock) Autographed baseball from NY Yankees Aaron Judge (Bob Boni/Northwood Bloodstock) Stained Glass Panel (Barbara Dresser & Callie Davies-Gooch) Cigar Label Collection (Barry Lefkowitz and Harness Racing Museum) Adios Print (Tom Charters) Macau Print (Leon Zimmerman) Cam Fella Print (The Farm Ventures, Off and Pacing, Ryan Clements, Lanon Mulhall) Wine Goblets (Suzanne D'Ambrose) Bow River Necklace (Bow River Jewelry) Ohio Sires Stakes Gift Basket (Ohio Sires Stakes) Hoosier Park Gift Basket (Hoosier Park) Canadian Horse Racing Gift Basket (Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Retromedia Publishing & Melissa Keith) Tim Hortons Gift Basket (Melissa Keith) Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Gift Bag (Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown) Campbell Collection (Gordon Waterstone, Moira Fanning) Meadowlands TV Night (New Meadowlands) PR Services (Mark McKelvie & Melissa Keith) Handicapping Session (Garnet Barnsdale) Off & Pacing Package (The Farm Ventures & Off and Pacing Team) Fennell's Gift Certificate (R E Fennell's Company) Red Mile Gift Shop Gift Certificate (Jeremy Wilson) Big Dee Gift Certificate (Big Dees Tack & Vet Supply) Submitted by National USHWA  

And the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Award as the 2017 Horse of the Year is .......... At approximately 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will fill in the blank at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. If you aren't among the attendees at the dinner you can still watch the big announcement -- as well as that of Trotter of the Year and Pacer of the Year -- as the entire awards ceremony, sponsored by Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Ron Burke, will be broadcast live on USHWA's Facebook page, which can be accessed here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association's YouTube page the following day, Monday, Feb. 26. Dinner tickets must be ordered by Tuesday, Feb. 20, by contacting Judy Wilson via email at zoe8874@aol.com or by phone at (302) 359-3630. You can also order the $175 dinner tickets on the USHWA website at www.ushwa.net. Dinner selections must be made at the time of ordering, with the choices either filet mignon, Caribbean spiced grouper or a vegetable plate. All meals are prepared gluten-free. Post time for the evening is 6 p.m. with a one-hour cocktail reception sponsored by the Downbytheseaside Syndicate getting things under way. A special guest will be Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair, considered by many to be the greatest professional wrestler of all-time. Flair is attending the Dan Patch Awards dinner as a guest of one of the honorees and will also be meeting and greeting attendees on the Dan Patch Red Carpet, sponsored by Hoosier Park. Also starring on USHWA's version of the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It's your guarantee to see who's wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale's Facebook page can be found here. Heather Wilder's Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/heather.k.wilder. Rooms at Rosen Shingle Creek are nearly sold out so if you plan to attend and still need to book, you can access USHWA's special portal by going to the website www.ushwa.net. Ken Weingartner

Charlie Williams, the stallion manager at harness racing's Southwind Farms in New Jersey, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Williams, 68, has worked at Southwind Farms for nearly three decades. Williams was born in Georgia and began working with horses as a young man in Florida. He spent the early part of his career with Thoroughbreds, as an exercise rider and caretaker, before a knee injury forced him to give up riding. While sidelined because of his injury, Williams answered an advertisement for a part-time job at Southwind Farms. His horsemanship and attention to detail eventually led him to his current position at the farm, where he has cared for some of the sport’s top stallions, beginning with Valley Victory and Artsplace right through to today with Muscle Hill. “This is something I’ll never forget,” Williams said of his Caretaker of the Year honor. “From picking cotton as a young kid to go on and take care of world champions, it’s been a dream come true. I started working at the bottom and worked my way to the top. I was very fortunate to luck out and work with horses. I’ve had the chance to take care of the best. “The sport has been really good to me and there are so many good people in the sport that have been really good to me. I love the sport, I love the horses, and I love the people.” All caretakers in North America are eligible for the Caretaker of the Year Award. A seven-member panel – all former caretakers – selected the winner after reviewing nomination letters detailing the skills and special qualities of each nominee. Williams will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, and two tickets to USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando, Fla., where he will be presented a trophy. He will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities. Williams received several nominations, with one writing, in part, “There are grooms and caretakers at all stages of a horse’s life and this man exemplifies the true embodiment of a caretaker and is truly worthy of Caretaker of the Year. This man puts his heart and soul into every stallion that is lucky enough to stand in a stall in his barn. “Please consider allowing this exceptional caretaker a moment to shine in an industry that sometimes forgets those of us who aren’t in winner’s circles but nevertheless are in a barn day in and day out, without vacation, wind, rain, and snow. You will not find a more true definition of an exceptional caretaker in our industry than Charlie Williams.” Williams is self-described “old school” when it comes to taking care of his horses. But the stallions are more than horses to Williams, they are friends. “I love everything about them,” Williams said. “They have personality. With Muscle Hill, he’s like my best friend out there. I know how he thinks and he knows how I think. It was the same thing with Artsplace. They’re like people. It’s unbelievable when you work in the barn with them. “I have a habit, I talk to them. I’m in the stallion barn, so I talk with all the horses like I’m talking to a human. And I never cut corners with them. I give them the love and attention and they give the love and attention to me. I’m 68 years old and I can’t wait to get up in the morning and come to work. When you walk in the barn, they know you and sound off. They’re happy to see you and you’re happy to see them.” For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet, visit www.ushwa.org. By Ken Weingartner, for the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

Hightstown, NJ --- Barry Guariglia bought his first horse in 1987, owned Dan Patch Award-winner Stienam’s Place a decade later, and has enjoyed his share of successful harness racing horses in the years that followed. But none of it compared to what he experienced last year with Manchego. It was, in a word, perfect. Manchego was a perfect 12-for-12 in 2017 and became the first undefeated 2-year-old female trotter in Breeders Crown history as well as the first unbeaten 2-year-old female trotter to win a Dan Patch Award. She will be among the honorees at the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando. “I’d have to put her on top,” said Guariglia, whose Black Horse Racing shares ownership of Manchego with John Fielding and Herb Liverman. “Stienam’s Place was the last million-dollar horse I had, ironically 20 years ago, and in the middle we’ve had some nice horses, but nothing quite like this.” Guariglia, a financial advisor, has enjoyed harness racing for more than 40 years. He was at the Meadowlands Racetrack when it opened in 1976 and got into racehorse ownership at the age of 27. “I bought my first yearling then; I didn’t know anything,” Guariglia said. “It’s just kind of grown since then. I like going to the track, I like the whole process. It’s one of the pleasures I have, a good diversion from what I do here.” In addition to owning Stienam’s Place and Manchego, some of Guariglia’s other successes have included stakes-winners Emotional Rescue, Money On My Mind, Muscle Mass, My Starchip, and Take The Money. He bred millionaire Green Day, the 2007 Yonkers Trot winner. Manchego was a $120,000 yearling buy, under the name Whispering Hills, at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale. She is a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic whose family includes millionaire Possess The Magic. She had four wins under her belt when she captured her first stakes final, the Jim Doherty Memorial on Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands. Victories in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, Peaceful Way Stakes, Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes, and the Breeders Crown followed. She ended the year with $873,948 in purses. “Training down, I always heard good things,” Guariglia said about Manchego, who is trained by Jimmy Takter. “I saw her on a 15 degree day last February and I thought she was pretty mature for February. She looked all business. She’s not the biggest thing, but she always held her own. She was pretty nice. “When she won the Jim Doherty, I started to think she was a little special. Obviously, she just kind of rolled from there. I love her attitude. She pins those ears and she likes to be in front.” Guariglia was unaware Manchego could make history in the Breeders Crown until two days prior to the race. “I had no idea, which was probably better,” he said, laughing. Manchego won all but one of her races by at least 2-1/4 lengths and had an average margin of victory of nearly four lengths. “Hopefully she’s going to come back as good,” Guariglia said. “Of course, they always have to get a little better at 3. I always tell people that I never anticipate winning, because you never know what’s going to happen, but it’s kind of nice to have one that you feel has enough to handle anything you’re going against. “We’ll take it one race at a time. Something like this doesn’t come along too often.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Last year it was "Elvis" who greeted the attendees at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards dinner in Las Vegas, and this year on Sunday night, Feb. 25, it will be retired professional wrestler Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair who will welcome everyone at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla. Flair, who will be attending the dinner as a guest of one of the honorees, is a 16-time world champion over a career that spanned 40 years and is considered by many to be the greatest professional wrestler of all time. He is a two-time inductee into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, first inducted in 2008 for his wrestling career and four years later as a member -- ironically -- of The Four Horsemen, a professional wrestling stable in the National Wrestling Alliance and later World Championship Wrestling. Flair will meet and greet the attendees on the Dan Patch Awards Red Carpet. The one-hour reception begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the awards ceremony and dinner beginning at 7 p.m. The Red Carpet hour will be broadcast live on the Facebook pages of well-known harness names Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder. The two Heathers will roam the Red Carpet area and interview several of the award winners and attendees. To watch a video message from Flair about the event, click here. In addition, the awards ceremony, hosted by Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir, will be broadcast live on the USHWA Facebook page, with viewing available the following day on the U.S. Trotting Association website www.ustrotting.com and its YouTube page. Information about the banquet and the entire week, which will also contain the annual meetings of USHWA, can be found at www.ushwa.net, including links for making hotel reservations at special rates; banquet tickets; and congratulatory or acknowledgment ads in the keepsake souvenir journal. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

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

The Ohio Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association will hand out its annual awards at the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association banquet on Saturday (Jan. 13) at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Columbus (Worthington). The Ohio Chapter has voted Brian Brown as the recipient of the Winner's Circle Award for the Ohioan who has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the past year; Cameron McCown as the Peter Haughton Memorial Award winner as the young Ohioan who is an "up-and-coming" star among harness horsemen; Joe Adamsky into the Immortal Hall of Fame; Feelin Friskie into the Standardbred Hall of Fame; and Ed Mullinax as the winner of the Rambling Willie Award for the Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades. Brown, 53, enjoyed a career year as he conditioned three of the top pacers in the country; Downbytheseaside ($1,602,452 in seasonal earnings), Fear The Dragon ($1,350,146), and filly Blazin Britches ($540,424). The Brown Stable earned $5.8 million this season and secured a .402 UTR and was selected as the "Trainer of the Year" by the United States Harness Writers Association. McCown is a 29-year-old resident of Ostrander, Ohio. McCown had 86 wins and his drives earned $330,892 in purse money. McCown started driving in 2014 and earned an impressive .379 UDRS this season. Adamsky was one of the top drivers in Ohio during the 1980s and 1990s. For his career he posted 2,707 victories and more than $11.4 million in purses. The native of Rochester, Michigan, won 12 Ohio Sires Stakes finals, including four with Ohio Standardbred Hall of Fame member, Majestic Osborne. Adamsky received the Achievement award from the Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers' Association in 2002 and was the first Jerry Kaltenbach Trophy winner, awarded to the top driver in the Ohio Sire Stakes series. Feelin Friskie earned $784,210 during his racing career, but the son of Artiscape left his mark on Ohio racing in the breeding shed. Owned by Wayne Whebby and Midland Acres, Feelin Friskie sired winners of $12.9 million and 78 foals in 1:55, including Igotafeelinfran ($569,650), Noble Finesse ($415,886) and Feelin Lika Winner ($344,996). Mullinax, is a successful breeder and owner of Standardbreds, including P Forty Seven, winner of the 2005 Little Brown Jug, and Dragon Again, winner of $2.3 million and a successful stallion, who fathered the sports richest performer, Foiled Again ($7.5 million). Mullinax is a supporter and sponsor of many industry events including the Hambletonian, the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and the Breeders Crown. By Jay Wolf      

HARRISBURG PA - Three entities who gained a large measure of harness racing success while connected to "Upstate New York," used here to refer to the part of the state not in the immediate neighborhood of New York City, have been named Dan Patch award winners in voting by the U. S. Harness Writers Association, the largest media organization in the sport. Two of them are still very much part of the upper New York scene - Betty Holt, winner of the Unsung Hero award, and the team of Pacing Broodmare of the Year Wild West Show and owner Ray Schnittker - while the other - Michael Carter, winner of the Breakthrough Award for an up-and-coming non-horseperson, has furthered his profile elsewhere after gaining valuable early training in his craft while in the area. Betty Holt is the executive director of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, an association based in Latham NY (just north of Albany), which, as one could expect from its name, furthers the cause of the breeders of Standardbreds in the Empire State. The tireless Holt monitors all New York-restricted harness activity in the state, from the Sire Stakes to sales to industry meetings, to promotion of the sport and ownership seminars. Holt is also the prime force behind a program that provides a "safety net" for at-risk New York-bred trotters and pacers, eventually hoping to land them on a restructuring and rehoming path, an activity funded by consignments to the Morrisville yearling sale. If there is an gathering, event, or movement that furthers the development of the breed and its shareholders in New York State, Betty Holt likely has a prominent role somewhere along the path to the winners circle. Wild West Show's victory was referred to as a "shootout" above because she was involved in the closest contest in the voting, beating out rival Western Montana by a single vote. But as is said in racing, you don't ask "how much?" - you just praise the winner, and the offspring of Wild West Show, who is owned by Ray Schnittker of Middletown/Goshen after his partner Charles Iannazzo passed away earlier this year, certainly had an outstanding 2017. Huntsville, the 2016 two-year-old pacing colt of the year, came back in 2017 for Schnittker and earned over a million dollars while engaging with his two Brian Brown-trained archrivals, Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon, in many an important stakes contest. His full brother Wild Bill scored in 1:52.3f in an abbreviated freshman campaign and offered promise for the coming year's big-money stakes. Michael Carter, a native of Virginia, worked at his home state's tracks of Colonial Downs and the Shenandoah County Fair, then got his big break by being named the primary track announcer at Buffalo Raceway in 2013, establishing himself as an accurate, interesting, and entertaining man behind the microphone while also assisting in mutuels and simulcasting. From there Carter went on to his current position at Northfield Park, where he is the deputy announcer, also working in mutuels and the Ohio track's social media efforts. Carter has extended his "footprint" to the national level of the sport by joining with Mike Bozich of Harrah's Philadelphia as half of the "Post Time With Mike And Mike" internet podcast. During its three years, the show has drawn a progressively-larger audience with its news reporting, extensive interviewing of the newsmaking horsemen and track executives, live remotes from the sites of big races, and the annual "Mike And Mike Awards." Betty Holt, Wild West Show and owner Ray Schnittker, and Michael Carter will all be honored at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 25 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Banquet's Awards Journal should contact Kim Rinker, Journal Committee chair, at trotrink@aol.com. Those wishing to attend the banquet can make room reservations online via a special "portal" on the USHWA website - but do so quickly to take advantage of the special room rates USHWA has obtained. Tickets for the banquet, priced at $175, can be obtained through Judy Davis-Wilson, Dinner Planning Committee chair, at zoe8874@aol.com. Jerry Connors

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 Caretaker of the Year. The aharness racing ward, in its third year of sponsorship by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HRRNP) in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport - the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. Initially titled Groom of the Year Award when first presented in 1982, the honor was instituted as a result of a suggestion made by Delvin Miller at the annual Harness Tracks of America meeting when he received HTA's Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award. Previously sponsored annually by HTA and Hanover Shoe Farms, the tradition lapsed in 2014 but was re-established in 2015 by HRRNP and USHWA. The HRRNP Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500, a trophy, and transportation costs to the USHWA Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday evening, Feb. 25, 2018, where he or she will be recognized. The winner will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities, as well as two complimentary dinner tickets. "It is so important that we recognize the people who are hands-on everyday with all our great horses because they are the ones the animals most closely relate to and are responsible for the care that keeps them sound and competitive week to week," said Tim Bojarski, president of USHWA. "I along with all the members of USHWA could not be more proud to co-sponsor this award and take the time to appreciate and thank not only the winner, but all the nominees as well." Any caretaker working for any stable in North America is eligible. All that is need to nominate is a letter or email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker and Shawn Wiles. All nomination letters and emails must be received and/or postmarked by Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, and sent to chairman Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com or mailed to Tim Bojarski, 7523 Maple Road, Akron, N.Y. 14001. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

HARRISBURG PA - In a year when he drove the horses ranking 1-2-3 in the Final Top Ten polls and making a sweep of the female trotter divisional characters while contributing almost a quarter of his $12.9M seasonal sulky earnings, Yannick Gingras was selected harness racing 'Driver of the Year' in balloting conducted among the U.S. Harness Writers Association, the sport's leading media organization. One of this awesome distaff threesome benefiting from Gingras's driving talents was older trotting mare champion Hannelore Hanover, whose dam, High Sobriety, earned honors as Trotting Broodmare of the Year. And that mother-daughter connection certainly factored into Hanover Shoe Farms being picked as Breeder of the Year - they bred Hannelore, but perhaps just as importantly they set a single-season record for the earnings of the produce of one nursery, with $31.3M registered into the last days of the season. Yannick Gingras has earned the respect of the leading horsemen of this era to the extent that he is principal catch-driver for most of the top stakes performers trained by both Ron Burke and Jimmy Takter, the "friendly rivals" almost always battling for #1 bragging rights in the sport. For Burke, Gingras guided the above-mentioned Hannelore Hanover, and for Takter, he steered three-year-old Ariana G (a repeat divisional champion) and the undefeated two-year-old Manchego. The group won fifteen $100,000+ stakes among themselves, and each won her respective Breeders Crown division, with the three Crowns for Gingras putting him at the top of the 2017 table. But it wasn't all just going out there with the best horse and winning as expected for Gingras in 2017 - he drove Filibuster Hanover, who going into the Little Brown Jug Final was 2-for-13 on the season, and they combined to upset the "hometown favorite" 1-2 punch of Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon. In total, Gingras won 33 stakes races worth $100,000 or more in 2017. Before Hannelore Hanover made the spotlight, if someone had told you that High Sobriety would be in contention for the Trotting Broodmare of the Year award, you might have good reason to question that person's sobriety - she had won once in a two-year racing career, and her first three foals had earned a combined total of $65,000. But then along came Hannelore Hanover, who added 10 wins, over $1M in earnings, and the second-fastest trotting mile in history - a 1:49.2 win at Lexington - to her already sizable accomplishments, and the glory of her campaign, where she defeated "the boys" on several occasions, brought honors to High Sobriety. Hanover Shoe Farms is usually among the top names considered for Breeder of the Year honors - and that only makes sense, for they have led the list of money winning graduates for each of the 69 years that the USTA has been keeping that record. Along the way, there of course have been many, many champions bred by Hanover, with Hannelore Hanover joining the very highest of those ranks this year. But the signal accomplishment of Hanover's 2017 was the $31+M intake by graduates of the Farm. This broke the old record of $30.4 - which Hanover set in 2015 - with that one breaking the old record set by Hanover in 2014 ... Hanover aggressively replenishes and adds to its breeding stock year after year, and the results speak for themselves. Yannick Gingras and Hanover Shoe Farms (as Breeder of the Year and as owner of the Trotting Broodmare of the Year High Sobriety) will be honored at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 25 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Banquet's Awards Journal should contact Kim Rinker, Journal Committee chair, at trotrink@aol.com. Those wishing to attend the banquet can make room reservations online via a special "portal" on the USHWA website - but do so quickly to take advantage of the special room rates USHWA has obtained. Tickets for the banquet, priced at $175, can be obtained through Judy Davis-Wilson, Dinner Planning Committee chair, at zoe8874@aol.com. Jerry Connors

HARRISBURG PA - Brian Brown, who trains at the fairgrounds in the Little Brown Jug's hometown of Delaware OH and had been steadily making a bigger mark among North American harness racing conditioners over the last couple of years, had his breakthrough year in 2017, training two three-year-old colt pacers who were the leaders of their division much of the year and who were 1-2 in seasonal earnings, along with a star age/gait counterpart filly. These achievements earned Brown the Trainer of the Year Award as voted by the sport's leading media organization, the U.S. Harness Writers Association, and they contributed mightily to his also being named the organization's Good Guy Award winner for consistent, intelligent cooperation with the sport's media. The 53-year-old Brown saw his two top sophomore colts earn $2.95M between them - Downbytheseaside ($1,602,452), whose late-season heroics included a win in the Breeders Crown and being named divisional champion, and Fear The Dragon ($1,350,146), who had ranked #1 in the weekly pools for much of the summer into the fall after major stakes wins throughout North America. (Ironically, one of the few major events not taken by one or the other of the Brown sophomore powerhouses was the Little Brown Jug, although Fear The Dragon did win the first heat.) Joining Downbytheseaside as a Breeders Crown winner and divisional champion was three-year-old pacing filly Blazin Britches, an $800,000+ earner. And the rest of the Brown barn contributed earnings in the vicinity of $2 million, giving Brian a lifetime seasonal high bankroll of over $5.7M, despite starting fewer than 550 horses (he had a .402 UTR). There were many highs during the campaigns of these three top horses, but there were also the inevitable dips in form and bouts with minor illnesses that virtually all racehorses experience. Whether in the winners circle, puzzling over an off performance, or pondering his charges' upcoming races, Brown kept up an honest, informational stream of conversation (with consistent praise for the members of "Team Brown") to a media whose readers wanted to know more about these equine stars. If Brown was elated by a horse's top effort to win a big stake, there was no mistaking his enjoyment; similarly, if a horse's form was rollercoastering a bit, you felt like you were on the up-and-down ride with Brown, awaiting the next turn in the journey. His intelligent candor enabled Brown to be selected for the Good Guy award, along with his Trainer of the Year honors. Brown's adept handling of Fear The Dragon and Blazin Britches brought out one solid performance after another from those talented horses, with their biggest cheerleader - owner Bruce Trogdon of Emerald Highlands Farm - usually present to share in the glory. Trogdon was also the breeder of Blazin Britches, and he bought the dam of Fear The Dragon with him in utero (already carrying the embryo), so Trogdon has been there from the literal very beginning of their lives through their two seasons of racing, including the successes of 2017. Thus the former newspaperman celebrated the 25th year of existence of his Emerald Highlands operation in the most successful way imaginable, capped by his winning the Owner of the Year award. Trogdon's former "small operation," Emerald Highlands, now has 37 broodmares, and likely a future champion or two maturing as they traverse the farm's mid-Ohio fields. Brian Brown, as both Trainer of the Year and the Good Guy Award winner, and owner Bruce Trogdon's Emerald Highlands Farm, will be honored at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 25 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Banquet's Awards Journal should contact Kim Rinker, Journal Committee chair, at trotrink@aol.com. Those wishing to attend the banquet can make room reservations online via a special "portal" on the USHWA website - but do so quickly to take advantage of the special room rates USHWA has obtained. Tickets for the banquet, priced at $175, can be obtained through Judy Davis-Wilson, Dinner Planning Committee chair, at zoe8874@aol.com. Jerry Connors

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