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It's time to start booking rooms for the U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) 2020 Dan Patch Awards banquet, which returns for the third consecutive year to the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 23. Room reservations are now available by using the USHWA link to the hotel's reservation page that can be found below. Rosen Shingle Creek played host to the harness racing Dan Patch Award weekend for the first time in 2018 and proved such a popular venue it was unanimously voted to return to the stunning 230-acre property in 2019. That dinner was highlighted by a surprise appearance by Stan Bergstein Proximity Award winner Foiled Again that many proclaimed one of the most memorable moments ever in racing. "USHWA is ecstatic to return to Rosen Shingle Creek for the third consecutive year," said USHWA President Shawn Wiles. "This is a first-class venue that our dinner guests and attendees thoroughly enjoy coming to." Located just off Universal Boulevard, within 10 minutes of the Orlando International Airport and minutes from the many area attractions, the 1,500-room Rosen Shingle Creek is a five-star property that is ranked a top-20 U.S. meeting hotel by Cvent. Rosen Shingle Creek includes four swimming pools, two lighted tennis courts, a spa with nine treatment rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and an 18-hole Arnold Palmer redesigned golf course. There are also 15 restaurant/lounges, including the upscale steakhouse A Land Remembered, the fine-dining bistro Cala Bella, Café Osceola, Tobias Burgers and Brews, Banrai Sushi, Mi Casa Tequila and Taquiera, and a 24-hour deli. Dinner ticket prices and menu will be announced later, with a reduced price available for children 12 and under. All attendees will receive a 10-percent discount at all of the above mentioned restaurants, a 10-percent discount at the Spa at Shingle Creek, and a green fees discount at the Shingle Creek Golf Club. The Dan Patch Awards banquet annually honors the best and brightest performers, both human and equine, of the previous season. The award winners are selected by USHWA, with all winners announced in advance except for Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year, which will be revealed at the conclusion of the banquet. USHWA will hold its annual directors meeting on Saturday, Feb. 22, and its general membership meeting the morning of the banquet. All standard rooms under the USHWA block are $199 nightly (plus applicable taxes). For room reservations, please click here for USHWA's dedicated hotel link, which can also be found at the USHWA website Reservations must be made by Jan. 31, 2020. To inquire about several sponsorship opportunities for the weekend, including live video streaming, the Red Carpet reception and live feed hosted by Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, please contact USHWA President Wiles at From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

Sheila Napier, who works in the Chris Beaver Stable, has been named the recipient of the 2018 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HRRNP) in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Napier, 37, has worked for Beaver for three years, and in 2018 her horses included the $500,000-winning 3-year-old filly trotter Custom Cantab. She also had four horses that made the Ohio Sires Stakes championship card at Scioto Downs, including three in the 2-Year-Old Filly Trot. Prior to working for Beaver, Napier's 10-year stint with Ron Potter including being the caretaker of the 2011 Little Brown Jug winner Big Bad John. "I've always read about this award and this is really great," said Napier, a native of Cincinnati whose first job working with horses came while in high school in 1995 at the Delaware (Ohio) Equine Lab. "I've been doing this for a long time and something I looked forward to as far as possibly getting, but maybe in Ohio and not this big." All caretakers in North America were eligible for the award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the nominee. A seven-member panel - all of whom were former caretakers themselves - selected Napier as the winner. Beaver nominated Napier, and in his letter he noted, "Sheila takes unrivaled pride in the condition of her horses. I can rest at ease when she has a horse racing. I know it will get on the road on time and will be wearing all the right equipment, even if I can't make it. "Her horses are never shorted on the care that I expect for them and that is required," added the Ohio-based Beaver, who also winter trains at Spring Garden Ranch in Florida. "She can't stay away from her horses. She truly loves them and takes incredible pride in their accomplishments. My life would be a lot easier if more grooms brought the passion into their work that Sheila has." Napier said she usually has at least eight horses under her care in the Beaver barn, and it was Custom Cantab who was the star in 2018. Included among Custom Cantab's 13 wins were the Indiana Sires Stakes Super Final at Hoosier Park and the season-ending Matron at Dover Downs. "Oh, that filly," said Napier, whose travels always include her 11-year-old daughter Jess. "Custom Cantab is one of those special little fillies that wants to finish in the top three her whole life. She's quite sassy, amazing and full of heart. I absolutely love that filly; she is very special." As winner of the HRRNP Caretaker of the Year Award, Napier will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, hotel accommodations and two tickets to USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet on Sunday, Feb. 24, at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, where she will be presented a trophy. Napier, along with all the USHWA 2018 award winners, will be recognized during the Dan Patch Awards banquet. Information on accommodations at Rosen Shingle Creek and dinner tickets can be found at Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park/USHWA  

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

McWicked and Shartin N, ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the sport's year-end harness racing poll, were landslide winners for division honors among pacers in Dan Patch Award voting released Thursday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Shartin N, a 5-year-old mare, was named best older female pacer on all but one ballot while McWicked, a 7-year-old stallion, was named best older male pacer on all but three. Also named division winners were 2-year-old colt Captain Crunch, 2-year-old filly Warrawee Ubeaut, 3-year-old gelding Dorsoduro Hanover, and 3-year-old filly Kissin In The Sand. All of the winners with the exception of Dorsoduro Hanover received at least 90 percent of the vote in their division. Dorsoduro Hanover won, 65-53, over runner-up Courtly Choice in the closest divisional balloting among either pacers or trotters this year. A total of 130 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by eligible members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association and American Harness Racing Secretaries. Dan Patch Award winners will be honored at the organization's banquet Feb. 24 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., at which time Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year will be announced. Divisional trotting champions were announced Wednesday. McWicked led the sport in earnings this year, with $1.57 million. He became the first horse older than the age of 5 to top the money standings since 7-year-old trotter Savoir in 1975. McWicked also became the oldest male pacer to ever win a Dan Patch Award at age 2 or 3 and capture another trophy as an older horse. His first honor came at 3 in 2014. For the season, McWicked won 12 of 19 races, capping his campaign with a five-race win streak, and hit the board a total of 17 times. His victories included the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace, $471,100 William R. Haughton Memorial, $462,000 Canadian Pacing Derby, $430,000 Breeders Crown, $350,000 TVG Series Open championship, $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational, and $179,000 Allerage Farms Open. His 1:46.2 clocking in the Allerage was the second-fastest race mile in history. Brian Sears was McWicked's primary driver, but David Miller also posted Grand Circuit wins with the Casie Coleman-trained stallion. McWicked, a son of McArdle out of Western Sahara, is owned by Ed James' S S G Stables. He was bred by Andray Farm. Shartin N became the first pacing mare to earn $1 million in a season, finishing the year with $1.05 million thanks to 19 wins in 24 races. The New Zealand-bred mare joins Hall of Famer Cardigan Bay as a "Down Under" import to receive a Dan Patch Award. Cardigan Bay, also from New Zealand, was a two-time honoree (1965 and 1968). Trained by Jim King Jr. and driven by Tim Tetrick, Shartin N's wins included the $373,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series championship, $281,200 Roses Are Red, $270,000 Breeders Crown, $197,400 Lady Liberty, $175,000 TVG Series Mare championship, $161,000 Artiscape, $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational, $102,200 Chip Noble Memorial, and $98,500 Allerage Farms Mare Pace. She also finished the year with a five-race win streak. Shartin N, a daughter of Tintin In America out of Bagdarin, is owned by Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. She was bred by GJ Crabbe. Dorsoduro Hanover got the nod among 3-year-old male pacers after leading the division with $1.28 million in purses, the second-highest total in the sport. He won 10 of 22 races, with his victories including the $530,000 Breeders Crown, $400,000 Delvin Miller Adios, and $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. He also had six second-place finishes, including in the Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug. Ron Burke trained the gelding, who was driven by Matt Kakaley. Dorsoduro Hanover is owned by Sylvia Burke's Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Jerry Silva, Theresa Silva, Purnel Jones Jr. and Elizabeth Jones, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and the Wingfield Five (Bradley, Charles, Kimberly, Robert and Thomas Wingfield). The son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Deer Valley Miss was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms. Two-year-old filly Warrawee Ubeaut also is part of the Burke Brigade. She won seven of 12 races and earned a division-leading $646,995 for trainer Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. Her wins included the $600,000 Breeders Crown and $207,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes. In addition, her 1:48.3 victory in a $61,250 division of the International Stallion Stakes at Red Mile made her the fastest 2-year-old pacer in history. Warrawee Ubeaut is owned by Sylvia Burke's Burke Racing Stable, Phil Collura, the partnership of Jerry Silva, Theresa Silva, Purnel Jones Jr. and Elizabeth Jones, and the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi. A daughter of Sweet Lou out of Great Memories, she was bred by Warrawee Farm. Three-year-old filly Kissin In The Sand and 2-year-old colt Captain Crunch both are from the stable of trainer Nancy Johansson and were driven by Scott Zeron. Kissin In The Sand won 10 of 15 races and never finished worse than second on her way to a division-best $845,495 in purses. Her wins included the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial, $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, $191,800 Mistletoe Shalee, and $126,000 Bluegrass Stakes. She was second in the Breeders Crown and Fan Hanover. Marvin Katz and Bud Hatfield's Hatfield Stables own Kissin In The Sand, who is a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of Kiss Me Kate. The filly was bred by Christina Takter, John Fielding, RAW Equine, and Concord Stud Farm. Captain Crunch won six of 10 races and earned a division-leading $616,113. His triumphs included the $600,000 Breeders Crown and $469,300 Governor's Cup. He is owned by 3 Brothers Stables (Alan, Ron and Steve Katz), Christina Takter, Norman and Robert Aerenson's Rojan Stables, and Judy and Buck Chaffee's Caviart Farms. Captain Crunch, a son of Captaintreacherous out of Sweet Paprika, was bred by Walnridge Farm and Sherri Meirs. For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet and Rosen Shingle Creek resort, visit the U.S. Harness Writers Association's website. 2-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER Captain Crunch (126 votes/96.9 percent) Captaintreacherous - Sweet Paprika - Artiscape Yearling price: $85,000 under the name Captain Bean at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeders: Walnridge Farm, Sherri Meirs Owners: 3 Brothers Stables, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables, Caviart Farms Trainer: Nancy Johansson Driver: Scott Zeron Races: 10-6-1-1 Purses: $616,113 Mark: 1:49.1 at Red Mile Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $469,300 Governor's Cup 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER Warrawee Ubeaut (124 votes/95.3 percent) Sweet Lou - Great Memories - Apaches Fame Yearling price: $70,000 at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: Warrawee Farm Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Phil Collura, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Yannick Gingras Races: 12-7-1-2 Purses: $646,995 Mark: 1:48.3 at Red Mile (world record) Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $207,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes 3-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER Dorsoduro Hanover (65 votes/50 percent) Somebeachsomewhere - Deer Valley Miss - Artsplace Yearling price: $100,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Silva, Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi, Wingfield Five Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Matt Kakaley Races: 22-10-6-2 Purses: $1.28 million Mark: 1:49.4 at Pocono Top wins: $530,000 Breeders Crown; $400,000 Adios 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER Kissin In The Sand (117 votes/90 percent) Somebeachsomewhere - Kiss Me Kate - Real Artist Yearling price: $130,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeders: Christina Takter, John Fielding, RAW Equine, Concord Stud Farm Owners: Marvin Katz, Hatfield Stables Trainer: Nancy Johansson Driver: Scott Zeron Races: 15-10-5-0 Purses: $845,495 Mark: 1:47.4 at Red Mile Top wins: $300,000 Lynch Memorial; $191,800 Mistletoe Shalee OLDER MALE PACER McWicked (127 votes/97.6 percent) McArdle - Western Sahara - Western Ideal Yearling price: $35,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Andray Farm Owner: S S G Stables Trainer: Casie Coleman Drivers: Brian Sears, David Miller Races: 19-12-3-2 Purses: $1.57 million Mark: 1:46.2 at Red Mile Top wins: $500,000 Ben Franklin; $471,100 Haughton Memorial; $462,000 Canadian Pacing Derby; $430,000 Breeders Crown OLDER FEMALE PACER Shartin N (129 votes/99.2 percent) Tintin In America - Bagdarin - Live Or Die Yearling price: None, sold privately at age 4 Breeder: G J Crabbe Owners: Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King Trainer: Jim King Jr. Driver: Tim Tetrick Races: 24-19-1-0 Purses: $1.05 million Mark: 1:48.2 at Red Mile Top wins: $373,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker final; $281,200 Roses Are Red; $270,000 Breeders Crown; $197,400 Lady Liberty From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

Hambletonian-winning filly Atlanta led a distinguished group of trotters named division champions in Dan Patch Award voting released Wednesday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Atlanta received 96.1 percent of the votes for best 3-year-old female trotter, the highest total among the six trotting honorees. Also named division winners were 2-year-old colt Gimpanzee, 2-year-old filly Woodside Charm, 3-year-old colt Six Pack, 6-year-old gelding Homicide Hunter, and 4-year-old mare Ariana G. Ariana G, who received the nod for best older female trotter, was the only repeat winner. She collected her third trophy and joined CR Kay Suzie (1994-96) and Peace Corps (1988-90) as the only female trotters to receive a Dan Patch Award at ages 2, 3 and 4. A total of 130 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by the U.S. Harness Writers Association's membership this year. Dan Patch Award winners will be honored at the organization's banquet Feb. 24 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., at which time Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year will be announced. Divisional pacing champions will be announced at noon Thursday during a live stream broadcast on the Facebook pages of both the U.S. Harness Writers Association and U.S. Trotting Association. Atlanta, who received 125 votes, became the first filly to win the Hambletonian since 1996 when she captured the $1 million final Aug. 4 at the Meadowlands. Trained by Rick Zeron and driven by his son Scott, she won eight of 14 races this year and earned a division-leading $1.01 million. Her victories also included the $320,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity and $238,613 Empire Breeders Classic. She finished second in the $500,000 Breeders Crown. A daughter of Chapter Seven out of Hemi Blue Chip, Atlanta is owned by Rick Zeron, Michelle and Al Crawford's Crawford Farms, William Holland's Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor, and Brad Grant. She was bred by Order By Stable. In the division for the 3-year-old colts and geldings, Six Pack received 54.6 percent of the vote in the closest balloting among trotters. He outdistanced runner-up Tactical Landing, 71-46. Six Pack, a son of Muscle Mass out of Pleasing Lady, won 11 of 15 races this year and earned a division-best $1.15 million. His triumphs included the $620,000 Kentucky Futurity, $500,000 Yonkers Trot, $223,673 Empire Breeders Classic, $210,150 Matron Stakes, and a $181,000 division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. His winning time of 1:49.1 in the Kentucky Futurity final is the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old trotter. Ake Svanstedt trained and drove Six Pack in addition to owning the colt with Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, Tomas Olofsson's Stall Kalmar FF, and Lars Berg. Six Pack was bred by Brittany Farms. Ariana G added to her hardware collection by receiving 63.8 percent of the vote for best older female trotter, finishing 50 votes ahead of second-place Emoticon Hanover. Ariana G was trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, who retired at the end of the season, and posted victories with drivers Yannick Gingras, Brian Sears, and David Miller. The homebred mare, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Cantab It All, won five of 14 races this year and earned a division-leading $597,802 for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. She beat male rivals in all her wins, including the $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity and $250,000 Graduate Series championship, which were for 4-year-olds, as well as the $150,000 Dayton Trotting Derby and an elimination of the Maple Leaf Trot. She finished third in the Maple Leaf final. Homicide Hunter, the fastest trotter in history thanks to his 1:48.4 winning mile in the Allerage Farms Open on Oct. 6 at Red Mile, received the Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter with 73.8 percent of the vote. Marion Marauder, the division's 2017 champion, was the only other vote-getter. In addition to winning the Allerage, Homicide Hunter captured the $500,000 Breeders Crown, $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial, and $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series championship. George Napolitano Jr., Aaron Merriman, and Brian Sears each had a Grand Circuit victory with the Chris Oakes-trained gelding. Homicide Hunter, a son of Mr Cantab out of Evening Prayer, is owned by Michelle and Al Crawford's Crawford Farms Racing and was bred by Patrick Graham. Gimpanzee and Woodside Charm were undefeated, marking the first time both 2-year-old trotting champions completed unblemished campaigns. They also were the two richest 2-year-old trotters this season. Marcus Melander-trained Gimpanzee, who got 90 percent of the vote, dominated the New York Sire Stakes circuit, winning six preliminary rounds and the $225,000 championship, before finishing his season by winning his Breeders Crown elimination and the $600,000 final. His 9-for-9 performance resulted in earnings of $591,358 for owners Anders Ström’s Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren's SRF Stable. Brian Sears drove Gimpanzee, who became the first undefeated 2-year-old male trotter to receive a Dan Patch Award since Wheeling N Dealin in 2012. Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven out of Steamy Windows, was bred by Order By Stable. Woodside Charm, who received 93.8 percent of the vote, won all seven of her starts for owner-trainer-driver Verlin Yoder. Her wins included the $600,000 Breeders Crown and $236,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes. She also won a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Saratoga in 1:53.4, the fastest mile ever by a 2-year-old trotter on a half-mile track. A daughter of Chapter Seven out of Fireworks Hanover, Woodside Charm was bred by AV & Son Bloodstock. She became only the second unbeaten 2-year-old filly trotter to win a Dan Patch Award, following 2017 honoree Manchego. 2-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Gimpanzee (117 votes/90 percent) Chapter Seven - Steamy Windows - Muscle Massive Yearling price: $170,000 under the name Army Of Monkeys at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Order By Stable Owners: Courant Inc., SRF Stable Trainer: Marcus Melander Driver: Brian Sears Races: 9-9-0-0 Purses: $591,358 Mark: 1:54.3 at Vernon Downs Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER Woodside Charm (122 votes/93.8 percent) Chapter Seven - Fireworks Hanover - Muscles Yankee Yearling price: Private Breeder: AV & Son Bloodstock LLC Owner: Verlin Yoder Trainer: Verlin Yoder Driver: Verlin Yoder Races: 7-7-0-0 Purses: $521,658 Mark: 1:53 at Pocono Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $236,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes 3-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Six Pack (71 votes/54.6 percent) Muscle Mass - Pleasing Lady - Cantab Hall Yearling price: $30,000 at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: Brittany Farms Owners: Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF, Lars Berg Trainer: Ake Svanstedt Driver: Ake Svanstedt Races: 15-11-2-1 Purses: $1.15 million Mark: 1:49.1 at Red Mile (world record) Top wins: $620,000 Kentucky Futurity; $500,000 Yonkers Trot; $210,150 Matron Stakes 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER Atlanta (125 votes/96.1 percent) Chapter Seven - Hemi Blue Chip - Cantab Hall Yearling price: $60,000 under the name Django Unchained at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Order By Stable Owners: Rick Zeron/Crawford Farms, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor, Brad Grant Trainer: Rick Zeron Driver: Scott Zeron Races: 14-8-5-1 Purses: $1.01 million Mark: 1:50.3 at Vernon Downs Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $320,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity OLDER MALE TROTTER Homicide Hunter (96 votes/73.8 percent) Mr Cantab - Evening Prayer - Like A Prayer Yearling price: Homebred, sold privately at age 4 Breeder: Patrick Graham Owner: Crawford Farms Racing Trainer: Chris Oakes Drivers: George Napolitano Jr., Brian Sears, Aaron Merriman Races: 16-9-0-2 Purses: $605,770 Mark: 1:48.4 at Red Mile (world record) Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $200,000 Hill Memorial; $145,000 Allerage OLDER FEMALE TROTTER Ariana G (83 votes/63.8 percent) Muscle Hill - Cantab It All - Cantab Hall Yearling price: Homebred Breeders: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld Owners: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld Trainer: Jimmy Takter Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Brian Sears, David Miller Races: 14-5-1-1 Purses: $597,802 Mark: 1:50.2 at Meadowlands Top wins: $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity; $250,000 Graduate; $150,000 Dayton Derby From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

GOSHEN NY - At its annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner on Sunday, July 1, the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame was a recipient of a check for $5000 from the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading media organization. Two years ago, the Directors of USHWA made a change in the organization's rules and regulations of operation, mandating a $5000 contribution to the Hall and Museum. USHWA has been entrusted with conducting the annual elections for the sport's highest honor, acceptance into the Hall of Fame, with its membership joining with present Hall of Famers in voting to honor the best of the best. The organization is proud of the work of the Hall and the Museum, and is glad to contribute to ongoing operations. Shawn Wiles, president of USHWA, is also Manager of Racing Operations at nearby Monticello Raceway; in fact, his USHWA chapter is named the Monticello-Goshen Chapter, and he is very aware of the importance of and the ongoing good work done by his "backyard neighbor." Noted Wiles, "The preservation and promotion of the achievements of the sport's greatest participants who have been honored by election to the Hall would be enough for many organizations. But the Hall/Museum also serves as the sport's main repository of history for today's racing fans, and often is on the road with exhibits, furthering exposure for the sport; it also has a component that tries to encourage the fans of tomorrow, to introduce them to harness racing at a young age." The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame is open 361 days a year in Goshen NY; their website's address is From the United States Harness Writers Association

MONTICELLO NY - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading group of Standardbred journalists, has announced that it will be donating $2,500 to the unfortunate horsemen who lost more than two dozen horses and their associated equipment - basically, their means of livelihood -- in a barn fire at the Mount Hope Training Center in Otisville, Orange County NY during the morning of June 2. "Even the mere mention of the word FIRE sends shivers down the spine of every horseman, every track executive, every shedrow in the world," notes Shawn Wiles, president of USHWA, executive director of racing at New York's Monticello Raceway, and a former caretaker. "Any loss of equine life is horrific. "It is during catastrophes such as this that the industry comes together and rallies behind those who have lost everything. The U.S. Harness Writers Association makes this donation in an effort to help horsemen get back on their feet and get their lives together again." A GoFundMe page, for others who want to help these devastated horsemen, has been set up jointly by North American Harness Update Picks and Post Time with Mike & Mike, and it has now raised over $10,000. The website for making donations is From the United States Harness Writers Association

Harrisburg, PA --- The Dan Patch Awards Dinner is rapidly approaching and along with it, the annual silent auction held in conjunction with the evening's festivities on Feb. 25 in Orlando. Once again the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and USHWA's industry outreach will benefit from the sales. This year's auction features a wide variety of items so there is sure to be something of interest for everyone in attendance. Phone bidding is possible but must be arranged prior to February 24. Lots available include: 14K horsehead necklace with diamond and chain (donated by Bow River Jewelry); 2018 Preakness Stakes Package (donated by Maryland Jockey Club); The "Campbell Collection" of memorabilia including board game, posters, shirts, hats, programs and more - most autographed by the one and only John Campbell; Custom harness racing stained glass panel (donated by Barbara Dresser and Callie Davies Gooch); Signed and numbered Always B Miki mounted pen & ink print (donated by Michelle Hogan); "Night on the Meadowlands TV Set" experience; "Handicapping Session with Garnet Barnsdale"; Production of audio advertising piece by Retromedia; (PR services for audio production, script and voiceover: donated and provided by Mark McKelvie and Melissa Keith) Red Mile Package $1000 value Dinner and programs for 4 in The Red Mile Clubhouse (excluding alcohol) and Railbird Box Seats (for up to 6 people) - all during  2018 The Red Mile Grand Circuit meet! Exact location for box seats to be determined. (Donated by the Red Mile) Rosen Shingle Creek hotel vacation package (donated by same); Baseball package including tickets for Mets and Phillies games (donated by Nick Saponara); Collection of framed, vintage cigar box labels of Ashwood, Peter Manning, and Single Kay; Off & Pacing game package; Limited-edition Cam Fella print by equine artist Fred Stone: (donated by The Farm Ventures (Off and Pacing/Ryan Clements/Landon Mulhall) Set of 6 hand-painted goblets (donated by Suzanne D'Ambrose); Variety of gift baskets from Batavia Downs, Hoosier Park, Ohio Sires Stakes, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, and Hambletonian/Breeders Crown; (Canadian horse racing gift basket: items donated by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Retromedia Publishing, and Melissa Keith) Gift certificates from Fennell's, Big D's and The Red Mile Gift Shop; And perhaps a few late entries! Proceeds from the silent auction go to fund the Harness Horse Youth Foundation's Summer Programs as well as the U.S. Harness Writers Association's industry outreach initiative, which this past year made contributions to the Harness Racing Museum, Historic Track rebuilding fund, the Filion family and the Clyde Hirt Media Workshop during Hambletonian week. For complete information, item descriptions, available photos and bidding instructions, please visit or call Steven Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Ellen Taylor at 317-908-0029. by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA

HARRISBURG, PA---Positive commentary and industrious promotion of harness racing are the best ways to gain new owners, fans and gamblers as well as retain the ones already engaged in order to keep this industry viable for the next generation. And there is no one that does these things more effectively on a daily basis than T.J. Burkett and Jason Settlemoir. As a result, they will each be presented an USHWA President's Award for their contributions to the sport at the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet that will be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, February 25. Burkett is the Executive Editor of Hoof Beats Magazine and has spent more than a decade working on the publication for the U.S. Trotting Association. After joining the USTA in 2007 as associate editor, he became the youngest-ever executive editor of Hoof Beats in December of 2010. Burkett has continued the magazine's long tradition of providing harness racing fans with an insider's view of the sport through in-depth features and profiles. But he has also directed the magazine's focus to promoting the stars of racing, tackling the issues that racing faces and shining a light on those who work hard at every level, but haven't gotten the recognition they deserve. During his tenure, Burkett has implemented some significant improvements in the monthly publication. Among the biggest was the transition of the annual Stan Bergstein experimental ratings to a modern day formula, the significant growth of the Hoof Beats photo contest and introducing the digital format "Hoof Beats Direct" in 2013, making the magazine easily accessible through any handheld device. Currently Burkett is supervising a major redesign of Hoof Beats that is scheduled to be unveiled in March of 2018. He is also leading the way on a project to digitize the entire historical archive of the magazine with search term capability. Settlemoir is the COO/GM of New Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners OTW at Bayonne, N.J., and is vice president of racing, simulcast and sponsorship for American Racing and Entertainment (Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs). He is also simulcast director for the Little Brown Jug as well as their second announcer, a vice president of Harness Tracks of America, past president and chairman of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, a Grand Circuit and Little Brown Jug Society Director, a member of the USHWA Hall of Fame Screening Committee, and a director for the United States Trotting Association. Settlemoir was awarded the 2006 U.S. Harness Writers Association's Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award for his work in opening up Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and was inducted into the Upstate New York Chapter of USHWA's Hall of Fame in 2011. Settlemoir has also always been a big part of any community he has lived in and sat on the board of directors for the Tioga County Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Tier Red Cross and the Tioga County United Way, where he was chair for the annual campaign drive, before making his move to The Meadowlands and New Jersey. "T.J. and Jason were both born and raised in this business and have made it their life's work. Their extensive first-hand experience gives them a unique understanding of harness racing at every level," said Tim Bojarski, President of USHWA. "They both come to the office each day with a positive attitude towards the sport, its participants and the viability of its future, and they work to try to infuse that into every aspect of their individual responsibilities. As a result. I believe harness racing as a whole is better for their efforts now and will continue to improve in the future under their respective leadership roles." "Although rivals at the academic level (Burkett went to Michigan State and Settlemoir Ohio State), the Big 10 produced a great team of harness racing proponents who both have made significant contributions to date and will continue to do so for a long time," Bojarski concluded. From USHWA (U.S. Harness Writers Association)  

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

Congratulations to the new Hall of Famers. Well, we just announced the newest inductees voted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, and the four individuals could not be more deserving. Congratulations to Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, who are going into the Hall, and to Carl Becker and Dave Briggs, who are going into the Communicators Hall. Jules Siegel and his late wife Arlene established Fashion Farms in eastern Pennsylvania, acquired first-rate broodmares and bred them to top sires to achieve successful racehorses.  Siegel has raced Hambletonian winner Tagliabue along with eight Dan Patch Award champions and five Breeders Crown winners including Broadway Hall, Broadway Schooner and Broadway Donna. Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg is the first woman elected to the Hall of Fame. She is the owner of Menhammar Stuteri AB, the leading breeder in her native Sweden, which has been in her family for 70 years. Wallenius-Kleberg also created a North America-Europe comingling of racing and breeding talent with her partner, the late Hall of Famer Norman Woolworth, headed by champion horses such as Mack Lobell. Carl Becker began his career in harness announcing in 1963 and became in-demand with major tracks like DuQuoin IL, where he called the Hambletonian and World Trotting Derby, and The Red Mile where he announced Niatross’s historic 1:49.1 time-trial. Dave Briggs achieved journalistic success through his award-winning work as editor of the Canadian Sportsman magazine. In the last couple years Briggs has been in charge of Harness Racing Update, the online racing newsletter. Briggs is also a nine-time Hervey Award winner for excellence in harness journalism; the next highest total for an individual is five. Siegel, Wallenius-Kleberg, Becker and Briggs will all be honored at the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, FL on Sunday February 25, 2018. They then will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame in Goshen NY on Sunday, July 1, 2018. USHWA helps to rebuild Goshen Historic Track After the devastating fire that completely destroyed barns and a blacksmith shop at Goshen Historic Track, the Executive Board of USHWA met and unanimously agreed to donate $5,000 to help rebuild the oldest operating harness racing track in the world, which is listed as a National Historic Landmark. The Officers wanted to take a lead role in the industry and help provide GHT a hand in getting the track back to where it should be, and we hope that others within the sport follow our example and donate what they can to keep this historic property open and operational for generations of racing fans to come. USHWA to be a sponsor of the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park For the first time ever, USHWA will be a sponsor for the Breeders Crown, to be held at Hoosier Park in October. Because of the generosity of Hoosier Park, who was the title sponsor of our Dan Patch Awards Banquet this past February in Las Vegas, the Officers decided it was important to support them now as they host their very first Breeders Crown, along with showing our support for all the participants of the races themselves. Our name will be prominently shown on the grooms’ gear, namely the fleece jackets they will be provided with; our organization’s name will be on the chest and down the arms. We will also have a full-page color USHWA ad in the Breeders Crown program. Proximity nominations are due next month Please keep in mind that the first nomination deadline of the fall comes up on Tuesday, Oct. 13, for the Bergstein/Proximity Award (250-500 word biography per nominee, one per chapter). These nominations need to be reviewed by the Integrity Committee and the Directors before being returned to the membership for final voting. So it is important that the original deadline be met in order to keep in line with other year-end award announcements. … so Plan a Chapter meeting NOW! With the Proximity nominations due then, if your Chapter can mobilize for a meeting very soon, that may be best. If not, with all the year-end award nomination and voting activities just around the corner, it would be a great time to plan a Chapter meeting to get “all your ducks in a row.” Also make sure you let Secretary Connors know who your Directors are for 2017-2018 so we have a record we can refer to when it comes to reimbursements in February. New website is in trial mode We are literally days away from the release of our new website. It is up and running in a faux-domain until we get it tweaked and finally released. Look for a release as soon as we go live. 2018 Budget is currently being drafted Tom Hicks and the Budget Committee are currently putting together the final touches on the 2018 financial plan. This year we are on target to make a profit commensurate with the projections presented to the Directors – and, depending on what transpires with banquet sponsorships prior to the end of the year, could go higher. Our principal organizational functions this year have stayed on point, and we thank everyone involved for their work in that achievement. Dan Patch Awards host hotel reservation portal now open The USHWA-only reservation portal for the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando is now live on our website, and you can now make your plans to attend the National meetings and Dan Patch awards banquet the last weekend in February. Please keep in mind that as every year, a limited number of rooms will be available at the discounted rate, and making an early reservation may be a good idea. Don’t forget about Items for the DPA Silent and Live Auctions As was mentioned in my previous newsletters, you are aware that we annually hold a silent auction to help fund not only the business of USHWA, but also the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and the Clyde Hirt Workshop.  In recent years, the items that have been made available to us for this auction have dwindled severely, and we need your help and support to turn the tide.  This is a call to EVERY USHWAN!  Please take a minute of your day to call a business, hotel, sport team, industry outlet, race track, farm, distributor, anyone or anything you can think of and try to get donations for this auction, so we can more adequately support the worthy causes that the proceeds are put towards.  To date, I have only received a response from Dave Brower, Melissa Keith, and Matt Sparacino with offers of auction items. I know it’s early, but it’s never too early to help the organization. Whether you attend the banquet or not, it would help the functions of the organization immensely if everyone got just one donation of any value to put into this auction. I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming fall weather and all the great stake racing that is yet to come. I also hope I run into many USHWA members at the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park next month as it promises to be one of, if not THE, best presentation of this stake ever.   Tim Bojarski President of USHWA

No sooner was a very eventful Hambletonian day in the books; it seems we are now counting the days to the Little Brown Jug. Where does the summer go? With so much racing action seemingly every week the time looking forward to the next great race just eats away at the calendar. HALL OF FAME VOTING The 2017 Hall of Fame ballots are in the mail; if you haven't received yours already, it should be in your mailbox shortly (or let the Secretary know). Please keep in mind that the deadline for voting is Wednesday, September 13, and you may reply with your selections either via e-mail or the good old USPS. Please make sure you follow all the instructions included with your packet and reply in a timely matter. Hall of Famer and advisor Jim Simpson remarked that this was by far the best set of complied biographies that the Hall of Fame Screening Committee had ever received and praised the work of the new USHWA Advisory Committee for their work putting them together. NEW USHWA WEBSITE IS CLOSE TO COMPLETION The new USHWA website is nearing completion and I can tell you it’s looking awesome. Tom Hicks has been working hard with designers from, who is building the site for us. The new site will give us the option for online pay, and you could also pay annual dues, buy Dan Patch Banquet tickets or even conduct any other business that would require the transfer of funds. We will also have live streaming ability as well as the capacity for selling banner ads. And of course the new site will display all of our content in a more cohesive and easier-to-navigate manner. We will send out a notice as soon as it goes live. ROSEN SHINGLE CREEK/DAN PATCH AWARDS BANQUET UPDATE Florida Chapter President and new Hall of Famer Steve Wolf took a road trip up to Orlando for us to look over the Rosen Shingle Creek, which is the host property for the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet. And to say he was impressed with it would be an understatement. The food, the accommodations, all the facilities and the property were all top of the line. Mr. Wolf also looked over the layout of the banquet room and simply said “It’s huge!” We will have a reservation link up shortly so you can start making your arrangements early. PLAN A CHAPTER MEETING NOW You might want to start planning a Chapter meeting in the next month or so to discuss possible human awards and Communicators Hall of Fame nominees, and perhaps talk about By-Law change and Rules and Regs change proposals. And also the first nomination deadline of the year comes up in October for the Bergstein/Proximity Award (250-500 word biography per nominee, one per chapter). That would also be a good topic of discussion. DON’T FORGET ABOUT ITEMS FOR THE DPA SILENT AND LIVE AUCTIONS As was mentioned in my previous newsletter, you are aware that we annually hold a silent auction to help fund not only the business of USHWA, but also the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and the Clyde Hirt Workshop.   In recent years, the items that have been made available to us for this auction have dwindled severely, and we need your help and support to turn the tide.   This is a call to EVERY USHWAN! Please take a minute of your day to call a business, hotel, sport team, industry outlet, race track, farm, distributor, anyone or anything you can think of and try to get donations for this auction so we can more adequately support the worthy causes that the proceeds are put towards.   To date, I have only received a response from Dave Brower and Melissa Keith with offers of auction items. I know it’s early, but it’s never too early to help the organization. Whether you attend the banquet or not, it would help the functions of the organization immensely if everyone got just one donation of any value to put into this auction.   The best of racing luck to everyone the rest of the summer, and hopefully I will see you sometime between the Jug and the Breeders Crown. Tim Bojarski President of USHWA

Coral Springs, FL - The Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has announced five candidates who will receive awards this year from the Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Fund. The scholarship fund was established in memory of Hall of Famer Allen J. Finkelson, the former Vice President of Public Relations at Pompano Park and longtime Chairman of the Board of the national USHWA organization "There were eleven candidates that were eligible for the scholarships," said Thomas H. Hicks, who chairs the scholarship committee. "And our committee worked diligently in deciding who would be the winners. We are very pleased to have had so many applications this year and it was not easy making the final selections." Two students, Daniel Clien and Jessica Hallet, will both receive scholarship checks for $750 each as the two top candidates. Students Amber Kelley, Paul Levia and Sarah Birkhold will each get $500. Preference for these scholarship awards were given to a student(s) majoring in journalism, communications or equine related studies. On average, there has been up to $3,000 awarded annually in scholarship money. Applicants must be a resident of the state of Florida and currently accepted or enrolled in a fully accredited college or university in the United States. Criteria for selection include community service, academic achievement, and leadership. Daniel Clein will start his freshman year this fall at the University of Central Florida with a goal of becoming a veterinarian. He is a graduate of Wellington High School with a GPA of 3.6, was in the Wellington HS Equine Pre-Vet Academy Magnet Program and participated in numerous community outreach programs, including creating a 501C3 not-for-profit charity. Jessica Hallett will be a freshman at Nova Southeastern University. She is the daughter of trainers John & Michelle Hallett and has spent most of her life around harness racing. She graduated from Deerfield Beach High School with an impressive GPA average of 5.12, was a star athlete, volunteered in numerous community service activities and has been writing feature stories on harness racing for Sarah Birkhold is from Sarasota and is a first year graduate student at Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinarian Medicine. She has been an Allen J. Finkelson scholarship winner the past four years. Her GPA is 3.72 and she has been President of the Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen Society, Treasurer of Block & Bridle Group, a teaching assistant in Equine Management and did an internship at Firethorn Equine in Ohio. She is the daughter of FSBOA Director and horse owner, George Birkhold. Amber Kelley is from North Lauderdale and is a sophomore at Florida Atlantic University and is majoring in Multi Media Journalism Studies. She has a GPA of 3.789 and was nominated for both the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Society for Collegiate Leadership. She is also secretary of the Kiwanis Circle K International local chapter and is involved with a Mentoring Project. Paul Levia hails from Pembroke Pines and is a junior at Florida International University and is majoring in Broadcast Media. He has a GPA of 3.875 and is an AP Scholar, National Honor Society since 2014 and is a volunteer at the Broward Public Library. By Steve Wolf, for the Florida USHWA Chapter  

HARRISBURG PA - The Keystone Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association has announced its award winners for their outstanding accomplishments in Pennsylvania harness racing during 2016.   And of the seven award categories put to the voters, three of them resulted in two winners - which was quite predictable!   Let's see how that could be:   --The Mary Lib Miller Award, named after the wife of Hall of Famer Delvin Miller and herself an integral part of Delvin's many success stories, is the highest award the Chapter gives annually, for overall outstanding contributions to Pennsylvania racing. This year, two members of the Bedford (PA) Sports Hall of Fame, Sam Beegle and Roger Hammer, were the nominees, and there were three choices for the voters: Beegle individually, Hammer individually, or Beegle and Hammer jointly.   And the writers chose to honor both, longtime friendly rivals since their days both wrestling in southwest Pennsylvania area high schools. Their sports' accomplishments continue to this day - Hammer, an 8-time national U.D.R. champion, was the leading trainer and driver at the PA Fairs this past season, while Beegle, who also is in charge of his own shedrow and takes an occasional turn in the sulky, makes an impact, statewide as the president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, and nationally as Chairman of USTA's District 7 (Pennsylvania).   --The PA Horse of the Year, restricted to horses who made more than 50% of their starts at a Keystone state oval and thus usually earned by a top-flight overnight horse, resulted in a tie between two Invitational pacers who both earned in the neighborhood of $120,000 just during their fine campaigns at The Meadows: the stallion Unlocked and the mare Medusa. This result also was not a shocker - for both Unlocked and Medusa had also tied for top honors when the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association gave their 2016 prizes!   --For PA Breeder of the Year, the Keystone voters cast an equal number of ballots for Bill Mulligan, breeder of Trotting Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder, and the legendary Hanover Shoe Farms, who bred $1M+-winning mare Hannelore Hanover - thus figuring the two "even closer" than the 2016 Trotter of the Year contest, where Marion Marauder edged Hannelore Hanover by a single vote!   Other award winners voted by the state communicators include:   --Double honors for North America's leading trainer Ron Burke, who won Pennsylvania Trainer of the Year for the eighth straight year, and also garnered Owner of the Year honors through his Burke Racing Stable LLC (a partnership with his mother Sylvia), who were picked for honors alongside their solid partners, the Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Mike Bruscemi and Mark Weaver.   --PA Driver of the Year laurels to Aaron Merriman, who has parlayed consistently high finishes in the driving ranks at The Meadows with consistent 1-2 rankings in the horseman's colony of Northfield Park to become the two-time defending North American dashwinning king among all drivers.   --PA Sire Stakes Horse of the Year Broadway Donna, a three-year-old trotting filly who was national champion at both two and three and the only sophomore to repeat from freshman form as the 2016 Sire Stakes champion. She earned $429,106 at 2 and 3 in PA Sire Stakes competition alone.   --And a special award from Chapter President Kevin Decker to Pastor Joe DiDonato, one of the most popular figures on the Meadows backstretch for many years, a man who brings calm, aid and comfort on several levels to the people to whom he ministers.   Each of the honorees will soon be feted at their home racetrack - unless it is decided to honor Beegle and Hammer together at the Bedford Fair in late July.   NOTE: in accompanying picture by Seth Dowling, pictured are Mary Lib Miller Award winners Sam Beegle (green/gray, to left) and Roger Hammer (blue/yellow/red, to right), going to the half in a contest at Meadville PA last year.  

The best in harness racing in 2016 will be honored Sunday night, Feb. 26, at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Awards dinner, presented by Hoosier Park, at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. But even if you are not planning on attending, you can still watch the entire night of award presentations. While the video streaming won't be live, it will be available Monday morning, Feb. 27, on the U.S. Trotting Association YouTube page, which can be accessed here, as well as at, which links directly to the video page on the USTA website. In addition, the video will be available for viewing on the USHWA Facebook page. For those who are attending, remember the cocktail party in Celebrity Ballrooms 5-8 starts at 6 p.m. (PT) and the awards dinner will get underway promptly at 7 p.m. And for those who are attending, make sure you are there early as you don't want to miss seeing a special performance by a legendary performer that will kick off the awards portion of the night. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

HARRISBURG, PA - The New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, designed to transition racehorses from their careers on the track into a productive "adoptive" program suitable for both the equine and her/his new "family," has been selected for the United States Harness Writers Association's President's Award, as announced by the president of USHWA, harness racing's leading media organization, Tim Bojarski. Over 6000 retired Standardbred and Thoroughbred racehorses have been placed by New Vocations since its founding in 1992. Many have gone on to be pleasure horses, and some have been re-educated to participate in other equine disciplines such as horse show competition. One New Vocations "graduate" even served as a "stand-in" when the recent movie about Seabiscuit, the champion racehorse, was made! New Vocations has two farms in Ohio, Laurelville and Marysville; one in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania; and one in Lexington, Kentucky. The Executive Director of the New Vocations program is Dot Morgan, who won the 2012 Unsung Hero Award from USHWA, and its current Standardbred Program Director is Dot's daughter, Winnie Morgan Nemeth, a member of USHWA. Bojarski notes, "New Vocations is a highly-motivated group of 'horse people' who aggressively re-home and re-train retired Standardbred and Thoroughbred Racehorses. Their plan is simple: determine the horse's demeanor, find the horse's best traits, and then teach the horse a skill that suits her or him best and will ensure that the animal will be productive forever in its new home. "New Vocations is in the process of building the former Mereworth Farm in Lexington KY, consolidating the group's efforts and making the new facility the largest rehabilitation, retraining, re-homing and retirement facility in the nation. The group's Standardbred Division led by Winnie Morgan Nemeth does extraordinary work for our retired warriors of the track, and does that work with the horse's best interests uppermost in mind." New Vocations will be honored at the "Night Of Champions," the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday, February 26 at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas. Information about the banquet and the entire weekend, which will also contain the annual meetings of USHWA, can be found on the communicators' website, - including links for making hotel reservations at special rates at Planet Hollywood; banquet tickets; and congratulatory or acknowledgment ads in the keepsake Souvenir Banquet Journal, annually one of the best chronicles of a year in North American harness racing. From the United States Harness Writers' Association

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