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HARRISBURG PA – The partnership of Courant Inc., which encompasses principal owner Anders Ström and individual partners on several horses, teamed exceptionally well with harness racing trainer Marcus Melander during 2019, campaigning the “Three G’s” – Greenshoe, Gimpanzee, and Green Manalishi S – who dominated the three-year-old trotting colt ranks while earning over $3 million among them this year alone. They also raced freshman trotting filly Hypnotic AM and other quality performers, with the result that Courant and Melander were voted Owner of the Year and Trainer of the Year, respectively, during voting conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading media organization. In addition, New Zealander Dexter Dunn, who had a sensational first full year campaigning in the United States and Canada, was voted as the Driver of the Year by USHWA. Ström, who with his outright-owned horses campaigns in red-and-gold colors worn by the driver, saw Greenshoe and Gimpanzee each earn over $1 million while winning the majority of the sport’s major stakes for their group – Greenshoe a Dancer division, the Zweig, a Bluegrass division, the Kentucky Futurity, the Sire Stakes crown in New Jersey, and the Kentucky program’s championship; Gimpanzee the Yonkers Trot, the Breeders Crown, the Matron, and the New York Sire Stakes championship. Green Manalishi S added a Tompkins-Geers division, the Simcoe, and the Canadian Trotting Classic; Hypnotic AM won her New York Sire Stakes finale and the Doherty Memorial. Despite sending only 16 starters, Courant and partners saw their horses earn over $3.9 million, putting them in the North American Top Ten. Courant also has powerful divisions of the stable in Sweden and in France, and Ström put himself in position for future success by spending over $1.6 million at the major yearling sales in Lexington and Harrisburg. Melander, still only 27 years of age and coming off winning USHWA’s Rising Star Award, continued his rapid ascent to harness racing’s top circles, with his horses earning almost $5.4 million during 2019, fourth among all North American trainers. The “Three G’s” who dominated the sophomore trotting ranks of course were the primary contributors to that amount, but along with Hypnotic AM Melander also sent out Cutler Memorial winner Cruzado Dela Noche, a 2018 winner of the Yonkers International Trot. In addition, there were a host of young, bright prospects who showed talent in limited campaigns and could come on like gangbusters in 2020 (remember, Greenshoe only started four times at two). With the firm support of his family and staff (who frequently overlap), Melander certainly didn’t have the “sophomore jinx” in 2019, and it would be no surprise if the winning continued this coming year. Melander’s family (including a Hambletonian-winning uncle) is from Sweden – another North American “import,” Kiwi-born Dexter Dunn, came from Down Under with sterling credentials, having won multiple New Zealand driving titles and even the 2015 World Driving Championship. But his first full season of driving in the United States and Canada produced success in quantity and quality that few, not even Dexter, would have predicted. Horses handled by the red-and-black-clad driver won over $11 million during 2019, putting him third behind the perennial top pairing of Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras. The fact that he won 457 races, also putting him in the North American Top Ten, was also impressive but not that surprising since he had won ten “Enzed” sulky dash titles before he reached his current age of 30, but his seamless assimilation into the rarefied circles of top stakes competition was the exclamation point on his year. Dunn was the driver for sophomore colt pacer Bettor’s Wish, who was the leading moneywinner of 2019 with over $1.6M in earnings and a 19-13-6-0 record primarily completing in the “glamour division.” Amigo Volo (2TC) and Manchego (OTM) benefited from his expertise in winning Breeders Crown events. He won championships in state programs with Bettor’s Wish in Kentucky, Milles Possesion in Pennsylvania, and Fortune Starlet in New Jersey. In his first full year of driving at Harrah’s Philadelphia, Dunn finished third in the drivers win standings, behind Tim Tetrick and George Napolitano Jr. – who between them have won the last thirteen victory belts at the oval. And just as Melander had some “family” behind him, so did Dunn – Chris Ryder was the first to regularly use Dunn upon coming over, and a disproportionate share of Australian and New Zealand expatriate  conditions quickly, and soon unhesitatingly, gave him regular work. The remainder of the human and broodmare Dan Patch awardwinners are being announced today and tomorrow; the twelve racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands’ “pre-races” show, with media releases following (availability to view that announcement will be released shortly). Anders Ström and Courant, Inc., Marcus Melander, and Dexter Dunn 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 2019 will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured; “post times” on February 23 are cocktails at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to follow. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630.   Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA’s website, www.ushwa.net; a link to the hotel’s computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website). From the United States Harness Writers Association

HARRISBURG PA – There was a “dead heat for win” in the voting for the most prestigious harness racing award for which the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) are the sole arbiters – the Stan Bergstein/Proximity Award. The joint winners are New York horseman Joe Faraldo and the Ontario owning/breeding partnership of Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz – the first time there has been a tie in the top of the voting in the 68-year history of the award, which is voted on by the sport’s leading media organization. Joe Faraldo, an attorney by trade and an owner/amateur driver, is heading into his 40th year as President and CEO of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, the horsemen’s group that serves Yonkers Raceway, the track which pays the highest purses in the North American sport. He has been a staunch advocate of horsemen’s rights, and is the only attorney who has argued a harness racing-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Faraldo has been a director of the U.S. Trotting Association for over 20 years, and currently serves as Chair of the USTA’s District 8-A (lower New York). He is the chair of the important Harness Racing Medication Collaborative, which not only keeps up to date with substances and testing procedure in the sport, but also seeks to find common ground among the pari-mutuel sports’ breeds and jurisdictions. Faraldo is also an amateur driver of some note, and has driven in several countries during competitions. His international presence helped Yonkers re-establish the International Trot after a two-decade absence. He has been honored by Harness Horsemen’s International, the USTA, and USHWA. Joe Faraldo The partnership of Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, both of whom are in the southern Ontario real estate field, was not an instantaneous success by their own admission; the horse which started a turnaround for them was 1997 Meadowlands Pace winner Dream Away. But it is hard to miss the impression they have made on the owning and breeding of quality horses, especially in the last decade. The racehorse list includes millionaires Ariana G and Dream Away; the most recent of their breeding accomplishments was the selling of the sport’s first million-dollar yearling, Maverick, a Father Patrick full brother to this year’s spectacular three-year-old Greenshoe, who sold for $1,100,000 at Lexington this past fall. Horses they have owned and/or bred have accounted for the Hambletonian, Kentucky Futurity, Canadian Trotting Classic and other world-class events. The pair have been honored on both sides of the North American racing border previously. Libfeld/Katz were also the Presenting Sponsors of the 2019 Breeders Crown championships when they came to their nearby Woodbine at Mohawk Raceway, and the associated Breeders Crown Charity Challenge raised over $200,000 for area charities. The Bergstein / Proximity Award honors the great trotting mare Proximity, who was Harness Horse of the Year in 1950, and Stan Bergstein, the sport’s only “double Hall of Famer” and an industry visionary and leader for going on half a century until his passing in 2011. The remainder of the human and broodmare Dan Patch awardwinners are being announced today and tomorrow; the twelve racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands’ “pre-races” show, with media releases following (availability to view that announcement will be released shortly). Joe Faraldo, Marvin Katz, and Al Libfeld 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 2019 will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured; “post times” on February 23 are cocktails at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to follow. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630.   Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA’s website, www.ushwa.net; a link to the hotel’s computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website). From the United States Harness Writers Association

Columbus, OH - According to his wife Kristine Keller-Pawlak's Facebook page, former U.S. Trotting Association Director of Publicity John Pawlak, 71, died Dec. 27, 2019, at 10:40 p.m. "He is now with the angels and free of his pain," stated Keller-Pawlak in her Facebook post. "He fought a long and difficult battle for over six years. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends." Former USTA President Phil Langley has fond memories of his time working together with Mr. Pawlak. "No matter what the circumstance John was enthusiastic about life and especially harness racing," said Langley. "We spent many years together at the USTA and his writings and announcing always gave us a positive feeling about our sport. He was at his best at World Trotting Conferences no matter what the country and especially covering the World Driving Championship. He was so well thought of by the people from other countries they made him a life member. The last few years have been tough for John and Kris but whenever I talked to him, he was upbeat. Go in peace John!" An Ohio native, Mr. Pawlak attended Bowling Green State University, where he majored in marketing while also studying broadcasting and journalism. After graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1971, Mr. Pawlak went to work for WTOL-TV, the CBS affiliate television station in Toledo, Ohio, as a reporter and photographer. In 1973, he was promoted to sports anchor on the weekends and a sports reporter during the week but was also involved in harness racing by doing freelance jobs and voice-over work for Raceway Park. In 1978 when there were wholesale changes at his TV station, Mr. Pawlak was hired by Raceway Park and did some odd jobs until he took over the announcer's job in March 1979. During his time as announcer, he also assisted the track's publicist with promotions, advertising and public relations. After about a year, he was named the publicist at Raceway Park and eventually traded in his announcer's microphone to focus on his publicity and marketing duties. Mr. Pawlak joined the USTA in 1985 as the director of publicity. For his work at the USTA, he was well known for both his writing and editing as well as his broadcasting. He was responsible for compiling and editing The Trotting & Pacing Guide, the definitive annual fact book on North American harness racing and the historical USTA Directors book. With his television background, Mr. Pawlak was the face of the USTA and led the organization into the age of online video and served as the host of the USTA's popular "Eye on Harness Racing" series. Mr. Pawlak was ever present at many harness racing events including the Little Brown Jug, the annual USTA Board of Directors meetings, district meetings and county fairs. But he also was known world-wide for his work coordinating the biennial World Driving Championship and the World Trotting Conference. Mr. Pawlak retired from the USTA in 2013. After a career that spanned 35 years, Mr. Pawlak was inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame in 2014. In addition to his induction into the Hall of Fame, the multiple award-winning Mr. Pawlak won the North American Harness Publicist's Golden Pen Award in 1993, the Harness Horsemen International's 2010 Clyde Hirt Media Award and in 2011 was voted a lifetime member of the International Trotting Association, one of only 20 individuals to receive that honor in the 30-year history of that group. From the USTA Media Department  

With a deadline of this Friday, Dec. 20, there are only a few days left to submit nominations for the 2019 Caretaker of the Year. The award, sponsored by Fair Island Farm 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. With the deadline looming, nominations should be made by email (by Dec. 20) to Committee chairman Tim Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com. Any caretaker working for any stable or farm in North America is eligible to win the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award. All that is needed to nominate is an email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. The Fair Island Farm 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. 23, 2020, 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. 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. From the United States Harness Writers Association  

Nominations are still being accepted for the 2019 Caretaker of the Year. The award, sponsored by Art Zubrod and Leah Cheverie's Fair Island Farm 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 Hard Rock Northfield Park and USHWA, with Fair Island Farm coming on this year. "We have been presenting trophies to the winning caretakers during the Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile for a couple of years now, so we are very honored and happy to be able to now recognize the national Caretaker of the Year," said Zubrod. The Fair Island Farm 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. 23, 2020, 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. "Caretakers are the day-to-day unsung heroes of the industry, long before and after the spotlight of the grandstand lights," said USHWA President Shawn Wiles. "This cadre toils in anonymity, not looking for a pat on the back, but always looking out for the best interests of their charges health and welfare. We are fortunate to have many outstanding caretakers in our industry to look after our equine athletes." Any caretaker working for any stable or farm in North America is eligible to be the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year. All that is needed 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 Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, and sent to chairman Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com or mailed to Tim Bojarski, 7523 Maple Road, Akron, N.Y. 14001. (USHWA) From the United States Harness Writers Association

The best of harness racing journalism in 2019 will be honored by the U.S. Harness Writers Association with the John Hervey Awards for writing, Sam McKee Award for broadcasting, and George Smallsreed Awards for photography. The deadline for entries is extended 24 hours, to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10. Entries will be accepted for news/commentary writing, feature writing, broadcasting, race photography and feature photography. Entries published or broadcast between Dec. 1, 2018 and Nov. 30, 2019, are eligible. All entries must be in English. Judges in each category will select a winner and, where appropriate, up to two honorable mentions. There are no entry fees or cash prizes. Winners will be announced in January and will be recognized at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's annual Dan Patch Awards festivities Feb. 23 in Orlando. Winners will receive a plaque/trophy as well as two tickets to the Dan Patch Awards dinner. Photo and written submissions must have appeared in a paid-circulation publication or on the website that is the same-name affiliate of a paid-circulation publication, recognized broadcast news organization, or established industry/news website. Content that appeared on personal websites, message boards or lists, and similar entities is not valid for inclusion in the competition. The final decision on eligibility is in the hands of the Hervey Committee. Broadcast entries will be an accepted feature or live racing segment no longer than 10 minutes. The entry must have aired on a network television or cable station, recognized news and/or industry website, or have been included in a racetrack's simulcasting presentation. Documentaries or other long-form productions are not eligible although one segment of that documentary, edited only to fit the length limitations of no more than 10 minutes, may be submitted for consideration. The awards are not open to entries that are fiction, in the form of Q&As, or were prepared for commercial purposes (for advertisements/promo/publicity purposes). There is a limit of one submission per person per category. A person may enter more than one category, but not with the same submission. An entry may only be submitted in one category and the category must be indicated clearly. The Hervey Committee, at its discretion, may disqualify an entry at any time in the process, and reserves the right not to bestow an award in a particular category based on the quality and quantity of entries. All entries must originate with the author/photographer/producer and must include a signed cover letter expressing the wish to enter materials in the contest and granting permission for the materials to be used for promoting the awards in press releases. The letter must also include the following contact information for the writer/producer/photographer: name, full address, telephone numbers (home, office, cell) and email address. The letter must also include the date that the media organization published/aired the submission and specify the category for which the entry is being submitted. Editors may submit entries provided the cover letter includes contact information for the writer/producer/photographer as well as for the person submitting the entry. All other third-party entries will be rejected. Written entries must specify the category - news or feature - for consideration. All print entries must include a tear sheet of the entry (a PDF is acceptable) as it appeared in print and a plain text version with no identifying information (bylines, publication name, graphs, photos or other graphic elements). Broadcast entries must not exceed 10 minutes and must not contain commercials. Each submission (one per person or organization) should have a cover letter. Submissions can be in the form of a mailed DVD or provided via a file-sharing service. Photography entries must include a cover letter designating the category for the photo - race or feature - and a tear sheet of the published photo, showing the date, name of publication and photographer's name. Tear sheets for Internet-based submissions will consist of a screen shot. Photographs should not be digitally enhanced beyond the basics needed to achieve realistic color balance and sharpness. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification. Photographs may be sent via email. If mailed, three prints of the entry must be provided. The decisions of the Hervey Committee and the judges are final. Email entries, or file shared for broadcast, should be sent to Ken Weingartner, chairman of the Hervey Committee, at ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com. by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA  

HARRISBURG, PA - Nicholas J. Saponara, a member of the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame, and a past president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, an organization to which he belonged for 57 years, passed away on Saturday after health issues. A graduate of Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia in 1957, that same year Saponara joined the sports department of the Philadelphia Bulletin, at that time the major evening newspaper of the Greater Philadelphia metro area. He worked for the Bulletin for 25 years, and he served as the handicapper and morning line oddsmaker for the tracks covered by the Bulletin, also making the official track morning line at Brandywine, Liberty Bell, Atlantic City Harness, and the Keystone thoroughbred track. Saponara was a co-founder of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Harness Writers in 1962, and served many years as the chapter's secretary. He served as national President of USHWA for three years, 1980-1983, and sat on the association Board of Directors for 29 years. Nick was also the driving force in spreading the annual national awards dinner beyond its traditional New York City home, and was the organizer behind many successful events, notably having the famed Philadelphia Mummers perform at an Atlantic City gathering. Saponara was also a harness horse owner, along with longtime friend Marv Bachrad. They entrusted their horses to an up-and-coming French-Canadian horsemen named Herve Filion, and they enjoyed the success rate that Herve enjoyed as a rising comet in the sport. Saponara also owned thoroughbred horses, and was a member of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association board of directors. In September of 2019, Parx thoroughbred track honored Saponara with inclusion into its Hall of Fame (video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=bFGtP_A3ss0). A viewing for Mr. Saponara will take place this Wednesday, December 11, at St. Ephrem Church, 5340 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem PA, from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. A funeral mass will follow at 11:30 a.m. Burial will take place at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 3301 W. Cheltenham Ave., Cheltenham PA. by Jerry Connors, for USHWA

The best of harness racing journalism in 2019 will be honored by the U.S. Harness Writers Association with the John Hervey Awards for writing, Sam McKee Award for broadcasting, and George Smallsreed Awards for photography. The deadline for entries is 5 p.m. Dec. 9. Entries will be accepted for news/commentary writing, feature writing, broadcasting, race photography and feature photography. Entries published or broadcast between Dec. 1, 2018 and Nov. 30, 2019, are eligible. All entries must be in English. Judges in each category will select a winner and, where appropriate, up to two honorable mentions. There are no entry fees or cash prizes. Winners will be announced in January and will be recognized at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's annual Dan Patch Awards festivities Feb. 23 in Orlando. Winners will receive a plaque/trophy as well as two tickets to the Dan Patch Awards dinner. Photo and written submissions must have appeared in a paid-circulation publication or on the website that is the same-name affiliate of a paid-circulation publication, recognized broadcast news organization, or established industry/news website. Content that appeared on personal websites, message boards or lists, and similar entities is not valid for inclusion in the competition. The final decision on eligibility is in the hands of the Hervey Committee. Broadcast entries will be an accepted feature or live racing segment no longer than 10 minutes. The entry must have aired on a network television or cable station, recognized news and/or industry website, or have been included in a racetrack's simulcasting presentation. Documentaries or other long-form productions are not eligible although one segment of that documentary, edited only to fit the length limitations of no more than 10 minutes, may be submitted for consideration. The awards are not open to entries that are fiction, in the form of Q&As, or were prepared for commercial purposes (for advertisements/promo/publicity purposes). There is a limit of one submission per person per category. A person may enter more than one category, but not with the same submission. An entry may only be submitted in one category and the category must be indicated clearly. The Hervey Committee, at its discretion, may disqualify an entry at any time in the process, and reserves the right not to bestow an award in a particular category based on the quality and quantity of entries. All entries must originate with the author/photographer/producer and must include a signed cover letter expressing the wish to enter materials in the contest and granting permission for the materials to be used for promoting the awards in press releases. The letter must also include the following contact information for the writer/producer/photographer: name, full address, telephone numbers (home, office, cell) and email address. The letter must also include the date that the media organization published/aired the submission and specify the category for which the entry is being submitted. Editors may submit entries provided the cover letter includes contact information for the writer/producer/photographer as well as for the person submitting the entry. All other third-party entries will be rejected. Written entries must specify the category - news or feature - for consideration. All print entries must include a tear sheet of the entry (a PDF is acceptable) as it appeared in print and a plain text version with no identifying information (bylines, publication name, graphs, photos or other graphic elements). Broadcast entries must not exceed 10 minutes and must not contain commercials. Each submission (one per person or organization) should have a cover letter. Submissions can be in the form of a mailed DVD or provided via a file-sharing service. Photography entries must include a cover letter designating the category for the photo - race or feature - and a tear sheet of the published photo, showing the date, name of publication and photographer's name. Tear sheets for Internet-based submissions will consist of a screen shot. Photographs should not be digitally enhanced beyond the basics needed to achieve realistic color balance and sharpness. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification. Photographs may be sent via email. If mailed, three prints of the entry must be provided. The decisions of the Hervey Committee and the judges are final. Email entries, or file shared for broadcast, are encouraged. Email entries should be sent to ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com. Mailed entries should be sent to Ken Weingartner, 425 S. Main St., Hightstown, NJ 08520. Questions can be directed to Ken Weingartner, chairman of the Hervey Committee, at the above email address. by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA  

Akron, NY --- Please note that due to a change in our hosting package with web.com, there has been some delays in getting our .org and .com web extensions functional with the modifications we have made. As a result, www.ushwa.net is currently the only way to access our website.   We are working with web.com to rectify this issue and hope to have all three extensions up and running properly in the near future.   By Tim Bojarski, for USHWA

GOSHEN, NY - Results from the balloting for harness racing's highest honor, membership in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, and from the balloting for the Communicators Hall of Fame, have been tabulated and certified. Four candidates have received the sport's highest honor, election into the Harness Racing Hall Of Fame: Tom Charters, of the Hambletonian Society and Breeders Crown; Jeff Gural, racetrack executive and owner/breeder; Bill Popfinger, a respected horseman for over half a century; and Tim Tetrick, who has set new standards for harness racing sulky success before reaching the age of 40. In addition, Phil Pikelny, noted primarily as an author and a publicist for the U.S. Trotting Association and Columbus (OH)'s Scioto Downs, and Ken Weingartner, the USTA's Media Relations Manager, have been elected into the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame. The Hall of Famers achieved their distinction by getting 75%+ of the "yes-no" ballots distributed in mid-summer; eligible for voting for the Hall of Famers were qualified members of USHWA and the existing Hall of Fame members. Those on the ballot were decided by the USHWA Screening Committee from the nominations of the Writers' chapters. Tom Charters worked his way through the ranks in harness racing, starting out as a caretaker (among his charges was Horse of the Year Delmonica Hanover) before becoming a racing secretary. In 1984 the Hambletonian Society hired Charters as executive director of the Breeders Crown, a newly-created series of season-end championship races, and his work in establishing the Crowns as signature events led to his being named executive director of the Society in 1994, then being promoted in 1998 to president and chief executive officer. Charters' tireless work in such diverse fields as increasing racing handle, simulcasting and television production, international racing, and brand name establishment, plus the temperament to juggle all of these jobs along with dealing the wide range of personalities at the highest levels of the sport, firmly established him as one of the captains of the industry. Jeff Gural was a longtime racing fan, owner, and breeder, associated with Allerage Farms, Little E LLC, and other equine partnerships, along with proprietorship of New York's Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs racetracks, when he undertook the monumental task of leading the privatization of the sport's flagship track in North America, The Meadowlands, away from a state-run operation of New Jersey. Enlisting the aid of many of the sport's top figures in addition to large investments of his own money, time, and expertise, Gural has been the directing force of the revitalization of the mile oval, with a new grandstand built on the old backstretch side of the track, a facility and the parallel racing program aimed squarely at maximizing revenue for all of racing's interlinked parties in today's changing, challenging gaming environment. Bill Popfinger has been a horseman for over 50 years, going from success at smaller tracks to operating a powerful Grand Circuit stable, and he continues his winning tradition today. Popfinger first hit the harness limelight 50 years when he guided Lady B Fast to an upset win over the great trotters Fresh Yankee and Nevele Pride at Yonkers, and he cemented his stardom with his famous daring early move to the lead with Happy Escort, "the lights on, the horn honking, and the pedal to the metal," to defeat heavy favorites Falcon Almahurst and Flight Director in the 1978 Little Brown Jug raceoff. That quote also cemented Popfinger's nickname of "Showbiz," and over the years he campaigned such marquee horses as Happy Motoring, Praised Dignity, Spellbound Hanover, Say Hello, and Spicy Charlie. Tim Tetrick, at age 37, has already become one of only four drivers to have driven the winners of over $200 million in his career, and few doubt he will contend for the top spot, John Campbell's $299M+ career total, before all is done - after all, any possible mishaps may not slow a man who already has two "bionic hips" after replacement surgery. Also the single-season money recordholder for a driver with $19.7M in 2008, Tetrick also produces quantity with quality, driving his 11,000th winner earlier this year, putting him ninth all-time, fifth among active drivers, and second in the 2019 dashwinning standings. The list of top horses associated with Tetrick is too long to mention here, but it is fairly safe to say that when it comes to Breeders Crown time and the selection of year-end awardwinners, the name "Tetrick" will be associated with several of the champions. To determine the Communicators Hall of Famers, chapter nominees were whittled down to five finalists by a blue-ribbon panel of USHWAns, and then the organization's directors selected two of that quintet for placement on the summer election ballot. They too were elected by winning 75%+ of the "yes-no" ballots returned, with all Active members of USHWA eligible to vote. Phil Pikelny was first noticed by harness executive Stan Bergstein while still at Northwestern University. He worked for the Horseman and Fair World, then at age 23 he became the youngest national publicity director in any sport when joining the U.S. Trotting Association. During that period he authored, with Don Evans, the book Rambling Willie: The Horse That God Loved, about the sport's first double millionaire, who had his earnings tithed to an Ohio church. He then was publicity director at Scioto Downs for a number of years. He was the president of the Harness Publicists Association, and the president of the Ohio Chapter of USHWA. Ken Weingartner first went to the harness races with his father "before I could walk," and upon returning to his native New Jersey after college and early newspaper work, his harness racing stories attracted the notice of the U.S. Trotting Association, for whom he now works as Media Relations Manager, writing stories about the leading horses and humans in the sport and conducting the national Top 10 weekly balloting. He received the Allen Finkelson Golden Pen Award for excellence in harness racing publicity, and also has been honored by Harness Horsemen International. The honorees will first be publicly honored at the USHWA Dan Patch Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, where the Halls of Famers will take their first ensemble bow during the banquet honoring the top humans and equines of the previous year's racing. Then comes next July 5's formal induction to the Halls of Fame, at a dinner set just outside the building in which their likeness will be placed to immortalize their selection as harness racing's best of the best. From the United States Harness Writers Association  

This year’s Hall of Fame Weekend was another great event, as the large incoming class pushed this year’s attendance to well over 325 on a typical hot Goshen July weekend.  This year the Hall of Fame welcomed the incoming class of Blair Burgess, Ted Gewertz, Joe Holloway, Jerry Silverman, Linda Toscano and Ted Wing.  Congratulations to our very own Dave Little and Mark Hall for their induction to the Communicators Hall of Fame. It was the culmination of months of planning and hard work for Janet Terhune and her staff, who pulled it off to perfection.  Hall Of Fame 2020 The USHWA HOF Screening Committee decided that the ballot candidates for the Class of 2020 would be Tom Charters, Jeff Gural, Billy Popfinger and Tim Tetrick. The CHOF nominees are Phil Pikelny and Ken Weingartner, as decided at the USHWA national meetings in Florida.  HOF Screening Committee 2019 While I usually adhere to the theory of not stirring the mud with a controversial topic, I feel that I must be proactive and put to rest any rumors or innuendos concerning the USHWA HOF Screening Committee who have come under social media fire for the recent HOF nominees.  I am specifically addressing the issues of the appearance or perceptions of insider influence in respect to Jeff Gural and Tom Charter being nominated to the HOF.  The Chairman and the Committee were cognizant of the potential ramifications and showed poise and foresight: they went to great lengths to avoid any actual or perceived conflicts of interest. The Committee followed protocol and worked from the list of nominees that was sent in by the Chapters. Screening Committee Chairman Jason Settlemoir immediately announced to the Committee that he was going to recuse himself during the discussions and voting for Jeff Gural, and at this point Bob Heyden followed suit and did the same. They both left the room during the discussions and were not present during the voting.  Moira Fanning also recused herself from the discussions and vote when Tom Charters’ name came up.  As a silent observer to this meeting, I can say the Chairman and Committee members displayed character and integrity. USHWA cannot control the external voices from any naysayers. The nominated candidates were selected on their own merit and laurels and did not need any “help.”  HOF  - CHOF Ballot Material   In the next few weeks, you will be receiving the Hall Of Fame balloting materials (for all eligible to vote in this election) and the Communicators Hall Of Fame balloting materials (all USHWAns are eligible to vote for the CHOF). Carefully read the instructions. You must make one selection per candidate – YES, NO, or ABSTAIN. If you have any questions, please reach out to me, secretary Jerry Connors or your Chapter president.  USHWA Donation  USHWA National made its annual donation of $5,000 to the Harness Racing Museum during the HOF dinner.  Museum Director Janet Terhune expressed her sincere appreciation on behalf of herself and the Museum.   Monticello – Goshen Chapter of USHWA  The Monticello – Goshen Chapter also donated to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame during a winners circle presentation during Hall of Fame Weekend in the amount of $4,000.  Raffle Items  Last year’s raffle and silent auction items were deep in quantity and quality -- many thanks to all who had a hand in this! We need to duplicate these efforts again this year.  It is not too early to start thinking about securing items!  I will start it off by donating a 27 x 25 NY Jets signed framed photo of Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson.  HOY – POY – TOY and Divisional honors  This year the USTA will not be tabulating the year-end horse honors – USHWA gives many thanks to Paul Ramlow, who has handled this important task for many years in the past. USHWA treasurer Barry Lefkowitz has worked very hard in searching for and securing a reputable firm that will handle that voting this year.  This year’s voting format will look and feel different from what we have all been accustomed to over the past few years. This type of voting process may be expanded to the human award winners as well down the line.    Breeders Crown   The Breeders Crown Finals are at Woodbine/Mohawk Raceway and will be raced on October 25-26. The tempo will quicken for the organization as year-end equine and human award voting will come shortly after that. It might be good for Chapters to look ahead at the stakes calendar and the “regular” calendar and start trying to schedule a meeting to discuss the year-end equine and human awards nominations.    Shawn Wiles

GOSHEN NY - Tom Charters, Jeff Gural, Bill Popfinger, and Tim Tetrick have been selected by the Hall of Fame Screening Committee of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) as ballot candidates for this summer's election vote toward harness racing's highest honor, membership in the sport's Hall of Fame. The chapters of USHWA, the sport's leading media organization, nominate deserving candidates based on prepared biographical information and discussion within the chapters. This list of names is then considered by the USHWA Screening Committee, with consultation with several Hall of Fame members, on Hall of Fame Day, the first Sunday in July at Goshen, and they then select the candidates for that year's balloting, with the provision that anyone connected to a candidate is excluded from the discussion of and vote on that candidate's viability. A person must receive 75% of the yes-no voted of the USHWAns eligible to vote and the current Hall of Fame members in order to join the Goshen pantheon. Tom Charters worked his way through the ranks in harness racing, starting out as a caretaker (among his charges was Horse of the Year Delmonica Hanover) before becoming a racing secretary. In 1984 the Hambletonian Society hired Charters as executive director of the Breeders Crown, a newly-created series of season-end championship races, and his work in establishing the Crowns as signature events led to his being named executive director of the Society in 1994, then being promoted in 1998 to president and chief executive officer. Charters' tireless work in such diverse fields as increasing racing handle, simulcasting and television production, international racing, and brand name establishment, plus the temperament to juggle all of these jobs along with dealing the wide range of personalities at the highest levels of the sport, firmly established him as one of the captains of the industry. Tom Charters Jeff Gural was a longtime racing fan, owner, and breeder, associated with Allerage Farms, Little E LLC, and other equine partnerships, along with proprietorship of New York's Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs racetracks, when he undertook the monumental task of leading the privatization of the sport's flagship track in North America, The Meadowlands, away from a state-run operation of New Jersey. Enlisting the aid of many of the sport's top figures in addition to large investments of his own money, time, and expertise, Gural has been the directing force of the revitalization of the mile oval, with a new grandstand built on the old backstretch side of the track, a facility and the parallel racing program aimed squarely at maximizing revenue for all of racing's interlinked parties in today's changing, challenging gaming environment. Jeff Gural Bill Popfinger has been a horseman for over 50 years, going from success at smaller tracks to operating a powerful Grand Circuit stable, and he continues his winning tradition today - a trainee of his won at Pocono on Monday. Popfinger first hit the harness limelight 50 years when he guided Lady B Fast to an upset win over the great trotters Fresh Yankee and Nevele Pride at Yonkers, and he cemented his stardom with his famous daring early move to the lead with Happy Escort, "the lights on, the horn honking, and the pedal to the metal," to defeat heavy favorites Falcon Almahurst and Flight Director in the 1978 Little Brown Jug raceoff. That quote also cemented Popfinger's nickname of "Showbiz," and over the years he campaigned such marquee horses as Happy Motoring, Praised Dignity, Spellbound Hanover, Say Hello, and Spicy Charlie. Bill Popfinger Tim Tetrick, at age 37, has already become one of only four drivers to have driven the winners of over $200 million in his career, and few doubt he will contend for the top spot, John Campbell's $299M+ career total, before all is done - after all, any possible mishaps may not slow a man who already has two "bionic hips" after replacement surgery. Also the single-season money recordholder for a driver with $19.7M in 2008, Tetrick also produces quantity with quality, driving his 11,000th winner earlier this year, putting him ninth all-time, fifth among active drivers, and second in the 2019 dashwinning standings. The list of top horses associated with Tetrick is too long to mention here, but it is fairly safe to say that when it comes to Breeders Crown time and the selection of year-end awardwinners, the name "Tetrick" will be associated with several of the champions. Tim Tetrick Charters, Gural, Popfinger, and Tetrick will be joined on the ballot by Phil Pikelny, former author and publicist, and Ken Weingartner, media relations manager for the USTA, the two ballot candidates for the Communicators Hall of Fame selected by USHWA directors at their annual meetings this past February. United States Harness Writers Association

Pompano Beach, FL --- Steven Wolf, president of the Florida chapter of the United States Harness Racing Writers Association (USHWA), has announced that the chapter is now accepting applications for its 2019 Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Awards. 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. Preference for these scholarship awards will be given to a student majoring in journalism, communications or veterinarian related studies. 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. Applicants must have demonstrated scholastic ability with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 and show evidence of community service and leadership through certificates, awards and/or letters of commendation. Fully completed applications must be postmarked no later than June 3, 2019, for consideration of a July 2019 award. Recipients may reapply annually for a maximum of four years. Applications should be submitted/addressed to the Florida Chapter USHWA, Scholarship Committee, 3508 Sahara Springs Blvd., Pompano Beach, FL 33069. For more information or to receive an application on the internet, contact via e-mail to Thomas H. Hicks at renparlc@gate.net or Steven Wolf at stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. From the Florida Chapter of USHWA    

Harness racing is cashing a winning trifecta as the United States Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards banquet will return to Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., for the third year in a row in 2020. The banquet, which honors the best equines and humans in the sport, will take place on Sunday night, Feb. 23. Rosen Shingle Creek played host to the Dan Patch Award weekend for the first time in 2018 and proved such a popular venue the past two years that it was unanimously voted to again return to the stunning 230-acre property. After four-star reviews of the last two dinners, including a surprise appearance by Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award winner Foiled Again this year that many proclaimed one of the most memorable moments ever in racing, it's never too early for sponsorship opportunities that are available. To inquire about sponsorship opportunities for the weekend, including Dan Patch Presenting Sponsor, live video streaming sponsor, Red Carpet reception and live feed sponsor hosted by Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, please contact USHWA President Shawn Wiles at: swiles@empireresorts.com. "USHWA is ecstatic to return to Rosen Shingle Creek for the third consecutive year," said Wiles. "This is a first-class venue that our dinner quests and attendees thoroughly enjoy coming to." USHWA would again like to thank this year's sponsors, which included: McWicked; Crazy Wow & Crawford Farms; Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association; Southwind Frank Partners; Shartin N connections; AM Bloodstock; Six Pack connections; Harrah's Hoosier Park; Delaware Valley USHWA; Bow River Jewelry; Fennell's Tack Shop; Embroidery Unlimited; Nick Surick, the Hambletonian Society; George Brennan; Hanover Shoe Farms; and the United States Trotting Association. All the award winners will be announced in advance of the dinner except for Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year. The names of those three prestigious award winners will remain sealed in envelopes and revealed at the conclusion of the dinner. As for Rosen Shingle Creek, the site is located just off Universal Boulevard, within 10 minutes of the Orlando International Airport and minutes from all area attractions. Rosen Shingle Creek is a five-star property that is ranked a top-20 U.S. meeting hotel by Cvent. The property includes an 18-hole, Arnold Palmer-redesigned golf course, four swimming pools, a spa that includes nine treatment rooms, two lighted tennis courts, sand volleyball, basketball and a state-of-the-art fitness center. There are 15 restaurant/lounges located on the property, including the upscale steakhouse A Land Remembered, the fine-dining bistro Cala Bella, Banrai Sushi, Mi Casa Tequila Taqueria, and a 24-hour deli. As part of the weekend, USHWA's annual general membership meeting will take place earlier on Sunday morning, with its board of directors meeting the previous afternoon on Saturday, Feb. 22. More details will be made available at the USHWA website and through trade media as they become available throughout the year. From the United States Harness Writers Association  

HARRISBURG PA - Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred racehorse of all time with $7,635,588 and now retired from the racetrack, caused a sensation at the recent Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Orlando FL when the now 15-year-old actually showed up at the harness racing fancy dinner to "accept" the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award he was voted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) for outstanding contributions to the sport. And Foiled Again is now receiving another award - the Mary Lib Miller Award, the highest honor given by the Keystone Chapter of USHWA, for his unmatched career as racehorse and ambassador. It's not like Foiled Again has never been honored before by Keystone USHWA - he was the journalists' PA-Sired Horse of the Year from 2011 to 2013, the same three years he was voted national division champion for the free-for-allers. But the group thought to mark the retirement of the evergreen pacer, whose last campaign was a barnstorming Farewell Tour which took him to 19 different racetracks, by voting him its highest award, especially an award named after the ever-present and gracious mate of "Mr. Harness Racing" himself, Hall of Famer Delvin Miller. McWicked, the 1:46.2 pacer who was 2018's Harness Horse of the Year and led all competitors with seasonal earnings of $1,575,364, got the nod for PA-Sired Horse of the Year as well - he was also voted co-PA Sire Stakes Horse of the Year by the Keystone Chapter four years ago. The breeders of McWicked, the Prushnok family of Andray Farms in western Pennsylvania, will receive the Pennsylvania Breeder of the Year award for having producing harness racing's top 2018 performer. The only two Pennsylvania Sire Stakes performers who led their division in preliminary point accumulation and then went on to win their respective finals, the three-year-old males Dorsoduro Hanover (pace) and Crystal Fashion (trot), were picked as the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horses of the Year for their respective gaits. The duo were two of the top four moneywinners in the sulky sport last year; Dorsoduro Hanover also won his Breeders Crown event at Pocono en route to being named divisional champion. For Pennsylvania Harness Horse of the Year honors (50%+ of starts within Pennsylvania), the world's fastest trotter, Homicide Hunter (1:48.4 at Lexington in the fall), was the consensus champion. Homicide Hunter won his Breeders Crown at Pocono, and he also took four legs of the Great Northeast Open Series before setting a world record over 1¼ miles in the GNOS Championship. In a close race between former honorees, George Napolitano Jr. edged out Aaron Merriman for Pennsylvania Driver of the Year. Merriman was named 2018 North American Driver of the Year for being the first sulkysitter to post 1000+ victories in two years, but Aaron won "only" 262 of those races in Pennsylvania, while Napolitano won 637 times within the confines of the Keystone State, taking his fifth straight crown at Harrah's Philadelphia and his seventh consecutive title at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Schadel brothers, Todd and Tony, both earned a place in the spotlight during 2018. Todd was the leading trainer and driver at the PA fairs by a wide margin to earn election as Pennsylvania Fair Horseman of the Year; he also captured a North American title with the highest UDR in the 300-499 starts class. Tony was driver and co-owner of the two-year-old Aflame Hanover, who in winning his Fair Championship posted a clocking of 1:51.4 - the fastest time ever in a Pennsylvania Fair Championship, faster even than any three-year-old; for that milestone, Aflame Hanover was voted a Special Achievement Award. These honorees will be presented their trophies by members of Keystone USHWA during trackside ceremonies at their respective ovals, or when they come to Pennsylvania, within the next couple of months.   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 its annual meetings at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL for the second consecutive year this past Saturday and Sunday. The writers' meetings were held in conjunction with the group's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, which on Sunday evening celebrated the best of brightest of the sport during the 2018 racing campaign (including an attending "mystery guest" - more on him near the end). Saturday's meeting gathered the organization's board of directors, while Sunday's session was an open gathering for all of USHWA's members. The major by-law change passed by the USHWA directors gave a fuller oversight authority to the group's Integrity Committee, who now is empowered to take action during all stages of all of the awards processes, from the start of the nominations all the way through and beyond the awarding of any honors. As a result of discussion during the meetings, two new USHWA Committees were formed. A proposal to transfer final decisionmaking power on journalists to appear on the annual Communicators Hall of Fame ballot, which would have shifted that authority from the Directors to the Hall of Fame Screening Committee, was after a multifaceted discussion tabled pending a report from the new committee to be established to study the matter. Also to be the subject of investigation of a committee was the possibility of producing "past performance line"-type information to aid voters of the various Dan Patch Equine Awards at year's end. USHWA continued its recent trend of financial responsibility and income production during 2018, showing a profit for the second straight year. Prospects for 2019 also received an early boost from the excellent sale of journal ads, sponsorships, and tickets surrounding the weekend's Dan Patch Awards Banquet. As reported earlier, the Directors voted Ken Weingartner, media relations manager for the U.S. Trotting Association, and Phil Pikelny, former publicity director at the USTA and several tracks and also co-author of the book Rambling Willie: The Horse That God Loved, as ballot candidates for this summer's election for the status of being a member of the Communicators Hall of Fame. The team of Officers in charge of guiding the fortunes of USHWA was returned for another year: Shawn Wiles, of Monticello Raceway, as President; Kim Rinker, of the Ohio Sire Stakes and Ohio Standardbred Development Fund, as Vice-President; and freelance communicators Barry Lefkowitz and Jerry Connors as, respectively, treasurer and secretary. The fifth Officer, the multitasking Tim Bojarski, remains as Chair of the Board, as that position is defined in the USHWA bylaws as the immediate past president of the organization. At the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, USHWA's Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award, the highest honor voted on solely by the organization's members and given for longtime distinguished service to the sport, was bestowed on the top moneywinning Standardbred of all time, the $7,635,588 earner Foiled Again. And the banquet crowd was roused to a standing ovation when the 15-year-old Foiled Again, now in retirement, was himself walked into the banquet hall , displaying the equanimity (or should that be "equinimity"?) which had endeared him to so many harness fans on both sides of the fence during his long and illustrious career. McWicked, the leading moneywinner of the 2018 season, took home both Harness Horse of the Year and Pacer of the Year honors, while the three-year-old filly Atlanta, conqueror of "the boys" in the prestigious Hambletonian Stake, won plaudits as Trotter of the Year on the 2018 racing scene. Also on hand to be honored were Ted Gewertz, Joe Holloway, Jerry Silverman, and Linda Toscano upon their election to the sport's highest honor, the Hall of Fame, along with Mark Hall and Dave Little, who were voted into the Communicators Hall of Fame. This group will join with Hall of Fame electees Blair Burgess and Ted Wing to be formally inducted on the seventh of July at the site of the sport's Hall, Goshen NY.   Jerry Connors

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