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Amidst the current controversy concerning the use of the word “God” in a race horse’s name, I have taken pen in hand to explain the mistake I have made concerning the Harnesslink “Name Pinky’s Foal Contest” of the past few days. I was the one who came up with the idea for the contest, procured the prizes and set up the promotion. It was never intended to have this outcome. I should have called Standardbred Canada and checked with Registrar Linda Bedard on the eligibility of the names of the six finalists before Sunday’s announcement at Flamboro Downs. I did not do that and I am wrong for not doing so. It might have saved all this commotion from happening. Then again, it may not have. That being said, I still feel adamant that both organizations, whom have stated that not permitting the use of the word “God” or a religious statement in a horse’s name has been “unofficially” instrumented for years, is still wrong. The USTA posted a story yesterday saying I was irresponsible and misleading and that was not the case. I was told by SC to check the names with the USTA and I did that. We did talk a lot and there was confusion as per the horse being bred by a USA stallion but foaled in Canada. The issues here are not as much where the foal must be registered and whom can approve names and whom cannot, but the fact that both organizations stated that they do not want the word God used in a horse’s name and that they do not state that in their official rules. A simple one-line statement in the rules of both organizations explaining this should have been placed in the official rules once the respective boards came up with this concept. It may well happen in the very near future. If not for this occurrence, I would never have known in a thousand years that the word God cannot be used in a horse’s name, as have many other people. It was explained to me that in prior years the word God was allowed and even through both organizations try their best, some improper names still slip by. Improper names, I consider, include Domedomedome, Porno Queen and Nickel Bag as these are totally either sexually explicit or are a pure illegal drug reference. There are many other cases like this in pretty much all breeds of horses that have official registered names. It happens. Many get a good laugh out of them, many are offended by them and have issues when they bring their children to the races and have to hear the announcer shout them out. But when I can look up and see a foal of 2016 (USTA) officially registered with the name, Bythegraceofgod, then I think to myself, what did Sydney Weaver do that is so wrong to not have her Only God Knows Why name rejected? Heck, there is even a very popular stable registered in Canada called "The Stable That God Loves". I apologized to Sydney Weaver and her mom and dad for not doing my due diligence in calling Standardbred Canada or the USTA to get the six finalist names approved before the announcement. While the Weaver’s say I did not do anything wrong, and are still dumfounded that both Standardbred Canada and the USTA would not accept the name because it has the word “God” in it, I still did not do right by them in insuring that the contest would run smoothly as possible. That being said, and with Standardbred Canada saying that God cannot be used in a horse’s name, then can someone explain to me how they could support and have this article/video produced for Standardbred Canada that was up for a major award in 2015? http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/news/3-2-16/so-god-made-racehorse-honoured.html There are two petitions online currently asking Standardbred Canada to allow the name to be used. I have signed both of them, even though one of them incorrectly states the USTA instead of Standardbred Canada. The Weavers have stated they will not end this battle for the name of the foal. I can’t blame them. I just wish people and organizations could get over this problem of being so “politically” correct in trying not to offend everyone that they forget common sense. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Below this article is the harness racing story about the naming of Sydney Weaver’s foal that took place at Flamboro Downs Sunday night. The story had been held up due to the refusal by Standardbred Canada (SC) to allow the name that Sydney Weaver chose to be used. The United States Trotting Association (USTA) also supports Standardbred Canada’s decision. This is because the winning name has the word God in it. Live on the air Sunday, the name Only God Knows Why was announced as the winner of the contest run by Harnesslink. Standardbred Canada’s Manager & Registrar, Linda Bedard, wrote to Harnesslink Monday morning and stated, “It has been brought to my attention that the winning name for "name Pinky's foal contest" is Only God Knows Why. The word "GOD" is not to be used in a horse name. Names for any contest should always be verified by the USTA or SC prior to releasing the winner.” The Weaver’s and Harnesslink gleaned through the rules and regulations and saw nowhere does it mention that God or religious names cannot be used. “There have been names of horses both in Canada and the USTA and in other countries that have God in it.” Said Lisa Weaver, Sydney’s mom. “There is God Only Knows, God Bless America, God Bless The USA, Goddess, Godspeed, Jesus Loves Me and many more God names. This is not right. “I understand that SC and the USTA have a job to do,” Weaver add, “they have to sort through so many names but why isn’t it listed in the rules that the word God or any religious references are not allowed or may be not accepted? We read these rules from top to bottom and it never mentions this. “Yes, they said they have final approval on all names and that we should have called them to check on the finalist’s names,” Weaver said, “but we never dreamed they stopped allowing the word God to be used and they have never updated it in the rules.” Harnesslink went back to SC and the USTA to try again and ask that the name be allowed. The answer from Linda Bedard was, “The rules states "...cannot be obscene or offensive, or endorse any form of hate or hate group". The word GOD can be offensive for some people, personally, I would be offended if a horse would be named "Only Allah Knows Why".  Words or references excluded in name are not listed as the list could be very long and can also change from time to time. There is a 39 year old horse named Terrorist, I remember in late September 2001 someone wanted to call their foal Terrorist and because of the timing the name was rejected. Nowadays, we do have to be very careful regarding religious references and for this reason the name Only God Knows Why will not be approved. While Standardbred Canada continues to work in co-operation with the United States Trotting Association to reserve horse names and reject those names that may be considered offensive or vulgar, the system is not foolproof and from time-to-time certain names do get passed us that are not within the guidelines of our rules, once found and the horse has not yet raced, the name is recalled and the horse is not allowed to race or breed until a new name is submitted. Most of USTA and SC members who are applying for horse names are familiar with the rules of naming horses which are published on both the USTA and SC websites and still hundreds of names are refused every year. Part of the process of naming a foal is to have the name verified and approved, which was not done in your case.” “I see names of horses racing that are offensive to myself and many others,” Lisa Weaver responded, “Names including Domedomedome, Nickle Bag and Porno Queen. Do you think we should allow our children to hear track announcers promoting those types of names at the races? You want to compare those names to using the word God? “When something wonderful happens to Sydney,” said Lisa Weaver, “and there has been times wonderful people cross our paths and we wonder why, and we believe everything happens for a reason -  Only God Knows Why is in the Cambridge Dictionary - dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/god-knows and states:  used to emphasize that you do not understand something at all or have no knowledge of something at all.” “Why is this name so special to Sydney and our family,” Lisa Weaver said, “Is because Sydney has Cerebral Palsy, and all her life when she should ask why did I get this disease, the majority of time the answer she would get was “Only God Knows Why” and that is why this name is so special to her. “You can say that myself and Don are the most upset about all of this,” Weaver said. “Sydney is so great, she never complains, but she was very disappointed when they said she can’t have that name for her foal. I am not looking for anything special because this is Sydney. It’s just not right to not have the word God or any religious names or meanings in a horse’s name listed in the rules.” The Weaver’s said they will now wait and see what other courses of action they may take. Harnesslink has officially named the winner and second place finisher in the contest and will award them their prizes accordingly, regardless of what Sydney Weaver’s foal is named in the future.   Sydney Weaver’s foal now has a name After months of anticipation, owner Sydney Weaver of Acton, Ontario, now has a name for her special mare’s foal, and its Only God Knows Why. Sydney “Pinky” Seelster gave birth to a beautiful filly by Pet Rock on April 11 and Weaver teamed up with Harnesslink to have a contest to allow race fans to name the filly. Top prize for the winning name was a free breeding to two-time world champion pacer, He’s Watching, and the second place finisher would win $500 in free wagers on WatchandWager.com. Flamboro Downs management graciously agreed to host the naming ceremony Sunday night and track announcer Gary Guy cleverly took Weaver’s top six choices for the filly and wove it into a race call.   The six finalist names were Just Pink It, Only God Knows Why, Pinky Promise, Seeled With A Kiss, Tickle Me Pink and When Dreams Are Real. Guy weaved all of the horses into the race and as they came down the stretch in the fictious race, it was Only God Knows Why winning with Seeled With A Kiss second and Tickle Me Pink third. “Tonight was an amazing night,” Sydney Weaver said. “There were so many great names that were submitted and I had a lot of fun going through them all. It was tough to pick just one name. Only God Knows Why was the name I kept coming back to every time I went over the list.” And the winner of the breeding to world champion He’s Watching is John Turnbull of Nova Scotia, Canada. He was the only one who entered the name God Only Knows Why. Turnbull works for Boilermaker Local 73 in Turo and has a small stable of horses with his father. “I knew about the announcement taking place Sunday night at Flamboro,” said John Turnbull, “But I was sound asleep after having just arrived back home after working for days in Fort McMurray in Alberta with the fires. “When I woke up the next morning there was a message from a friend of mine who was watching the races at Flamboro and he sent me a photo showing my name had won. Then there were all these emails and Facebook messages congratulating me. “I first saw the story about the contest to name Sydney’s foal,” Turnbull said. “And I started thinking of different names and remembered that was one of the names for a filly we had foaled last year but did not use it. So I figured I would enter that one. “Wow, it just blew me away that my name was selected by Sydney.” Turnbull added, “Then Sydney called me and congratulated me. That was great to speak with her.” John Turnbull has been involved in harness racing all his life. His father, Frazer Turnbull, has owned, bred and trained and drove horses since the late 1960’s. “I do the training and dad does the driving,” Turnbull said. Can John and his father make good use of the first place He’s Watching free breeding. “Oh yes,” Turnbull said. “My father and I had a decent race mare that we bred, Carol’s June Bug and her first foal is Junebugs Baby, who has made over $85,000 and has a record of 1:55.1. Dad was tickled pink when I told him we won the breeding to He’s Watching. It is perfect timing for the mare too!” The second place prize of $500 in wagering credit from WatchandWager.com went to Brenda Doherty of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Brenda was a former groom and owner who helped break Nononsensewoman as a yearling. She was also an under saddle jockey with Standardbreds. “This is so great,” Doherty said. “I was hoping that Sydney liked the name and I am so pleased even finishing second. I have not been working in harness racing for the last 17 years but still follow the sport and love it. I most certainly will have some fun with the $500 in free bets and thank you Harnesslink and WatchandWager!” “Thank you John Turnbull for submitting the name.” Sydney Weaver added, “Congratulations and hopefully you can come by and see her one of these days, or better yet, come in the winner’s circle when she wins her first race!” The breeding was generously donated by Muscara Racing Trust, Menary Racing, Inc., Brad Gray and Michael Guerriero. I want to thank everyone who submitted a name for the contest,” Weaver said. “You are all so wonderful. And I must thank Steve Wolf and Harnesslink for doing the contest, and Muscara Racing, Dave Menary, Brad Gray and Michael Guerriero for donating the breeding to He’s Watch. Also thank you Flamboro Downs for hosting the name drawing and to WatchandWager for putting up the $500 second place prize. Everyone made this such a special night and fun contest.” Sydney Weaver is 15 years old and resides in Acton, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, groom’s horses, jogs them on the track, owns the Standardbred Sydney Seelster, a Thoroughbred racehorse, has already won major youth writing awards and does public speaking. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

For horse owner Joe Battaglia, a trip to the United States Trotting Association Driving School in 2012 had little to do with becoming a trainer or driver, but everything to do with enhancing his enjoyment of harness racing, not to mention his level of participation. Battaglia, who got his first horse in 2006 and two years ago joined the ownership group of top older male pacer Rockeyed Optimist, attended the USTA Driving School in Goshen, N.Y., not far from his home near Saratoga Springs. It was the first of four consecutive years of the school being conducted in upstate New York. This year, the 17th annual edition of the Driving School will be held at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Delaware, Ohio, home of the Little Brown Jug, June 1-4. The school begins Wednesday evening (June 1) with a welcome reception/dinner and keynote address from George Teague Jr., owner of 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit and trainer of 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue. Classroom and hands-on instruction will be conducted each day Thursday through Saturday. In addition to offering basics for driving and training, the school’s curriculum has been expanded to include information on ownership of Standardbreds. “It was a great experience,” said Battaglia, a CPA who has horses with trainer John Mongeon in Saratoga. “It was a lot of fun. I wanted to be a little more hands on. I like going to the barn. I try to stay out of the way because everyone there knows what they’re doing, but I thought if I could occasionally jog a horse it would be interesting to learn how to do it. “I don’t have any aspirations of driving or training; I think those are beyond my skill level. But it’s fun to know I can take one of my horses out and jog them.” Battaglia grew up going to the Thoroughbred and Standardbred races in Saratoga Springs. When he and some friends decided to give horse ownership a try, they partnered on a harness racing horse. “We started with Standardbreds not knowing where it would go from there,” Battaglia said. “I just really enjoyed the breed and the people I dealt with, so that’s where I stayed. There are options for Thoroughbred ownership up here, but I like the Standardbred game because you can be more hands on, more involved.” In addition to owning horses, Battaglia is the president of Heading for Home Racehorse Retraining/Adoption Center in Saratoga Springs. The not-for-profit organization was founded in 2011 and also features equine-assisted therapy in cooperation with ECS Psychological Services of Saratoga. A therapy arena was constructed with funds raised in memory of horseman Alan Kirschenbaum. Standardbred horse owner Erin Christopher-Sisk founded ECS Psychological Services and serves as clinical director. Her husband, Jim, also attended the USTA Driving School in 2012, as did Heading for Home Treasurer John Cimino. “It was a spinoff of ownership,” Battaglia said about the organization, which currently is home to seven horses, primarily Standardbreds. “We thought there should be an organization formed to better help provide an option for people who wanted to stand behind a horse after their racing days were over. We slowly gathered momentum and now have a permanent location.” Battaglia looks back fondly on his participation in the USTA Driving School and still keeps in touch with a number of people who were involved in the program. “It was nice to be around people who were enthusiastic about the business,” Battaglia said. “The people who worked with us were very nice and very helpful, from the USTA to the people in the barns. I was in (trainer) Rob Harmon’s barn. It was fun to learn the behind-the-scenes aspect of the business. As an owner, being around the barn is as much fun as race day. “It was a great time. I would recommend that anyone interested in the business go try it out.” For more information about this year’s Driving School, or to enroll online, click here. Those interested in attending should not delay; enrollment is limited. Click here to learn about incentives for attending the program. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

In conjunction with BetAmerica and the $50,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship, the U.S. Trotting Association announced that they will sponsor a free, online harness racing qualifying contest at BetAmerica.com on Friday (April 1), with the top 10 finishers earning an entry ($800 value) into the WHHC final to be held at the Meadowlands on Saturday (April 30). TrackMaster will provide free Platinum Plus past performances for the online qualifying contest. Contestants can enter the online qualifying contest for free at BetAmerica.com by clicking here. Players new to BetAmerica can register for free to be able to participate in the contest. The contest format will be the selection of one horse and an alternate, in case of a late scratch, for a $2 Win-Place wager on each race at the Meadowlands on April 1 and will feature the LIVE PLAY option that allows selections for each race to be made up until approximately two minutes to post time. Winning pari-mutuel payouts will be limited to 20-1 ($42) for win and 10-1 ($22) for place. If both selections are scratched, the player will receive the post-time favorite for that race. Entries will be limited to one per player. The 2016 World Harness Handicapping Championship will bring together horseplayers from across North America to compete for $50,000 in prize money (based upon 100 entries) in a one-day contest on April 30. The buy-in fee to enter the WHHC final at the Meadowlands is $800, with $500 for the entry fee and $300 as the contest bankroll. For more information on the 2016 WHHC contest format and rules, click here. BetAmerica.com is the only online licensed and regulated operator offering both pari-mutuel wagering, on more than 300 tracks from across the globe, and handicapping contests every day of the week. Powered by BAM Software's Interactive Platform, in association with Lien Games Racing LLC, BetAmerica holds all required licenses and approvals from applicable racing commissions. All BetAmerica.com wagers are securely commingled into host track betting pools and all winning wagers are paid at full track odds. Members have access to instantaneous wagering and bet verification, free live streaming video, and current track odds. Ken Weingartner USTA Communications Department

U.S. Trotting Association President Phil Langley announced Friday (March 18) that the USTA will make a $5,000 donation to the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association to assist harness racing horsemen involved in the fire at the South Florida Trotting Center near Lake Worth on March 16. The fire led to the death of 12 horses and injuries to many others. "Long ago, in 1960, the stable owned by Billy Johnston and managed by my dad was wiped out in a fire at Maywood Park and I still remember the horrible smell and the sight of burned horses to this day," said Langley. "It was heart-rending. "This is a terrible tragedy for all of the people and horses involved. These are the times when we see the incredible support of others in the harness racing industry and the USTA wants to assist in the fundraising effort for those involved," added Langley. A horse racing online radio program, Post Time with Mike and Mike, quickly set up a GoFund Me account to help the horsemen and the training center that has raised more than $36,000 in the first two days. Anyone wishing to donate to the fund can go to www.gofundme.com/SouthFLTrainingCtr or by visiting www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

A line item on the USTA budget exhibited to the Finance Committee at the recently concluded annual meeting revealed that $15,000 of members’ money was spent to perform Out of Competition testing by the Meadowlands at a lab outside the USA. This is odd to say the least, and is an indication that perhaps we should all be looking a little more closely at the issue of USTA spending and transparency. On this particular issue, while the Meadowlands claims that track management does foreign testing out of its own pocket, it is USTA members’ money that is being used for that purpose. When further inquiry was made, it was revealed that the cost of the Hong Kong tests amounted to an outrageous $600.00 per test. From what I understand, that is far in excess of drug testing costs charged by USA labs, which range from $90.00 to $150.00 per test.  Inasmuch as there are labs in America that are highly competent, one has to wonder why a foreign lab is being used in the first place.  More importantly, why is members’ money being used while track management insists that these tests – purportedly being conducted in the interest of a much heralded need for integrity – are already being paid for by the Meadowlands management? USTA President Langley says that the Board approved the expenditure of USTA funds’ to any track that sought to conduct out of competition testing. Indeed, if such an expenditure was approved by the USTA board, I have since found it difficult to find anyone who remembers such a USTA vote. That said, and assuming that it was duly approved somehow, why didn’t the use of members ' money come with mandatory due process protections for horsemen – such as split sample confirmation testing by an independent USA lab? After all, a portion of that $15,000 given to the Meadowlands for Hong Kong testing, was generated in part from the then accused horsemen's dues and fees. As a membership-elected Director, I sought only to fully understand exactly what was happening with our members’ money and I did not receive an answer I thought satisfactory.   And beyond the issue of transparency on USTA spending itself, there is also the issue of transparency in testing. If there was a split sample and confirmation afforded, then a state commission could conduct an inquiry and let the entire industry know if a rule violation indeed occurred.  If someone actually cheated, shouldn't the entire industry be made aware of it and a US commission therefore be put in a position to penalize some one? Or are we to be satisfied with just one man's pronouncement? On another issue, the USTA has approved (and I supported) the setting aside of up to $120,000 for subsidizing the TV broadcast of major races up to a maximum of $37,000 per track.  While the same limit was in place in 2015, it appears that the number was indeed exceeded for two particular events in 2015. One track received $60,000 and another $56,000, overrides of nearly $23,000 and $19,000 respectively.  While these events are important, I learned that the USTA agreed to cover any overrides on these events. That is obviously troubling and raises the question of whether the directors are being told one thing at the annual meeting and then learn about subsequent decisions long after they are sent home.  At the end of the day, the directors should feel confident that they know who is controlling the expenditures of money and whether any of these expenditures are beyond, or in contravention of, the Board's expressed will. Again, as I can best discern the authority granted was to spend no more than $37,000 per event. In addition to the above, the USTA is about to raise dues and fees in 2018 – – in anticipation of a near $1,000,000 budget deficit in 5 years or so. That increase will come the year after the Board meets in, of all places, Las Vegas, in 2017.  So with that said , what the heck is the USTA doing to justify the expenditure of  budget items like $15,000 for the Meadowlands’ Hong Kong drug testing, overrides for TV expenditures or even $250,000 for high-priced social media initiatives with admittedly no metrics to allow the directors to determine their efficacy? Especially on the heels of a dues and fees increase, if one is necessary for projects deemed necessary and fruitful, one can fully support those. The TV project is “guesstimated” to have reached an estimated 40,000 households out of a US population of 323,000,000, which doesn’t seem worthy of any cost override being absorbed by the USTA or a justification to be part of a dues and fees increase any more than the social media effort can be. The social media expenditure of an even greater sum has no metric except the main proponent’s full court press with uninformed members, and a structured e mail and letter writing campaign that was coupled with the disgraceful last minute intimidation of directors.  On this item, remember that our social media expert told us when we first embarked on this venture that spending money on TV was cost inefficient. However, after the public campaign to make the USTA change its position on TV funding, the expert changed oars and we were told TV was a necessary component to the social media effort. While social media is very important and worth continuing and evaluating, don't we as directors have a responsibility to act as fiduciaries when spending members' money and insure that our social media efforts are worth the expenditure. Are we blindly to follow the presentation and politicking of the party interested in us spending money on social media when there is admittedly no metric to guide us? Is that good economic sense or responsible stewardship of our members’ money? At least the young director from Wisconsin, Gabe Wand, sought to inject some oversight on our social media guru in the future.  Many of us saw an increased role in the future for those very capable employees, like Allison Conte to name just one, at the USTA who do much of the work anyway. By the way, horsemen’s’ associations, track social media outlets and members like Ashley Tetrick and Ryan Macedonio also do great jobs in the social media arena with much less media dollars. I am certain that the position I espouse here will be vociferously attacked, but so be it. In conclusion, the USTA has a responsibility to clearly and transparently demonstrate that our funds are being used well, whether it is a social media campaign, TV overrides, or the arbitrary use of Hong Kong tests.  It seems to me that the USTA may need its stall mucked unless, as some horsemen say, the reality is that USTA actually stands for the United States Track Association. By Joe Faraldo

Jeff Cypher went from the 2015 United States Trotting Association Standardbred Driving School to the winner’s circle. Again and again and again. The 74-year-old Cypher, who lives in Michigan, decided to become a harness racing groom following last year’s school and with the assistance of USTA Director and Driving School mentor Steve Oldford landed with the stable of Kevin and Marie “Ginny” St. Charles. Cypher was nothing more than a harness racing fan when he attended last year’s Driving School, but thanks to his experiences in the program was able to start jogging horses in the St. Charles Stable from Day One. “What I learned at the school expanded into real-life experiences,” said Cypher, who received his trip to Driving School as a Christmas gift from his daughter Becky. “We had a great time at Driving School and I wanted to pick it up one more level. I don’t think I’m going to be a trainer, I’m getting too old for that stuff, but this keeps me out of trouble. I have 12 or 13 win photos from last year, so we’re doing all right.” The 17th annual edition of the USTA Standardbred Driving School will be held at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Delaware, Ohio, home of the Little Brown Jug, June 1-4. The school begins Wednesday evening (June 1) with a welcome reception/dinner and special keynote speaker. Classroom and hands-on instruction will be conducted each day Thursday through Saturday. In addition to offering basics for driving and training, the school’s curriculum has been expanded to include information on ownership of Standardbreds. Registered students will also receive a sales rebate offered by select Standardbred breeders/consignors redeemable upon transfer of ownership of the horse into their name. More details will be made available at a later date. Join the fun and excitement in this one of a kind opportunity for educational and hands-on experience. Participants must be at least 16 years of age. There is a registration fee of $350. Students must provide their own transportation and lodging. Most meals are furnished. Recent editions of the Driving School were conducted at Goshen Historic Track, Mark Ford Training Center, and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. The Cyphers spent their time at the school in the stable of Mark Ford and received instruction from caretaker Christy Turner. Becky, who lives in the state of Washington, also got a groom’s license and helps her father when visiting Michigan. “It’s nice to go to the track and work on the other side of it all; it’s kind of cool,” she said. “Dad just took off with it. They’ve been very good to him and he’s enjoying it.” Added Jeff, “I would highly recommend to anyone to take the school. It really helped me. I found each place you go, everybody kind of has their own style, but we blended pretty well with Ginny and Kevin. I’m not getting paid, but I enjoy doing it. I’m keeping out of trouble.” For more information about this year’s Driving School, or to enroll online, click here. Those interested in attending should not delay; enrollment is limited. by Chip Hastings and Ken Weingartner, the United States Trotting Association

Wellington, FL - Armed with international industry stakeholder support, Sam Stathis--Founder and Chairman of Stathis Enterprises and the World Chariot Racing Federation--is on a mission to save harness racing in Florida before it is too late. The recently proposed "decoupling" legislation has a chance to pass and Stathis explained "This decision could cause a ripple effect with millions of dollars lost in business, agricultural and tax revenues plus thousands of lost jobs and countless number of horses being slaughtered. Not to mention the long term effects to tracks in other states where the same will happen. This could be prove devastating to the world's horse racing industry in the process. "I am completely disappointed that the United States Trotting Association approved $250,000 for market studies and social media and only $10,000 to help save harness racing in Florida." Stathis added, "If decoupling passes in Florida, it would likely spread across all race horse tracks in the USA like wildfire. "I'm putting my money where my mouth is and donating a minimum of $11,000 in cash and $100,000 in services to stop decoupling." Stathis said. When asked about the decoupling legislation's impact on the horse racing economy, 2014 State of Florida CFO candidate William Rankin says, "I am opposed to any legislation that may cause a negative economic, social or environmental impact on the people in the state of Florida. Furthermore, I believe this decision may have unintended consequences that should be analyzed and all involved parties should have a chance to play a part in the ultimate solution." Stathis is calling upon all opponents of the legislation to meet at Pompano Park on Tuesday night. "I am not asking for a donation. Come bet on me, enjoy the races, and let's discuss how we can work together to stop this legislation." Stathis, who is a licensed owner, driver, trainer, will have his work cut out for him Tuesday at Pompano Park. The morning line has both his horses at odds of 12-1. Celebrity Lambo starts from post one in the first race and Celebrity Artemis goes from post four in the seventh race. "With a little luck, I hope to see everyone for a win photo after my races." Stathis added. "I want this story to reach at least one million supporters and to get the legislature to realize what they are doing to Florida is wrong." From the World Chariot Racing Federation Visit www.worldchariot.org    

The USTA donated $10,000 to the fight against decoupling in Florida and a challenge to the election of track directors in Ohio was defeated during the general session of the USTA Board of Directors Annual Meeting Sunday (Feb. 28) at the Hilton-Easton. Chairman Ivan Axelrod opened the session by asking for a moment of silence for Walter “Boots” Dunn, the longtime USTA District 7 director who died on Feb. 3. He was replaced on the board by Rich Gillock, a trainer and president of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. During his address to the board, President Phil Langley gave his comments on new and ongoing issues within the industry. He turned over the dais to Joe Pennacchio, District 6 director from Florida, who educated the board about the decoupling issue in his state. Pennacchio explained that there are separate bills in the Florida House and Senate and that the House bill allows for suspension of racing by casinos for a year. After the first year, the casinos will be able suspend racing for a second year. At the end of 24 months of suspended racing, the license permanently expires. “There is only one harness racing permit in Florida,” said Pennacchio. “If it expires, there will never be harness racing south of Maryland and Kentucky again.” The current legislation, which is a larger gaming bill involving an agreement with the Seminole Indian tribe in Florida, has already been passed by both a Senate and House Committee and has the support of the Governor. Within the bill is a provision that would allow Florida casinos that currently operate racetracks to separate those two entities and no longer be required to run the racetracks. While there are exceptions in the legislation for two Thoroughbred tracks, Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs, passage of this into law would lead to the closing of Pompano Park. Langley said that by the end of March, the USTA-sponsored cobalt study will be completed and passed on to USTA directors. An objection to the District 1 (Ohio) track director election was lodged by Northfield Park prior to their Jan. 23 election. The track protested the interpretation of Article 4.05b of the USTA bylaws, which defines the number of votes delegated to each racetrack in a district to elect that district’s two track directors. The bylaw reads: “Pari-mutuel track members shall be entitled to cast votes on a proportional basis determined in direct relation to total net purses paid by track members in each district during the previous calendar year. The number of votes to be cast shall be determined as follows: 1. Net purses less than $250,000—1 vote  2. Net purses amounting to between $250,001 and $500,000— 2 votes  3. Net purses amounting to between $500,001 and $1,500,000— 4 votes  4. Net purses amounting to between $1,500,001 and $3,000,000— 6 votes  5. Net purses amounting to between $3,000,001 and $5,000,000— 8 votes  6. Net purses amounting to $5,000,001 and over—10 votes” Northfield Park ($22.9 million in net purses paid in 2015), Scioto Downs ($15.7 million) and Miami Valley Raceway ($8.3 million) all received 10 votes, while Hollywood Dayton Raceway ($3.5 million paid from January-November 2015) received eight votes. Luther Heckman, an attorney representing Northfield Park, said that the track believes the vote should be invalidated because a “proportional” number of votes was not delegated to each track since Northfield’s purses paid were so much higher than the other tracks receiving the same number of votes. “We object to how the votes were counted and how the votes were allocated, not to the people,” said Heckman. A discussion and vote by the full board followed. Thirty-eight directors voted “no,” validating the vote. Three directors voted “yes” and seven abstained. Mark Loewe, vice president of racing operations at Hollywood Dayton Raceway, was added to the board and Stacy Cahill, general manager of racing operations at Scioto Downs, was reelected. A committee was then formed to examine and update the bylaw. Rob Key, founder of Converseon, presented the progress and goals of the USTA-sponsored social media marketing plan. He reiterated that this is a turning point for the industry and encouraged the directors to show leadership in supporting funding for 2016. “I think today is a critical day in the history of the sport,” he said. “Either we move forward and build on top of what we’ve built and improve and scale and work together for the common good. Or we can kill it, and if we kill it I don’t know how we would ever come back from this.” During his address, President Langley also reminded the board of the importance of approving the $250,000 in funding for the USTA social media marketing plan, which Axelrod said will be voted on separately from the full budget at the final general session on Monday at 11 a.m. “$250,000 works out to about $16 per member,” said Langley. “We are really not spending that much money to keep the industry going.” Trainer-driver Anthony MacDonald led the guest speakers by presenting his new fractional ownership group,www.thestable.ca. His program is based in Ontario, but he told the board that this program should be adapted in the U.S. as well. He encouraged the board to look at ways to make it easier for fractional ownership participants to be licensed in various jurisdictions. Jay Hickey, outgoing president of the American Horse Council, and recipient of this year's USTA President's Award, gave his annual update of his group’s work on behalf of the USTA in Washington, D.C. He spoke on changes to the tax code; two pending bills regarding federal oversight of Thoroughbred racing regulation; importing and exporting horses; and the work of theEquine Disease Communication Center. “Movement restriction is one of our worst nightmares,” he said. Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, spoke passionately about the two bills for federal regulation of racing currently in Congress. He suggested instead that racing commissions work together to build a regulatory consensus that makes sense to all breeds. “The only way to get a bill about something like this passed in Washington is to go and talk to people that are going to be voting on this and know nothing about the sport and tell them how bad (the sport) is,” he said. Coverage of the afternoon’s Registration, Driver/Trainer, Regulatory and Pari-Mutuel committees are in a separate article that is available at this link. -- Dan Leary also contributed to this report by T.J. Burkett, Executive Editor, Hoof Beats Magazine

Friday, January 15, 2016 - United States Trotting Association members with an online services account can now enroll horses in the Full Circle Program via their account. There is no need to fill out or mail forms, enrollment can take place on any device that connects with online services. Full Circle is the USTA's free program to record the contact information for any person interested in being reached if an enrolled horse needs help in the future. The person need not be a former owner or trainer; they can have any connection or no direct connection to a horse. By enrolling the horse in Full Circle, they agree to be contacted by the horse's owner or someone who knows of the horse's need for assistance. There is no cost and no obligation to act in the event they are contacted. To enroll a horse via USTA Online Services, log in to your online account; if you're new to Online Services, click the "First time user" link at the bottom of the login box to create a new account. Once you're logged in, click "Horse," then "Full Circle." Enter the horse's name or registration number, then click the blue Search button. When the screen returns detailed information on the horse you want to enroll, hit the "select" button to the right of the horse's listing to confirm this is the correct horse. To add additional horses, click the red "Add Horse" button to add to your Full Circle list. To complete the Full Circle enrollment process, click the blue Checkout button. A receipt for the Full Circle enrollment will be emailed to you and you can check to see what horses you've enrolled in Full Circle at any time by going to your USTA My Account area and checking in the My Horses in the lower left, under Full Circle. Once you've enrolled horses in Full Circle, the Full Circle icon will appear next to the enrolled horse's name in Pathway within two days to indicate the horse is enrolled in Full Circle. Those who want to enroll a horse without using Online Services can download a paper form and mail it in to the USTA or fax it. The form can be found here. For questions, email fullcircle@ustrotting.com or call Ellen Harvey at 732.780.3700. by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications

Throughout the month of December, 19 nominees in two categories vied against each other for the Railbird Recognition Awards, the harness racing fan-voted accolade sponsored by the United States Harness Writers Association and the United States Trotting Association. Ten individuals squared off for "Horseperson of the Year" and 9 events battled for "Racing Moment of the Year and when the pools closed on New Year's Eve, the fans of harness racing chose Joe Bellino and Wiggle It Jiggleit's Little Brown Jug win as the categorical winners. Joe Bellino has been very successful in harness racing, but he remembers where he came from and respects everyone who works in the industry. Having campaigned such notable horses as Psiluvyuheartbreaker, Rock N Roll Heaven and Pet Rock, he knows what it's like to win the big race. But he also remembers that there are many people involved at all levels of this sport and goes out of his way to help them when he can. Bellino's benevolence is one of the worst kept secrets in the business. Although he reaches out to those in need and tries to help at every turn, he never looks for any thanks or praise for his actions. But the many people that he has helped both in and out of harness racing will be the first ones to let you know what an unselfish individual he is. Clearly people in the grandstand and on the backstretch know of his good deeds and that is why he garnered 77% of the total vote for Horseperson of the Year. This is the largest margin of victory for either category in the 8-year history of the Railbird Recognition voting. Anyone who saw the final heat of the 2015 Little Brown Jug will more than likely tell you that it was "THE" greatest horse race they ever witnessed. After taking a bad step in the first turn, Wiggle It Jiggleit was parked-out for almost three quarters of the mile before getting passed at the head of the lane by Lost For Words. But Wiggle It Jiggleit swelled up and fought back down the stretch to win one of the most epic battles two pacers ever undertook in the history of the sport. The race was an indelible memory that everyone who attended live in Delaware, Ohio and watched remotely around the world has and those fans relived it while voting to make Wiggle It Jiggleit's Little Brown Jug win the Racing Moment of the Year for 2015. Joe Bellino and Team Teague will be presented their Railbird Recognition trophies during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, held this year at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday (Mar. 6), 2016. Information on tickets and accommodations for that event can be found at www.ushwa.org . Below are the top three voting results for each Railbird Recognition category: Horseperson of the Year Joe Bellino for his behind the scenes benevolence 77% Breanna Carsey for donating winnings from MJB Got Faith 6.5% Montrell Teague for his handling of Wiggle It Jiggleit in 2015 5.9% Racing Moment of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit defeats Lost For Words in second Jug heat 55% Freaky Feet Pete wins Breeders Crown 15% International Trot returns to Yonkers after 20 years 5.7% By Tim Bojarski for USHWA "I've often said there's nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse." -Winston Churchill

Columbus, OH --- The total wagering on harness racing at U.S. tracks in 2015 surpassed $1.5 billion, a 1.02 percent increase compared to 2014 according to statistics announced by the U.S. Trotting Association on Wednesday. During the past year, the $1,512,300,328 wagered on pari-mutuel harness racing nationwide was $15,295,745 more than the 2014 total of $1,497,004,583. In addition, there was an increase of $15,464,369 (3.79 percent) in total purses awarded nationally with $423,599,755 distributed in 2015 versus $408,135,386 in 2014. Race days grew year-over-year from 3,695 in 2014 to 3,748 this year, an increase of 53 days (1.43 percent). The only decline in harness racing's economic indicators across the U.S. was a 3.86 percent drop in average wagering per race from $39,306 last year to $37,789 in 2015, a difference of $1,517 per race. Following are the comparative economic indicators for U.S. harness racing from 2015 and 2014. Economic indicators on U.S. harness races   2015 2014 % Change Total Wagered $1,512,300,328 $1,497,004,583 +1.02% Per Race avg. $37,789 $39,306 -3.86% Purses $423,599,755 $408,135,386 +3.79% Race Days 3,748 3,695 +1.43% Please note: Includes U.S. and Canadian common and separate pool wagers on races contested in the U.S. Data source: United Tote. The United States Trotting Association, located in Columbus, Ohio, is a not-for-profit association of Standardbred owners, breeders, drivers, trainers, and officials, organized to provide administrative, rulemaking, licensing and breed registry services to its members. For more information on the USTA, please visit www.ustrotting.com. Ken Weingartner

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association announced Wednesday that it will make a $5,000 contribution to the official fund set up by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association to assist all of those affected by the tragic barn fire at Classy Lane Training Centre in Puslinch, Ontario on Monday evening. "One of the saddest things to happen in the world of horses is a tragic barn fire that kills horses," said USTA President Phil Langley in making the announcement. "It is something we all fear and many have experienced. "My first experiences were in the 1960s when a fire at Maywood Park took the lives of several horses owned by Billy Johnston and trained by my father, then, not too long after, another fire at Washington Park that wiped out Bobby Williams' stable. "The sadness is never forgotten but it is heartening to see that in those cases and now, the industry draws closer to help some of its own with monetary donations and encouragement that will hopefully help everyone affected through a long recovery process." In that spirit, the USTA encourages everyone in the industry and racing fans everywhere to consider making a donation via an official GoFundMe page that has been set up by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association. For more on the COSA initiative, or to contact COSA, click here. Donations, with checks made payable to "Classy Lane Barn Fire," can also be mailed to: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, P.O. Box 297, Campbellville, ON L0P 1B0. A barn fire at Classy Lane Training Centre in Puslinch, Ontario started at approximately 11 p.m. on Monday (Jan. 4) and claimed the lives of more than 40 Standardbred racehorses. Firefighters, who responded to the blaze from five departments -- including Hamilton, Guelph and Cambridge -- have not determined the cause of the fire that destroyed the barn that housed horses trained by Ben Wallace, Roger Mayotte, Chantal Mitchell, Kris Di Cenzo, Dan Lagace and Floyd Amos. The preliminary cost of the damage has been estimated to be between $4 and $6 million. Ken Weingartner

Akron, NY --- For the seventh consecutive year, the United States Harness Writers Association, in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association, will be looking for fans of harness racing to express their opinions by voting for their favorite horseperson and racing moment of the year in the 2015 Railbird Recognition Awards. This is the opportunity for every fan to indicate who they felt were the best in harness racing during the past year. Voting will be available by clicking on the "Railbird Voting" banner on the USTA homepage (www.ustrotting.com) or by clicking on this link. The nominees for each award were compiled by members of USHWA for being the most impactful to the sport in 2015. Fans can make their selections by clicking one choice from those listed and then submitting their vote. Voting for the "Racing Moment of the Year" will run from Tuesday (Dec. 1) through Tuesday (Dec. 15) while the balloting for the "Horse Person of the Year" will be conducted from Wednesday (Dec. 16) until Thursday (Dec. 31) at midnight. Fans may only vote once per IP address. The nine nominees for Racing Moment for 2015 are: Always B Miki wins Breeders Crown after a year off Bee A Magician becomes first mare to win Cutler final Freaky Feet Pete wins Breeders Crown JL Cruze wins in 1:49.4 at the Meadowlands International Trot returns to Yonkers after 20 years David Miller drives five winners on Breeders Crown night Pinkman wins over Mission Brief in the Hambletonian Jimmy Takter trains six winners on Breeders Crown night Wiggle It Jiggleit defeats Lost for Words in second Little Brown Jug heat Nominees for Horseperson of the Year will be revealed in mid-December. All the winners of the Railbird Fan Voting will be announced on Thursday (Jan. 7) and they will be presented their awards during the Dan Patch Banquet, held this year at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday (March 6). Information on tickets and accommodations for that event can be found at www.ushwa.org. By Tim Bojarski for USHWA

Latham, NY---There was a full slate of accolades to pass out on Sunday (Nov. 15) when Batavia Downs hosted the USTA District 8 and New York Sire Stakes year-end awards banquet. This marquee event was presented by the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. The gathering of top names in harness racing from the Empire State mingled at a cocktail party in Grandstands Banquet Hall at Batavia Downs that was sponsored by all the harness tracks in the state, before sitting down to a dinner of surf and turf. The awards presentation, which included video highlights of all the winners, began just before dessert. The focus for many was the announcement of USTA District 8 horse of the year and when the envelope was opened; Crazy Wow took home the hardware. Crazy Wow (Crazed-No Pan No Gain 1:51.1, $1,260,540) is owned by Our Horse Cents Stable, JT45, J&T Silva Stables LLC and Deo Volente Farms LLC and is a student of Ron Burke. The ownership group purchased the colt at the end of his 2-year-old campaign (where he became the NYSS 2-year-old trotting colt champion) and Burke guided him to a million-dollar season on the Grand Circuit in 2015. After starting his 3-year-old campaign off winning two of three NYSS events, Crazy Wow began collecting major stakes. He won the $255,325 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs in a lifetime best 1:51.1 over an off-track. Next he took the $500,000 Colonial Trot at Pocono Downs. Then after an untimely break in the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, he finished a fast-closing second to Hambletonian winner Pinkman, in the $532,000 Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk Raceway. Crazy Wow closed out the year with three out of four wins including the $109,000 Bluegrass Stake at the Red mile, $270,000 Erskine at Hoosier Park and the $243,550 Matron Stake At Dover Downs. For the year, Crazy Wow had nine wins in 17 starts and earned $1,027,612 in purses. The New York Sire Stake award winners featured some of the best horses in North America this year and in many cases, they outperformed their competition in any jurisdiction for their sex and gait. Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight-Cheeky Hanover) was named the NYSS 3-year-old pacing colt of the year. Betting Exchange raced against the best 3-year-old pacers all year, acquitting himself well in every event. He finished second in the $380,000 Art Rooney at Yonkers and third behind Wakizashi Hanover and Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $810,000 North American Cup at Mohawk. He won three NYSS races including the $225,000 final. His seasonal mark tied the track record of 1:51.2 for 3-year-old pacing males at Batavia Downs and his 10 in-the-money finishes carded him $430,975 for the year. Habitat (Conway Hall-Habit's Best) was named the NYSS 3-year-old trotting colt of the year. Habitat started winning early in the year when he took the $133,170 Dexter Cup at Freehold on May 2, which was his seasonal bow. His schedule then turned quickly challenging. He finished second to Crazy Wow in the $255,325 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Down, second to Hambletonian champion, Pinkman in the $157,250 Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands before finishing off the board in the Hambletonian. But Habitat would rebound in a big way, taking the $500,000 Yonkers Trot just a week before winning the $225,000 NYSS final, also at Yonkers. He tallied eight wins for the year and stashed $727,814 in cash for his efforts. Travel Playlist (Art Major-Village Madonna), who was named the NYSS 2-year-old pacing colt of the year, was the fastest 2-year-old of his sex and gait in North America this year, taking a 1:49.2 record at Vernon Downs in a division of the NYSS on September 7. In his speedy, albeit abbreviated season, Travel Playlist won five NYSS events which helped him bank $252,570 for the year to go along with his National season's record. Dime A Dance (Roll With Joe-Hat Dance Hanover), who was named the NYSS 2-year-old pacing filly of the year, set a world record for her sex and gait over a half-mile track when she circled the course at Batavia Downs in 1:52.4 on September 16. She won four NYSS events including the $225,000 final. Those wins figured into eight top-three finishes and they padded her account with $219,989 for the year. Jim Morrill Jr. was named the NYSS Driver of the Year. Morrill scored 44 victories in the series that earned over $1.8 million in purses for their connections. Morrill also registered an amazing .460 UDR for the entire NYSS season. Ron Burke was the NYSS Trainer of the Year. Burke campaigned 29 horses on the Empire circuit this year and they account for 31 wins and just under $1.6 million in purses. Burke's trainees earned checks 74% of the time in races they competed in. And the NYSS Breeder of the Year was Winbak Farm. The 21 horses bred by Winbak earned $778,238 in the NYSS over the year and earned purse checks 72% of the time. Here is a complete list of all the New York Sires Stakes champions: 2015 USTA DISTRICT 8 CHAMPIONS 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER Goosbump Hanover Owners: Burke Racing Stable, J&T Silva Stables, Crawford Farms & Joseph Di Scala Jr. 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER Dime A Dance Owners: Our Horse Cents Stables, Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc.& J & T Silva Stables 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER Barn Doll  Owners: Steven & Nancy Pratt & Purple Haze Stables LLC 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER Divine Caroline  Owners: Michael Ouriel, Val D'Or Farms, Ted Gewertz & Rojan Stables 2-YEAR-OLD COLT TROTTER Dayson  Owners: Margaret Butler & Amy Butler 2-YEAR-OLD COLT PACER Travel Playlist  Owners: Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Ronald Michelon, Taylor Made Stallions & Frederick Hertrich III 3-YEAR-OLD COLT TROTTER Crazy Wow  Owners: Our Horse Cents Stable, JT45, J&T Silva Stables & Deo Volente Farms 3-YEAR-OLD COLT PACER Penji Hanover  Owner: W. Springtime Racing Stable DRIVER OF THE YEAR-Jim Morrill Jr TRAINER OF THE YEAR-George Ducharme HORSE OF THE YEAR-Crazy Wow 2015 NEW YORK SIRE STAKES CHAMPIONS 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT Non Stick (Lucky Chucky-Meucci Madness) Owners: Ake Svanstedt Inc.& Little E LLC Breeders: Michael Andrew & Steve Stewart Trainer: Ake Svanstedt Driver: Daniel Dube NYSS Earnings: $178,948 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE Dime A Dance (Roll With Joe- Hat Dance Hanover) Owners: Our Horse Cents Stables, Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. & J &T Silva Stables Breeders: Eugene Kurzrok, Richard Taylor & Stephen Springer Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Matt Kakaley NYSS Earnings: $214,016 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT Jewels In Hock (Credit Winner -Jewels Galore) Owner: KJ Stables LLC  Breeder: Steve Jones Trainer: Linda Toscano  Driver: Jim Morrill Jr. NYSS Earnings: $293,553 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE Band Of Angels (Rock N Roll Heaven-Time N Again) Owner: WJ Donovan  Breeders: Steve Stewart & Birch Hollow Farms Trainer: Ron Burke  Driver: Jason Bartlett NYSS Earnings: $206,569 2-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT Allerage Echo (Conway Hall- Echonomical) Owner: Kenneth Jacobs  Breeder: Little E LLC Trainer: George Ducharme Driver: Brian Sears NYSS Earnings: $261,939 2-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE Travel Playlist Art Major -- Village Madonna Owners: Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Ronald Michelon, Taylor Made Stallions & Frederick Hertrich III Breeder: Winbak Farm Trainer: Erv Miller  Driver: Marcus Miller NYSS Earnings: $234,695 3-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT Habitat (Conway Hall- Habit's Best) Owners: Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables & Weaver Bruscemi LLC Breeder: Fredericka Caldwell Trainer: Ron Burke  Driver: Jim Morrill Jr. NYSS Earnings: $158,375 3-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE Betting Exchange (Bettor's Delight- Cheeky Hanover) Owners: Howard Taylor, Susan Kajfasz & Tom Fanning Breeder: Flintlock Farm Inc. Trainer: Tom Fanning  Driver: Jason Bartlett NYSS Earnings: $201,437 DRIVER OF THE YEAR-Jim Morrill Jr. TRAINER OF THE YEAR-Ron Burke BREEDER OF THE YEAR-Winbak Farm 2015 NEW YORK-BRED EXCELSIOR CHAMPIONS 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT Outsidecourt (Conway Court-Getaway Cheyenne) Owner: P&J Stables  Breeder: P&J Stables Trainer: Gary Messenger  Driver: Bruce Aldrich Jr. NYSS Earnings: $46,800 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE Lyra (American Ideal- Hypnotize) Owners: Stephen Schneider, William Siegel & Marthe Drolet Breeder: Winbak Farm  Trainer: Jean Drolet Driver: John Cummings Jr. NYSS Earnings: $58,050 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT Barn Girl (Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie) Owners: Steven Pratt, Nancy Pratt & Out In The Country Stable Breeder: Morrisville Col Fdn Inc. Trainer: Howard Okusko Driver: Jeff Gregory NYSS Earnings: $41,100 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE Hey Kobe (Bettor's Delight-American West) Owners: Stephen Schneider & William Siegel Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Inc. Trainer: Jean Drolet  Driver: Matt Kakaley NYSS Earnings: $53,250 2-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT Boxall (Credit Winner -Vallaire) Owner: Little E LLC Breeder: David Anderson Trainer: Jessica Okusko  Driver: Jim Morrill Jr. NYSS Earnings: $42,000 2-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE Artmagic (Art Major-Sammy's Magic Girl  Owner: Purple Haze Stables LLC Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farm Inc. Trainer: Trond Smedshammer Driver: Jim Morrill Jr. NYSS Earnings: $38,700 3-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT Andy Ray (Crazed-Crown N Lindy) Owners: Paymaq Racing, Ronald Michelon & Harvey Eisman Breeder: Lindy Racing Stable Trainer: Erv Miller Driver: Andy Miller NYSS Earnings: $46,425 3-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE Masterson (Bettor's Delight-Tug River Princess) Owner: Let It Ride Stbls.Inc., Robert Cooper Stables LLC & Jerry Silva Breeders: Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. Trainer: Tracy Brainard  Driver: Jim Morrill Jr. NYSS Earnings: $56,250 DRIVER OF THE YEAR-Jim Morrill Jr. TRAINER OF THE YEAR-George Ducharme BREEDER OF THE YEAR-Winbak Farm 2015 NEW YORK COUNTY FAIR CHAMPIONS 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT Linda's Choice (Conway Hall-Howard's Sister) Owner: Philip Hale Breeder: Philip Hale Trainer: David Dewhurst Driver: James Devaux NYSS Earnings: $8,850 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE Niche Blue Chip (Art Major- PW Spare) Owners: Elizabeth & Dyce Spalluto, Veronica Dylo & David Widzinski Breeder: Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. Trainer: Mihalo Zdjelar Jr. Driver: Gregory Merton  NYSS Earnings: $12,857 3 -YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT Hollywood Jess (Conway Hall-Howard's Sister) Owners: Philip Hale & David Dewhurst  Breeder: Philip Hale Trainer: David Dewhurst Driver: Truman Gale NYSS Earnings: $10,925 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE Maya Scape (Kenneth J-AB Seascape) Owner: Laurier Sauve  Breeder: Howard Stables Trainer/Driver: Henry Westbrook III    NYSS Earnings: $11,875 2-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT Trooper Jim (Conway Hall- Alpine Goal) Owners: Heather & Barry White Breeder: Barry White Trainer: Barry White  Driver: Bruce Aldrich Jr. NYSS Earnings: $7,585 2-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE Americanation (American Ideal- Cool World) Owner: Pine Hill Stables Breeder: George Miller Trainer: Jeffrey Johnson Jr. Driver: Truman Gale NYSS Earnings: $7,275 3 -YEAR-OLD COLT TROT J A T O (Big Apple Deli-Highwaytoheaven) Owners: Margaret & Amy Butler Breeder: Steuben Farms Trainer: Margaret Butler Driver: Douglas Ackley NYSS Earnings: $17,787 3-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE Adonis Bay (If I Can Dream-Kiss Me I'm Lucky) Owner: Harold Smith  Breeder: Bulletproof Enterprises Trainer: Harold Smith  Driver: James Devaux NYSS Earnings: $11,757 DRIVER OF THE YEAR-Truman Gale TRAINER OF THE YEAR-David Dewhurst BREEDER OF THE YEAR-Winbak Farm By Tim Bojarski, for the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State

Plainridge, MA - A brand new Pennsbury jog cart will be the door prize when the USTA holds its annual meeting and dinner for District 9 at Plainridge Park on December 12th. The USTA gathering will get underway at 4:00 P.M., and will be followed by the business meetings of the Harness Horsemen's of New England and the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts. Following a social hour from 5:50 to 6:30, there will be a dinner compliments of Plainridge Park Casino, the H.H.A.N.E and the S.O.M. The evening will conclude with the annual awards from the local horsemen and breeders organizations, the New England Amateur Drivers Club, along with the drawing of the door prizes. Dinner reservations must be received by Friday November 27th. They can be made with Lenny Calderone on the telephone at 508-576-4482, or you can contact Lenny via email at lenny.calderone@pngaming.com. From Plainridge Park

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