Day At The Track

Fifth Bruce Hamilton memorial medal awarded

05:49 PM 15 Nov 2011 NZDT
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Theodore "Ted" H. Zornow was there at the conception of the New York Sire Stakes and he has been helping to shape the program ever since. For his outstanding contributions to harness racing and improvements of the breeding of Standardbred horses in the State of New York, Harness Horse Breeders of New York State will award Zornow the fifth annual Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal.

At age 19, Zornow was the youngest person to attend a 1957 meeting in Syracuse of the most influential track executives and breeders in New York harness racing and is now the only one remaining. That gathering included Zornow’s father, Ted J., who later became the President of the U.S. Trotting Association, Dr. Harry Zweig, the veterinarian who was key in passing the legislation funding the NYSS, and Patrick DiGennaro, a noted breeder from Western New York

Together the group developed the idea for a series of races exclusively for state bred horses, later called the New York Sire Stakes. This was a revolutionary idea that changed the face of racing and breeding at the state level and became the model for all other state breeding programs.

Zornow may have been the youngest member of this historic group which reinvented racing in New York, but he quickly began to make his own mark in the state’s rapidly evolving breeding industry. He and his father opened Avon Farm in 1961 and the younger Zornow took over managing the farm’s breeding operation. He immersed himself in studying pedigrees, selecting matings and raising young horses and starters carrying the Avon prefix in their names began to excel in the New York Sire Stakes and beyond. Avon Farm offspring were consistently found in racing programs across the state until the early 2000s.

In the 1970s the farm reached its largest commercial size, standing two of the top stallions in the state and breeding upwards of 450 mares a year at the farm. Homebreds Tar Boy and Kat Byrd had been racing stars for the Zornows and retired to shine in the breeding shed as well. Tar Boy (Tar Heel), a foal of 1955 who earned more than $220,000, sired the winners of nearly $7 million in the 60s and 70s. Kat Byrd (Bye Bye Byrd) followed with a $200,000 career and his offspring earned nearly $8 million in the 1970s, all while standing at Avon Farm.

Zornow long served on the board of Harness Horse Breeders, helping to steer the Sire Stakes program into the new millennium through thoughtful recommendations and a steady eye on improving the breed. He now serves in an emeritus capacity.

The Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal will be presented to Zornow at the New York Sire Stakes/USTA District 8 awards dinner on Sunday, Nov. 20, in Batavia. Call Harness Horse Breeders of NYS at 518-785-5858 for more information.

The Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal is given to an individual who bests exhibits Hamilton’s exemplary qualities of character and accomplishment in the harness racing industry. Hamilton served as the Executive Secretary of Harness Horse Breeders of New York State for 18 years. During that time he managed the New York Sire Stakes program masterfully and was able to unite the racing and breeding industries to successfully lobby for VLTs at tracks.

M. Kelly YOUNG

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