Day At The Track

Harvey has write stuff for harness racing

06:21 PM 12 Mar 2018 NZDT
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Ellen Harvey
Ellen Harvey - Her stories appear in USA Today, New York Times, Globe and Mail, and for services such as the Associated Press and Reuters.

Ellen Harvey is semi-retired but she is one lady who is not ready to be put out to pasture.

Harvey, from the famous Harvey harness racing family, is a long-time executive, publicist, writer, director and industry advocate who grew up in Washington County and graduated from Immaculate Conception High School in 1973.

Earlier this year, she semi-retired from the position of executive director of Harness Racing Communications Coordinator of Standardbred Support Programs for the United States Trotting Association, where she worked for 23 years.

“I’m still working on a contract basis,” she said, “special projects.”

Harness racing has been a special project for her entire life.

Harvey grew up outside of Arden, in the Meadow Lands area of Washington County. She currently resides in Freehold, N.Y.

Her father, Harry, who died in 2016, was elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2001 after managing Delvin Miller’s Meadow Lands farm and then purchasing the Meadow Lands Farm annex where he lived. He also started his own Arden Hills Farm and racing stable at nearby Arden Downs – the Washington County Fairgrounds – and was a renowned trainer.

Harry Harvey moved his family to Meadow Lands in 1951. His wife, Cornelia, managed the farm’s finances for 54 of their 61 years of marriage and taught the children to ride horses.

“Everywhere we looked, we could see horses,” Ellen Harvey said. “Five-hundred and fifty acres. We raised 100 babies a year. My bedroom window looked over a big field of mares and foals.

“We were five miles from (Washington) and the parents of my friends thought that was a bit too far to travel to a friend’s house. We couldn’t do anything else other than look after and care for the horses.

“Horses and harness racing was always part of my life. When I was a kid, daddy was gone a lot to the track. I wanted to live on Allison Avenue in Washington. We were living on a dirt road. Some of my friends’ parents thought it was too dangerous out there, too far away. We were two-and-a-half miles from a paved road. We had the ponies, a pond with fish and a car past our house about once every three hours.”

Ellen Harvey has two sisters, Anne and Kathryn, and a brother, Leo, who still resides in the Pittsburgh area.

She earned an undergraduate bachelor of arts degree from Boston College, graduating magna cum laude, and a master’s degree in education, Federal Department of Education Fellow from the University of Washington.

She lived in Boston for 10 years, where she worked as a special-education teacher and administrator – working with newborns to 3-year-olds with special needs.

“I started to look at what skills I had,” Harvey said. “I knew harness racing.

“At IC, I was a good writer. Sister Rosemary Flaherty made me a better writer. If I turned in a paper with a mistake, she’d hand it back and make me – all of us – fix the mistake. You could never turn in a paper that wasn’t perfect. She made me a disciplined writer.”

That tutelage, and the harness racing background, made her one of the best harness racing writers, information sources, publicists and experts in the sport’s history.

She produced and syndicated television shows. She worked on radio and TV shows telling stories, keeping beat writers and the harness racing audience informed.

Harvey produced a TV show at the Meadowlands, in New Jersey. She kept writers at the Newark Star LedgerNew York Daily News and other news outlets informed and filled with statistics, notes and trends. Her focus was on local, national and international events.

“I think what is really unique about her and what makes her so noteworthy and special, is she is very smart, and truly understands the industry from bottom to top because of her family,” said Christine Blaine, director of marketing and communications for the Washington Wild Things and former publicity director at The Meadows. “If you take that kind of knowledge and put it into the equation, I don’t think you could have anyone better or more suited to promote the industry as Ellen.

“She has been involved since the day she was born. She has all the smarts to go with it and the personality. She can talk to anybody – from the most sophisticated to the most common. Ellen has the perfect blend of assets to further the racing industry.

“I look at her now (through social media) and see she’s passionate about horses. She is passionate about the industry. I really admire her. Ellen’s skillset, background and education make her an invaluable asset to the racing industry.”

Harvey was Director of Media relations at the Meadowlands for five years and was project director for the North American Harness Racing Marketing Association in New York City.

Her stories appeared in USA TodayNew York TimesGlobe and Mail, and for services such as the Associated Press and Reuters.

Her fingerprints were on television shows, syndicated shows on MSNBC, local CBS affiliates and the MSG channel and stories and information for ESPN, CBS Sunday Morning, NPR (National Public Radio) and most major newspapers in the U.S. and Canada.

Harvey also is the author of the book Standardbred Old Friends, profiling 43 horses.

She’s a big deal and the real deal.

In one particular venture, a syndicated weekly national harness racing television show, Harvey helped triple viewership from 10 million to 30 million in two years.

She credits the time living in Washington for helping to shape her in many ways.

“It all started in Washington,” Harvey said. “I am proud to be from there.

“We had 60 in our class. Twenty-two or 23 boys. The rest were girls. We had seven national merit scholars. I was not one of them. It was a great class.”

She added that her father’s influence was a big reason for her success and attention to detail.

“He could not stand when things were not taken care of,” Harvey explained. “He wouldn’t sleep until everything was done, everything was fixed.

“He was always pushing against the tide. He was proud of his training to do things better. He wasn’t a patient man but he was patient with the horses. We all benefited from his personality.”

One of Harvey’s friends, who graduated a year before her, was Mary Ellen Boylan Jutca. The two played on the same basketball team. Jutca is one of the greatest female players and athletes in Washington County history and went onto a Hall of Fame athletic career at Villanova.

Jutca scored a county-record 53 points one game.

Harvey proudly says she “played in the game” while Jutca “dominated the game.”

The two maintained a friendship that many miles could not break.

“Ellen was always smiling,” Jutca said. “She’s a dear sweet person – always positive. I never heard anything negative from her or about her. She did well for herself and she comes from a lovely family. ... When Ellen spoke, it was very profound. She was just a joy to be around.”

Jutca, recalls a “chance” meeting with Harvey miles from IC and their high school friendship.

“I was on a trip with some of my friends to go visit a roommate from Villanova,” Jutca said. “She lived in Liberty, N.Y., which is close to Woodstock. The car was full and we all wanted to see Woodstock. We were in the middle of nowhere on a country road. We’re singing and laughing and we were passing a hill with a big rock at the top.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute. Back the car up.’ I thought I saw somebody I knew. My friends said I was crazy. But on top of that hill sat Ellen Harvey. I got out. We hugged. We didn’t stop long. But I was blown away. To me, that took the cake. In the middle of nowhere – in the Catskills Mountains – I see Ellen Harvey sitting on a rock. Unbelievable.”

John Sacco writes a bi-weekly Sunday column about local sports history for the Observer-Reporter.

Reprinted with permission of the Observer-Reporter

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: