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Nancy Takter's (@NancyTakter) latest training artistry comes in the form of sculpting a stable of promising harness racing trotting talent. One of Standardbred racing's most accomplished and decorated trainers isn't one to leave all the challenges to her horses. Having already built a reputation as a producer of primetime pacers, a list that includes Tall Dark Stranger, Kissin In The Sand, Always A Miki, and Captain Crunch, just to name a handful, Takter, who also campaigns trotting titans Manchego, and Sorella, is bolstering her band by introducing more trotters into the fold. With a notable number of trotters now under her care - the most she's ever had in her career to date - the winner of 410 career races is busier than ever. Not that she's complaining. "In the past, I didn't have a big group of higher-end trotters that I do now," said Takter, the Dan Patch Trainer of the Year award winner in 2020. "Bad trotters are really tough to train, but good trotters, they are amazing to train. I'm appreciative to have the opportunity to train these horses and to get them prepared for their racing careers." Orchestrating the development and consistent performances of a trotter demands a broad skillset and a patient hand. From the constant tinkering of equipment, to transferring lessons learned from training over to race night, to finding ways to lower times while keeping the horse flat, endeavoring to find the winning trot formula is hardly an easy undertaking. "With trotters, their gait is obviously more difficult than a pacer's - you put hobbles on them and they pace, generally. As far as trotters go, it's a lot more of a fine line getting them gaited and getting extra seconds out of them. A shoe change can completely change your trotter, where if you're going from aluminum to steel, or vice-versa, on a pacer, you might change the horse a little bit, but you're not going to have that much of a drastic difference. The gait of a trotter, timing is just so much important. You have to find the exact key that fits each particular horse. If they aren't relaxed with themselves they can get into interfering and causing more problems for themselves. There are a lot of small pieces that have to come together more so training a trotter than it does a pacer." An accomplished bay daughter of Muscle Hill, trained by Takter, is a prime example of the precision required for trotting success. "If you look at a horse like Sorella, she wore four or five different shoes last year and she won the Hambletonian Oaks with no shoes. The horses change throughout the season and you need to adapt your methods constantly. They develop and get stronger over the year and you're going to want to find more speed. It's a constant tinkering game with the trotters. You could win an elimination or do well, but the next week, you need to find another gear and that extra fifth of a second. That fifth of a second could mean a major difference between whether you win or not." So, does all of that multi-layered, labor-intensive effort, make Takter part scientist, engineer and mathematician? Not quite. "Training horses isn't a science. I think people want it to be a science, but I think it's more of an art form." Fortunately for Takter, access to one of the sport's masters is just a phone call away. "If we're going to go with the art theme of training, the greatest artist ever is probably my dad [legendary trainer Jimmy Takter]. I think what made him so great at what he did is that he was able to find out the timing and the key for each individual horse. He always tell me, 'Don't just settle and be happy with how it is.' That's great advice." Advice she will be sure draw upon when working with her expanded group of trotters. "There are so many variables. Very rarely do you see a pacing race at a high level where horses make breaks. Occasionally, it will happen in a trot race. Whether it's because they're anxious or something happens leaving the gate... you do see those things occur. So, any success you have with a trotter is a little bit more fulfilling." A first win in the prestigious $600,000 Maple Leaf Trot, slated for September 4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, would certainly be fulfilling for Takter. "That would be great. I think we have a couple shots this year. Maybe we can get it done." By Chris Lomon / @ChrisLomon

Party Girl Hill, the world-record-setting 2020 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old female pacer, has been retired because of an injury discovered after training this past weekend. Chris Ryder, who trained the mare for breeder-owner Tom Hill, said Party Girl Hill was nearly ready to qualify in preparation for her 4-year-old campaign. "We're all devastated," Ryder said Monday. "She had been training back terrific. It's just a shame; a shame for her and a shame for us not to be able to see what she could do as an aged horse. It's a real loss. She was so special." Unraced at age 2, Party Girl Hill won 15 of 16 races last year and $880,345. Her victories included the Fan Hanover, Jugette, Matron, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, and a division of the Tattersalls Pace, when she became only the second pacing filly to beat male rivals in a race worth at least $100,000 in the last 30 years. She was driven primarily by Dexter Dunn, with Doug McNair in the sulky for her Canadian starts in the Fan Hanover. In the Jugette, Party Girl Hill won her elimination in 1:49.3, the first sub-1:50 mile on a half-mile track by a female pacer in history, and returned to capture the same-day final by 3-1/2 lengths in 1:50.3 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio. Following the Jugette, owner Hill described the daughter of Captaintreacherous - Look Cheap as "a Rolls-Royce with hair." Said Ryder on Monday, "If you had to pick out one performance from last year, maybe you would say the first heat of the Jugette. But that was just part of a wicked stretch of five or six races for her, where she went to Canada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Lexington and raced great." What made Party Girl Hill great? "She had no weakness," Ryder said. "She had super speed. She was just fast, like 'right now' quick. And she had a great attitude. Even now, she's happy. She has her ears up, she's not sulking. "I want to thank everyone who worked with her, all her fans, and Tom. It was special to have a horse like her." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

When it comes to learning a new trick, Manchego might be able to provide lessons to old dogs. Already the fastest female harness racing trotter in history, the mare adapted quickly to a change in racing tactics toward the end of last season that rejuvenated her campaign and ultimately extended her career. Manchego was mired in a five-race slump last October when trainer Nancy Takter made several equipment changes in the hopes of getting the then 5-year-old mare to relax on the track. Manchego had raced on the front for more than a year — she led at the half-mile point 15 times in a 17-race span — and Takter said, “We decided that going down the road wasn’t working for us anymore.” Among the changes were the addition of an ear hood and the removal of blinkers in favor of an open bridle. The result was, Takter said, “a whole new Manchego.” In her first start following the alterations, Manchego came from sixth at the half to finish second to Gimpanzee in a prep for the Breeders Crown. She trotted her final quarter-mile in :25.1. Then came wins in the Breeders Crown Mare Trot and TVG Series Open Trot championship to close the season. Manchego was fourth at the half in both races. “She’s become multi-dimensional,” Takter said. “It makes her a different horse. It’s hard to do all the work in all the races all the time. If you’re getting pushed to the half every week, eventually you are going to get tired. It’s nice to finish the miles strong and not always be teetering on ‘E’ all the time. “I think she liked having a target because it was different for her. It was probably fun for her to pass horses rather than have all the pressure on her all the time.” Manchego’s turnaround helped propel her to the Dan Patch Award for best older female trotter, the second divisional trophy of her career. She also was a Dan Patch Award honoree at the age of 2 in 2017, when she went undefeated in 12 races. Her renaissance also resulted in owner Barry Guariglia deciding to postpone Manchego’s retirement, which had been announced in November just prior to the TVG Series championship. Takter revealed in early January that Manchego would be back. Manchego made her first racetrack appearance of 2021 this past Saturday in a qualifier at The Meadowlands, where she finished third behind Back Of The Neck and Lindy The Great. Manchego, with regular driver Dexter Dunn, was timed in 1:52.3. She was fifth until the stretch and trotted a :25.3 final quarter-mile. None of the 49 other horses to qualify that day came home faster. “Watching her, I was euphoric,” Takter said. “She was so relaxed and so quiet. She just let Dexter do what he needed to do, and when he asked her to go — and he didn’t really super ask her to go — she just sprinted home. “She looked absolutely amazing. She’s always had a good gait, but she really looked like she was stretching out nice. I was really happy with her qualifier.” Takter plans to qualify Manchego one more time ahead of her season opener in the first round of the Miss Versatility Series on May 8 at The Meadowlands. Manchego, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic, has won 33 of 56 career races and earned $2.72 million. Her victories include the 2018 Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown titles at ages 2, 4, and 5. She is the fastest female trotter ever thanks to her 1:49 victory in the 2019 Allerage Farms Mare Trot at Red Mile and also the fastest female trotter in history on a five-eighths-mile track, with a time of 1:49.3 in last year’s Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge Park. Manchego is the only female trotter to win with a sub-1:50 mile in multiple years. She has been the sport’s fastest trotter in 2019 and 2020. “If there are horses that have one season like her season, we’re like, oh what a great horse,” Takter said. “But she’s done it so many years now it’s just amazing. She’s one of the greatest that’s ever lived, that’s for sure. “She genuinely loves to be a racehorse. She’s miserable when she’s off. She likes to be out on the track and do her work.” Work she will continue to do, thanks to adapting to change. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Hightstown, NJ — Anoka Hanover might not have been the hardest working horse in harness racing last season, but as far as Dan Patch Award winning 2-year-old trotters over a span of almost 25 years, she was nearly at the top. The Noel Daley-trained Anoka Hanover won 10 of 14 starts in 2020 and captured the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old female trotter. Going back to 1997 only one 2-year-old Dan Patch Award winning trotter — female or male — exceeded 13 races, the filly Check Me Out, who won 14 of 16 in 2011. The most recent 2-year-old male trotter to surpass 13 starts was Malabar Man, who won 13 of 15 races in 1996. “Fourteen starts are a lot to give a 2-year-old, but she was as good or better at the end than she was early,” Daley said. “She was never the prettiest gaited horse. But she had a good attitude, a good head on her. I was very happy with the way her year progressed.” The Noel Daley-trained Anoka Hanover won 10 of 14 starts in 2020 and captured the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old female trotter. Lisa photo. Anoka Hanover won the final seven races of her campaign, capping it with a triumph in the Goldsmith Maid on Nov. 21 at The Meadowlands. Other victories during that span included the Kindergarten Classic Series championship and divisions of the Bluegrass, International Stallion, and Simpson stakes. Anoka Hanover winning the Goldsmith Maid She was the richest 2-year-old filly trotter, with $587,758 in purses, and the fastest, with a mark of 1:52.3 set in November’s Kindergarten final at The Meadowlands. “I think she rose to the top at the end of it, but there was plenty of depth in that division,” Daley said. “I think she stepped it up and, which they often do, a few of the others had sort of had enough. She just seemed to have the physical attributes and mental attributes to. She always showed plenty of talent. She’s a strong filly. She’s not overly big, she’s medium sized but well built. “They all change from (age) 2 to 3. Sometimes, they only have one good season in them. But she ended her year good and, to me, that’s always a healthy sign. I expect her to come back and have a good year.” Todd McCarthy, a 27-year-old Australia native who was in his first season of racing in North America, picked up the drive behind Anoka Hanover for her last seven starts. McCarthy’s brother, Andy, had been driving the filly but had other commitments. “I was a little worried about putting Todd on,” Daley said. “Obviously, I knew he’s a very good driver, but he really didn’t have any experience with young trotters. He aced it with her. He was really patient with her. In his first start, she put in a step and he didn’t panic and steadied her up. He did a great job with her.” Daley purchased Anoka Hanover, a daughter of Donato Hanover out of Aunt Mel, for $35,000 at the 2019 Standardbred Horse Sale. During the racing season, he owned the filly with L.A. Express Stable and Caviart Farms. At the completion of the campaign, Crawford Farms Racing joined the ownership group. As part of her offseason, Anoka Hanover had chips removed from both hind ankles. “They might have been there all year, I don’t know,” Daley said. “Hopefully, she comes back even better.” Anoka Hanover was not eligible to the Breeders Crown at age 2 but is eligible this year. “People ask me if I was upset not being in the Breeders Crown, but I couldn’t be in everything,” Daley said. “I would have had to miss something else somewhere. Basically, she made more than $300,000 in her last two starts. It worked out OK.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ — Pinske Stables did not race as many times as most of the harness racing owners in last year’s earnings Top 50, but it made the most of the opportunities. The stable — made up of Marlys Pinske, her son Karl and her grandson Carter — ranked 30th in starts among that group in 2020, with 217. It ranked seventh in purses, with $3.50 million. The six owners ahead of Pinske Stables in earnings all had at least 174 more starts and five had a total of at least 920. Among the Pinske Stable’s 29 starters last season were three Dan Patch Award winners: 2-year-old female pacer Fire Start Hanover, 2-year-old male trotter Venerate, and 3-year-old male trotter Amigo Volo. All the numbers added up to Pinske Stables being named Owner of the Year earlier this month by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. The Pinskes were finalists with Caviart Farms and Crawford Farms Racing. “My hopes were high, but you never know,” Karl Pinske said. “It’s not easy to do. But I was hoping because it’s really hard for a smaller stable like us to ever repeat that (kind of year) again. The other stables had very good years as well. They had nice horses, for sure. They’re excellent people and have a lot of money invested.” The Pinskes have been involved in harness racing since the mid-1950s when Karl’s grandfather Robert began competing at the Minnesota county fairs. Karl’s father, Tim, followed in Robert’s footsteps and the family’s participation continued from there. Tim Pinske passed away in July 2018. “It’s a bit bittersweet since my dad was gone just a short time before,” Karl said. “I’m excited for my mom, she’s put a lot into this.” Carter Pinske, 25, has worked with trainer Nifty Norman since graduating from college. Carter got his first training win in 2019 with Amigo Volo. “I’m proud and excited for Carter,” Karl said. “I’ve been around it a long time and it’s great, it’s fun, but nothing is better than seeing your son do well with it.” Fire Start Hanover was the Dan Patch Award winner for 2-year-old pacing fillies. Lisa photo. Amigo Volo and Fire Start Hanover, both in Norman’s stable, were the leading money-winners in their respective divisions and were Breeders Crown champions. Venerate, trained by Julie Miller and co-owned with the Andy Miller Stable, won the inaugural Mohawk Million and sat atop his division in purses as well. “For me, having Carter work with Nifty and having horses with Andy and Julie is great,” Karl said. “Our friendship goes back a long way. That’s a great feeling too, just having those guys and knowing we can trust them and work with them. “Every time we went to the track last year, we felt like we had a chance. That’s more than you can ask for.” In addition to winning a second Breeders Crown, Amigo Volo’s victories in 2020 included the Kentucky Futurity. Pinske Stables also won the Kentucky Filly Futurity that same afternoon with Love A Good Story. “That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen,” Karl said in amazement of the day’s results. Venerate won the inaugural Mohawk Million and sat atop his division in purses. New Image Media photo. Pinske Stables shares ownership of Amigo Volo with David J. Miller and Love A Good Story with Daniel Plouffe and Kentuckiana Farms. It shares ownership of Fire Start Hanover with David Hoese and Lawrence Means. “Our owner group has stuck with us through thin and thick,” Karl said. “I say it in that order for a reason because there were some not great years. To see the smiles on their faces at the Breeders Crown was pretty special. “But all the races are special. All the wins are special. Doing it with our family and those guys was the best part.” As for 2021, Karl said Pinske Stables will continue to operate with around two dozen horses. Among the group returning from last season are two male trotters that banked six figures at age 2 in 2020: Jack Fire, who was a Grand Circuit stakes winner, and Steel, who won the New York Sire Stakes championship. “We bought more (yearlings) on the trotting side, that seems to be Carter’s passion, but our horse numbers in Florida are identical to last year,” Karl said. “There were plenty of opportunities to be bigger, but we chose the other way. You don’t want to change the formula too much right now.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

The 2020 Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award winner will be announced as part of the United States Harness Writers Association’s (USHWA) Dan Patch Virtual Awards Show on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 5-6 p.m. This Virtual Awards Show has been made possible in large part by Jason Settlemoir and The Meadowlands, Roberts Communications Network, and the United States Trotting Association (USTA). The winner of the Caretaker of the Year Award, sponsored by Art Zubrod and Leah Cheverie’s Fair Island Farm, will receive a cash prize of $500 and a plaque with a photo of the caretaker and a favorite horse. Sixteen names were submitted to the seven-member committee, all USHWAns who had been caretakers, that was tasked to select the winner. Here are those names, with the stable for which they work noted in parentheses:   Erin Bonno (George Ducharme) Margaret Gillon (Ron Burke) Bethany Graffam (Graffam Stable) Shelly Greico (Linda Toscano) Michelle Hallett (John Hallett) Kim Hines (Jason Robinson) Diane Lewis (Joe Holloway) Trish Nappi (Cory Deyermand) Lisa Palmiter (Chris Lakata) Katie Remmerswaal (Nancy Takter) Kelly Smith (Chuck Sylvester) Sierra Smith (Gerry Sarama) Anki Wernis (Jim Campbell) Dave Wisher (Joe MacDonald) Vicki Wright (Noel Daley) Cheyenne Yoder (James Yoder)   The Dan Patch Awards Show can be watched live on USHWA’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/USHarnessWriters), as well as through the Meadowlands simulcast signal, on the track’s website (www.playmeadowlands.com) and through the RTN broadcast network. The next day it will also be archived and available on USHWA’s website (www.usharnesswriters.com) and Facebook page as well as the USTA’s YouTube channel.   (USHWA)

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will host a special harness racing Dan Patch Virtual Awards Show, on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 5 to 6 p.m. This Virtual Awards Show has been made possible in large part by Jason Settlemoir and The Meadowlands, Roberts Communications Network, and the United States Trotting Association (USTA). The Dan Patch Awards Show can be watched live on USHWA's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/USHarnessWriters), as well as through the Meadowlands simulcast signal, on the track's website (www.playmeadowlands.com) and through the RTN broadcast network. The next day it will also be archived and available on USHWA's website (www.usharnesswriters.com) and Facebook page as well as the USTA's YouTube channel. To be announced on the Virtual Awards Show will be the 12 divisional winners in the racehorse categories, along with Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and the prestigious E.R. Harriman Harness Horse of the Year. Also to be announced are the Norman Woolworth Owner, Driver, and Breeder of the Year, the Trotting and Pacing Broodmares of the Year, and the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year. A unanimous selection by all the USHWA chapters, Nancy Takter has already been announced as the winner of the Glen Garnsey Trainer of the Year. Here are the finalists for the human awards and broodmares: Driver: Dexter Dunn, David Miller Owner: Caviart Farms, Crawford Farms, Pinske Stables Breeder: Brittany Farms, Order By Stable, Runthetable Stables Trotting Broodmare: Dunk The Donato, Nantab, Margarita Momma, Steamy Windows Pacing Broodmare: Beachy Girl, Great Memories, JK She'salady, Swinging Beauty   (USHWA)

HARRISBURG, PA - One came to prominence in the shadow of New York City; the other is a son of the Midwest. One is primarily a writer who also has done much television journalism; the other achieved principal fame as a photographer, but he also wrote often and well. What links them is their talent in communicating the abilities of the very best in harness racing, and thus Jay Bergman and Joe Kyle were voted in to the Communicators Hall of Fame by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading journalism organization. Bergman achieved his greatest impact during his 27 years of working at Sports Eye, a daily newspaper which primarily dealt with handicapping (Bergman was one of the key theorists behind the creation of a track "variant") but also offered opinions on the issues of the day - a position, especially after he became editor-in-chief in the 1980s, Bergman did frequently and forcefully, not afraid to offer criticism and call people and organizations to task. He won a 1984 Hervey Award in the "news and commentary" writing division. A frequent author for many of the sport's most respected publications, Bergman is currently a columnist for DRF Harness, the harness racing arm of Daily Racing Form. He has served on-camera as television commentator for The Meadowlands and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and also assisted television broadcasters behind the scenes of many of the sport's top races. Kyle is a native of Decatur IL, 40 miles from the mile Grand Circuit track in Springfield IL and not far up the road from DuQuoin IL, where the Hambletonian and then the World Trotting Derby were held. He covered the top Midwest racing for many years, and with his move to the staff of The Horseman And Fair World magazine in Lexington KY, Joe also wrote about and photographed the stars of the sulky game during the annual Grand Circuit visit to Lexington's Red Mile. His photography has been cited by USHWA, with its Smallsreed Award, and the World Trotting Council. Ironically, that particular winning photo was taken at a race in Bergman's "back yard," The Meadowlands, after Scarlet Knight won the 2001 Hambletonian for trainer-driver Stefan "Tarzan" Melander - a noted photographer in his native Sweden. Kyle attended many of the sport's major races wearing both photographic and reporter hats during his time at The Horseman. Jay Bergman and Joe Kyle will be honored at the 2022 Dan Patch Awards Banquet, as the 2021 Banquet has been cancelled due to health/travel considerations. That same year, they will be formally inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame at the Harness Racing Museum in Goshen NY. by Jerry Connors, for USHWA

HARRISBURG, PA - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the group of the industry's communicators who are the primary voters on Hall of Fame and year-end honors, is announcing a special Dan Patch Virtual Awards Show, to be held on Saturday, January 16, 2021 from 5 to 6 p.m.   The Dan Patch Awards Show can be watched live on USHWA's Facebook page (Log into Facebook), as well as through the Meadowlands simulcast signal, on the track's website (www.playmeadowlands.com) and through the RTN broadcast network. The next day it will be archived and available on the USTA's YouTube channel. The Dan Patch Awards would normally be given at the writers' annual Dan Patch Banquet in association with their national meetings, but there will be no banquet this year due to health/travel concerns, and the USHWA meetings will be held electronically. To be announced on this Virtual Awards Show will be the twelve divisional winners in the Racehorse categories, along with Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and the prestigious E.R. Harriman Harness Horse of the Year. Also to be announced are the Norman Woolworth Owner, Driver, and Breeder of the Year, along with the Trotting and Pacing Broodmares of the year. Nancy Takter, nominated as the Glen Garnsey Trainer of the Year by every chapter of USHWA and its At Large membership, was thus automatically declared the winner of that award. In addition, the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year will be featured. Media releases on all the winners, both human and equine, will be distributed as soon as possible after the Virtual Awards Show is completed. No winners in any of these categories will be released before the Awards Show. From USHWA

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) is formally announcing that due to travel concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Dan Patch Awards Banquet, scheduled to be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort on Feb. 21, 2021, has been cancelled. The 2020 divisional equine awards will be announced virtually, as will an abbreviated roster of human awards. In addition, USHWA will hold their Directors and General Membership meeting exclusively online. The determination was made through a unanimous vote of USHWA's Executive Board and President's Advisory Committee. "This has been an extremely challenging year for everyone and health was our priority in making the decision to cancel the 2021 Dan Patch Awards Banquet," said Kimberly Rinker, USHWA President. "USHWA's executive and presidential advisory teams have worked diligently to ensure that the Dan Patch Awards will continue in 2022 and beyond." As well, there will be no Dan Patch Awards Journal in 2021 and USHWA will not be soliciting advertising or sponsorships. "We are eternally grateful for the years of advertising and sponsorship support by so many in the harness racing industry," Rinker continued. "USHWA relies on these monies to put on a first-class event in the Dan Patch Awards Banquet. I think people are tired and frustrated by the events of the past year and they need a break. When things return to normal, I'm confident that those folks who have supported USHWA in the past will continue their support." USHWA's Executive Board and President's Advisory Committee will convene Sunday, Nov. 29 to determine the agenda and full schedule for the virtual 2021 Dan Patch Awards and USHWA's Meetings. That information will be disseminated once all the details have been finalized. From the United States Harness Writers Association

ORLANDO, FL - The annual meetings of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading media organization, were held this past weekend at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, with the weekend climaxing in Sunday's Dan Patch Awards Banquet honoring the top harness racing performers, equine and human, during the past 2019 season. Saturday's USHWA meeting gathered together the group's Board of Directors, while Sunday's session was an open event for all of USHWA's members. Positive numbers for USHWA were reported by several Officers and committee chairpeople. The Association reported a profit for the fourth straight year, with the prospects of a fifth straight growth period looking good, as USHWA's financial status is largely determined by the annual Dan Patch Banquet, and high-level performance in both sponsorship participation and ads taken in the popular Souvenir Banquet Journal were very promising. Also a good sign is that the membership of USHWA, declining a few members a year in a contracting industry in recent times, actually showed a small increase since last year's meetings. The annual By-Law and Rules & Regulations Change Proposals did not offer some of the controversy and heated exchanges of recent years, although both sides were argued well on a couple of contentious issues. One By-Law change that went into effect right away was the method by which the Directors established the two ballot candidates for this summer's Communicators Hall of Fame elections, and as reported earlier Jay Bergman and Joseph Kyle were selected from a talented field to take a place on the election ballot. Sunday's General Membership saw the 26 USHWA directors in attendance joined by a similar number of members from the Active membership ranks. The greater portion of the Sunday meeting was devoted to the Committee reports of some two dozen USHWA subdivisions which keep all aspects of the organization in working order throughout the year, from Hall of Fame candidate biography compilation, to traffic control during the Dan Patch Banquet, to oversight of various phases of social media usage. Kim Rinker, the Director of the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund, was elected President of the organization during the Sunday meeting. Rinker, who had been vice president, succeeds Shawn Wiles of Monticello Raceway, who by USHWA bylaw now becomes the Chairman of the Board. In a contested election for USHWA Vice-President, Barry Lefkowitz, the USHWA treasurer, narrowly defeated Derick Giwner of Daily Racing Form Harness. Lefkowitz said that he would retain his treasurer's duties as well during this term. Both Wiles and Lefkowitz were presented with Gold Lifetime Membership pins during the General Meeting: Wiles as an outgoing President, and Lefkowitz, for the required years of service on the Board as treasurer. Jerry Connors was again voted USHWA secretary. At the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, pacing mare Shartin N was announced as the 2019 Harness Horse of the Year, which was met with wild cheers from her many and vociferous backers in attendance. Shartin N becomes the first older pacing mare to win Horse of the Year honors, and also the first horse bred outside of North America to take this continent's highest award. "She's certainly been a life changer for us," noted trainer Jim King Jr. at the banquet. Greenshoe, the brilliant three-year-old colt, was named Trotter of the Year; Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year were the only awards being announced for the first time at the dinner. Greenshoe now goes off to a stud career at Hanover Shoe Farms, while Shartin N has already posted a winning qualifier in front of a 2020 campaign. The highest human award given by USHWA, the Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award, resulted in a voting dead-heat for the first time in its 69-year history. The members of the Association voted equal honors to the contributions made by Joe Faraldo, the President and CEO of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, an important member of the U.S. Trotting Association's Board of Directors, and a staunch advocate of horsemen's rights, and the Libfeld-Katz partnership of owners-breeders Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz, Ontarians who have ranked at the top levels of both of those fields of racing and also sponsored the Breeders Crown races when they came to their hometown Mohawk track this past year and held a successful charity tie-in. Also honored at the Dan Patch Banquet were newly-voted Hall of Famers Tom Charters, Jeff Gural, Bill Popfinger, and Tim Tetrick, along with Communicators Hall of Famers Phil Pikelny and Ken Weingartner. This group will be formally inducted into their respective Halls of Fame on Sunday, July 5 at the site of the sport's Hall, Goshen NY. From the United States Harness Writers Association    

The name of the 2019 Horse of the Year will be announced Sunday night (Feb. 23) at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards dinner at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. But even if you aren’t among the attendees you will be able to watch the announcement live via USHWA’s YouTube page. After a one-hour cocktail hour, the awards ceremony gets underway at 6:30 p.m.(12:30pm NZ time) and will be available via the U.S. Trotting Association’s YouTube page. At approximately 9:30 p.m (3:30pm NZ time), emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will announce the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Horse of the Year trophy, which follows the revealing of the names of the Pacer of the Year and Trotter of the Year. To access YouTube page, please click here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association’s YouTube page on Monday (Feb. 24). Post time for the evening is 5:30 p.m., with a one-hour Red Carpet cocktail reception sponsored by Shartin N. Also starring on the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It’s your guarantee to see who’s wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale’s Facebook page can be found here. Heather Wilder’s Facebook page can be found here. (USHWA)   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Want to walk the Red Carpet at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards dinner at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday night, Feb. 23? An expected crowd of more than 300 will have the chance, but so too do those who can't make the trip. For the third year in row, well-known harness racing personalities Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder will be walking the Red Carpet, sponsored by Shartin N, and broadcasting live on their Facebook pages. The Facebook Live shows will begin at 5:30 p.m. and continue until 6:30 p.m., when the awards dinner will commence. "If you can't make the banquet we are going to bring the party to you!" said Wilder. "And it's going to be some party!" Heather Vitale's Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/PacinHeather. Heather Wilder's Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/heather.k.wilder. Vitale has hosted two popular television shows: Post Time and PA Harness Week. In addition to her local weekly productions, the charismatic personality has covered the sport nationally on espn2, CBSSN and MAV-TV. Vitale loves communicating with Standardbred enthusiasts around the world via social media and her unconventional interviews with a "when in doubt, add glitter" attitude has brought a unique sparkle to the sport and grabbed the attention of new fans. She was the 2018 USHWA Member of the Year. Wilder is currently known for her handling talent management for the Delaware County Fair during the live TV broadcast of the Little Brown Jug. While working as public relations and marketing director for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association she became a pioneer of reporting on racing on Facebook Live and coordinated the promotion of countless on-track events. She was the 2013 recipient of USHWA's Lew Barasch Memorial Breakthrough Award. The entire awards dinner, hosted by Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir, will be broadcast live on the USHWA Facebook page and available on the U.S. Trotting Association's Youtube page the following day, Monday, Feb. 24. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

The name of the 2019 harness racing Horse of the Year will be announced Sunday night, Feb. 23, at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) Dan Patch Awards dinner at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. But even if you aren't among the attendees you will be able to watch the announcement live via USHWA's Facebook page. After a one-hour cocktail party, the awards ceremony will get underway at 6:30 p.m., and will be available via the Facebook page. At approximately 9:30 p.m., emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will announce the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Horse of the Year trophy, which follows the revealing of the names of the Pacer of the Year and Trotter of the Year. To access USHWA's Facebook page, please click here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association's YouTube page the following day, Monday, Feb. 24, by clicking here. Post time for the evening is 5:30 p.m., with a one-hour Red Carpet cocktail reception sponsored by Shartin N. Also starring on the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It's your guarantee to see who's wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale's Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/PacinHeather. Heather Wilder's Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/heather.k.wilder From the United States Harness Writers Association      

Jim Avritt Sr. bought his first Standardbred in 1963 when he was a senior at Xavier University and nearly 60 years later continues to enjoy the thrills of harness racing and breeding. On Feb. 23 in Orlando, Fla., Avritt's Precocious Beauty will be honored as the Pacing Broodmare of the Year at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Award banquet. Precocious Beauty is the dam of Tall Dark Stranger, who that same night will receive the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male pacer. Earlier this month, Tall Dark Stranger picked up the O'Brien Award in Canada. Avritt bred and raced Precocious Beauty, who in 2013 also captured O'Brien and Dan Patch awards. Tall Dark Stranger, a Bettor's Delight-sired colt who sold for $330,000 at the 2018 Lexington Selected Sale, was her second foal. Her first foal, an Avritt-owned filly by Somebeachsomewhere named Beautyonthebeach, was a two-time Kentucky Sire Stakes champion. She was retired following the 2019 season and will be bred to Bettor's Delight this week. "It's incredible, really incredible," the 79-year-old Avritt said. "I never thought when I started out that I'd reach this point, that's for sure. I never dreamed at that time I would have something like Precocious Beauty down the road, either as a race filly or a broodmare. Precocious Beauty "I can't wait (for the awards weekend). I'm going to hit some of the training centers on Saturday morning before heading to Orlando. I'm looking forward to it." Avritt traces his successes to the purchase of Dominique Semalu as a broodmare in 1995. Dominque Semalu is the dam of Precious Beauty, whose offspring in addition to Precocious Beauty include O'Brien and Dan Patch awards winner Sportswriter and Grand Circuit winner Prescient Beauty. The family also includes the grandam of Dan Patch Award winner Downbytheseaside. "I've said it before, if I hadn't been lucky enough to buy Dominique Semalu nobody would have ever heard of me," Avritt said. "I've sold some high-priced yearlings out of her. Although she didn't produce any really top stakes winners, she had good raceway horses that earned quite a bit of money, and every daughter she ever had turned out to be a tremendous producer." Avritt generally keeps fillies out of his broodmares and sells the colts. Precocious Beauty's third foal, a colt by Somebeachsomewhere named Beach Party, sold for $190,000 last fall at Lexington. Avritt has kept a yearling filly out of Precocious Beauty, by American Ideal, named Elegant Beauty. He also has a 2-year-old homebred filly out of Barefoot Beauty that he is training. She is by Shadow Play and named Barefoot'npregnant. "She is a really, really nice filly," Avritt said. "She's probably as nice as anything I've trained. If she's good enough, she'll go up to Gregg (McNair) when he goes north from Florida. Otherwise, she'll stay down here and I'll race her some at the fairs and see how much she can improve." Avritt still likes to drive in races, although he does not do it often. "Every now and then I drive," he said. "I really enjoy that part of it. There is no feeling in the world like going behind the gate." Even if he does not get on the track, the Kentucky resident still gets to enjoy watching his small broodmare band's offspring compete. "I'm hoping it's not over yet," Avritt said. "I just wish I was younger so I could enjoy it a lot longer." by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Harrisburg, PA---The Dan Patch Awards Dinner will be held on Sunday, February 23 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The annual silent auction will be held in conjunction with the evening's festivities. The Harness Horse Youth Foundation Summer Programs and U.S. Harness Writers Association industry outreach initiatives will benefit from the proceeds. This year's auction features more than 40 outstanding items, so there is sure to be something of interest for everyone! Framed artwork includes original oils and pen and ink drawings to collectible prints and iconic photographs. There are resort and race day packages, Yankees tickets, and on-line courses. There is signed sports memorabilia and a variety of themed gift baskets. For a complete listing of items and bidding instructions, please click on this link -- https://hhyf.org/auctions/. Additional questions may be directed to Ellen Taylor at HHYF: by email, ellen@hhyf.org or phone 317.908.0029. Phone bidding is possible but must be arranged prior to February 23; contact Ellen Taylor or Steven Wolf 954.654.3757 for more information. Many thanks to the generous donors who support this fundraiser. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

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