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NEW YORK -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that harness racing across the state will be allowed to reopen as of June 1 without fans. As the state moves forward with their phased reopening, Cuomo said they are also looking to open economic activities without crowds or gatherings. "If you can have economic activity without a crowd, that's great," he said. "We can do that in this state horse racing tracks and we're going to do that." Cuomo said there will be be guidelines for the actual participants. The horse racing venues that will be opening up are as follows: - Aqueduct Racetrack - Batavia Downs - Belmont Park - Buffalo Raceway - Finger Lakes Racetrack - Monticello Raceway - Saratoga Race Course - Saratoga Raceway - Tioga Downs - Vernon Downs - Yonkers Raceway Cuomo added the reopening of the Watkins Glen International racetrack, which will be able to open on June 1 without fans. When asked about baseball, the governor said there is a large number of maintenance staff and support staff that has to be accounted for. He questioned about social distancing measures.  

As you are aware, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has issued several Executive Orders designed to combat the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Among the Orders is a requirement that certain employers reduce the number of their employees working at individual locations in the State by 100 percent effective March 22, 2020 at 8 p.m. The employment reduction requirements apply to all for-profit and not-for-profit employers in New York State, unless such business has been deemed an essential business or entity providing essential services. The Executive Orders themselves define the terms “essential businesses or entities” providing “essential services”. Yesterday the applicability of the reduction was extended through May 15, 2020. Review of the applicable Executive Orders continues to find that a racetrack operating for parimutuel wagering does not qualify as an essential business, accordingly, the Commission hereby suspends any previously approved race dates of operation through May 15, 2020, and will not approve any pending race dates of operation through May 15, 2020.  Should you disagree with the identification of your business as non-essential, you may file a request with the Empire State Development Corporation to be designated as an essential business through this website. However, animal care operations, including equine barn or facility maintenance, equine turnout and exercise, stall cleaning and enclosure repair, and farrier and veterinary care do qualify as essential business. As previously discussed in past correspondence, whether a racetrack remains open for training and barns remain open for stabling is a determination to be made by each racetrack and its horsemen’s organization. However, should a racetrack or barn area remain open there are certain standards that must be maintained. For facilities that remain open for training purposes, it is management’s responsibility to maintain the training surface in a safe condition. Failure to properly maintain the surface presents significant risk to the equine athlete and those engaged in exercising or training. Racetracks must not allow, by omission, any unnecessary risk relative to its racing surfaces. With respect to sanitary conditions, should any animals be maintained on racetrack grounds, the racetrack must continue to meet basic welfare responsibilities. These responsibilities include securing a reliable supply of products necessary to maintain the population and ensuring that the sanitary needs of the facility remain satisfied. These needs include the scheduled removal and disposition of refuse, manure and stained straw. Should you have any questions, please contact me directly. Robert Williams Executive Director New York State Gaming Commission

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund announces that it is now accepting applications for grant awards from certified 501(c) (3) not for profit organizations. Grant awards made available by the Fund for this year total up to $150,000. The grant application can be found at Grant proposals from eligible organizations must be received by the Fund no later than March 1, 2019. Organizations that are interested are asked to review the Application and the Fund's Grants Policy to determine their eligibility. The Fund will review each grant request submitted and invite those organizations that meet the eligibility requirements to make a presentation at a board meeting this spring. Grants will be awarded based on the strength of proposal, the availability of resources and meeting the statutorily mandated Mission of the Fund. Grant awardees will be sent written notification including deadlines for submission of expenditure reports. Proposals should be mailed to: Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund Attention: Kelly Young 1 Broadway Center Schenectady, N.Y. 12305 or emailed to:   About the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund:  The Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund is a public benefit corporation established in 1965 by the Laverne Law (Laws of New York, Chapter 567 of the Laws of 1965). The mission of the fund is to promote agriculture through the breeding of Standardbred horses and the conduct of equine research within the state. To carry out its legislative mission, the Fund administers the New York Sire Stakes races, Excelsior/State Fair Series races, and County Fair Races. From the Ag and NY State Horse Breeding Dev. Fund

A reminder that today (Nov. 21) is the deadline to RSVP for the New York Sire Stakes & US Trotting Association District 8 (Upstate New York) Annual Awards Banquet. Please RSVP via phone or email to Judy Spadaro at 518-694-5002 or The banquet will be held Sunday, Dec. 2 at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel. The cocktail reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., hosted by USTA District 8 Tracks. The awards banquet will follow immediately at 7:30 p.m. in the Grandstands Banquet Room. Tickets are $35. Payment should be made out and sent to: Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund C/O CHMS 230 Washington Avenue Extension, Suite 201 Albany, NY 12203 A special room rate of $99 has been arranged for all banquet attendees at the Hotel at Batavia Downs. Reservations can be made online by using Code NYSS2, or by calling 585-815-7000. Tell the desk you are making a reservation for the New York Sire Stakes banquet to receive the discounted rate. Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you at the banquet. From the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund  

Latham, NY --- The Harness Horse Breeders of New York State (HHBNYS) have announced that long time Standardbred owner Ken Jacobs will receive the 2018 Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal. Jacobs is the kind of person anyone loves to have involved in harness racing because unlike many who view the sport with a dollars and cents mentality, Jacobs is not involved in this sport for investment only. He is also a fan who loves to carry the message of harness racing with him where ever he goes. A lifelong resident of Baldwinsville, New York, Jacobs has always had an interest in horses. And after buying an antiquated electric motor plant in 1981 and turning it into a North American industry-leading state of the art manufacturer of electric drive motors, he found some time to pursue his love of the sport. In 1993 Jacobs bought his first horse; a $2,500 claimer at Vernon Downs. From there it didn't take long for him to turn his attention to buying yearlings that were staked; in particular to the New York Sire Stake (NYSS) program. Through spending hours on research and doing his "due diligence" for every sale, Jacobs became very adept in his selections and as a result, has had a long run of picking successful yearlings who have become big time winners. Names like Rita J (Bettors Delight-Road Sign $193,012), Kenneth J (Bettors Delight-Advantest $1.56 million), He's Gorgeous (Art Major- So Ravishing $743,844), Heston Blue Chip (American Ideal-Shot Togo Bluechip $1.78 million) and Walner (Chapter Seven-Random Destiny $567,652) have not only made an impression on the racing scene in the state, they have helped keep New York-breds in the forefront of the sport on the Grand Circuit. Jacobs cares about his horses beyond what they do on the track as well. He is very particular in the way they are treated no matter how they perform. In a previous interview Jacobs stated "I'm not like some other owners who just want the money. I want what's right for the horse. And every horse I have gets the same thing regardless how they perform. They are all very special to me." Jacobs also cares about the community he lives in and supports many charitable causes and organizations. He does not want any credit for doing well for others; he feels it's his duty to give back where he can because he has been blessed himself. For decades, Ken Jacobs has brought the best he could to the track and has always supported the sport of harness racing. He has been involved hands-on through supporting breeding in the state, but he also goes the extra mile to promote harness racing whenever he can. Through talking to fans at the track, bringing non-racing acquaintances to the races or grabbing random people and children from the crowd to go out for win pictures, his friendly personality and affable demeanor make him a true ambassador to harness racing and one of the true "good guys" in the industry. Ken Jacobs will receive his award on Sunday (Dec. 2) during the NYSS Awards Banquet that will be held at 6 p.m. in the Grandstands Banquet Room at Batavia Downs. The Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal is presented annually in recognition of outstanding contributions to harness horse racing and the improvement of breeding Standardbred horses in the State of New York. It is presented in honor of Bruce Hamilton who was the 18-year executive secretary of Harness Horse Breeders and guided the New York Sire Stakes program through some of its most exciting and challenging years. Hamilton was instrumental in uniting racetracks, horsemen and breeders in pursuit of video lottery terminals and the eventual passage of the gaming law in 2001. By Tim Bojarski, for the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

YONKERS, N.Y. - New York's richest night of racing returns to Yonkers Raceway this Saturday with the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes "Night of Champions." Eight finals races featuring the best state-bred 2- and 3-year-olds will be contested for $225,000 purses each. Post time is 6:50 p.m., with the first NYSS Final scheduled as the second race of the card. A full list of entries can be found here. The star-studded evening features a number of familiar names and impressive resumes, including Plunge Blue Chip. The 3-year-old trotting filly holds the all-age track record at Yonkers with a 1:53.1 posted this season. She will be competing against last year's NYSS champion Lucky Ava in the sixth race. The other returning champion, Alexis Faith, will take on the 3-year-old filly pacers in race seven. This year's Yonkers Trot runner-up Helpisontheway is featured in the 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings division (Race 8) and Gimpanzee will look to extend his season long undefeated streak in the final for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters (Race 3). "New York-breds provided an exciting racing season this year, with track record performances across the state and Grand Circuit victories on the road, so we are guaranteed an exciting night of racing," said M. Kelly Young, executive director, Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. "We'd like to congratulate all the owners, trainers and drivers on another successful season, and thank our fans for their continued support." "The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions highlights the best young horses bred in New York State and shows off our tremendous Standardbred breeding and racing program," said Richard A. Ball, Commissioner, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund Trustee. "These races have great energy and truly should not be missed." Race sponsors for the event include New York-based breeders and institutions: Allerage Farms, Blue Chip Farms, Cameo Hills Farm, Crawford Farms, Morrisville College Equine Institute, and Winbak Farm. The New York Sire Stakes program promotes the breeding, buying, and racing of Standardbred horses in New York State, and is administered by the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. It was the first program of is kind, featuring 2- and 3-year-old colts and fillies, and has become the model for state-bred racing programs in North America. The NYSS Consolation Finals will be held at Batavia Downs on Sept. 21. The finals for the NYSS Excelsior Series are scheduled for Sept. 23 at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Earlier this month, the Fund announced that Batavia Downs will serve as host of the 2019 "Night of Champions." From the  Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund

Beginning in 2016, Harness Horse Breeders of NYS and the Morrisville Equine Institute took on a new initiative for Standardbred aftercare. At that time all Morrisville Yearling Sale consignors pledged support of the new initiative and joined in supporting NY-bred aftercare. In 2018 alone the program has provided help to 19 horses. Funds were used for bail and to cover shipping and quarantine if necessary. EVERY NY-Bred in danger of slaughter that the HHBNYS was contacted about was bailed. This 100% success rate was also made possible by individual contributions of the Harness Horse Breeders' membership when the Morrisville Yearling Sale funding was exhausted. Harness Horse Breeders of New York State and Morrisville Equine Institute have decided to continue this endeavor again this year for all 2017 yearlings owned and sold by Morrisville College on September 16th, 2018. The College will donate $100.00 from the purchase price of each of their yearlings to a reserve fund to support any NY-Bred standardbreds found to be in need. Erin Shantal, reproduction manager of the equine program at the Morrisville Equine Institute, states "We are amazed by the response of our wonderful consignors and hope that purchasers will also be generous and help support the aftercare program in the years to come." A donation box will also be available at the Harness Horse Breeder's table at the sale for those individuals who would like to make a donation. Morrisville College and the Harness Horse Breeders of NYS are once again asking consignors to support this initiative to provide a safety net for our NY-Bred horses. For a sponsorship form please contact Mary at Morrisville Equine Institute (315-684-6355.) The HHBNYS will coordinate the use of the donations for NY-Bred horse support services and with further assistance from the Standardbred Retirement Fund work to provide safe homes for these horses. From the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

The Harness Horse Breeders of New York State (HHBNYS) are pleased to offer our members a unique incentive to purchase a New York-Bred at the Goshen Yearling Sale and the Morrisville Yearling Sale. The Harness Horse Breeders of NYS have been overwhelmed again this year by the support from old and new members. To show our appreciation, we will once again make both sustaining payments due in 2019 for two 2018 New York sire stakes-eligible yearlings that are sold in New York. The total value of those payments is $1,100 each. New York sales are a great place to purchase a yearling and we hope members attend and purchase a yearling to support the sales companies and the New York breeders who consign to them. The rules for the payment opportunity are: 1. To enter the drawing you must be a member of Harness Horse Breeders of NYS or join before the respective sale begins and you must have your name as purchaser on the sales slip of at least one New York Bred yearling at one of the designated sales. 2. Harness Horse Breeders will make the payment directly to the NYSS office. It is the member's responsibility to notify HHBNYS to sustain that horse 10 days in advance of the staking deadline. 3. The drawing will pull one member name after each sale. If the first name does not correspond with the name on the sales results for a yearling, drawing will continue until a match is made. 4. Horse must be sold, no bid ins or buy backs will be entered in the drawing. 5. Non transferable between members and winners have ten days after notification to assign the prize to a specific yearling if multiples were purchased, and to notify HHBNYS of that name. If horse is subsequently sold before payment is made, award will follow yearling. 6. Any HHBNYS member in a partnership will also be eligible to enter the drawing. 7. IF THE DECISION IS MADE NOT TO SUSTAIN THE HORSE AT THE TIME OF EITHER OF THE TWO PAYMENTS, THERE IS NO CASH EQUIVALENT AND DONATION IN THE AMOUNT OF THE PAYMENTS WILL BE MADE TO Morrisville Standardbred Aftercare. 8. Horse must be paid for in full to be entered in the drawing. The drawing for the Goshen Yearling will take place on Sunday Sept 16th at Morrisville and the drawing for the Morrisville Yearling will take place Saturday September 22rd. This will allow for membership verification and payments in full to be processed. From the Harness Horse Breeders of NY         Harness Horse Breeders of New York State   12 Avis Drive, Suite 1   Latham, New York 12110   Tel: 518-785-5858   Fax: 518-785-5848           CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail message and any attachments are intended solely for the use of the intended recipient, and may contain information that is confidential, privileged and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, you are not permitted to read, disclose, reproduce, distribute, use or take any action in reliance upon this message and any attachments, and we request that you promptly notify the sender and immediately delete this message and any attachments as well as any copies thereof. Delivery of this message to an unintended recipient is not intended to waive any right or privilege. If you received this transmission in error, please immediately notify us by reply e-mail at or by telephone at (518)-785-5858, and destroy the original transmission and its attachments without reading or saving them to disk. Thank you.      

Steve Stewart has come full circle in harness racing. Now living in Berlin, New York, Stewart first got involved in the sport decades ago while living in Long Island. He started going to the races in the late seventies at Roosevelt Raceway as a fan and eventually became a groom for trainer Bob Bencal. His career path eventually took him through several jobs both in and out of the business including a stint at the Sports Eye. As life took over, Stewart (who now works in online sales) moved upstate away from the city where he and his wife Laura raised their family. Living only about an hour's drive from Saratoga Raceway, Stewart's love for the trotters was rekindled and it came time for him to revisit an old passion; he wanted to buy a Standardbred. "The idea just kind of came to me randomly since I was living up here and it's been something I've always wanted to do. It was a line on my bucket list to be crossed off. That's all I wanted to do was get into the winner's circle one-time; that was my main goal" said Stewart. Decades removed from the business and not quite sure how to get started, Steve and Laura signed up for a new owner seminar that was being presented by the Harness Horse Breeders of New York at Saratoga Raceway in 2014. That was all it took for him to start what has turned into a very successful venture. "After i attended the seminar I needed to find a trainer to get started and went to the race office at Saratoga. I got the contact information of a couple trainers I was interested in and went from there. The first one I spoke with just didn't feel like a good fit but the next guy clicked with me and that's who I got started with" Stewart recalled. That guy was Mark Beckwith. His first horse was a trotter named Sixth Man. After winning three races, Sixth Man got injured and unfortunately had to be put down. He then bought pacer Artistic Blue, who they raced and then resold after a few starts. After getting off to a less than stellar start, Stewart needed to re-think his strategy and stepped away for a couple of months to regroup. "When I finally decided to get back in I called Mark to see if he had any horses on the radar. But his stable was full and he really couldn't take any more training bills. So he recommended I call Scott Mongeon who he said would be able to get a horse for me" said Stewart. Mongeon told Stewart he could help him out and in a couple of weeks called him about a trotter he knew was for sale named Twisted Pretzel. "When Scott called me about Twisted Pretzel I told him I knew the horse because Sixth Man had raced against him several times and ironically I had a win photo of him with Twisted Pretzel second, just a neck apart. I told him I was definitely interested. We had the horse vetted out, sent them a check and the following week the horse was in the box." Twisted Pretzel won his first start for his new owners in September of 2016 in a lower level condition race. He won two more races after that and moved up the ranks into the weekly trotting feature at Saratoga where he finished third in 1:54.1. But the best was yet to come. The following year in 36 starts, Twisted Pretzel won 13 races (six of which were Open Handicaps), was second three times and third another seven while amassing $121,909 in purses and taking a new lifetime mark of 1:55. The career year Twisted Pretzel had, earned him the designation of 2017 Trotter of the Year from Saratoga Raceway. Now having a solid race horse in his barn, Stewart was ready to expand the operation and get another one. This time however, he wanted a New York bred yearling. "I thought it was time and I wanted to buy a horse that was staked in New York. But I also wanted one sired by Crazed, who was Twisted Pretzel's father. I got the Morrisville Sale catalog and started looking at Crazed-sired yearlings. I saw a few but I particularly liked a horse named Party Saver who was hip #55, which just happened to be my year of birth. Oddly enough my trainer had him on his list as well" Stewart said. Stewart went into the sale with a price of $20,000 in mind. As the bidding went on he reached that plateau, and then was outbid with a $21,000 counter. Stewart thought, turned around and walked away from the ring. "The auctioneer stopped the auction and started talking about the horse, his breeding and such. By the time the bidding resumed I was back to my seat just in time to watch my wife put her hand up and bid $22,000! The gavel fell and we walked away with the horse, thanks to my wife" Stewart recounted. With respect for their stable star, Party Saver was renamed "IM TP's Crazed Bro" and he made his first lifetime start for the Stewarts at Saratoga this year on June 14 in a baby race where he finished second. He will also be starting in the New York Sire Stakes this summer where Stewart will hopefully stand in the winner's circle once again with his wife and New York bred winner. On Sunday (June 24) the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State will be holding another new owner seminar at Tioga Downs and would like to invite all interested parties to join them. This seminar will provide valuable information for prospective new owners and focus on all aspects of horse ownership that can get you on your way to standing in the winner's circle with your own horse. Registration is at 9:30 a.m. and the seminar begins at 10:00 a.m. with beverages and Danishes. The seminar will include materials, lunch, programs and live racing. Tuition is $20 per person or $30 per couple and will be collected upon arrival at registration. To register for this seminar, contact the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State at 518-785-5858, email or through this link. ( ) by Tim Bojarski, for the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

Latham, NY- With the pending sale of the Empire City Casino and Racetrack the Harness Horse Breeders of NY expect the New York State breeding and racing program to continue to flourish. The sale of Yonkers Racetrack and Empire City Casino was inevitable but the long term commitment made by New York State to support agriculture is well documented. Regardless of any changes of ownership at Yonkers Racetrack and Empire City Casino we are confident that the economic impact made by the Standardbred industry will continue to be protected and supported. Without racing the VLT's would not exist at Empire City. The Breeder's are further aware that the current full scale casinos in upstate New York are not performing at expected levels. Any rush to add another casino is not expected with the current saturation level. The Breeder's believe the VLTs and racing are a lucrative business model at Empire City and expect that will not change for some time. Now is actually a great time to take advantage of the NY breeding and racing program. The current number of 739 yearlings eligible to race in 2019 is the smallest in 15 years. With purses at an estimated $14 million the opportunities to make money could not be better. If you further consider the $1 million in funding for residency Breeders ' awards with the fact that there is a smaller pool of resident eligible horses, breeders awards could easily reach twenty five percent of earnings. The following statements were (taken in part) from an article in Harness Racing Update on June 1st, 2018. The Harness Horse Breeders fully support the comments and strongly recommend the breeding, racing and buying of NY eligible horses. From Harness Racing Update (full article can be read here): Joe Faraldo, the president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York (SOANY), said there is no reason, yet, to be concerned about racing's future at Yonkers Raceway in the wake of Tuesday's announcement that the Rooney family has reached a deal to sell the Westchester, NY track and its Empire City Casino to MGM Resorts International for $850 million. Reached in France, where he is part of the team scouting French trotters to purchase and bring back to the United States. Faraldo said "the horse people have a contract with Yonkers that provides for more than 230 days of racing annually through 2019." The Harness Horse Breeders expect, as Faraldo stated, "that will continue past its 2019 expiration date, as will the purse enhancement from the VLTs. Racing and VLTs are married in (New York State) legislation for the benefit of the operator as well as the agriculture and racing industry's tens of thousands of jobs." Faraldo added that "MGM Grand may even help grow purses thanks to its expertise in the casino business. Slots contribute, by far, the vast amount of the revenue stream for every casino operator and MGM Grand is one of the best operators I know of," Faraldo said, indicating a growth in slot/VLT revenue would deliver more money to purses. There certainly may be changes but until we sit down with the new people for future terms and conditions governing the conduct of racing, there is no need to engage in wild speculation or make further comments at this time. Faraldo said. "Suffice it to say that the SOA of NY's long standing position regarding the protection of racing and agriculture is well known. We look forward to working with the new management after the official approval is given by the NYS Gaming Commission." From the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

Support from sectors of the USA and Ontario Standardbred industry, the arts and educational community , municipal officials , and strong participation by prospective young Derby hopefuls, is fuelling the robust impetus of the Youth Literary Derby. "The Youth Literary Derby is a genius idea that melds creative writing with an introduction to horses," writes Betty Holt, Executive Director of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. "To thrive, our industry must continue to be built on the foundation of our youth. To introduce young people to Standardbred horses and to educate them on the economic farming benefits is the only way to make that happen. "The farming and breeding aspects of the horse industry are at least as important as the racing and betting, if not more so". says Holt. "The best way to develop a love of horses is to be in contact with them and to get to know their personalities. To add in the benefit of high education is a win, win for all." The Harness Horse Breeders of New York State are so impressed with the idea they are looking to implement a similar program". Mike Simpson, of Hanover Shoe Farms and the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania, is pleased to see that the Youth Literary Derby is offering an opportunity for today's youth to express real world encounters with equine athletes in an imaginative way. "In a sport that is driven primarily by numbers, it is great to see physical interaction and creative writing be a part of the experience, as well." he said . "It's a great initiative. I think that kids are very excited to get a chance to view horses and any time they are offered that opportunity they are bound to be excited." offered Walter Parkinson, president of Standardbred Breeders of Ontario, Association. "I think the literary aspect gives them a way of connecting with horses that is unique." The Youth Literary Derby is an Ontario-wide, juried , horse themed writing contest carrying $2,000 in prize money and free, donated tuition from the University of Guelph for Horse Behaviour and Safety courses. It is designed to encourage writing and literary skills and reaches out for students' evaluations and perceptions of their up-close encounters with Standardbred foals. "Having students write poems about Standardbreds is fantastic. We should follow your lead and do something like this in the States" writes Kimberly Rinker, vice president of the United States Harness Writers Association. "What a great program and incentive to get youngsters involved or interested in harness racing." When Standardbred owner- breeder , Tom Rankin greeted 300-plus, horse loving visitors to his spanking new broodmare facility May 19th, St . Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik was there mingling with mares, foals and excited youngsters anxious to get up close and personal with newborn foals and pen their impressions for the Youth Literary Derby. Mayor Sendzik had high praise for the Youth Literary Derby. " It is a great opportunity for young people to connect their writing and literacy skills with their love of horses, " he said. "I encourage families with an interest in horses to get involved . Thanks to the Rankin family for opening their doors and sharing their love of horses with the community to support youth literacy." Enthusiasm and strong vocal support oozed from Caledon, Ont., Mayor Andrew Thompson when he learned of the Youth Literary Derby. "Caledon is a proud equestrian community and as Mayor I strongly support and endorse the Youth Literary Derby which connects young people to horses through stories and poetry", he said. "It's great to see the large number of partnerships involved from both the private and public sector, all promoting and supporting this incredibly enriching program." Following an early morning presentation May 23rd outlining the Youth Literary Derby concept to Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Councillors of the City of Mississauga, all assembled were vocal and unanimous, in their support and endorsement of the program. The last of the scheduled 20 Open Houses at Ontario farms for Derby hopefuls is now complete. It is now time to put pen to paper and test their creative literary abilities in prose or verse about their impressions of one of God's most beautiful creations, the newborn Standardbred foals. The following words from Mike Douglas, executive director of the Mississauga Arts Council, ring clear and true, and might aptly describe the feelings of one seeing a newborn foal for the first time . "Essential to creative expression is the stimulating effect of experiencing something new, something that engages your senses and prompts you to think differently, see differently and feel differently." As Mike Douglas said: "Sign me up." ENTRIES FOR THE YOUTH LITERARY DERBY MUST BE SUBMITTED BY MIDNIGHT JUNE 15TH, 2018 For complete contest details visit FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:   by Bill Galvin the Youth Literary Derby             

One might think that horse ownership is just for the rich. Or that you need to be an industry insider to be certain that you are getting good advice as to what horses to buy and which trainers to use. Yeah, horse ownership is just too tough for regular folks. Forget that. It's simply not so. The excitement that goes with being a horse owner could be just one owner's seminar away, and many who have taken the plunge have done so after attending these events. Want to know how a seminar can get you into the harness racing business? Just ask Rick Hare. Hare is a recently retired 59-year-old, who, along with his nephew Dan, make up the partnership Finish Line Investors. They are not big players on the harness racing scene. But they are playing and having the time of their lives. Rick and Dan went to an owner's seminar, sponsored by the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, in September of 2012. Rick was always interested in the harness game, having gone to the races at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs his entire life. His dad and uncle had a few horses when Rick was young, but by the time he was 17, they were out of the game. After Rick's owner's seminar experience five years ago, he got into the game. "The new owner's seminar is really good," said Hare. "It gives a high-level overview of things you need to know. It takes a look at what some of the costs are in broad brush strokes. The trainer fees, the veterinarian fees. They give you a really good look at things, like a good introductory course in college. There's a lot of good information to take in." It wasn't even a certainty that Hare was going to the seminar in the first place. "Some of our friends were going and they were bugging me to go. The seminar I went to at Batavia, it was a real good deal. It's pretty inexpensive to go. You get a buffet dinner and a program. You talk to the race secretary and the judges and go to the paddock. It's a pretty reasonable deal they offer up." Hare did not recommend that one go straight out of a seminar and become an owner. With a pursuit such as this, one must do their due diligence. "You need to look for a trainer," said Hare. "See what they want as compared to what you want. But the basic information is there. This needs a significant investment of time and money, so you want to make sure you know what you are getting into." After attending his seminar, Hare started following some horses and talking to trainers. Hare's preference is owning "overnight" stock to "stakes" stock. An overnight horse is one who races week in, week out at the track in claiming or condition races. Stakes horses race for higher purses, but the risk factors are higher because you are buying young horses who are as of yet unproven. Five months after his seminar, Hare jumped in the pool. Things did not go swimmingly. "The first horse we got was a $12,500 claimer," said Hare. "We never got him to do anything, so our trainer recommended we sell him back to his previous owners. They bought him back and did well. It was disappointing but it's part of the game. Some horses you are going to lose money on." Determined to stay with it, Hare bought Hour Lavec for $20,000. The horse had been racing in Ontario at Mohawk Raceway. "We brought him down and raced him in the open trot," said Hare, speaking of his horse as a proud dad might brag about his son. "He was third in his first start and then first two or three times in a row. He was good at both Buffalo and Batavia during 2013 and 2014. He then had some problems, so we retired him. In fact, I still own him. My wife fell in love with him. He's now my wife's riding horse." Hare, who currently has three horses, has owned about a dozen since getting into the game. He says the overall experience has been good but that there are "ups and downs". Sometimes, however, it's not merely good. It's fabulous! "In 2016, we claimed one for $6,600 and in five months she made over $40,000 for us," said Hare. "Then somebody claimed her from us for $15,000." The math is simple. Hare claimed the horse for $6,600, the horse made $40,000 and then got claimed for $15,000. That's close to $50,000 gross on one horse. Pretty good stuff. But to be fair, it's not always peaches and cream. "Last fall, we bought a horse at auction," said Hare. "We brought him home, but he had trouble at Batavia. My trainer took him down to Florida and one morning, he goes to see the horse and he had a broken tibia. We had to put him down." Sad stuff, to be sure, but part of the game. One of the things that Hare, who was a quality compliance engineer for Johnson & Johnson, loves about ownership is how close he can get to his horses. "I'm a very hands-on kind of guy," said Hare. "I want to be able to go see my horses, so it's very important to pick the right trainer. I want a guy I can talk to and some trainers don't do that. That's not a guy I'd like to be with. John Mungillo is my trainer and I'm very happy with John. I go see my horses three or four times a week at Batavia. I help groom. I brush them. I clean them up. That's one of the beauties of harness racing as compared to thoroughbred racing. It is so much easier and more accepted to have an owner involved." Hare's been an owner for five years now and he stills gets fired up talking about his horses. "Last year we have a good one in our barn," said Hare. "Striker Ace was his name, and he won the open trot at Buffalo two weeks in a row." Hare wants to share the good vibe, and extended an invitation to yours truly. "If you ever see a horse with the ownership Finish Line Investors, if we win, come on and jump in to the winner's circle photo. We love to have people join us." Sure, horse ownership is a roller coaster ride, but for Rick Harp, it's seat belts on and let it go full speed. "I am living the dream," said Hare. Who knows? Maybe you will, too. And it might take just one owner's seminar to get you on your way. The Harness Horse Breeders of NYS will host the next new owner seminar at Tioga Downs on June 24th. To register please call 518-785-5858 or email By Dave Little, for the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

LATHAM, N.Y. - A seminar for new and prospective owners will be hosted by Harness Horse Breeders of New York State and will be held at Tioga Downs in Nichols, New York. This seminar will provide valuable information for prospective or new owners and focus on all aspects of horse ownership. The seminar is scheduled for Saturday June 24th, 2018. Registration is at 9:30 and the seminar starts at 10:00 am with beverages and Danish. The seminar will include all materials, lunch, programs and live racing. The seminar will cover the rewards and risks of horse ownership, actual costs, choosing young horses or claimers and how to choose a trainer. Participants will have the opportunity to meet the Race Secretary. They will also hear from trainers and talk with successful owners. Tuition is $20 per person or $30 per couple and includes the seminar, materials, lunch, live racing, membership to HHBNYS and follow-up services. The seminar requires advance registration no later than June 20th. For more information or to register for the seminar, please call Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858 or e-mail Harness Horse Breeders of New York State  

Albany - Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2018-19 budget plan has proposed some subtle changes in the state's gaming industry, which includes horse racing, video lottery, harness racing, racinos and full-scale casinos. But some observers have expressed disappointment with the budget plan's overall lack of attention to the gaming industry, "A big zero," said Donald Groth, president and CEO of the Catskill OTB, who wants to be able to offer video lottery terminals, or VLTs, in his parlors. Other struggling Off-Track Betting operators including Capital District OTB had previously sought permission to install the slot-like terminals but have been denied. The problem, Groth said, is traditional OTB parlors like Catskill and Capital District still rely on horse wagering, even as other forms of gambling are coming on line. The Long Island OTBs in Nassau and Suffolk counties were both allowed to deploy VLTs, offering gamblers yet another option. With upstate New York's fourth Las Vegas-style casino set to open in February, the Empire State and its neighbors appear to be saturated with casino options, said Alan Woinski, president of Gaming USA, a gaming-industry news service. In keeping with that, some of the governor's budget proposal call for simplifying and streamlining the rules and tax brackets that VLT racinos pay to the state. For instance, they want to lower from 27 to 7 the various tax rates that racinos across the state pay. The proposal also seeks to eliminate a hold-harmless provision that would have made casinos give money to racinos in their geographical regions if they cut into their business and the taxable money available for the state. That hasn't yet happened, so the governor wants to eliminate the hold-harmless clause. There are three Las Vegas-style casinos across upstate: Tioga Downs in Tioga County; del Lago in the Seneca County community of Tyre; and Rivers in Schenectady. A fourth, Resorts World Catskills, is set to open near Monticello in February. The existing casinos' operators have been saying in recent months that revenues haven't met their expectations. "The reality is the reason why the three casinos are not doing well is because they are still competing with the (racino) race tracks," Woinski said. In December, Schenectady officials reported that they wouldn't be getting as much tax revenue as they had expected from Rivers. While they earlier said the casino, which opened approximately 11 months ago, would allow them to cut property taxes by 18 percent, the final number came in at only 1 percent. Additionally, Moody's Investor Services recently downgraded its rating for the del Lago resort to a negative outlook. While initially projected to earn $250 million in its first year, the operation, nine months after opening, will make $150 million, according to Moody's. News of the lower revenue shouldn't mean the casinos should pay less to their host communities, said Westchester Democratic Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who chairs the Racing and Wagering Committee. "They are making money," he said. "But they had these glossy, flowery projections." Adding to the list of worriers are horse breeders and racers, especially in the state's struggling harness racing industry. Harness tracks are connected to the VLT parlors and revenues from the slots have long helped support the racing. With the competition from new gaming venues, many expect an ongoing slide in VLT revenue, which will ultimately mean less for the harness people including New York farmers who have more than 1,000 breeding mares. "Every one of those horses needs food, shelter and care so it's a huge agricultural program," said Betty Holt, executive director of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. 518 478 0309 @RickKarlinTU  

The Harness Horse Breeders of New York State (HHBNYS) are pleased to offer our members a unique incentive to purchase a New York-Bred at the Goshen Yearling Sale and the Morrisville Yearling Sale. The Harness Horse Breeders of NYS have been overwhelmed by the support of old and new members. To show its appreciation, the HHBNYS will make both sustaining payments due in 2018 for two 2017 New York sire stakes-eligible yearlings that are sold in New York. The total value of those payments is $1,100 each. Any member that purchases a yearling at either sale will automatically be entered in the drawing. New York sales are a great place to purchase a harness racing yearling and we hope members attend and purchase a yearling to support the sales companies and the New York breeders who consign to them. The rules for the payment opportunity are: 1. To be entered into the drawing, you must be a member of Harness Horse Breeders of NYS, or join before the respective sale begins. In addition, you must have your name listed as purchaser on the sales slip of at least one New York-Bred yearling at one of the designated sales. 2. The Harness Horse Breeders will make the payment directly to the NYSS office. 3. The drawing will pull one member name after each sale. If the first name does not correspond with the name on the sales results for a yearling, drawing will continue until a match is made. 4. To be eligible, the yearling chosen by the winner of the drawing must be from a verified sale as certified by the sale company. No bid in's or buy backs will be eligible for the drawing prize. 5. The drawing prize is non transferable between HHBNYS members. HHBNYS Board of Directors and staff are not eligible. 6. Winners have ten days after notification to assign the prize to a specific yearling if multiples were purchased, and to notify HHBNYS of that name. If the specified yearling is subsequently sold before the NYSS payment is due to be made, the award will follow the yearling. It will be owner of record's responsibility to notify the HHBNY to sustain that horse ten days in advance of the staking deadline. 7. Any HHBNYS member in a partnership will also be eligible to enter the drawing. 8. If the decision is made not to sustain the horse at the time of either of the two payments, there is no cash equivalent and a donation in the amount of the payments will be made to the Morrisville Standardbred After Care. 9. A yearling must be paid for in full for the winner to be assigned the prize. The drawing for Goshen Yearling will take place on Saturday, September 16th, at Morrisville and the drawing for Morrisville Yearling will take place Saturday, September 23rd. This will allow for membership verification and payments in full to be processed. If you have any questions please call Betty at 518-785-5858. Harness Horse Breeders of New York State

Latham, NY --- The Harness Horse Breeders of NYS and the Goshen Sales Company will host an interactive seminar with Anthony MacDonald at the Goshen Yearling Sales Arena for those interested in investing in harness racing ownership. The seminar is open to both prospective owners and horsemen. If you have always thought that owning a racehorse was only for the select few you need to attend this seminar. Anthony MacDonald has designed an innovative ownership concept to allow anyone that has an interest in horse racing an opportunity to buy into the excitement. This will be the first time this concept will be shared in New York. MacDonald will be on hand Sunday morning from 10:00-11:30 a.m. to discuss his fractional ownership website,, with prospective owners and horsemen. "In all honesty, the response to our platform has been overwhelming," said MacDonald. "My wife and I started to sell percentages of horses. What we quickly discovered is that we're selling an experience. When packaged right, there's no end of consumers. We're equal parts social network, investment, family farm, and the sport of kings." markets horses to clients in increments as low as one percent. Owners receive weekly video updates on their horses and stay connected through social networks and training events at The Stable's base of operations in Campbellville, Ontario. "The lifeblood of the industry is owners. No owners, no horses. No horses, no anything," said MacDonald. "We make ownership fun, accessible and stress-free. We didn't start to be a revolutionary change agent, but we're seeing its potential -- and not just for our operation. For trainers that want to understand our recipe, we're happy to share." purchased horses at the Goshen Yearling Sale last year and this could be an opportunity to join in an adventure from the ground up. Harness Horse Breeders of NYS and the Goshen Yearling Sales Company support any initiative that will provide growth in the Standardbred Industry with an emphasis on the NY breeding, buying and racing program. Both organizations are pleased to offer this seminar to those who have an interest in becoming a horse owner. Please call Betty at 518-785-5858 to reserve a seat. Reservations are not necessary but appreciated. Refreshments will be served. Harness Horse Breeders of New York State

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