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Due to the interruptions and limitations caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Harness Horsemen International's (HHI) Board of Directors has extended the deadline for 31st annual Jerome Hauck Scholarship application to June 15, 2021. The $4,000 award is granted to a son or daughter, or any person with a legal guardian, of an HHI-affiliated association member. The HHI Scholarship Foundation was organized in 1986 in memory of Jerome L. Hauck, one of the founders of HHI who served as its president for 12 years, assisting students exhibiting outstanding achievement among their peers and promoting higher education and citizenship. The application and all additional information must be completed and submitted by the June 1, 2020 deadline. The application can be found at the HHI website, http://www.harnesshorsemeninternational.com/FillableHHIScholarship.pdf. For more information, contact your local horseman's association or Harness Horsemen International, 319 High Street, Suite 2, Burlington, New Jersey 08016, (609) 747-1000, or email dhartmannhhi@verizon.net. From Harness Horsemen International  

Tommy Luchento, former trainer-driver, is this week's Harness Racing Alumni Show's guest. Tommy started his harness racing career working for legends Stanley Dancer and Tony Abbatiello. After racing for many years, he became President of the NJSOA and is now the President of Harness Horsemen's International.   On this broadcast he speaks to Freddie and the guys openly about how he and Jeff Gural saved the Meadowlands...!!! His ideas on setting up a harness racing Commissioner and his opinions on Lasix are outstanding -- do not miss this exciting broadcast.   To listen to broadcast, click here.    

Due to the interruptions and limitations caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Harness Horsemen International's (HHI) Board of Directors has extended the deadline for 31st annual Jerome Hauck Scholarship application to June 1, 2020. The $4,000 award is granted to a son or daughter, or any person with a legal guardian, of an HHI-affiliated association member. The HHI Scholarship Foundation was organized in 1986 in memory of Jerome L. Hauck, one of the founders of HHI who served as its president for 12 years, assisting students exhibiting outstanding achievement among their peers and promoting higher education and citizenship. The application and all additional information must be completed and submitted by the June 1, 2020 deadline. The application can be found at the HHI website, http://www.harnesshorsemeninternational.com/FillableHHIScholarship.pdf. For more information, contact your local horseman's association or Harness Horsemen International, 319 High Street, Suite 2, Burlington, New Jersey 08016, (609) 747-1000, or email dhartmannhhi@verizon.net. Harness Horsemen International            

Harness Horsemen International (HHI) will hold their annual meetings from February 24-27, 2020 at the Embassy Suites Resort & Spa, Deerfield, Beach, Florida, beginning with an opening reception at 5:30 pm, meet and greet, on Monday evening, Feb. 24.   HHI meetings begin Tuesday morning, Feb. 25 at 9:00 am as HHI President Tom Luchento welcomes all associations from throughout North America to the General Session, with presentations by the American Horse Council, the United States Trotting Association and the Standardbred Transition Alliance.   On Wednesday, Feb. 26th, at 9:00 am, the featured speaker, Dr. Clara Fenger, will enlighten HHI members with a presentation entitled "Collision of Ultra-Sensitive Drug Testing and the Absolute Insurer Rule, time to bring back common sense." Other topics slated to be discussed include the recent threat to the Pennsylvania Racing Fund, and the recent approval of slots at Illinois racetracks, followed by Association Reports.   Following Wednesday's morning session, the HHI Standing Committees will meet: HHI Budget Committee; Dues & Finance Committee; Convention Committee; HHI Scholarship Foundation Committee; and the HHI Legal Committee, with a pending application for membership by the Nevada Standardbred Association.   Thursday, Feb. 27th activities begin at 9:00 am and include a General Session, followed by HHI Elections and the HHI Awards Luncheon, honoring Tony Somone as the Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year; Dot Morgan of New Vocations with the HHI Appreciation Award; and Dawnelle Mock with the HHI's Clyde Hirt Media Award.   From Harness Horsemen International  

Harness Horsemen International (HHI) will hold their annual meetings from February 24-27, 2020 at the Embassy Suites Resort & Spa, Deerfield, Beach, Florida, beginning with an opening reception and meet and greet at 5:30 p.m. on Monday evening, Feb. 24. HHI meetings begin Tuesday morning, Feb. 25 at 9:00 am and continue through Thursday, Feb. 27 followed by HHI Elections and the HHI Awards Luncheon, honoring Tony Somone as the Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year; Dot Morgan with the HHI Appreciation Award; and Dawnelle Mock with the HHI's Clyde Hirt Media Award. Tony Somone is the Executive Director of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, a position he has held since 2007. The Chicago native graduated from George Williams College and began working in the publicity department at Maywood Park in 1985, pursing his passion for harness racing. Somone began purchasing horses with partners in the late 1990s and in 2000, applied for and received, his fair license. He won his first race as a driver on Aug. 21, 2014 behind his own horse, Sleazy Mr E at the Cumberland County Fair in Greenup, IL in his 16th official start. But the Willow Springs, IL resident is best known for representing the IHHA legislatively throughout the state of Illinois. Somone definitely does not shy away from diversity and has been a rock for the Standardbred horsemen who have struggled in the Prairie State for so many years. Dot Morgan is the Executive Director & Facility Manager for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption, located in Laura, OH. Morgan founded New Vocations in 1992 after seeing a need for racehorses to continue with productive lives once their racing careers were finished. For the past three decades she has been the face and sounding board of New Vocations, and also runs the annual Standardbred Stallion Auction and Little Brown Jug Benefit Auction during Jug Week. Morgan has a BA in Agriculture and has been immersed in the Standardbred industry, as she is married to a fifth-generation driver/trainer. To date she has helped to place and rehome more than 5,000 retired Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds. Dawnelle Mock, a 2016 Youngstown State University graduate, has a degree in marketing management and is the Marketing Director for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. Prior to taking on her current role beginning in 2017, Mock interned with the MSOA and with The Meadowlands in 2016. The Somerset, PA native grew up in the harness racing industry as her parents, Daniel and Lisa Mock, are Standardbred owners and her sister, Dana Kahrig, is a trainer based at The Meadows. These three well-deserving HHI award recipients will be feted with their HHI Awards during the annual HHI meetings luncheon on February 27, 2020 at the Embassy Suites Resort and Spa, Deerfield Beach, Florida. From Harness Horsemen International  

Shane Angle has been awarded the 2018 Harness Horsemen International annual $4,000 Jerome L. Hauck Scholarship. Angle, 18, hails from Mountain Top, Pennsylvania and is currently attending Stevenson University and pursuing a degree in Business Administration. He is the son of Ernest "Bucky" Angle, Jr., and Laura Angle who work as a husband and wife training team not far from Pocono Downs. "Harness racing has truly had an extremely positive influence on my life," Shane says. "The most positive influence that harness racing has had if through my mom and dad. I see them getting up and going to the track in the morning together, then working a whole day just to come home and do more work around the house. They go to various racetracks around the region, driving non-stop just to make sure we are all happy and have a great life. It is truly inspiring to me to see them working together like they do and showing the passion every day. It all translates to me just showing how if you love something and put your whole heart into it, you can make anything worked and, in the end, you will be rewarded." Angle is currently on the Dean's List at Stevenson University, a member of the National Honors Society, National French Honor Society, National Business Honor Society and Leadership Scholar among his scholastic achievements. He also volunteers at the McGowen Family Center and is determined to become a PGA participant after college. "I am obtaining my degree with a concentration on entrepreneurship in order to be able to start my own golf instruction business while chasing my ultimate goal once I get out of college," he said. "With my ambition and sheer determination, I know I will be able to make my dream of playing professional golf for a living come true." Harness Horsemen International is delighted to present the Jerome L. Hauck Scholarship to such a deserving candidate as Parker Steck. Harness Horsemen International 319 High St. Suite 2 Burlington, NJ 08016 (609) 747-1000

Columbus, OH - Longtime Pennsylvania harness racing horseman and executive Ron Battoni will represent Harness Horsemen International (HHI) on the United States Trotting Association's Uniform Medication Subcommittee, it has been announced. The alliance's goal is to develop comprehensive proposals on the use of therapeutic medications and recommended penalties for violations in harness racing. The USTA is resolute in its belief that there should be separate, uniform rules for separate racing breeds, and in May 2018 launched the Harness Racing Medication Collaborative, a group of academic and practicing veterinarians whose purpose is to assist in identifying and developing the scientific background for medication regulation in Standardbred racing. Battoni is best known for his more than 25 years as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association (PHHA), but previously drove and trained Standardbred racehorses prior to becoming a racing official. He was integral to the construction of the state's Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, which allowed the introduction of slot machines to Pennsylvania racetracks. In his new role on the subcommittee, he will serve on behalf of HHI, which is comprised of 15 horsemen's associations throughout the United States and Canada. "Ron brings a world of practical experience to the subcommittee," said Russell Williams, President of the USTA, "and his experience both legislatively and as a horseman will be invaluable to our mission. I've known Ron for many years and have worked with him on several projects. He is a great choice for this position and I'm grateful for HHI's support." The other subcommittee members are Joe Faraldo (Chair), Mike Tanner (Staff Chair), Bob Boni, Sam Beegle, John Brennan, Mark Davis, Joe Frasure, Mark Loewe, Steve O'Toole, Dr. Andy Roberts, and Russell Williams. Ken Weingartner

Harness Horsemen International is now accepting applications for the harness racing 31st annual Jerome L. Hauck Scholarship. The $4,000 award is granted to a son or daughter, or any person with a legal guardian, of an HHl-affiliated association member. The HHI Scholarship Foundation was organized in 1986 in memory of Jerome L. Hauck, one of the founders of HHI who served as its president for 12 years, assisting students exhibiting outstanding achievement among their peers and promoting higher education and citizenship. The award is given to a student who has demonstrated exceptional scholarship, citizenship and leadership, who has completed high school or its equivalent and is entering college for the first time. Character and personality traits are considered, as well as financial need. Applications must be received in the HHI office by May 1, 2019. For more information or an application, contact your local horseman's association or Harness Horsemen International, 319 High Street, Suite 2, Burlington, New Jersey 08016, (609) 747-1000, or email dhartmannhhi@verizon.net. HARNESS HORSEMENS INTERNATIONAL      

Harness Horsemen International (HHI) wrapped up their annual meetings on Feb. 27 at the Embassy Suites Resort & Spa, Deerfield, Beach, Florida, following the HHI Awards Luncheon, where Salvatore DiMario (Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year), Foiled Again (Appreciation Award) and Chris Gooden (Hirt Media Award) were honored. Highlights from the three (Feb. 25-27) days of meetings garnered some riveting presentations, including one by Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill USA, on the intricate details of Sports Wagering, as well as a Lobbying Panel Discussion led by the Pennsylvania HHA's Bob Reeber, Esq. and Delaware SOA's Rebecca Kidner, Esq., both veteran lobbyists who explained to the attendees the importance of horsemen being actively involved in the political process in their respective states' General Assembly. The plight of the Ontario Harness Horsemen's Association (OHHA) was a primary topic of discussion among the HHI attendees, with OHHA Executive Director Brian Tropea relaying information on the attempt by Ontario Racing to disband the OHHA, who have represented the Ontario-based horsemen for 50 years, with a membership of more than 3,000 current members. HHI fully supports the OHHA and encouraged the attending members to pen letters to Ontario Racing in support of recognizing the OHHA and their role as a democratically elected organization representing the horsemen and their Board of Directors. Each HHI-member association reported on the "state of the industry" within their jurisdictions, including the SBOA-NJ, who received a positive boost recently when the New Jersey legislature appropriated $100 million for both the Standardbred and Thoroughbred Garden State racing industries. As well, Cliff Williamson of The American Horse Council and Mike Tanner, Executive Vice President of the United States Trotting Association (USTA) spoke on issues facing the horse racing industry in 2019, and HHI committees reported their status to the delegates with the decision made to return to this same Deerfield Beach venue in 2020. Finally, the current HHI officers were all reelected to three-year terms, including: President Tom Lucento; First VP Kim Hankins; Second VP Tony Somone; Treasurer Andrew Markano; Secretary Sal DiMario; and At-Large Directors Mike Harant (PHAA), Tim Powers (Maine HHA), Jim Whelan (Ontario HHA), Tony Romano (SBOA-NJ). Harness Horsemen International

Harness Horsemen International (HHI) will hold their annual meetings from February 24-27, 2019 at the Embassy Suites Resort & Spa, Deerfield, Beach, Florida, beginning with an opening reception at 5:30 pm, meet and greet, on Sunday evening, Feb. 24. HHI meetings begin Monday morning, Feb. 25 at 9:00 am as HHI President Tom Luchento welcomes all associations from throughout North America to the General Session, which focuses on Association Reports and a panel discussion entitled "The Importance of Horsemen Association's Lobbying." Bob Reeber, Esquire, a lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association (PHHA) and Rebecca Kidner, Esquire, a Delaware Standardbred Owners Association (DSOA) lobbyist, are the panelists. As well, a discussion has been scheduled regarding the recent events in Ontario concerning an attempt by Ontario Racing to disband the Ontario Harness Horsemen's Association (OHHA), who have represented the Ontario-based horsemen for 50 years. On Tuesday, Feb. 26th, at 9:00 am, the featured speaker, Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill U.S.A. will enlighten HHI members on Sports Wagering, which--since the favorable SCOTUS Ruling last Spring--has emerged as a potential new revenue source for horsemen and is both a timely and relevant topic of discussion as many states are considering legalizing this new form of gaming. As well, representatives from the American Horse Council and Mike Tanner, Executive Vice President of the United States Trotting Association (USTA) will speak Tuesday morning, followed by HHI Standing Committees: HHI Budget Committee; Dues & Finance Committee; Convention Committee; HHI Scholarship Foundation Committee; and the HHI Legal Committee, with a pending application for membership by the Nevada Standardbred Association. Wednesday, Feb. 27th activities start at 9:00 am and include a General Session, followed by HHI Elections and the HHI Awards Luncheon, honoring Salvatore DiMario as the Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year; Foiled Again with the HHI Appreciation Award; and Chris Gooden with the HHI's Clyde Hirt Media Award. From Harness Horsemen International  

My Name is Tom Luchento, most of you know, I am President of Harness Horsemen International.   I would like to take this time to speak to you about a problem that has recently come to my attention. By now, most of you probably have heard about it, but for those who haven't, please let me explain. In order to be respectful, I will not mention names or places, but rather speak to the issue.   As I write this, there is an ongoing fight caused by a racetrack management and two horsemen's organizations. At this particular time the racetrack is dividing health and welfare monies to two horsemen's organizations from funds dedicated to the horsemen. Currently these 2 horsemen's organizations co-exist representing horsemen at different racetracks. Each provides health and welfare benefits from funds dedicated for that purpose.   Recently, the track has decided to choose one group over the other. Now, if this were the opinion of both organizations it maybe alright, but that decision belongs to the horsemen they represent, not the racetrack. In today's democratic society's horsemen must be allowed to be governed by the people that they have freely elected. There must be acknowledgement of a democratically elected and legitimate horsemen's association. This action is a detriment to every horsemen's organization, which has the inherent right to elect their representatives.   When horsemen fail to stand together united against a tyrannical management who is trying to eliminate bona fide elected officials representing the men and women that they were elected to represent, all horsemen suffer. I implore all horsemen's organizations to not let this happen in your jurisdictions, for if we stand united, no one can tear us apart. At our upcoming annual meeting in Florida later this month, we will discuss this issue in greater depth.   Thank you, I remain, Tom Luchento President, H.H.I.       Harness Horsemen International 319 High St. Suite 2 Burlington, NJ 08016 (609) 747-1000 www.harnesshorsemeninternational.com   Kimberly A. Rinker 708-557-2790 www.kimberlyrinker.com @Trotrink  

Parker Steck has been awarded the 2018 Harness Horsemen International annual $4,000 Jerome L. Hauck Scholarship. Steck, 18, hails from Marengo, Ohio and hopes to attend Ashland University this fall to pursue a degree in Nursing. Steck is the daughter of trainers Ron and Kila Steck, who have been involved in the Standardbred business in the Buckeye State their entire lives. She currently resides with her parents, along with her 12-year-old brother, Ranger Steck. Steck maintained a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.7 during her years at Highland High School in Marengo, and was an Ohio Scholars' Association member and Scholar Athlete. She also worked for her parent's stable--Steck Racing--as a caretaker, and for the Cardinal Shooting Center & Campground, helping to support events during one of America's largest trapshooting event. In addition, she was President of Marengo's Livestock Unlimited 4-H Club and helped to schedule donors for the local American Red Cross Blood Drive. Steck received numerous awards in team volleyball, basketball and softball and was Showmanship Champion for lamb and equine at the 2017 Morrow County Fair, and had Reserve Grand Champion Lamb at the 2013 Morrow Co. Fair. Steck says she wants to become a nurse after a 2014 car accident took the life of her oldest brother. "When my brother passed, I had no idea at that point what I wanted to do, but those days at Grand Hospital quickly showed me," Steck said. "I wanted to be a nurse like the ones who helped my brother, and ran three blood drives a year for three years in honor of my brother. I am also a new owner of my first racehorse and will remain active in the industry no matter what degree I achieve." Harness Horsemen International is delighted to present the Jerome L. Hauck Scholarship to such a deserving candidate as Parker Steck. From Harness Horsemen International  

Integrity in racing will always be a priority of Harness Horsemen International, which supports the intent of the Standardbred Racing Integrity and Accountability Initiative proposed by the Woodbine Entertainment Group and Jeff Gural, the owner of the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. However, HHI appreciates that WEG and Mr. Gural have postponed implementation of the Initiative after recognizing that several unintended consequences of the plan would have been detrimental to the racing industry. HHI shares the Initiative's concern that "beard" trainers - those who front for trainers who are ineligible for a variety of reasons - are a blight upon the industry and need to be eliminated. But this needs to be accomplished without punishing owners, who might be unfairly caught in a web of partnerships. The last thing anyone wants to do is discourage investors in horse ownership, so essential to the sustenance of our industry. There is no quick fix, andtheInitiative's original remedy would have deterred investors in racehorses by punishing rule-abiding owners and trainers solely due to a business relationship with a tarnished partner, virtually making them guilty by association. Attached, please find "HHI comments on the Standardbred Racing Accountability." Sincerely, Thomas Luchento, President   HHI comments on the Standardbred Racing Accountability   Harness Horsemen International supports the wisdom of regulation; however that regulation must be fair and reasonable to all concerned and geared towards the big picture goal. The big picture goal is to detect and prevent illicit substances from being administered to a horse leading to unfair performance enhancement in a race, and uniform unassailable enforcement with penalties adequate to deter such conduct. The overwhelming majority of North American owners, trainers and drivers are interested in having a level playing field in place for all competitors and are in favor of uniform, narrowly tailored regulations designed to bring that to fruition. The Standardbred Racing Integrity and Accountability Initiative (SRIAI) is not a regulation that is fair or reasonable, able to be uniformly applied, one that gives confidence of a level playing field, and will not be unassailable. SRIAl was a joint initiative between Woodbine Entertainment Group and Jeff Gural scheduled to commence January 1, 2018. SRlAI is a secondary, private, non-regulatory layer of enforcement in addition to the racing regulatory agency's enforcement process. If a racing regulatory agency returned a positive test as defined within the Association of Racing Commissioners International Uniform Classification for Foreign Substances as a, Class I, II, TCO2 or steroid positive test, SRIAI bans any trainer, horse or owner (with at least a 25% stake) from participating in stakes races at Woodbine, Mohawk, the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs in 2018. The ban was specific to the owner(s), trainer, and the horse. SRIAI further prevented transfer of the horse from an owner or trainer post-positive test. The issues with a secondary private, non-regulatory layer of enforcement are numerous. The most egregious issues are, (1) a lack of uniformity among racing regulatory agencies in medication and testing screening limits, thresholds, rules, enforcement practices, and penalties, (2) the statistical shortcomings of utilizing the existing system of Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) thresholds, (3) the lack of uniformity in regulation throughout the United States and Canada, (4) the lack of authority for private, non-regulatory enforcement, and (5) not including Horsemen's Associations to provide opinion or input on the initiative. Everyone agrees that it would be nice to see uniform rules in effect. But the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) backed ARCI promulgated model rules aren't the solution. First, no state has adopted the ARCI model rules verbatim in their entirety. Second, there isn't enough scientific research to establish the published thresholds as reliable or legal-challenge proof. Medication tests based on RMTC "standards" are set using 95/95 Tolerance Interval calculations. That means there is a 95% certainty that 95% of the test results will fall below a given threshold. The false positive probability is like playing Russian Roulette for each test sample taken. Finally, no other state or Country has control over any other individual jurisdiction's adoption processes and procedures, so in the industry there is realistically no "Model Rule". In conjunction with no control over what other jurisdictions implement and accept within their own borders, there is also no reliable information share system among the jurisdictions when they periodically revise their own rules, screening limits, or approved thresholds. As any one racing jurisdiction identifies shortcomings with one substance or another in their locale, they often do their own jurisdiction-specific research outside of the RMTC and ARCI framework. Then based off of their research they will tweak their rules using procedures to complement that research. So even-if one jurisdiction adopts an ARCI rule as a standard they then tweak individual components of those model rules to fit into their jurisdictional racing practices. So although the ARCI Model Rules and Therapeutic Substance thresholds are a good starting point, verbatim acceptance in their entirety by all jurisdictions hasn't occurred. One glaring area this occurs is with the controlled therapeutic medications. The therapeutic medications are essential to the welfare of the standardbred racehorse, the safety of racing, and are an important component of the standardbred racing business model. Another area this occurs is with the lack of a uniform environmental contamination threshold list with uniform screening limits. While some states have screening limits a majority of racing jurisdictions have no Environmental Contaminates thresholds. In addition to a lack of uniformity among medication and testing standards in Canada and across the United States, a licensee standing in the shoes of a regulator isn't the answer. Licensing and enforcement lies with an administrative agent of a State or Province by law giving them the regulatory and enforcement powers over racing. Racetracks like Horsemen are licensees, not regulators. The concept we are seeing play out with SRIAI is analogous to individual business owners forming a militia and aligning for the purpose of banning anyone convicted of a crime of any level from entering onto a public businesses' property and patronizing that business. A majority of Horsemen racing in jurisdictions everywhere pay for pre and post-race testing to the tune of millions of dollars a year, which are often deducted from Horsemen's Purse Pools. They already pay a high price to police themselves. They don't need two "regulators" with only one vested with the legal right to be a regulator. And they don't need a disincentive program for owners, which is what will happen here as applied. Harness Horsemen International appreciates the ability to provide their position relative to these issues. As set forth, the International Horsemen oppose SRIAI as a regulation that is not fair or reasonable, able to be uniformly applied, one that gives confidence of a level playing field, or provides unassailable enforcement. Harness Horsemen International

Harness Horsemen International (HHI) would like to remind all interested parties that the deadline to apply for the $4,000 Jerome L. Hauck Scholarship is May 1, 2018. The 31st edition of the Hauck Scholarship will be awarded to a son or daughter of a full-time Standardbred groom or member of an HHI-affiliated association. Jerome L. Hauck was one of the founding fathers of HHI, who served as the organization's president for 12 years. The scholarship named in his honor was first instituted in 1986, in an effort to assist students who exhibit outstanding qualities and achievements among their peers, and to promote the benefits of advanced education and citizenship. The Hauck Scholarship will be presented to a student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and community involvement throughout their high school years, and who, after graduation, intends on pursing a college degree. The character of the individual is considered, as well as financial need. Applications for the Hauck Scholarship must be received in the HHI office by May 1, 2018. For further information and/or an application, horsemen are encouraged to contact their local horsemen's association or the HHI office at 319 High Street, Suite 2, Burlington, NJ 08016. As well, you may contact Donna at 609-747-1000 or at dhartmannhhi@verizon.net. HHI is comprised of horsemen's associations from the United States and Canada who collectively represents the agriculture based industry of harness racing in North America. HHI's governing body consists of representatives from its member associations. Harness Horsemen International, 319 High St. Suite 2, Burlington, NJ 08016 www.harnesshorsemeninternational.com Phone (609) 747-1000 Fax (609) 747-1012             Kimberly A. Rinker 708-557-2790 www.kimberlyrinker.com @Trotrink    

Harness Horsemen International will hold their Annual Meetings and Awards Luncheon beginning Sunday, February 25 at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa, Deerfield Beach, Florida. Registration starts at 2 pm on Sunday (Feb. 25), followed by a welcome reception from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, with General Sessions beginning daily at 9 am on February 26, 27 & 28. Monday's (Feb. 26) agenda includes an opening address by HHI President Tom Luchento, followed by remarks from American Horse Council President Julie Broadway and USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner. HHI business and association reports will follow. On Tuesday (Feb. 27) John Campbell is the featured speaker, followed by HHI insurance, finance, legal, convention and foundation meetings. A luncheon at BT's Restaurant (in the hotel) will be held from Noon to 1 pm, with HHI's Appreciation Award presented to John Campbell. Wednesday's (Feb. 28) agenda features pertinent HHI business and elections, followed by the HHI Annual Awards Luncheon at 12:30 pm in St. Anne's Room, where Tom Charters will be honored as the Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year and Tim Bojarski feted as the Clyde Hirt Media Award winner. HHI is comprised of horsemen's associations from the United States and Canada who collectively represents the agriculture based industry of harness racing in North America. HHI's governing body consists of representatives from its member associations. Harness Horsemen International, 319 High St. Suite 2, Burlington, NJ 08016  

I am writing this response to a letter written by Joe Faraldo to HarnessLink. First of all, I feel qualified to respond because of the fact that I am president of Harness Horsemen International and past president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey.  The first thing that comes to my mind is this senseless vendetta that Joe has with Jeff Gural. I think Joe is an intelligent man, who truly has done his best to help the horse people at Yonkers Raceway, but I think in his letter he has his facts all wrong about Jeff's motives. He has taken Jeff's comments way out of context.  Let me begin by saying that the Jeff I know is honest, well meaning, and loyal to a fault. I am going to start from the beginning.   We raised $100,000 through a fundraiser by the horsemen of New Jersey for the then candidate for New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, based on his promises of how he was going to help our industry.  But after he was elected, Christie proceeded to tell me at a very early date, that we had 24 hours to come up with eight million dollars [$8 million] or he was going to shut down the Sports Authority racing facilities, which meant the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park would close immediately. I thought of only one person that I knew who could help, Jeff Gural, if he was so inclined. I proceeded to call him and tell him of our predicament. Without hesitation he told me he would meet me in Trenton the next morning.  As it turns out, Jeff was able to make a deal with the state to keep the Meadowlands open.    What is interesting about all of this, is that Jeff never thought or knew anything about a possible casino. Jeff's only thought was to save our horsemen and our industry from a sudden tragic end.  To address Joe Faraldo's comments that Jeff was saying that he did a favor for a couple of horsemen is ludicrous. He did it for all of us and the industry which he loves.  He saved harness racing for without the Meadowlands there would be no racing in New Jersey or,  for that matter, most racing in this country would probably succumb.    I sometimes wonder why some people want to take something good and turn it into something bad for their own gratification  Joe took Jeff's comments way out of context.  I don't care how you look at it, the Meadowlands is a success, especially when you look at the surrounding racinos with all their slot money.  They don't wager half of what the Meadowlands does without any help from the slot money, good horses, or many of the top drivers. I am not saying that horsemen should not think about themselves or their families, but don't act or think that Jeff did this solely for his own monetary enhancement, because he stepped up to the plate initially to save our industry.   So whenever you read the articles that criticize Jeff, remember (A) maybe someone has an axe to grind and (B) when you are racing at the Meadowlands some night, you probably wouldn't be there if it wasn't for Jeff Gural.  I know that many of you, including myself at times, don't agree with all of Jeff's decisions, but they all come from his love of the game and what he thinks is best.  So I am taking this time to thank him and all the GRATEFUL horsemen and women who can still enjoy making a living at what they love at the Meadowlands.  Sincerely, Thomas F. Luchento

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