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BATAVIA — With the virtual shutdown of the entire State of New York, everything has taken a major hit; from schools and athletics to businesses and every day lives, things won’t be the same again for quite some time, if ever. That, obviously, also has applied to one of the oldest and most cherished sports in the world — the sport of horse racing. More specifically, harness racing. While every track in New York has been shut down, including the thoroughbred venues, there have been a small number of tracks that have remained open throughout the country, though none of those include harness tracks, like the oldest lighted harness track in the country at Batavia Downs. “All New York state racetracks are currently shut down until further notice and are anxiously awaiting word when they can reopen,” said Todd Haight, the Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs.”Before the New York State racetracks ceased racing operations, they were racing with no patrons in attendance. That could be a way of getting these racetracks open sooner rather than later.” Yet as of March 16, tracks across the state have been temporarily closed to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Buffalo Raceway, which was midway through its current season. However, though there will not be any live racing any time soon, the state mandates have not shuttered all aspects of the sport down completely. “The racetracks that were open before the shut down remain open for training purposes,” Haight said. “Equines must be allowed to get out of their stalls for exercise and receive their proper care. The only real change there is training hours have been reduced. Racetracks that were scheduled to open in April and early May have all delayed their openings; in fact, Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs have delayed opening up their barn areas until further notice.” With the majority of racing shut down, three “major” thoroughbred tracks have remained open, which includes Oaklawn Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park. Oaklawn Park is in Arizona, while the remaining two are in Florida, with Gulfstream having hosted the 2020 Florida Derby just over a week ago, with Tiz the Law winning easily in front of zero spectators. Is that something that is capable of being maintained? “Of the three it appears in the short term they will be allowed to complete their season,” Haight said. “That said, Oaklawn Park is scheduled to close for the season on May 2 and Tampa Bay Downs May 3. Of the major tracks that would leave just Gulfstream Park — located in South Florida — racing although officials at Santa Anita in California are feverishly trying to that track reopened.” With the lack of any major sport taking place during the spread of coronavirus, increased majoring on horse racing has followed suit. Though Haight isn’t 100 percent sure that has to do with there being no baseball, basketball, hockey, etc... “I’m not sure I can attribute the increased handle numbers to the lack of sporting events. Rather I think the lack of competition from many or any racetracks running at the same time,’ he said. “I can tell you at Batavia Downs Racetrack our biggest total handle of the week is Wednesday night, which I’m sure surprises many people. Yes, on Saturday night we by far draw our biggest crowds but due to so many other tracks racing we don’t see the big off-track wagering numbers that we see on Wednesdays. In fact, it can be as high as 50 percent greater than the other race nights and this is all due to the lack of competition.” However, there may still be a correlation nonetheless between the lack of gambling options and the increased interest in horse racing betting. “Yes racetracks have reported increases in handle due to the lack of competition. Gulfstream Park saw an all-sources handle for the Florida Derby card, March 28, a record $53,555,529, eclipsing the previous mark of $49,909,070 handled in 2018,” Haight said. “And remember this number was attained with not one person wagering in the grandstands as the races were closed to the public. That’s truly remarkable.” There have also been other tracks across the country that have reported huge increases, including Fonner Park in Nebraska and Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma, with the former still up and running without spectators. Will Rogers Downs saw a 657.5% increase in the March 2020 handle over March 2019 with betting up nearly $13.7 million from the same period last year, according to Haight, while Fonner Park, saw a 272.7% increase in March handle, up more than $8.4 million. Specifically with Batavia Downs, they have also seen an up-tick in wagering in the recent weeks, for whatever the reason may be. In 2014 the Downs introduced Batavia Bets, an online wagering platform that has continued to be highly success, while Haight says it took in nearly $200,000 in wagers last week alone. Haight has also seen a small increase in the number of signups for Batavia Bets since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, with horse racing being virtually the only sport still running that people can gamble on. Moreover, cable networks such as Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports have continued to show live racing on television, including the Florida Derby in late March. “And keep in mind that’s with many of our customers most popular racetracks current closed,” Haight said in the increased wagering at Batavia Downs. “When you take Aqueduct, Meadowlands and Buffalo Raceway off the board it is going to have an effect on wagering numbers. We’re very pleased with the success of Batavia Bets.” For Haight and the rest of the world of racing — and life in general — everything at the moment is simply a waiting game. And the effects of the last month are something that the world will likely never fully get over. “COVID-19 has changed the landscape of horse racing - that’s for sure. We are living in unprecedented times and the safety of our patrons, employees, and horsemen remain a top priority,” Haight said. It remains to be seen how long it will take to get back to normal and what the new normal will indeed be. “The effects of this pandemic have been felt worldwide and in all sports,” he added. “We’ll continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on our website, social media and via press releases in regards to our live racing product which is scheduled to begin on July 22. We’ll be working very closely with the New York State Gaming Commission and the Western New York Harness Horseman Association on this process.” Here’s to hoping at least part, if not all, of the upcoming Downs season will go on as usual. By Nate Rider Reprinted with permission of The Daily News Online

Columbus, OH – NJ.com’s Keith Sargeant examines the impact of the coronavirus on a number of harness racing horsemen at Yonkers Raceway and the possible effect it had on the outbreak of the virus in New Jersey in his Sunday (April 5) story, “N.J.’s coronavirus outbreak may have started at a Yonkers racetrack.  Horsemen are still unravelling the mystery” posted on NJ.com. Sargeant recalls driver Pearly Allen’s difficult battle with COVID-19 and reports on the deaths of John Brennan, the first N.J. resident to die from the virus, and four members of the Fusco family as well as the illnesses of other horsemen, including SOA of NY President Joe Faraldo and Yonkers’ leading driver Jason Bartlett. To read the complete NJ.com story, click here. Check out valuable information for horsemen and the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic in the USTA COVID-19 Resource Center…here. USTA Communications Department

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (March 16, 2020) - Saratoga Casino Hotel announced today that it is temporarily shutting down effective as of 8pm tonight. Although there have been no known cases of COVID-19 at the property, Saratoga Casino Hotel officials said they have decided to close after consulting with the New York State Gaming Commission. The casino and simulcast wagering areas of the property will close, however the hotel will remain open and harness racing will resume as scheduled on Wednesday, March 18 without fans in the stands. Fans can wager remotely on the races on SaratogaBets.com or on any other New York State approved online waging platform. Morton's The Steakhouse will also remain open offering take-out and delivery service between noon-8pm daily. Employees impacted by the shutdown will receive 2 weeks' pay during the suspension. "We will continue to monitor the situation and carefully follow the advice and guidance of the state and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)." said Alex Tucker, General Manager of Saratoga Casino Hotel. Madison Winters Marketing Coordinator

The field for the Fillies and Mares Open was reduced to three participants after a host of harness racing scratches on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. In a race offering win betting only, Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) was the betting favorite in a feature that went for a purse of $15,000. Bontz N (Shawn Gray), a nominee for Pacing Mare of the Year at the Spa in 2019, wound up getting the pocket trip to Miss Irish Rose A in what was her second start back this season. Invader Fool Me Again (Mitch Cushing) got away third in the compact field of three as Miss Irish Rose A cruised through a first half in 58.3. Bontz N got geared up to go around the final turn and cruised past Miss Irish Rose A in the stretch to record the victory in 1:56. Miss Irish Rose A was the runner-up and has now finished first or second in all four of her tries in the Fillies and Mares Open at the Spa this season. Bontz N, who paid $4.60 to win, is owned by April Aldrich of Greenfield Center, NY and is trained by Gary Levine who came into the day atop the trainer standings after about a month of the racing season at the Spa. Live racing is scheduled to resume on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a 5:00pm first post.   Mike Sardella

Young pacer Flow With Joe (Roll With Joe) had a terrific harness racing season as a two year old in 2019. The Jody Weidman trainee recorded seven wins in eight starts last year while competing mostly in the New York Sire Stakes Fair Circuit. Flow With Joe followed up his good-looking freshman campaign with a fast third-place finish in his seasonal debut at the Spa in February. Last Wednesday (March 4), the sophomore went coast-to-coast to record his first victory of the season. Appearing maybe a bit green on the front end, Flow With Joe was all out to win in 2:00.2 as his race's 1-2 favorite. This Wednesday, the young pacer stepped up in company and squared off against a strong group in a $6,000 race for colts and geldings. Dan Cappello Jr piloted the Weidman trainee who was fifth in the six-horse field turning for home but displayed his versatility as the youngster who won on the engine last week came flying home to outclose his rivals to repeat on Wednesday. The victory came in 1:57.4 for Flow With Joe who pulled off a bit of an upset while dismissed at odds of 9-1. The win was one of two on the afternoon for the eight-time Saratoga driving champion Cappello who has enjoyed a solid start to his 2020 campaign. With his Wednesday win, Flow With Joe has now prevailed in nine of his eleven lifetime starts and could be poised for another solid season in NY Sire Stakes competition. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for noon. There is a $5,000 guarantee in the Pick Five pool on Thursday with the Pick Five beginning in the afternoon's first race.   Mike Sardella

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 29, 2020--Even-money Lean Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr., $4) and a repeating Tookadiveoffdipper (Eric Goodell, $19) held on and held sway Saturday night (Feb. 29th), winning Yonkers Raceway's pair of $40,000 co-features. There wasn't any Leap Night leaping per se, but both Lean Hanover and Tookadiveoffdipper did vault over their respective rivals early. Lean Hanover, from post position No. 3 in the blind-draw marquee trot, worked around Mostinterestingman (Austin Siegelman) before a :28.2 opening quarter-mile. It was between a pokey :58.4 intermission and 1:27 three-quarters that Elysium Lindy (Jason Bartlett) moved from third. He ended up pestering Lean Hanover for the duration, though the favorite did last by a scant nose in 1:56.1. Elysium Lindy drifted late and that did have no favors, while Mostinterestingman was third, beaten a neck. Certify (Jordan Stratton) and Photo Bomber (George Brennan) came away with the lesser envelopes, while a returning Tight Lines (Dan Dube) found himself devoid of trot, last among the half-dozen. For Lean Hanover, a 7-year-old Donato Hanover gelding co-owned by P C Wellwood Enterprises & Karen Carroll and trained by Linda Toscano, it was his second win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $20.40, with the triple returning $58. Saturday night's $40,000 Open Handicap Pace saw Tookadiveoffdipper--a week after wiring his foes at 17-1--do it again, albeit at a shorter price. From post No. 6--same as last Saturday--'Dipper' finished what he started (:27.1, :57, 1:25, 1:53.4). He was a head in front of a two-move Ostro Hanover (Dube) and a half-length in front of a last-to-third Jack's Legend N (Bartlett). Italian Delight N (Siegelman) and Micky Gee N (Stratton) rounded out the payees, while tepid 2-1 choice Ideal Jimmy (Brent Holland) pulled pocket and backpedaled to sixth.                                                                                           --Besjon Doda photo For fifth choice Tookadiveoffdipper, a 6-year-old Always a Virgin gelding co-owned by Jane & Mark Cross and trained by Virgil Morgan Jr., it was his fourth win in seven '20 tries. The exacta paid $78.50, with the triple returning $359.50.   By Frank Drucker, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

Sunday's feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel was the $15,000 Open Trot and it went the way of an Open first timer. Certify (Credit Winner) was a winning machine in 2019 spending much of his year competing in New York Sire Stakes races. Whether it was traveling the Fair Circuit or racing in Excelsior competition, Certify thrived throughout his three year old campaign. A late season purchase by owners William Hartt and Marc Reynolds, Certify paid immediate dividends for his new connections when he won the $50,000 Excelsior Final contested here at Saratoga in September. Following a win last Sunday in his seasonal debut, Certify was up into the Open this week and wound up as the public's 1-2 betting favorite with Jay Randall in the sulky. The four year old trotter cruised out to the early lead in the six-horse feature and traveled unopposed for the majority of the mile before Randall asked the budding star to crank up the speed around the final turn. Certify's response was instant and he drew away to be a decisive winner in the Open stopping the timer in 1:55.4 to move his local win streak to six and record his first career Open Trot victory. Volare (Billy Dobson) sat the pocket to the winner before finishing as the runner-up while Cash Me Out (Brett Crawford) came on to earn the show spot. The exacta and triple in the feature paid $14.20 and $61, respectively. Certify is trained by Lance Hudson who has six wins and a second in his seven starts since acquiring the talented trotter in September of last year. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12 Noon.   Mike Sardella

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Buffalo Raceway has instituted stage three of the three tiered harness racing 'whipping rule' that will go into effect on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.   First introduced in June of 2019 with minimum driving restrictions, the rule was expanded at the start of the 2020 season with drivers required to keep a line in each hand (except as may be necessary to adjust equipment) from the start of the race until the top of the stretch with both hands to stay in front of the body and not raised above the shoulder from the start of the race until the finish. Continuous whipping is prohibited.   Stage three will now require drivers to keep a line in each hand for the entire race.   "We are pleased with the positive reaction so far received from patrons, horse owners and trainers and the total support from the judges and the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association," said Buffalo Raceway Racing Secretary Tom Agosti. "There have only been two track imposed suspensions to date for violations of the rule. Everyone seems to be on board."   Buffalo Raceway is on the grounds owned by the Erie County Agricultural Society which hosts many animal related events including the Erie County Fair in August.   "Our racing operation is in line with the Erie County Agricultural Society's mission statement that the welfare of all animals on the grounds is a top priority," said CEO Jessica Underberg. "We are going in the right direction."   Racing will resume at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday evening with a 13-race card set for 6 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, simulcast schedule and upcoming promotions. go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, January 7, 2020--Yonkers Raceway's Tuesday night (Jan. 7th) harness racing Pick 5 wager had some old money and some new shooters. A $4,751.30 carryover and a $15,000 guaranteed pool resulted in $22,253 of fresh investments. The sequence proved rather formful until 18-1 shot Be Best (Brent Holland, $38.80) rallied to win the concluding leg going away in 1:54.4. The winning combination of 6/3/1/1/5 returned $586.50 for every correct half-a-buck wager. As a reminder, Yonkers' Pick 5 wager now encompasses races 5 through 9 nightly. A night after Jim Marohn Jr. won four races to begin the Raceway's 2020 season, Jason Bartlett did him one better, with five winners during the dozen-race card. Note the Raceway's usual five-program-per-week schedule (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) has returned, though with a new first post of 7:05 PM. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Cash Me Out finished up what will likely be an award-winning harness racing season in style on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The eight year old went coast-to-coast to win his ninth local Open Trot of the campaign as driver Brett Crawford powered the classy Kyle Spagnola trainee out to the early lead, a lead the millionaire trotter would never give up. Despite posting a sizzling first quarter of 27 seconds, the classy Cash Me Out never relinquished his lead and held on to prevail in 1:58.2 in the season's final feature on closing day of the 2019 meet. Gemologist (Jordan Derue) was the runner-up for the second straight week in the $18,000 Open for trotters while Cartier Volo (Frank Coppola Jr) earned the show spot. Cash Me Out's win was number 50 in 200 starts in the illustrious career of the trotter owned by the Traylor Racing Stable of Ballston Spa, NY. The Spagnola trainee is the clear favorite for the Trotter of the Year award which will be announced at the annual holiday banquet scheduled for December 21st. In Sunday's win, Cash Me Out was the 6-5 betting favorite and led an exacta and triple that paid $21.60 and $143.50, respectively, on closing day. The 2020 racing season will kick off in February.   Mike Sardella

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, December 14, 2019--Yonkers Raceway bid adieu to one of its harness racing favorites, Bit of a Legend N. The 10-year-old dual hemisphere double-millionaire, who was profiled earlier this week, was retired Saturday night (Dec. 14th) in an appropriate place, the Raceway winner's circle. Before going to his next job--stallion duty at Midland Acres in Bloomingburg, OH--Bit of a Legend N was honored by his human posse. Among those who gave their props to the 2016 Levy champion were co-owners Susan and Harry Von Knoblauch Jr., trainer Peter Tritton, driver Jordan Stratton, caretakers Smiley Quinteros and Carlos Rodriguez and official groupie Peter Venaglia. "(Bit of a Legend N) allowed me to retire," Von Knoblauch Jr. said, adding, "He bought our family closer together. We can't say we'll find another as good as him, but we try." Bit of a Legend N was an original $103,000 purchase by the late Harry Von Knoblauch. He went on to earn $1.9 million in 99 North American starts, winning a third (that's 33 after some fast math). "Peter (Tritton) and his staff took such good care of him," Stratton said. "I think that's why he lasted so long. "The horse's name is Bit of a Legend, but the real legend was Peter. He never put any pressure on me. I wasn't as established a driver then, and even when we didn't get the results, he understood my thought process." Saturday night's pair of $42,000 Open Handicaps were won by... --Trot, Swansea (Austin Siegelman, $4.50) in 1:55.4,                                                                                                -- Mike Lizzi photo --Pace, Mac's Jackpot (Brent Holland, $12.20) in 1:52.2.                                                                                                -- Mike Lizzi photo George Brennan, back from some R&R, won three races, halving the difference (423-420) between himself in Jason Bartlett in the local driver standings with two programs remaining before the '19 season ends Tuesday night (Dec. 17th). Bartlett was blanked Saturday evening.   Frank Drucker Yonkers Raceway

There were three harness racing divisions of the second leg of the Holiday Trot Series contested on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Each division went for a purse of $7,500 as the participants had their last chance to accrue points towards next Wednesday’s $20,000 Final. Jimmy Nickerson’s Awol Hanover (Donato Hanover) and Phil Fluet’s Barn Star (Conway Hall) became two-leg winners as they each completed back-to-back jacks on Wednesday. Barn Star could well head into next week’s Final as the one to beat after prevailing in 1:58.2 for the second straight start. Fluet trains and drives the four year old who came into the series with just one win on the season but now owns three following a pocket-sitting victory on Wednesday. The fastest winner in each leg, Barn Star is poised to square off with Awol Hanover in the $20,000 Final after that one cruised to the front-end in leg two and never looked back. Jay Randall piloted the Nickerson-trained trotter who held off a late charge from rival JS Trotting Bob (Fluet) to secure his second victory in as many tries in the series, stopping the timer in 2:00 on Wednesday. The final division of the day saw a mild upset as Aventure (Muscle Mass) came from off the pace to prevail with leading driver Billy Dobson in the sulky. Aventure had been winless in 2019 before a surge in the stretch on Wednesday saw him score a victory in 2:00 and punch his ticket to next week’s Final. The win for Aventure came at odds of 6-1 and served as the third on the card for Dobson. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon with a first post time set for 12 Noon.      Mike Sardella

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 30, 2019--Mac's Jackpot (Brent Holland, $20), despite four weeks off, a scratched-sick line in between and a first-over trip Saturday night (Nov. 30th), annexed Yonkers Raceway's $42,000 Open Handicap Pace. Away fourth from assigned post position No. 2, Mac's Jackpot found himself in behind Havefaithinme N (Jason Bartlett), Bettor's Fire N (Ron Cushing) and Fine Diamond (Jordan Stratton). Havefaithinme N led through intervals of :27.1 and a flat 56 seconds before Mac's Jackpot moved. He led the conga line which included The Real One (Pat Lachance) and 17-10 choice Saying Grace N (Jim Marohn Jr.). Havefaithinme N found a 1:24 three-quarters, but was about to get collared. Mac's Jackpot took over soon thereafter, with The Real One in pursuit. Mac's Jackpot did close the sale from early in the lane, holding off The Real One by a length in 1:51.3 while matching a season's-best effort. Saying Grace N was a non-threatening third, with Havefaithinme N and The Wall (Joe Bongiorno) picking off the remainder. For fifth choice Mac's Jackpot, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned by Howard & Michael Ouriel and trained by Jeff Smith, it was her ninth win (third consecutive) in 26 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $97.50, the triple returned $426 and the superfecta paid $1,171.   Frank Drucker Yonkers

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday we surround ourselves with friends and family and take a moment and reflect what we have to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving.  Brandon Parker has much to be thankful for, on Tuesday November 26, the 20 year old Parker scored a harness racing hat trick at Monticello Raceway, it seemed like just yesterday that Brandon won his first pari mutual win. Brandon went down the road in the third race with Road Untraveled and scored a wire to wire 1 length win 1:57.1 and returned a $3.70-win ticket. The 11-year-old Grinfromeartoear gelding notched his 13 win of the 2019 season for trainer David Dziengiel. The classy campaigner Road Untraveled has lifetime earnings of $425,626 and a lifetime record of 1:49.1 Brandon was content to sit the pocket with Mom's Crossroads while Feel The Need A and Hunter Oaks cut the mile in race 5, Mom's Crossroads uncorked a final quarter in 28.4 to overtake pacesetter Feel The Need A to prevail in 1:56, the fastest mile of the day. Mom's Crossroads is owned and trained by Brandon's father Billy "Zeke" Parker. The new acquisition to the barn has won his last 2 out pf 3 starts after being claimed. The Allamerican Native 8-year-old gelding paid $8.80. The driving triple was capped when Parker scored with the longest shot on the board, the 21-1 Jasmine Ivy in 1:59.1 and paid $45.60 for win. The Raheim Strong trainee sat the 2 hole behind as the odds on favorite Future Life who cut the mile, Jasmine Ivy has enough in the tank to overtake Future Life at the wire. The 20-year-old Brandon Parker is in 6th place for leading Monticello Raceway Dash winners with 77 wins, his mounts have earned $398,718 thus far this season. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Goshen, NY - The Living Horse Hall of Fame Committee of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame has announced the slate of six candidates for election into the Hall of Fame.   The nominees are:   ALWAYS B MIKI BEE A MAGICIAN CHAPTER SEVEN FATHER PATRICK PEACEFUL WAY SWEET LOU   Standardbred horses are elected into harness racing's Living Horse Hall of Fame by current members of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. SIX candidates will be presented to the Museum membership for consideration. Ballots will be mailed to members after Thanksgiving and must be returned by January 2, 2020. The THREE top vote getters will be inducted into the Living Horse Hall of Fame on Hall of Fame Day - July 5, 2020 - in Goshen, New York. If you wish to participate in the Living Horse Hall of Fame election process and are not currently a Museum member, please contact the Museum to become a member. In July 2018, the Board of Trustees of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame approved a revised set of Living Horse Hall of Fame eligibility criteria. Those criteria are as follows: A racehorse must be retired from racing for two years and have had a drug-free career. In addition, racehorses must have been the winner of $2.5 million lifetime WITH 2 Dan Patch Awards, OR been the winner of $3 million lifetime, OR been named Dan Patch (U.S.) Harness Horse of the Year. Horses over the age of 12 that are still racing and meet the criteria are also eligible. A racemare must be retired from racing for two years and have had a drug-free career. In addition, racemares must have been the winner of $1.5 million lifetime WITH 2 Dan Patch Awards, OR been the winner of $2.5 million lifetime, OR been named Dan Patch (U.S.) Harness Horse of the Year. Mares over the age of 12 that are still racing and meet the criteria are also eligible. Stallions must rank among the 10 all-time leading moneywinning sires at their gait, OR have sired at least 100 $200,000 winners, OR been a leading moneywinning sire at his gait in three or more seasons. Annually on March 1st, a list of the broodmares that have produced two Dan Patch winners, OR two millionaires, OR one Dan Patch winner and one millionaire will be assembled for the Living Horse Hall of Fame Committee to review. Committee members can also nominate a broodmare that does not meet the criteria. Each of the committee members votes for his or her top 5 broodmares, voting results are tabulated and the top two vote getters are elected to the Living Horse Hall of Fame. The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, located at 240 Main Street in Goshen, New York, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thanks to industry support the Museum is offers free admission for walk-in visitors and $4 per person for group docent-guided tours. For information on the Museum, membership, special events, gift shop services and educational programs the Museum offers, please call (845) 294-6330 or visit www.harnessmuseum.com. Janet Terhune

Goshen, NY --Just like many of her classmates, when Noelle Duspiva entered the Horse Husbandry curriculum at Morrisville State College in 2001 she enjoyed being around pleasure horses and thought, "I could just ride horses for the rest of my life and it will be profitable." She added, "I realized very quickly that this would be a difficult career path." As the neighs and whinnies of yearlings echoed through the vast halls of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, Duspiva noted that she had no idea that she would find herself managing a Standardbred breeding farm in Orange County, New York less than a decade later. While din of the auctioneers could be heard in the background of the Harrisburg yearling sale, Noelle recounted her need for a summer job while on college break and one of the only positions available was in the breeding barn. Being late in the month of May, there was but one mare left to foal, so the then-eighteen-year-old agreed to take a shot at foal watch. The mare foaled perfectly, "but I was freaking out," she adds with a laugh. Luckily for Duspiva she was working in the breeding shed beside one of the most knowledgeable and well-known breeding managers in the state of New York, Dave Hanson. She credits Hanson and Dr. Larry Sautter as two of her mentors in the industry and recalls the early days of collection stallions, inseminating mares and ultimately prepping yearlings at the Morrisville College program. "That summer I got a crash course in harness racing and breeding operations, literally from the ground up." She fell in love with the sport and was hooked. She picked breeding as her major concentration and stayed at Morrisville all four summers until she graduated. But, before she could graduate, the program stipulated an internship at a breeding farm...which provided Duspiva the opportunity to enter the world of Winbak Farm. Following the internship and graduation in 2004 she was offered a job on the Standardbred nursery in Walden, NY. She has been there ever since, taking over as manager in 2010. Over the course of her work at Winbak of NY there has been as many as twelve stallions standing stud at one time. Although she counts Muscles Yankee and Malabar Man as two of the most memorable, they each had their own distinct accomplishments and is very proud to have worked with all of them. In addition to her duties farm manager, Duspiva is also the President of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. Her work with that organization has allowed her to interact with breeders from all over the state and to help implement improvements to the program in concert with the New York Sires Stakes and the Ag Fund. When the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association holds their 61st annual Awards Banquet, on Sunday, December 15, 2019, Noelle Duspiva will receive the chapter's Excelsior Award, for her dedication and contributions to harness racing in the State of New York. This year, in addition to the year-end awards for horses and horse people from the local tracks, the Monticello-Goshen chapter will also honor Mickey Burke (Lifetime Achievement Award); Larry Lederman (John Gilmour Good Guy Award); Purple Haze Stable (Cradle of the Trotter Breeders Award); Barbara Martinez (Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award); Dave Brower (Phil Pines Award); Tony Verruso (Amateur Driver); Joe Chindano, Jr. (Rising Star); and Donald Bickle (Award of Appreciation). Tickets for the gala event at The Fountains at Wallkill Golf Club, Middletown, NY, can be reserved by contacting Shawn Wiles at (845) 794-4100 extension 458 or Email: swiles@empireresorts.com. To place a congratulatory ad in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully at (845) 807-7538 or Email: tullytrot@yahoo.com.   by Chris Tully Monticello-Goshen Chapter of USHWA  

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