Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 264
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

Coral Springs, FL - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will host the final free harness racing handicapping contest for the 2020 season on Scott Alberg's Facebook page Saturday, October 31, at Harrah's Hoosier Park on Breeders Crown Night. One of the Breeders Crown races will be the special race that contestants will be challenged to handicap and entry is free of charge. There is no purchase necessary to play. All you have to do is select the correct exacta. (first two official finishers in the race. Must submit their starting post position by number). Harrah's Hoosier Park is sponsoring the three prizes that will be given away. First place will receive a $150 gift card, second place a $75 gift card and third place a gift box with 30 different popular candy bars in it. Scott Alberg, the 2006 National Harness Handicapping Champion, who also has numerous other handicapping titles, has been a Standardbred owner in the past, and has agreed to partner with USHWA as the contest's title sponsor. To enter the free contest, fans must go to Scott Alberg's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/scott.alberg.3,, where the contest will be prominently displayed. Entries will be accepted beginning Thursday, October 29. Alberg, as he has done in the past, will run the contest. Participants have until 4:00 pm Saturday afternoon (Oct. 31) to enter the contest. All rules and regulations will be posted for the contest. Anyone who is not on Facebook can still enter the contest by sending in their selections via email to CustomerService@4NJPicks.com. USHWA members Garnet and Nicholas "Ace" Barnsdale will host the Facebook Live Drawing to determine the contest winners at 12:00 noon Sunday, November 1 at www.facebook.com/USHarnessWriters. For more information check out Scott Alberg's Facebook Page, USHWA's Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram accounts or the USHWA website at www.usharnesswriters.com. A list of prize winners is available anytime from either Scott Alberg's Facebook page or via email at CustomerService@4NJPicks.com. Sorry, but all current USHWA members are not eligible for this contest. By Steve Wolf, for USHWA

Coral Springs, FL - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will host the next free harness racing handicapping contest on Scott Alberg's Facebook page Sunday, October Sunday, 11, at the Red Mile on Kentucky Futurity Day. One of the Red Mile races will be the special race that contestants will be challenged to handicap and entry is free of charge. There is no purchase necessary to play. All you have to do is select the correct exacta. (first two official finishers in the race. Must submit their starting post position by number). National USHWA is sponsoring the three prizes that will be given away. First place will receive a $150 gift card, second place a $75 gift card and third place a gift box with 30 different popular candy bars in it. Scott Alberg, the 2006 National Harness Handicapping Champion, who also has numerous other handicapping titles, has been a Standardbred owner in the past, and has agreed to partner with USHWA as the contest's title sponsor. To enter the free contest, fans must go to Scott Alberg's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/scott.alberg.3,, where the contest will be prominently displayed. Entries will be accepted beginning Friday, October 9. Alberg, as he has done in the past, will run the contest. Participants have until 10:00 am Sunday morning (Oct. 11) to enter the contest. All rules and regulations will be posted for the contest. Anyone who is not on Facebook can still enter the contest by sending in their selections via email to CustomerService@4NJPicks.com. USHWA members Garnet and Nicholas "Ace" Barnsdale will host the Facebook Live Drawing to determine the contest winners at 8:00 pm Sunday, October 11 at www.facebook.com/USHarnessWriters. For more information check out Scott Alberg's Facebook Page, USHWA's Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram accounts or the USHWA website at www.usharnesswriters.com. A list of prize winners is available anytime from either Scott Alberg's Facebook page or via email at CustomerService@4NJPicks.com. Sorry, but all current USHWA members are not eligible for this contest. By Steve Wolf, for USHWA  

Coral Springs, FL - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) with Scott Alberg, have come up with the best free handicapping contest of the 2020 harness racing season and it all revolves around the Pepsi North America Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Toronto, Canada. The contest is called USHWA Drive Me Some Cash, and contestants must try and select the correct exacta finish (first and second place) in the 6th race this Saturday, August 22. The contest will be open to enter on Thursday, August 20. USHWA current members are not eligible to enter. There will be three grand prize winners chosen from the people that select the correct exacta finish. There will be a first, second and third place finishers selected from a virtual drawing at noon on Sunday, August 23, 2020. Then the contest gets even better for the three winners as the following week the first, second and third place finishers select a driver competing on Pepsi North America Cup Night (Saturday, August 29), and USHWA will play $10 to win (1st prize), $5.00 to win (2nd prize) or $2.00 to win (3rd prize) on every race the driver they select is competing in. The three winning contestants must make their driver selections after scratch time that Thursday. Winning contestants cannot choose a driver that is already selected. 1st place names their driver first, 2nd place names second and 3rd place names their driver third. The chance to win hundreds of dollars in cash is likely with this special contest as some of the top drivers in harness racing could be competing in ten or more races that evening. For the complete rules and regulations for USHWA Drive Me Some Cash is on the USHWA website at www.usharnesswriters.com. This Saturday's exacta selections must be entered on Scott Alberg's Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/scott.alberg.3 by 6:00 pm. Anyone who is not on Facebook and wants to enter the competition can do so by 6:00 pm Saturday by emailing their exacta selection to CustomerService@4NJPicks.com. By Steve Wolf, for USHWA  

Pompano Beach, FL - The Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced two candidates who will receive awards this year from the Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship. The scholarship was established in memory of Hall of Famer Allen J. Finkelson, the former Vice President of Public Relations at Pompano Park and longtime Chairman of the Board of the national USHWA organization. "Both Micaela Bonilla and Jessica Hallett will each receive $500 from our Chapter," said committee chair Thomas H. Hicks. "Micaela is a senior at the University of Central Florida with a GPA of 4.0. She is a pre-veterinary science major, and Jessica is a college senior at Nova Southeastern University with a 3.33 GPA as a medical biology major. They are both outstanding students." Preference for these scholarship awards were given to a student(s) majoring in journalism, communications or equine related studies. Applicants must be a resident of the state of Florida and currently accepted or enrolled in a fully accredited college or university in the United States. Criteria for selection include community service, academic achievement, and leadership. This year both scholarships were generously donated by Maggie Sinclair and Jay Farrar of Winter Park and Kathleen and Thomas Hicks of Margate. Micaela Bonilla of Orlando is an upcoming senior at UCF going for her Bachelor's degree in biology. She then hopes to get into a university for her doctorate in veterinary medicine. She is on the Dean's List and on Honor Society for Phi Kappa Phi. Micaela also volunteers at a local animal shelter and is a certified veterinarian technician, working part-time. She hopes to work as a veterinarian with horses. Jessica Hallett of Margate, FL, has extensive leadership experience that includes President's 64 at NSU, Emergency Medical Technology Class Leader, NSU Dual Degree, United States Trotting Association Youth Delegate Executive Board and the NSU Hunt-Seat Equestrian Team. In addition to her studies this past year, Jessica also received training in TSA Canine Decov, Naloxone (Narcan) Administration, Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, Active Shooter Training and NSU Colleges of Allopathic and Osteopathic Professionalism. For more information about the Florida Chapter of USHWA and the Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship, visit their website at www.ushwa-florida.com or go to their Facebook page at Florida Chapter USHWA . From the Florida Chapter of USHWA      

Coral Springs, FL - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will host the next free harness racing handicapping contest on Scott Alberg's Facebook page on Independence Day, Saturday, July 4 at The Meadowlands. One special race will be selected from the Meadowlands Saturday program and contestants can enter free of charge. All you have to do is select the correct exacta (first two official finishers in the race, either by their starting post position number or by the name of the horse). The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame have arranged for the three Swag Bag prizes that will be given away in this week's contest. If more than three correct answers are submitted, then a drawing will take place with all the correct winners and the first three names drawn will win a swag bag prize package. This week's prizes come from the Harness Racing Museum and includes a copy of the USTA's Care & Training of the Trotter and Pacer book, a copy of Bill Heller's novel on Billy Haughton, plus other surprise items. Scott Alberg, the 2006 National Harness Handicapping Champion, who also has numerous other handicapping titles, has been a Standardbred owner in the past, and has agreed to partner with USHWA as the contests new title sponsor. "Since USHWA came on board with this contest, we are setting records with every event," said Alberg, "Our last contest set the bar now at 287 people entering. We have never had that many people enter before. This contest is all about having fun and we hope even more people will enter this week." To enter the contest, fans must go to Scott Alberg's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/scott.alberg.3,, where the contest will be prominently displayed. Alberg, as he has done in the past, will run the contests. All contest winners will have their name posted after the event and the ranking they finished in from the prize drawings. As soon as the draw takes place at the Meadowlands this week, the program proof page for the race selected will be posted for race fans to handicap from. For more information check out Scott Alberg's Facebook Page, USHWA's Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram accounts or the new USHWA website at www.usharnesswriters.com. By Steve Wolf, for USHWA  

Grady Hachey is one of the youngest racecallers in the game, having started at age 11 and making Canadian news when he called a harness racing non-wagering card in 2017 at age 12. He also assists trainer Charlie Miles at their hometown racetrack when his school schedule allows. This year, with COVID-19 shutting down both schools and harness racing in recent months, Grady has been spending more time helping out around the barn, and was recently named a 2020/21 US Harness Writers Association (USHWA) Youth member. He originally wanted to review the well-known track where he had his first-ever experience of live harness racing, but instead chose to use this platform to promote a track closer to home, where he gained early experience as both racecaller and horseman. While he is not from a family steeped in harness racing history, Grady Hachey is part of the newest generation in a community where the sport has been contested at three different venues since 1820.  Canada’s oldest, through the eyes of its youngest. Sometimes a racetrack is more than just a place where horses run. Sometimes it’s history. For some people, it’s a second home. (I am one of those people). It can even be something people live for. Fredericton Raceway is one of those tracks. USTA records show that Fredericton Raceway opened in 1870, making it arguably Canada’s oldest racetrack. The track surface itself is loaded with history. A great deal of amazing races have taken place at the track, such as one race where the track record was broken: the 2012 Walter Dale Memorial Pace. It was won by Mcapolco (p, 6, 1:51.2s; $345,150) and driver Brodie MacPhee for trainer Jackie Matheson, in the time of 1:54.2! Fredericton Raceway is a place for people young and old to come watch races. With two big open grandstands, little kids can have a great view of the racetrack to watch the horses race, or they can go down to the fence and have the horses go by them, just feet away. I will tell you, there is something special about the racetrack. It is a gathering place at the barn area for older gentlemen who reminisce about “the good old days” and tease each other about who knows what. So many tremendous horses have come out of Fredericton Raceway, such as Flying Cowboy (p, 4, 1:50.3f; $201,937), who was developed by Charlie Miles before being sold to American owners, for whom he went on to take his record south of the border. There was also 2009 Walter Dale Memorial Pace champion All Star Dragon (p, 6, 1:50.3f; $252,835), who was developed by Stacey Gay and Everett Hansen. He went on to race in the United States and took his record there.  Despite the track not racing this year, there are still horses training down to race at fellow New Brunswick racetrack, Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John. (Note: An exhibition card was raced at Fredericton Raceway September 8, 2019, the last date the track has hosted live competition.) No matter what happens to the Fredericton racetrack, the provincial capital will always be known as “Canada’s oldest” harness racing site.  Know a young harness racing fan and/or participant who would like to share their story about the youth-friendly elements of their favourite track? The USHWA Youth Membership Committee welcomes submissions from young people (aged 21 or younger) who would like to let others know about what makes their favourite track a great place to enjoy live racing, whether now or before Coronavirus restrictions (in provinces/states where attendance is currently restricted). Please contact USHWA Youth Membership Committee Chair Melissa Keith (mkeith71@gmail.com) if interested in taking part in this project.  Fredericton Raceway, by Melissa Keith

Pompano Beach, FL --- Steven Wolf, president of the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Racing Writers Association (USHWA), has announced that the chapter is now accepting applications for its 2020 Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Awards. The scholarship fund was established in memory of Hall of Famer Allen J. Finkelson, the former Vice President of Public Relations at Pompano Park and longtime Chairman of the Board of the national USHWA organization. "While our Florida Chapter was hesitant at first due to the pandemic that canceled our annual fundraising Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame banquet," said Steve Wolf, "we still felt we needed to continue our scholarship program, which is important for our young people to help them with the costs of tuition." Preference for these scholarship awards will be given to a student majoring in journalism, communications or veterinarian related studies. This year there are two sponsors of the scholarships. They are Maggie LaClair and Jay Farrar and Kathleen and Thomas H. Hicks. Applicants must be a resident of the state of Florida and currently accepted or enrolled in a fully accredited college or university in the United States. Criteria for selection include community service, academic achievement, and leadership. Applicants must have demonstrated scholastic ability with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 and show evidence of community service and leadership through certificates, awards and/or letters of commendation. Fully completed applications must be postmarked no later than July 1, 2020, for consideration of an August 2020 award. Recipients may reapply annually for a maximum of four years. Applications should be submitted/addressed to the Florida Chapter USHWA, Scholarship Committee, 3508 Sahara Springs Blvd., Pompano Beach, FL 33069. For more information or to receive an application on the internet, visit http://www.ushwa-florida.com/ or contact via e-mail to Thomas H. Hicks at renparlc@gate.net or Steven Wolf at stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. From the Florida Chapter of USHWA  

HARRISBURG PA - Roger Huston, the Communicators Hall of Fame member who ended a 44-year announcing career at The Meadows racetrack last November but continues harness racing involvement in his native state of Ohio, has been voted the highest honor annually given by the Keystone Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the Mary Lib Miller Award, named for the lifelong helpmate of "Mr. Harness Racing," Delvin Miller, founder of The Meadows - a couple Roger knew quite well. Huston got his start in broadcasting at a radio station in his native Xenia OH; his uncle Don was the announcer at Lebanon Raceway and some nearby fairs, which became Roger's introduction to going behind the microphone in the sport. Besides announcing at The Meadows, Roger will in 2020 calling at Delaware OH at the Little Brown Jug for the 53rd straight year, and he has been the announcer at several western Pennsylvania fairs. Besides his new role as "brand ambassador" for the Ohio horsemen's association, Huston continues to serve as a Director of USHWA for the Keystone Chapter (for whom he served as founding president), and he was the Director with the most years of USHWA membership (52) at the association's Florida annual meetings in February. About the only harness racing "force" that has been going longer than Roger is Hanover Shoe Farms, which again was voted Pennsylvania Breeder of the Year. The Shoe Farms has been the sport's leading breeder every year since records started to be kept in 1948, and while recording their 72nd straight win they established a single-season high for the winnings of their produce, $34.0M. Another repeat winner is George Napolitano Jr., who was voted his second straight Pennsylvania Driver of the Year award and fourth in the twelve years the award has been given. Napolitano, who recorded his 10,000th career victory at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on October 12, won 638 Pennsylvania races between The Downs (337), where he was the top sulkywinner for the eighth straight year, and Harrah's Philadelphia (301). "George Nap" was third in all of North America last year with 651 driving wins. Kim Hankins, the longtime executive director of the Meadows Standardbred Association and one of the most well-rounded and well-respected individuals in harness racing, was named a Friend of Pennsylvania Harness Racing for his leadership of his horsemen's group in such diverse areas as racetrack negotiations, marketing, and intrastate partnerships and communications. A longtime top horseman in Illinois for many years, Hankins is currently 1st Vice President of Harness Horsemen International, and served for many years on the board of directors of the U.S. Trotting Association. Two smaller stables raised their profiles in 2019 to a degree that they were voted awards by Keystone USHWA. Longtime Meadows horseman Bill Bercury, campaigning a five-horse stable most of the year, saw his barn earn over $590,000 for the sixth straight year (with only 123 starts), and he posted the #1 trainers percentage in North America for those with fewer than 300 starts, a .580 "batting average." The constant sharpness and success shown by his stable earned Bercury Pennsylvania Trainer of the Year honors. Bob Rougeaux III campaigns the horses of the Brocious Racing Stable of the late Harold "Lefty" Brocious, and the "Rocky Top" stable, as they style themselves, sent out four of the eight blanketwinners at the Pennsylvania Fair Banquet for having amassed the most points in their respective divisions during the twenty-stop fair season in the Keystone state. As with Bercury, "quality" trumped "quality" here, and the Rougeaux/Brocious "team" were named the Small Stable of the Year in Pennsylvania. Missy Rothfuss, the outrider at The Meadows, is this year's recipient of the Keystone Unsung Hero Award. Rothfuss started her career while a senior in high school and has been at The Meadows 24 years. She is the first responder when accidents happen on the racetrack, often anticipating problems and arriving before anyone else at the site of trouble, and because of her record is well-respected by Meadows horsemen. Between races Missy is meeting fans, letting them pet her equine partner, and educating them about harness racing. She has ridden in Breeders Crown events and also is the head outrider at The Little Brown Jug in Delaware, OH. And after many years toiling in semi-anonymity, Missy is not only receiving this award but was also recently featured in Vicki Howard's "Superstar Females of Harness Racing" column in the online journal Harness Racing Update. The now-11-year-old pacer Atta Boy Dan started his season in the western part of the state, but the record he put up while operating at Pocono was the major contributor to his being named Pennsylvania Horse of the Year, for horses making over half their starts within the borders of Pennsylvania. The winner of over $900,000 lifetime won 19 times (earning over $200,000) during 2019, the most victories of any horse in the United States, and he set an unofficial record by being claimed in fourteen consecutive starts. The state writers initiated a Keystone Chapter Member of the Year this past season to recognize outstanding efforts made by those within their ranks, and in this inaugural season a recognition will be given to a member in both the western and the eastern parts of the state. Chris Gooden, who has been a Smallsreed Photo awardwinner in the national competition for the last two years, was selected as the top Keystoner from the west; on the eastern side, the honors went to Jennifer Starr, the multitalented and tireless Racing Marketing Manager at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Ordinarily, the Keystone USHWA awardwinners would have had a moment in the spotlight as they received their awards in a trackside ceremony. But with the coronavirus throwing unprecedented uncertainty into everyone's schedules, it was thought to send the recipients their trophies through delivery, before the shine of their 2019 accomplishments became too faded by time. Jerry Connors

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

It is last call to make room reservations at the luxurious Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla., for the U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards banquet on Sunday, Feb. 23. If you are planning to attend the gala festivities that will honor the best equines and humans in the sport in 2019, room reservations must be made by Friday, Jan. 31. Rooms are nearly sold out so make sure you don't get shut out! The USHWA rate for a standard room at Rosen Shingle Creek is $199 (plus tax). For a direct link to the Rosen Shingle Creek special page to make USHWA room reservations, please click here. Depending on availability, rooms may still be available after Jan. 31, but can only be made by calling the hotel directly at (866) 996-6338 and asking for the "Dan Patch Awards rate." This is the third year Rosen Shingle Creek will host the Dan Patch Awards banquet. This year's banquet, which will be held in the Gaitlin B ballroom, gets underway with the Red Carpet at 5:30 p.m., with the awards ceremony starting promptly at 6:30 p.m. Be on hand when the Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year are announced. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured. Tickets can be ordered until Feb. 17 by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson at zoe8874@aol.com or (302) 359-3630. Remember, all attendees will receive a 10 percent discount at all of the hotel's restaurants, a 10 percent discount at the Spa at Shingle Creek, and a green fees discount at the Shingle Creek Golf Club. There is still limited space available in the USHWA journal. The deadline is Friday, Jan. 31. To take out a congratulatory ad please contact Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com or (708) 557-2790. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

Trenton, NJ — Apparently, there is one chink in the amazing Wanda Polisseni’s armor. Ask her what it means to receive this year’s harness racing Unsung Hero Award from the U.S. Harness Writers Association, and you discover the kryptonite. “I’m speechless,” the 80-year-old philanthropist said. “I don’t do well in these instances. I’m blown away. I don’t know what to say.” After that, of course, the woman who defines class knew exactly what to say; and she said it with the dignity that has made her a beloved figure in harness racing this century. “I never even think of receiving anything like this,” Polisseni said. “I don’t go about my days doing the things I do, thinking that it’s going to be rewarded with recognition. I know people appreciate what I do. I know my babies (her horses) all appreciate what I do. That in itself is enough for me. That’s what it’s all about.” Lest one think that is false humility, Wanda is honest enough to admit that while she doesn’t expect awards, she does enjoy receiving them. “I would say this one is probably one of my favorites, right near the top or at the top,” she said. “This is a great organization, a large organization. This ranks with getting a doctorate of humane letters from Keuka College. But every one of them is important. Each and every one. I don’t care if it’s from the local boy scouts or whatever. I’m appreciative of everything, although I don’t strive for that. I’d rather be under the radar.” Polisseni was informed of her award by longtime friend Betty Holt, a former Unsung Hero Award recipient and the executive director of Wanda’s newest endeavor, the Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program in Oxford, N.Y. Their relationship dates back to 2004, when Polisseni first got into the racing game as an owner. Her 2-year-old gelding, Smoky Bonz, won at Saratoga. Holt was involved in the breeding of the horse and visited the winner’s circle after the race. A friendship was born. “Whoever called Betty (from the U.S. Harness Writers Association), said it would mean more to me coming from her, and they were right,” Polisseni said. “Smoky Bonz is one of my all-time favorites, I have a huge oil painting of him in my living room and she foaled him. I worked along with her with the breeders and horsemen’s association and I knew without a doubt when I started talking about (the adoption center) that she would be the best one for the executive director. She’s doing a terrific job. So yes, hearing the news from her meant a lot.” The adoption center got underway in earnest last fall and recently placed its first two horses with new owners. There are seven more waiting for new homes in the 20-stall facility and funding has been provided by Polisseni and numerous private donations, “some of which came from people I wouldn’t have expected.” The center must wait between one and two years to petition for grants, but the face lift has been a typical Polisseni operation — first class. “I wanted to freshen it up and add stalls so we’d have more babies available for adoption,” she said. “If I ever wanted to live on a farm again (which is where she grew up), I would love to live on this farm, it’s so beautiful. But that’s not my aspiration. I just want a lot of babies there and a lot of babies to be adopted out.” Polisseni’s other babies can be found in her family-owned Purple Haze Stables, which houses 100 horses. Many have been successful over the years and she feels somewhat chagrined about that but, at the same time, unashamed. “I started in 2004,” she said. “That’s not many years compared to some of these people, these trainers and owners that have been in it for 50 years. I feel a little guilty for the success I’ve had, because they are due. They are long overdue. “But it is what it is. I’m going to take the wins and I’m going to take the losses. I’m happy if my baby comes in fourth or fifth and he’s done the best he can and he’s safe and healthy.” Tending to her babies and overseeing the adoption center is just a fraction of what makes Polisseni special. Showing an unheard of amount of energy for an 80-year-old, the upstate New York icon currently sits on eight different boards, including The Finger Lakes Horsemen Benevolent Protective Association, the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program, and the Harness Horse Breeders of New York. Beyond the business, she is involved with the New York State Trooper Foundation, Thompson Health, St. John Fisher College and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She refuses to be on any board in name only and makes a firm commitment to each one. Polisseni is the epitome of someone who feels blessed with what they have been given, and truly wants to give back. She is unsung, because she will never sing her own praises. That will be especially true when she receives her honor at the Feb. 23 Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla., where the speech will be short and sweet. “Whenever anything like this comes along with all these organizations and galas, and it has many times in my years, they don’t want to sit there and listen to speeches; they don’t want to be inundated with speech after speech after speech,” Polisseni said. “Some people in the audience can’t relate to those experiences, so why make them have to listen to it? “I might just say a few words. I’ve always done that. I always get up and tell the audience ‘I’m going to make your night. I’m only going to say thank you very much and that’s it.’” She then added with a touch of whimsy, “That’s gone over very well at many of the galas I’ve attended.” For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet, visit the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s website. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Derick Giwner and Melissa Keith were named winners of the 2019 John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing journalism while Chris Gooden and Mark Hall were named recipients of the George Smallsreed Awards for photography and Woodbine Entertainment Group was selected winner of the Sam McKee Award for broadcasting, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Tuesday. The winners will be recognized at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 23 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla. Meadowlands Racetrack Chairman Jeffrey Gural is continuing his longstanding sponsorship of the awards by providing banquet tickets for the winners. Giwner won in the news or commentary category for his column, "Rolling the sport into the future," which appeared in the Feb. 9 edition of DRF Harness Weekend. To read the piece, click here. It is Giwner's first Hervey Award. Keith won in the feature writing category for her two-part story on the death of Ron Graham that appeared in Harness Racing Update. The first part, "The tragic and mysterious death of a harness horseman," appeared April 14 and can be read here. The second part, "A wanderer with an incredible heart," appeared May 24 and can be read here. It is Keith's third Hervey Award and second in this category. Honorable mentions went to Mike Farrell (writing for the Hambletonian Society) and James Platz (Harness Racing Update) in news/commentary and to Platz, Brandon Valvo (writing for the Breeders Crown) and Gordon Waterstone (The Horseman and Fair World) in feature writing. The writing categories were judged by NTRA Director of Communications Alicia Hughes, Eclipse Award-winning writer Joe Nevills, and former Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn. In the Smallsreed competition, Gooden won in the race/action category for his photograph, "Noses on the Gate," which appeared online Feb. 19 on The Meadows Racing website. Gooden is a three-time Smallsreed winner. Chris Gooden Photo Hall won in the feature category for his photograph, "Shining Moment," that appeared on the cover of the July issue of Hoof Beats. It is Hall's seventh Smallsreed honor. Honorable mentions went to Clive Cohen (Woodbine Mohawk Park Facebook and Instagram) in race/action and to Michael Burns (Woodbine Mohawk Park website) and Dave Landry (Harness Racing Update) in feature. Judges for the photography categories were racetrack and newspaper photographer Bill Denver and former harness racing groom and longtime newspaper/magazine photographer Phil McAuliffe. In the McKee competition, Woodbine Entertainment Group broadcast department was honored for its story on French trotter Bold Eagle's appearance in the Breeders Crown, which aired Oct. 26 on the TSN4 television network. The producer was Phil McSween, director of photography was Gage Fletcher and David Syrie, and the editor was Jason Vanderzee. The win gave WEG its fourth award in the broadcast division. To watch the piece, click here. Honorable mention went to True Nature Communications Inc.'s feature on Trevor Ritchie for the Breeders Crown. Entries for the Sam McKee Award were judged by former longtime Thoroughbred Week host and co-producer John Henderson. For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet, visit the U.S. Harness Writers Association's website. by Ken Weingartner, for the U.S. Harness Writers Association

HARRISBURG PA – The partnership of Courant Inc., which encompasses principal owner Anders Ström and individual partners on several horses, teamed exceptionally well with harness racing trainer Marcus Melander during 2019, campaigning the “Three G’s” – Greenshoe, Gimpanzee, and Green Manalishi S – who dominated the three-year-old trotting colt ranks while earning over $3 million among them this year alone. They also raced freshman trotting filly Hypnotic AM and other quality performers, with the result that Courant and Melander were voted Owner of the Year and Trainer of the Year, respectively, during voting conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading media organization. In addition, New Zealander Dexter Dunn, who had a sensational first full year campaigning in the United States and Canada, was voted as the Driver of the Year by USHWA. Ström, who with his outright-owned horses campaigns in red-and-gold colors worn by the driver, saw Greenshoe and Gimpanzee each earn over $1 million while winning the majority of the sport’s major stakes for their group – Greenshoe a Dancer division, the Zweig, a Bluegrass division, the Kentucky Futurity, the Sire Stakes crown in New Jersey, and the Kentucky program’s championship; Gimpanzee the Yonkers Trot, the Breeders Crown, the Matron, and the New York Sire Stakes championship. Green Manalishi S added a Tompkins-Geers division, the Simcoe, and the Canadian Trotting Classic; Hypnotic AM won her New York Sire Stakes finale and the Doherty Memorial. Despite sending only 16 starters, Courant and partners saw their horses earn over $3.9 million, putting them in the North American Top Ten. Courant also has powerful divisions of the stable in Sweden and in France, and Ström put himself in position for future success by spending over $1.6 million at the major yearling sales in Lexington and Harrisburg. Melander, still only 27 years of age and coming off winning USHWA’s Rising Star Award, continued his rapid ascent to harness racing’s top circles, with his horses earning almost $5.4 million during 2019, fourth among all North American trainers. The “Three G’s” who dominated the sophomore trotting ranks of course were the primary contributors to that amount, but along with Hypnotic AM Melander also sent out Cutler Memorial winner Cruzado Dela Noche, a 2018 winner of the Yonkers International Trot. In addition, there were a host of young, bright prospects who showed talent in limited campaigns and could come on like gangbusters in 2020 (remember, Greenshoe only started four times at two). With the firm support of his family and staff (who frequently overlap), Melander certainly didn’t have the “sophomore jinx” in 2019, and it would be no surprise if the winning continued this coming year. Melander’s family (including a Hambletonian-winning uncle) is from Sweden – another North American “import,” Kiwi-born Dexter Dunn, came from Down Under with sterling credentials, having won multiple New Zealand driving titles and even the 2015 World Driving Championship. But his first full season of driving in the United States and Canada produced success in quantity and quality that few, not even Dexter, would have predicted. Horses handled by the red-and-black-clad driver won over $11 million during 2019, putting him third behind the perennial top pairing of Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras. The fact that he won 457 races, also putting him in the North American Top Ten, was also impressive but not that surprising since he had won ten “Enzed” sulky dash titles before he reached his current age of 30, but his seamless assimilation into the rarefied circles of top stakes competition was the exclamation point on his year. Dunn was the driver for sophomore colt pacer Bettor’s Wish, who was the leading moneywinner of 2019 with over $1.6M in earnings and a 19-13-6-0 record primarily completing in the “glamour division.” Amigo Volo (2TC) and Manchego (OTM) benefited from his expertise in winning Breeders Crown events. He won championships in state programs with Bettor’s Wish in Kentucky, Milles Possesion in Pennsylvania, and Fortune Starlet in New Jersey. In his first full year of driving at Harrah’s Philadelphia, Dunn finished third in the drivers win standings, behind Tim Tetrick and George Napolitano Jr. – who between them have won the last thirteen victory belts at the oval. And just as Melander had some “family” behind him, so did Dunn – Chris Ryder was the first to regularly use Dunn upon coming over, and a disproportionate share of Australian and New Zealand expatriate  conditions quickly, and soon unhesitatingly, gave him regular work. The remainder of the human and broodmare Dan Patch awardwinners are being announced today and tomorrow; the twelve racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands’ “pre-races” show, with media releases following (availability to view that announcement will be released shortly). Anders Ström and Courant, Inc., Marcus Melander, and Dexter Dunn will be honored at USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2019 will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured; “post times” on February 23 are cocktails at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to follow. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630.   Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA’s website, www.ushwa.net; a link to the hotel’s computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website). From the United States Harness Writers Association

HARRISBURG PA – There was a “dead heat for win” in the voting for the most prestigious harness racing award for which the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) are the sole arbiters – the Stan Bergstein/Proximity Award. The joint winners are New York horseman Joe Faraldo and the Ontario owning/breeding partnership of Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz – the first time there has been a tie in the top of the voting in the 68-year history of the award, which is voted on by the sport’s leading media organization. Joe Faraldo, an attorney by trade and an owner/amateur driver, is heading into his 40th year as President and CEO of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, the horsemen’s group that serves Yonkers Raceway, the track which pays the highest purses in the North American sport. He has been a staunch advocate of horsemen’s rights, and is the only attorney who has argued a harness racing-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Faraldo has been a director of the U.S. Trotting Association for over 20 years, and currently serves as Chair of the USTA’s District 8-A (lower New York). He is the chair of the important Harness Racing Medication Collaborative, which not only keeps up to date with substances and testing procedure in the sport, but also seeks to find common ground among the pari-mutuel sports’ breeds and jurisdictions. Faraldo is also an amateur driver of some note, and has driven in several countries during competitions. His international presence helped Yonkers re-establish the International Trot after a two-decade absence. He has been honored by Harness Horsemen’s International, the USTA, and USHWA. Joe Faraldo The partnership of Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, both of whom are in the southern Ontario real estate field, was not an instantaneous success by their own admission; the horse which started a turnaround for them was 1997 Meadowlands Pace winner Dream Away. But it is hard to miss the impression they have made on the owning and breeding of quality horses, especially in the last decade. The racehorse list includes millionaires Ariana G and Dream Away; the most recent of their breeding accomplishments was the selling of the sport’s first million-dollar yearling, Maverick, a Father Patrick full brother to this year’s spectacular three-year-old Greenshoe, who sold for $1,100,000 at Lexington this past fall. Horses they have owned and/or bred have accounted for the Hambletonian, Kentucky Futurity, Canadian Trotting Classic and other world-class events. The pair have been honored on both sides of the North American racing border previously. Libfeld/Katz were also the Presenting Sponsors of the 2019 Breeders Crown championships when they came to their nearby Woodbine at Mohawk Raceway, and the associated Breeders Crown Charity Challenge raised over $200,000 for area charities. The Bergstein / Proximity Award honors the great trotting mare Proximity, who was Harness Horse of the Year in 1950, and Stan Bergstein, the sport’s only “double Hall of Famer” and an industry visionary and leader for going on half a century until his passing in 2011. The remainder of the human and broodmare Dan Patch awardwinners are being announced today and tomorrow; the twelve racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands’ “pre-races” show, with media releases following (availability to view that announcement will be released shortly). Joe Faraldo, Marvin Katz, and Al Libfeld will be honored at USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2019 will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured; “post times” on February 23 are cocktails at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to follow. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630.   Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA’s website, www.ushwa.net; a link to the hotel’s computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website). From the United States Harness Writers Association

Columbus, OH - According to his wife Kristine Keller-Pawlak's Facebook page, former U.S. Trotting Association Director of Publicity John Pawlak, 71, died Dec. 27, 2019, at 10:40 p.m. "He is now with the angels and free of his pain," stated Keller-Pawlak in her Facebook post. "He fought a long and difficult battle for over six years. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends." Former USTA President Phil Langley has fond memories of his time working together with Mr. Pawlak. "No matter what the circumstance John was enthusiastic about life and especially harness racing," said Langley. "We spent many years together at the USTA and his writings and announcing always gave us a positive feeling about our sport. He was at his best at World Trotting Conferences no matter what the country and especially covering the World Driving Championship. He was so well thought of by the people from other countries they made him a life member. The last few years have been tough for John and Kris but whenever I talked to him, he was upbeat. Go in peace John!" An Ohio native, Mr. Pawlak attended Bowling Green State University, where he majored in marketing while also studying broadcasting and journalism. After graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1971, Mr. Pawlak went to work for WTOL-TV, the CBS affiliate television station in Toledo, Ohio, as a reporter and photographer. In 1973, he was promoted to sports anchor on the weekends and a sports reporter during the week but was also involved in harness racing by doing freelance jobs and voice-over work for Raceway Park. In 1978 when there were wholesale changes at his TV station, Mr. Pawlak was hired by Raceway Park and did some odd jobs until he took over the announcer's job in March 1979. During his time as announcer, he also assisted the track's publicist with promotions, advertising and public relations. After about a year, he was named the publicist at Raceway Park and eventually traded in his announcer's microphone to focus on his publicity and marketing duties. Mr. Pawlak joined the USTA in 1985 as the director of publicity. For his work at the USTA, he was well known for both his writing and editing as well as his broadcasting. He was responsible for compiling and editing The Trotting & Pacing Guide, the definitive annual fact book on North American harness racing and the historical USTA Directors book. With his television background, Mr. Pawlak was the face of the USTA and led the organization into the age of online video and served as the host of the USTA's popular "Eye on Harness Racing" series. Mr. Pawlak was ever present at many harness racing events including the Little Brown Jug, the annual USTA Board of Directors meetings, district meetings and county fairs. But he also was known world-wide for his work coordinating the biennial World Driving Championship and the World Trotting Conference. Mr. Pawlak retired from the USTA in 2013. After a career that spanned 35 years, Mr. Pawlak was inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame in 2014. In addition to his induction into the Hall of Fame, the multiple award-winning Mr. Pawlak won the North American Harness Publicist's Golden Pen Award in 1993, the Harness Horsemen International's 2010 Clyde Hirt Media Award and in 2011 was voted a lifetime member of the International Trotting Association, one of only 20 individuals to receive that honor in the 30-year history of that group. From the USTA Media Department  

With a deadline of this Friday, Dec. 20, there are only a few days left to submit nominations for the 2019 Caretaker of the Year. The award, sponsored by Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport-the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. With the deadline looming, nominations should be made by email (by Dec. 20) to Committee chairman Tim Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com. Any caretaker working for any stable or farm in North America is eligible to win the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award. All that is needed to nominate is an email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. The Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500, a trophy, and transportation costs to the USHWA Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday evening, Feb. 23, 2020, where he or she will be recognized. The winner will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities, as well as two complimentary dinner tickets. The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker and Shawn Wiles. From the United States Harness Writers Association  

1 to 16 of 264
1 2 3 4 5 Next »