United States Harness Writers Association

Make your DPA Rosen Shingle Creek reservation today

CLICK HERE TO BE REDIRECTED TO THE EXCLUSIVE USHWA RESERVATION PORTAL

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE DAN PATCH BANQUET TICKET REQUEST FORM

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE DAN PATCH JOURNAL AD FORM

 

Make your plans and reservations to attend the annual Dan Patch Awards banquet at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando now! The banquet that honors the best equines and humans in the sport will take place on Sunday night, Feb. 23, 2020.

Rosen Shingle Creek played host to the Dan Patch Awards weekend (which includes the annual meetings of the Harness Writers) for the first time in 2018 and proved such a popular venue the past two years that it was unanimously voted to return again to the stunning 230-acre property. After four-star reviews of the last two dinners, including a surprise appearance by Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award winner Foiled Again this year that many proclaimed one of the most memorable moments ever in racing, it's never too early to consider sponsorship opportunities that are available.

To inquire about sponsorship opportunities for the weekend, including Dan Patch Presenting Sponsor, live video streaming sponsor, Red Carpet reception sponsor, and live feed sponsor hosted by Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, please contact USHWA President Shawn Wiles at: swiles@empireresorts.com.

Rosen Shingle Creek, the site is located just off Universal Boulevard, within 10 minutes of the Orlando International Airport and minutes from all area attractions. Rosen Shingle Creek is a five-star property that is ranked a top-20 U.S. meeting hotel by Cvent. The property includes an 18-hole, Arnold Palmer-redesigned golf course, four swimming pools, a spa that includes nine treatment rooms, two lighted tennis courts, sand volleyball, basketball and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

There are 15 restaurant/lounges located on the property, including the upscale steakhouse A Land Remembered, the fine-dining bistro Cala Bella, Banrai Sushi, Mi Casa Tequila Taqueria, and a 24-hour deli.

As noted, as part of the weekend, USHWA's board of directors meeting will take place on Saturday, Feb. 22, and its annual general membership meeting will take place on Sunday morning,

More details will be made available as they become available throughout the year.

USHWA announces media award winners

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.

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.

All the 2019 media award winners will be recognized during the Dan Patch Awards 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 a link to the hotel’s computer on the front page of this website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for award winners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com or 708 557 2790 (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website).

Dan Patch Champion trotters and pacers announced

Three-year-old trotting colt Greenshoe, who was the highest moneywinning trotter in North America during 2019, had the largest margin of victory among six trotters elected to Dan Patch Award divisional honors in year-end voting conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport’s top media organization, and the American Harness Racing Secretaries.

The trotting side also produced the closest decision in the 12 categories for both trotters and pacers. Four-year-old mares Atlanta and Manchego, who combined have won over $4 million lifetime, produced as good a finish as any on the track, with Atlanta edging out her rival, 74-72.

Also elected divisional trotting winners were 2-year-old gelding Real Cool Sam, 2-year-old filly Ramona Hill, 3-year-old filly When Dovescry, and 4-year-old stallion Six Pack. There were 147 participants in this year’s Dan Patch Awards racehorse voting.

Greenshoe’s margin was 123-22 over Gimpanzee, the group’s defending champion and his stablemate in the barn of Trainer of the Year Marcus Melander. Greenshoe, a Father Patrick colt out of Designed To Be, was bred by co-Bergstein/Proximity winners Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz, driven by Brian Sears, and owned by Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, Morten Langli and Owner of the Year Anders Ström’s Courant Inc.

Greenshoe won 10 of 13 starts and $1.27 million; in his three other races he was second, and suffered interference in two of them. Among his notable victories were the Kentucky Futurity, the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial, a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, and sire stakes championships in Kentucky and New Jersey. He took his mark of 1:49.4 in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile.

Defending Trotter of the Year Atlanta got the barest of nods among the trotting mares for her campaign in which she won eight of 15 races, hit the board a total of 13 times, and earned a division-best $769,950. She won the Charlie Hill Memorial and two legs and the final of the Graduate Series in mixed company, along with the Armbro Flight and Miami Valley Distaff.

A daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip bred by Order By Stable, Atlanta raced for trainer Ron Burke, driver Yannick Gingras, and the ownership of Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant, and Howard Taylor.

Six Pack joined Atlanta as a repeat champion in 2019, collecting 56 percent of the vote among older male trotters. Six Pack won four of 12 starts and was worse than third only once on his way to $581,314 in purses. An authoritative 1:49.2 win at Lexington in the Allerage Open Trot and a strong rallying victory in the TVG Series final were among Six Pack’s wins.

The son of Muscle Mass-Pleasing Lady was bred by Breeder of the Year Brittany Farms and campaigned by trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt for his Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E-Knutssontrotting, Stall Kalmar Inc., and L Berg Inc.

The champion among 2-year-old male trotters, Real Cool Sam, was a success from the word “go,” winning his first nine starts and suffering defeat only at the Breeders Crown, where he got too far behind in off going and could only rally for fourth. The son of Muscle Hill is out of the mare Cooler Schooner, a world-record-setter in her racing days, and in 2019 Real Cool Sam set no fewer than five divisional world records, including in his division of the International Stallion Stakes, where he dead-heated with Big Oil in 1:52.1, making him the fastest freshman trotting gelding ever, and the time also the fastest dead-heat ever on the trot, regardless of age.

Other wins for Real Cool Sam included the Peter Haughton Memorial and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. Fashion Farms bred and owns Real Cool Sam, who was trained by Jim Campbell and driven by David Miller.

Ramona Hill ensured her selection among 2-year-old trotting fillies by rocketing to the lead from the outside post 10 in her Breeders Crown final, surrendering the advantage, then coming back on to win by four lengths, leaving Sister Sledge and Hypnotic AM, respectively, both second and third in the race and in the year-end voting.

For the year, Ramona Hill won six of seven races and $405,400. She is a daughter of Muscle Hill-Lock Down Lindy, bred by Crawford Farms, and owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant, Robert Leblanc, and In The Gym Partners. She is trained by Tony Alagna and was one of driver Andrew McCarthy’s four Breeders Crown winners.

When Dovescry first made noise in the 3-year-old trotting filly division by winning her Hambletonian Oaks elimination on July 27, then came back the next week to win the final of the prestigious event. Further triumphs in the Matron and divisions of the Simcoe and Bluegrass stakes boosted her earnings for the year to $644,380.

The daughter of Muscle Hill-Cedar Dove was campaigned by the brother team of trainer Rene Allard and driver Simon Allard. She was bred by William Weaver III and is owned by Go Fast Stable, Yves Sarrazin, Kapildeo Singh, and Lawrence Dumain.

TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER
REAL COOL SAM, gelding (91 votes, 61.9%)
Muscle Hill – Cooler Schooner – Broadway Hall
Breeder: Fashion Farms LLC
Owner: Fashion Farms LLC
Trainer: Jim Campbell Driver: David Miller
Races: 10-9-0-0 Purses: $497,774 Mark: 1:52.1 at Lexington
Top wins: $324,550 Peter Haughton Memorial; $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship

TWO-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER
RAMONA HILL (67 votes; 45.6%)
Muscle Hill – Lock Down Lindy – Lucky Chucky
Breeder: Crawford Farms LLC
Owners: Brad Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert Leblanc, In The Gym Partners
Trainer: Tony Alagna Driver: Andrew McCarthy
Races: 7-6-0-1 Purses: $405,400 Mark: 1:52.2 at Lexington
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes

THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER
GREENSHOE, colt (123 votes, 83.7%)
Father Patrick – Designed To Be – Donato Hanover
Breeders: Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz
Owners: Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, Morten Langli
Trainer: Marcus Melander Driver: Brian Sears
Races: 13-10-3-0 Purses: $1,277,049 Mark: 1:49.4 at Lexington
Top wins: $450,000 Kentucky Futurity; $330,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial; $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes championship; $200,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship

THREE-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER
WHEN DOVESCRY (90 votes, 61.2%)
Muscle Hill – Cedar Dove – Andover Hall
Breeder: William Weaver III
Owners: Go Fast Stable, Yves Sarrazin, Kapildeo Singh, Lawrence Dumain
Trainer: Rene Allard Driver: Simon Allard
Races: 12-5-4-3 Purses: $644,380 Mark: 1:50.1 at Lexington
Top wins: $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks; $176,150 Matron Stakes

OLDER MALE TROTTER
SIX PACK, 4-year-old stallion (83 votes, 56.5%)
Muscle Mass – Pleasing Lady – Cantab Hall
Breeder: Brittany Farms LLC
Owners: Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E-Knutssontrotting, Stall Kalmar Inc., L Berg Inc.
Trainer/driver: Ake Svanstedt
Races: 12-4-3-4 Purses: $581,314 Mark: 1:49.2 at Lexington
Top wins: $350,000 TVG Open championship; $145,000 Allerage Open

OLDER FEMALE TROTTER
ATLANTA, 4-year-old (74 votes, 50.3%)
Chapter Seven – Hemi Blue Chip – Cantab Hall
Breeder: Order By Stable
Owners: Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant, Howard Taylor
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Yannick Gingras
Races: 15-8-4-1 Purses: $769,950 Mark: 1:49.1 at Meadowlands
Top wins: $250,000 Graduate Series championship; $220,000 Charlie Hill Memorial; $192,000 Armbro Flight

None of the six pacing divisional winners for the 2019 Dan Patch Awards were able to garner all the votes in their division, but three came close — pacing mare Shartin N and 3-year-old filly Warrawee Ubeaut were selected on all but two ballots and 3-year-old colt Bettor’s Wish saw only three votes go against him.

The remaining pacing divisional winners were 2-year-old colt Tall Dark Stranger, 2-year-old filly Lyons Sentinel, and 8-year-old stallion McWicked. The voting was conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport’s top media organization, along with the American Harness Racing Secretaries group.

Shartin N, Warrawee Ubeaut, and McWicked were repeat winners.

Among the females, we’ll follow the adage “age before beauty,” or in this case “Ubeaut,” and say first that 6-year-old Shartin N received 145 of the 147 votes, with late-season nemesis Caviart Ally getting the other two. Shartin N won 15 of 19 races, finished second three times, and earned $982,177. She became the fastest female in harness racing history with a 1:46.4 victory in the Lady Liberty at The Meadowlands. Other wins included the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final, Roses Are Red, Golden Girls, and Artiscape.

Shartin N is a New Zealand-bred daughter of Tintin In America-Bagdarin, bred by G. J. Crabbe, trained by Jim King Jr., and driven by Tim Tetrick, who is co-owner through his Tim Tetrick LLC with Jo Ann Looney-King, Jim’s wife, and Richard Poillucci.

Three-year-old filly Warrawee Ubeaut also received 145 of the votes cast in her division; Tall Drink Hanover gathered the other two.

Warrawee Ubeaut had an eight-race win streak in the prime of the season, which included her Breeders Crown final, the Glen Garnsey Memorial, the Jugette, and her Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. For the year, she won 12 of 19 races, finished off the board only twice, and earned $950,610.

A daughter of Sweet Lou-Great Memories, Warrawee Ubeaut was bred by Warrawee Farms and owned by Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. She was trained by Ron Burke and driven by Yannick Gingras.

Bettor’s Wish drew 144 votes out of 147 after having a season with 13 wins and six seconds in 19 starts bring him the top earnings honor of all North American Standardbreds of $1.64 million. His victories included the Carl Milstein Memorial, Art Rooney Pace, a division of the Tattersalls Pace, the Matron, and Kentucky Sire Stakes championship.

The Bettor’s Delight-Lifetime Star colt was bred by Breeder of the Year Brittany Farms; owned by Bettors Wish Partners, Fair Island Farm Inc., Bella Racing Ltd., and trainer Chris Ryder; and driven by Driver of the Year Dexter Dunn.

McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year, won his third divisional crown at age 8, going along with his coronations at ages 3 and 7. He was involved in the closest vote among the pacers, winning 73-70 over Lather Up, who earlier in the season tied the 1:46 all-time record.

For the second year in a row and record-equaling third time in his career, McWicked posted a million-dollar season. He won six of 17 races and $1.03 million, with victories including the Jim Ewart Memorial, Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial, and Dan Rooney Invitational. The son of McArdle-Western Sahara was bred by Andray Farm, owned by S S G Stables, trained by Casie Coleman, and piloted by Brian Sears.

In contests among the 2-year-olds, the Captaintreacherous-Tutu Hanover filly Lyons Sentinel won by more than 100 votes over her nearest rival. Bred by Hanover Shoe Farms and owned by Threelyonsracing, Lyons Sentinel gave trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick a second divisional winner among the pacing distaffs, as she earned $801,809 to top all other freshmen of either gait or sex.

Lyons Sentinel won nine of 14 races, with her victories including the She’s A Great Lady, her Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, and Matron Stakes.

Tall Dark Stranger topped the 2-year-old colts and geldings, getting 86 votes to outdistance rival Papi Rob Hanover by 36. Tall Dark Stranger, a Bettor’s Delight colt out of Pacing Broodmare of the Year Precocious Beauty, had eight wins and a second in nine starts and earnings of $717,514.

His wins for trainer Nancy Takter and driver Yannick Gingras included the Breeders Crown, Metro Pace, and a division of the International Stallion Stakes. Owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms, and Howard Taylor, Tall Dark Stranger was bred by James Avritt Sr.

TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER
TALL DARK STRANGER, colt (86 votes, 58.5%)
Bettor’s Delight – Precocious Beauty – Art Major
Breeder: James Avritt Sr.
Owners: Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms, Howard Taylor
Trainer: Nancy Takter Driver: Yannick Gingras
Races: 9-8-1-0 Purses: $717,514 Mark: 1:49.1 at Woodbine Mohawk Park
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $562,500 Metro

TWO-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER
LYONS SENTINEL (129 votes, 87.8%)
Captaintreacherous – Tutu Hanover – Western Ideal
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Inc.
Owner: Threelyonsracing
Trainer: Jim King Jr. Principal driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 14-9-4-1 Purses: $801,809 Mark: 1:49.3 at Woodbine Mohawk Park
Top wins: $405,000 She’s A Great Lady; $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship; $176,400 Matron

THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER
BETTOR’S WISH, colt (144 votes, 98.0%)
Bettor’s Delight – Lifetime Star – Western Ideal
Breeder: Brittany Farms LLC
Owners: Chris Ryder, Bella Racing Ltd., Fair Island Farm Inc., Bettors Wish Partners
Trainer: Chris Ryder Driver: Dexter Dunn
Races: 19-13-6-0 Purses: $1,643,745 Mark: 1:47.4 at Lexington
Top wins: $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial; $300,000 Art Rooney Pace; $270,000 Tattersalls Pace division; $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes championship; $248,350 Matron

THREE-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER
WARRAWEE UBEAUT (145 votes, 98.6%)
Sweet Lou – Great Memories – Apaches Fame
Breeder: Warrawee Farm
Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Yannick Gingras
Races: 19-12-2-3 Purses: $950,610 Mark: 1:48.3 at Lexington
Top wins: $550,000 Breeders Crown; $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship; $216,000 Glen Garnsey Memorial; $155,760 Jugette

OLDER MALE PACER
MCWICKED, 8-year-old stallion (73 votes, 49.7%)
McArdle – Western Sahara – Western Ideal
Breeder: Andray Farm
Owner: S S G Stables
Trainer: Casie Coleman Driver: Brian Sears
Races: 17-6-3-3 Purses: $1,034,091 Mark: 1:47.2 at Lexington
Top wins: $440,000 Jim Ewart Memorial; $260,000 Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial; $250,000 Dan Rooney Pace

OLDER FEMALE PACER
SHARTIN N, 6-year-old (145 votes, 98.6%)
Tintin In America – Bagdarin – Live Or Die
Breeder: G. J. Crabbe
Owners: Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King, Tim Tetrick LLC
Trainer: Jim King Jr. Driver: Tim Tetrick
Record: 19-15-3-0 Purses: $982,177 Mark: 1:46.4 at The Meadowlands
Top wins: $402,600 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final; $247,500 Roses Are Red; $183,500 Lady Liberty; $179,550 Golden Girls

All of the honorees and their connections 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 (Feb. 23) at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla., 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 at the banquet.

Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured; “post times” on Feb. 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 can be made through a link to the hotel’s computer on the front page of this website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for award-winners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com or 708.557.2790 (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website).

Courtney Polan named caretaker of the year

Courtney Polan, who works in the Norm Parker Stable based at The Meadows, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA).

Polan, 27, has worked for Parker since October 2014, joining the stable after a two-year stint working for Tim Pinske.

"This is amazing," said Polan, a Pennsylvania native who turned to harness racing after graduating with a degree in biology from Thiel College in Greenville, Pa.

Polan, who owns a retired Standardbred and Quarter Horse, currently takes care of eight horses in the Parker Stable, including the 2019 Meadows Horse of the Year Wild Wild Western.

Wild Wild Western is owned in part by Jacobs Creek Racing's Jeff Weaver, who nominated Polan for the Fair Island Caretaker of the Year Award.

"I have observed just how special Courtney is at developing a unique relationship with all of her charges," wrote Weaver. "Each horse garners her attention as though she was all theirs. Each receives full care, unique and individual attention and even when called for, discipline."

Polan said one word in the dictionary describes her strength as a caretaker: Caring.

"I care. I care a lot," said Polan. "My biggest thing is that sometimes I care too much. I just love all of them. I don't have human kids yet, so they are my kids."

All caretakers in North America were eligible for the award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the nominee.

A seven-member panel -- all of whom were former caretakers themselves -- selected Polan as the winner.

As winner of the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award, Polan will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, hotel accommodations and two tickets to USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet on Sunday, Feb. 23, at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla., where she will be presented a trophy.

Polan, along with all the USHWA 2019 award winners, will be recognized during the Dan Patch Awards 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 a link to the hotel’s computer on the front page of this website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for award winners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com or 708 557 2790 (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website).

Marean, Sorella to receive USHWA President’s Awards

Don Marean, one of the strongest advocates for harness racing in the state of Maine for going on three decades, and Adriano Sorella, an Ontario advertising executive who is also looking to put harness racing in a more positive light, have been selected for President’s Awards by Shawn Wiles, top officer of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport’s leading media organization.

Marean owned a hardware and feed company which he sold to his employees, then with his wife Linda took up the operation of Lin-Don Farm Inc., a commercial breeding and owning establishment. As Marean’s understanding of the framework of the industry grew, he ran for the state House of Representatives in Maine, and has won election six times. He has been president and director of the Maine Standardbred Owners Association, and a Director of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association.

Don’s service to harness racing also extends to the national and North American level. He is the vice-chairman of the United States Trotting Association and is District chairman for District 9 (New England). Marean’s service has previously been recognized with the Distinguished Service Award for the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association and with an Appreciation Award from Harness Horsemen International.

“Don serves as the Vanguard of harness racing in the great state of Maine,” Shawn Wiles said in making the announcement. “He has fought long and hard in Maine politics for many years to protect the interests of our sport and its horsemen throughout the state.”

Adriano Sorella is a high-powered marketing executive who has enjoyed success at the uppermost levels of North American harness racing, starting with Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation. His most recent success has been Jimmy Freight, who is going to stud in 2020 after winning $1.3 million, being a major factor in the Ontario Sire Stakes, and then progressing to high competitiveness against the fastest pacers in the sport.

Jimmy Freight also gives a good example of Sorella’s ability to cross-leverage to harness racing’s advantage – Sorella used Facebook and other cutting-edge technologies to create quite a Jimmy Freight Fan Club, with seasoned and new fans alike following the horse. The humanitarian side of Sorella showed when he was one of the leaders after Classy Lane Stables suffered a horrendous fire in 2016, in which 43 horses perished, helping to raise funds for horsemen whose careers were literally wiped out by the devastation.

USHWA President Wiles notes: “Adriano’s skill set of being social media-savvy, combined with his promotional prowess and outside-the-box thinking, showcases our great sport in a refreshing and positive light, geared to the general audience and perhaps even more importantly showcasing the sport to our younger fan base.”

Don Marean and Adriano Sorella 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 a link to the hotel’s computer on the front page of this website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for award winners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com or 708 557 2790 (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website).

Giwner named USHWAN of the Year

Derick Giwner, a director of the New York City Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), who will in 2020 celebrate his 25th year with the highly-regarded racing publication starting life as Sports Eye and now part of the mammoth Daily Racing Form empire, has been selected as the Member of the Year in USHWA (also known as USHWAn of the Year) by a blue-ribbon committee headed by the association’s president Shawn Wiles.

In announcing Giwner’s selection, Wiles said, “Derick’s passion and hard work over the years has not gone unnoticed by his fellow USHWA members. His unique and interesting articles are refreshing, and often tailored to the blood of the industry, the handicappers of the sport.”

Born in Brooklyn and now a resident of Massapequa Park NY, Giwner, a Hofstra graduate, noted his family “worked in the automobile trade, which is kind of ironic,” but the change in horsepower to the kind in the sulky sport began with attendance at Yonkers Raceway as a teen. Later, he would answer a newspaper ad for an editorial position with Sports Eye, and with the showing of his abilities came enlarged responsibilities, resulting in his present position of Editor of DRF Harness for the Daily Racing Form.

Giwner was a major spearhead behind this fall’s innovative cooperative effort between the DRF and the U.S. Trotting Association in creating educative handicapping materials, both print and video, around the time of the Breeders Crown events at Woodbine Mohawk Park, efforts that tried to both make thoroughbred players take a chance on harness gambling (often by pointing out the sports’ commonalities) and also give non-racing fans a deeper understanding of what goes into reading the program and picking a winner.

In USHWA, Giwner has been a Director of the New York City Chapter for four years. He serves on the Association’s important Integrity and Budget Committees, and is also on committees for planning of the annual Dan Patch Banquet and its Journal, and for gathering new USHWA members.

As is virtually everybody who worked for Sports Eye, Giwner is a top-level handicapper and chartcaller. He also announces, and he recorded driving victories in three purse races and several others in events for amateurs.

Derick Giwner 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 a link to the hotel’s computer on the front page of this website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for award winners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com or 708 557 2790 (the 2019 journal is online at the writers’ website).

 

HHYF & USHWA SEEKING SILENT AUCTION DONATIONS

The HHYF and USHWA are seeking items for its Silent Auction that will be held at the Dan Patch Awards Banquet - Night of Champions on Sunday February 23, at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. Donations of unique one-of-a-kind items, vacation packages, vintage memorabilia, themed gift baskets and/or gift certificates for industry services are just a few ideas!

Donations and arrangements may be made by contacting Ellen Taylor – 317.908.0029 or ellen@hhyf.org - or Barry Lefkowitz - barryl22@aol.com – preferably no later than January 22 to insure inclusion in pre-event advertising,

All proceeds from the Silent Auction jointly benefit HHYF Summer Programs and USHWA outreach projects.

McClure, King Jr., Mock, and Polisseni honored by USHWA

 

The Rising Star and the Breakthrough Awards are for up-and-coming stars in harness racing, in the trainer/driver and non-trainer/driver-category respectively; the Good Guy Award is given to someone who thinks and speaks positively about the sport and has a good relationship with the media, while the Unsung Hero is someone performing important tasks for the sport out of the spotlight.

In grouping these four awards and their winners for description, the combinations of the foursome falling on male and female lines, as expressed in the title, is interesting.

Dawnelle Mock is the Director of Marketing for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. In her three years at the western Pennsylvania track, she has been the spearhead for the MSOA onto multiple digital platforms. She has shepherded several successful charity events; she has reached out to form a partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey team, a project with a large crossover potential; and she has been the MSOA liaison with the operators of The Meadows’ racetrack for a number of successful promotions, which contributed to a 6% year-over-year rise in handle at the track. Mock “works well with others,” but much of her success has been born of her own initiative and vision.

Wanda Polisseni has long campaigned harness horses under the name Purple Haze Stable with success, mostly in her home state of New York. She has founded a humanitarian organization to improve the standard of living – education, human services, civic improvement – in Upstate New York. Long an advocate for the after-track life of racehorses, on both the Standardbred and the Thoroughbred side of racing, Polisseni has now undertaken to buy a farm in New York that will serve as a home and a base for the Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program, for state-bred horses, that will also be the headquarters of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. If Wanda Polisseni can help, you can count her in; like Mock, she makes things happen.

Both Bob McClure, based in Ontario, and Jim King Jr., who races out of the state of Delaware but competes at all the major tracks, come from generations of horse people, and as such are not the type to seek the spotlight, though they cooperate with the media when the attention comes their way.

Attention came to McClure in a big way during 2019, when he won the most prestigious harness race in North America, the Hambletonian, with Forbidden Trade. The victory was the culmination of a decade of continuous growth for the graduate of smaller raceways to the Grand River-Georgian Downs-Western Fair circuit and then right to the “A” class of his province’s racing at Woodbine at Mohawk Park, where he ranks among the colony’s top drivers. He earned over $5 million (Can.) for the first time in 2019, despite suffering a broken pelvis on April 25 – he was back racing in less than a month, using the cutting-edge technology of a hyperbaric chamber to aid his recovery.

Jim King Jr. has a reputation as a “ladies’ man,” but only in the best sense. In addition to having in his family two of the sport’s best spokespeople – wife Jo Ann Looney-King, a former winner of the Good Guy Award, and the self-proclaimed “harness racing firecracker,” award-winning communicator Heather Vitale – King seems to have a particular touch with the pacing ladies, as evidenced by his two 2019 stars:

the free-for-all Shartin N, who won over $2 million in 2018-19, and the precocious two-year-old Lyons Sentinel, North America’s biggest earner as a freshman while banking over $800,000. In keeping with his winning the Good Guy award, King will give honest, thoughtful answers to the media’s questions, never assuring success, but conscious of the power of the stable that his talents have built.

Mock, Polisseni, McClure, and King Jr. 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 a link to the hotel’s computer on the front page of this website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for award-winners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker attrotrink@aol.com or 708.557.2790.

(Dawnelle Mock-Chris Gooden photo; Wanda Polisseni and Jim King-Mark Hall photos; Bob McClure-Tullytrot photo)

Brittany Farms LLC named Breeder of the Year by USHWA

 

Brittany Farms LLC, breeders of the 2019 “Millionaires’ Row” of Bettor’s Wish, Manchego, Six Pack, and American History among other top trotters and pacers, was voted as Breeder of the Year by USHWA. Also earning honors was the dam of Manchego, Secret Magic, who was picked as the Trotting Broodmare of the Year.

Brittany Farms, owned by Hall of Famer George Segal, was purchased in the late ‘80s and has been among the leading nurseries in the sport throughout Segal’s ownership. In 2019 Brittany ranked third among breeders with offspring winning over $12 million, despite a much lesser number of produce, racing than many other establishments. Brittany bred three Breeders Crown winners in 2019 – American History, Manchego, and Reflect With Me – to raise their all-time total to 25 Crown champions, one behind Hanover Shoe Farms.

As noted, the Cantab Hall-Chorine Hanover matron Secret Magic earned honors as Trotting Broodmare of the Year, primarily because of the $2 million world champion Manchego, but also contributing was In Secret, a ten-time winner and $200,000 earner against Open company. Brittany bred Secret Magic, raced her, and then kept her as a broodmare until selling her early in 2019 to Hanover.

The Art Major-Precious Beauty matron Precocious Beauty has only two foals of racing age – the powerful, Breeders Crown-winning freshman pacing colt star Tall Dark Stranger and the filly Beautyonthebeach, a winner of $540,428 who lowered her mark to 1:49.2 during 2019. These two sharp stakes performers were enough to secure Pacing Broodmare of the Year honors for Precocious Beauty, herself a racetrack winner of $838,004 and with ever-increasing prospects as a broodmare for James Avritt Sr., who bred her, raced her, and continues to own her as a broodmare.

This release completes the announcement of the Dan Patch Awards in the human and broodmare categories. The twelve racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands’ “pre-races” show.

Brittany Farms LLC. and the connections of Precocious Beauty 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 a link to the hotel’s computer on the front page of this website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for award-winners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker attrotrink@aol.com or 708.557.2790.

Faraldo, Libfeld/Katz for the Bergstein/Proximity Award

 

There was a “dead heat for win” in the voting for the most prestigious 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 North America. 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 procedures 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.

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 was 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 award winners 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.

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 at 7 p.m. 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 a link on the front page of this website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for award winners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com.

(Joe Faraldo-Mark Hall photo; Libfeld/Katz-Racehorsephoto)

Courant, Melander, Dunn honored by USHWA

 

The partnership of Courant Inc., which encompasses principal owner Anders Ström and individual partners on several horses, dominated the three-year-old trotting colt ranks while earning more than $3 million this year. 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.

Owner of the Year, Courant Inc., partnered with Trainer of the Year, Marcus Melander, who campaigned a pair of millionaires in Greenshoe and Gimpanzee who dominated the three-year-old trotting colt ranks.

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. His horses earning almost $5.4 million during 2019, fourth among all North American trainers. Gimpanzee, Greenshoe, and Green Manalishi S who dominated the sophomore trotting ranks, of course, were the primary contributors to that amount.

In addition, there were a host of young, bright prospects who showed talent in limited campaigns and could come on like gangbusters in 2020. With the firm support of his family and staff, Melander certainly didn’t have the “sophomore jinx” in 2019.

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 $12 million during 2019, putting him third behind the perennial top pairing of Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras. He won 461 races, putting him eighth in the North American Top Ten.

Dunn was the driver for sophomore colt pacer Bettor’s Wish, who was the leading money-winner of 2019 with over $1.6 million in earnings and a 19-13-6-0 record primarily completing in the “glamour division.” Amigo Volo and Manchego 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 award winners are being announced 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.

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 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. 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 award winners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com.

(Courant and Melander photos by Mark Hall; Dunn photo by New Image Media)

Hall of Famer John Pawlak, 71, dies

 

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 USHWA 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.

Funeral arrangements have been announced by the family and are as follows:

Calling hours will take place Saturday (Jan. 4) from 1 to 4 p.m. with a funeral service to follow at 4 p.m. at Newcomer Northeast Chapel, 3047 E. Dublin-Granville Rd., Columbus, OH 43231.

Hall of Famer Nicholas Saponara dies

 

Nicholas J. Saponara, a member of the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame, and a past president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, an organization to which he belonged for 57 years, passed away on Saturday after health issues.

A graduate of Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia in 1957, that same year Saponara joined the sports department of the Philadelphia Bulletin, at that time the major evening newspaper of the Greater Philadelphia metro area. He worked for the Bulletin for 25 years, and he served as the handicapper and morning line oddsmaker for the tracks covered by the Bulletin, also making the official track morning line at Brandywine, Liberty Bell, Atlantic City Harness, and the Keystone thoroughbred track.

Mr. Saponara was a co-founder of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Harness Writers in 1962, and served many years as the chapter’s secretary. He served as national President of USHWA for three years, 1980-1983, and sat on the association Board of Directors for 29 years. Nick was also the driving force in spreading the annual national awards dinner beyond its traditional New York City home, and was the organizer behind many successful events, notably having the famed Philadelphia Mummers perform at an Atlantic City gathering.

Mr. Saponara was also a harness horse owner, along with longtime friend Marv Bachrad. They entrusted their horses to an up-and-coming French-Canadian horsemen named Herve Filion, and they enjoyed the success rate that Herve enjoyed as a rising comet in the sport. Saponara, Bachrad, and Albert Cooper were the founders of the popular Mr. Class tip sheet sold at area tracks.

Mr. Saponara also owned thoroughbred horses, and was a member of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association board of directors. In September of 2019, Parx thoroughbred track honored Saponara with inclusion into its Hall of Fame.

Mr. Saponara's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday (Dec. 11). A viewing will be held at St. Ephrem Church, 5340 Hulmeville Rd., Bensalem, PA from 9:30 am to 11:15am. A Funeral Mass will follow at 11:30 am. Burial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Charters, Gural, Popfinger, Tetrick elected to HOF 

Results from the balloting for harness racing’s highest honor, membership in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, and from the balloting for the Communicators Hall of Fame, have been tabulated and certified.

Four candidates have received the sport’s highest honor, election into the Harness Racing Hall Of Fame: Tom Charters, of the Hambletonian Society and Breeders Crown; Jeff Gural, racetrack executive and owner/breeder; Bill Popfinger, a respected horseman for over half a century; and Tim Tetrick, who has set new standards for harness racing sulky success before reaching the age of 40.

In addition, Phil Pikelny, noted primarily as an author and a publicist for the U.S. Trotting Association and Columbus (OH)’s Scioto Downs, and Ken Weingartner, the USTA’s Media Relations Manager, have been elected into the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Famers achieved their distinction by getting 75%+ of the “yes-no” ballots distributed in mid-summer; eligible for voting for the Hall of Famers were qualified members of USHWA and the existing Hall of Fame members. Those on the ballot were decided by the USHWA Screening Committee from the nominations of the Writers’ chapters.

Tom Charters worked his way through the ranks in harness racing, starting out as a caretaker (among his charges was Horse of the Year Delmonica Hanover) before becoming a racing secretary. In 1984 the Hambletonian Society hired Charters as executive director of the Breeders Crown, a newly-created series of season-end championship races, and his work in establishing the Crowns as signature events led to his being named executive director of the Society in 1994, then being promoted in 1998 to president and chief executive officer. Charters’ tireless work in such diverse fields as increasing racing handle, simulcasting and television production, international racing, and brand name establishment, plus the temperament to juggle all of these jobs along with dealing the wide range of personalities at the highest levels of the sport, firmly established him as one of the captains of the industry.

Jeff Gural was a longtime racing fan, owner, and breeder, associated with Allerage Farms, Little E LLC, and other equine partnerships, along with proprietorship of New York’s Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs racetracks, when he undertook the monumental task of leading the privatization of the sport’s flagship track in North America, The Meadowlands, away from a state-run operation of New Jersey. Enlisting the aid of many of the sport’s top figures in addition to large investments of his own money, time, and expertise, Gural has been the directing force of the revitalization of the mile oval, with a new grandstand built on the old backstretch side of the track, a facility and the parallel racing program aimed squarely at maximizing revenue for all of racing’s interlinked parties in today’s changing, challenging gaming environment.

Bill Popfinger has been a horseman for over 50 years, going from success at smaller tracks to operating a powerful Grand Circuit stable, and he continues his winning tradition today – a trainee of his won at Pocono on Monday. Popfinger first hit the harness limelight 50 years when he guided Lady B Fast to an upset win over the great trotters Fresh Yankee and Nevele Pride at Yonkers, and he cemented his stardom with his famous daring early move to the lead with Happy Escort, “the lights on, the horn honking, and the pedal to the metal,” to defeat heavy favorites Falcon Almahurst and Flight Director in the 1978 Little Brown Jug raceoff. That quote also cemented Popfinger’s nickname of “Showbiz,” and over the years he campaigned such marquee horses as Happy Motoring, Praised Dignity, Spellbound Hanover, Say Hello, and Spicy Charlie.

Tim Tetrick, at age 37, has already become one of only four drivers to have driven the winners of over $200 million in his career, and few doubt he will contend for the top spot, John Campbell’s $299M+ career total, before all is done – after all, any possible mishaps may not slow a man who already has two “bionic hips” after replacement surgery. Also the single-season money record holder for a driver with $19.7M in 2008, Tetrick also produces quantity with quality, driving his 11,000th winner earlier this year, putting him ninth all-time, fifth among active drivers, and second in the 2019 dash winning standings. The list of top horses associated with Tetrick is too long to mention here, but it is fairly safe to say that when it comes to Breeders Crown time and the selection of year-end award winners, the name “Tetrick” will be associated with several of the champions.

Phil Pikelny was first noticed by harness executive Stan Bergstein while still at Northwestern University. He worked for the Horseman and Fair World, then at age 23 he became the youngest national publicity director in any sport when joining the U.S. Trotting Association. During that period he authored, with Don Evans, the book od about the sport’s first double millionaire, who had his earnings tithed to an Ohio church. He then was publicity director at Scioto Downs for a number of years. He was the president of the Harness Publicists Association, and the president of the Ohio Chapter of USHWA.

Ken Weingartner first went to the harness races with his father “before I could walk,” and upon returning to his native New Jersey after college and early newspaper work, his harness racing stories attracted the notice of the U.S. Trotting Association, for whom he now works as Media Relations Manager, writing stories about the leading horses and humans in the sport and conducting the national Top 10 weekly balloting. He received the Allen Finkelson Golden Pen Award for excellence in harness racing publicity, and also has been honored by Harness Horsemen International.

The honorees will first be publicly honored at the USHWA Dan Patch Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, where the Halls of Famers will take their first ensemble bow during the banquet honoring the top humans and equines of the previous year’s racing. Then comes next July 5’s formal induction to the Halls of Fame, at a dinner set just outside the building in which their likeness will be placed to immortalize their selection as harness racing’s best of the best.

USHWA sponsors race at Goshen Historic

Members of USHWA were on hand on Sunday (July 7) to sponsor a race at Goshen Historic Track and made the presentation in the winner's circle. (Photo courtesy of Geri Schwarz)

Foiled Again’s Dan Patch awards surprise party was a big hit

Moments into his speech to accept the Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award on behalf of legendary pacer Foiled Again during Sunday’s U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet, co-owner Joe Koury Jr. was halted by USHWA member Gordon Waterstone. Koury knew he had not exceeded his time limit because he was just getting started, so he was surprised.

Surprise was about to turn to shock.

“Don’t you think we ought to have the award-winner here?” Waterstone soon said to Koury.

Enter Foiled Again.

Foiled Again turned the idea of a surprise party upside down when he emerged from behind the curtained stage area to the delight of the 320 banquet attendees at Rosen Shingle Creek resort. Only a handful of people knew in advance of Foiled Again’s appearance, which was conceived by Waterstone with Foiled Again’s co-owners Ron Burke and Mark Weaver.

“I was wondering what was going on,” said Koury, who like the entire Burke Brigade other than Burke, Weaver and Foiled Again’s caretaker for the night, Devan Miller, had no idea of the plan. “Next thing you know, Foiled was coming out. I was absolutely shocked. It was a great experience. It was exciting.”

Said Joe Koury Sr., “When Foiled showed up, it was unbelievable. I was shocked. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, it was just amazing.”

“I didn’t expect it; that’s the last thing that would have crossed my mind,” said Yannick Gingras, who drove Foiled Again for the majority of the gelding’s career and won numerous major stakes together. “I thought it was really cool, something different.”

Many others had the same reaction, which was what Burke and his co-planners had hoped.

“It was unbelievable,” Burke said. “I knew it would be a hit, especially with my father (Mickey), but it was a hit with everybody. It was one of the coolest moments ever. We thought it would be something nobody would be expecting and would add a little bit of fun, and it did.”

Waterstone, who in addition to being a member of USHWA is associate editor of The Horseman And Fair World magazine, worked with the resort’s staff to set up Foiled Again’s appearance. It required an extra bit of insurance and a protective covering for the banquet room carpet, which was new.

“I called Mark about bringing Foiled Again to the banquet and he said to talk to Ronnie,” Waterstone said. “I called Ronnie and he said absolutely, but he wanted to do it as a secret.

“It came off better than I thought it would. You keep your fingers crossed. The reaction was unbelievable. To be involved in this was really cool.”

Foiled Again was already staying near Orlando, at the Burke’s winter stable in Astor.

“Devan did a great job,” Burke said. “She had to prep him for it and people were wondering why she was prepping him when he was just there hanging out. He looked incredible. I was thrilled.”

Unfazed by the cheers that filled the banquet room and the joyful commotion that soon engulfed him, Foiled Again stood perfectly for his admirers.

“He was like a little showman,” Joe Koury Sr. said. “He’s like a celebrity, a celebrity of the humblest measure. It was just unbelievable. He’s amazing. I love him to death.”

Foiled Again reached harness racing’s mandatory retirement age of 15 when the calendar turned to 2019. He is the sport’s all-time richest horse, with $7.63 million in purses, and ranks ninth with 109 lifetime wins. He received Dan Patch Awards for best older male pacer in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was Pacer of the Year in 2011.

Last year, he embarked on a Farewell Tour that attracted numerous fans to racetracks across North America, as well as garnering mainstream media attention. He will be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in July.

Foiled Again is owned by Burke Racing, the partnership of Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and the Koury family’s JJK Stables. The group bought the horse in 2008 when he was 4. He was trained by Mickey Burke briefly before Mickey retired and handed the lines to his son Ron.

“He’s a dream come true,” Joe Koury Jr. said. “To be a part of this with such great friends and partners is amazing. We were all young guys who, for the most part, were just getting started. He brought us up all together and put us on a different level. It’s just been a phenomenal ride.”

And now that the ride is completed, Foiled Again will enjoy a life of leisure.

“He’s basically going to live my dad’s life,” Ron Burke said with a laugh. “They’ll be hanging out together forever.”

Dan Patch Awards Banquet Video available here

Whether you attended it in person and would like to relive the event or if you were unable to be there and want to see what everyone is talking about, you can now watch the entire 2019 Dan Patch Awards Banquet from the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The video is broken into two halves and follow the original order of the night's program. The videos are provided courtesy of the United States Trotting Association.

 

2019 Dan Patch Awards Pt1 from USTA on Vimeo.

2019 Dan Patch pt2 from USTA on Vimeo.

Dan Patch Awards Banquet Red Carpet Photos available here

All the Red Carpet photos taken as guests entered in are available by clicking here.

An album of photos taken throughout the course of the night can be viewed by clicking here.

All photos were provided by the award winning photo journalist Chris Gooden.

USHWA thanks all our 2019 DPA Banquet sponsors

McWicked

Crazy Wow and Crawford Farms

Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association

Southwind Frank Partners

United States Trotting Association

Hanover Shoe Farms

Shartin N Connections

AM Bloodstock

Six Pack Connections

Harrah's Hoosier Park

Delaware Valley USHWA

George Brennan

Bow River Jewelry

Embroidery Unlimited

Fennel's Tack Shop

United States Harness Writers Association

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the world's largest organization for industry communicators.

The United States Harness Writers Association is a group of more than 220 members committed to the chronicling of harness racing through the print and electronic media. It was founded in 1947 by New York City area sportswriters who were covering harness racing at Roosevelt Raceway. It remains the only media organization in harness racing with a membership of newspaper, magazine, radio and TV, ad agency, publicists and others involved in racing communications. With most of USHWA's members allied to one of 12 regional chapters, the association strives to bring about a closer relationship among the media, racetracks and horsemen to promote a centuries-old American-bred sport.

USHWA members, in annual voting, choose harness racing's most prestigious awards, such as the Living Hall of Fame and the Horse of the Year. Its Stanley F. Bergstein-Proximity Achievement Award is one of the sport's most cherished honors. It also recognizes top divisional winners and leading drivers and trainers at its annual awards dinner, which began in 1948.

The association is governed by a member board of directors, which represents the chapters and at-large members (those living or working in regions where there is no chapter). Also serving are seven national officers and past presidents.

USHWA, with input from the American Harness Racing Secretaries and logistic expertise provided by the United States Trotting Association, determines the Horse of the Year and other equine and human awards. USHWA also presents the John Hervey Awards for excellence in writing and broadcasting. Its members choose Hall of Famers, so the association also works closely with the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame at Goshen, New York. A number of chapters hold annual awards or recognition dinners to salute the leading horses and drivers in their areas. Some chapters also raise money for local charities.

Contact USHWA at ushwainfo@gmail.com

Breaking News

Sponsored Organizations

ushwaad
ushwaad
Join USHWA Now!!! www.ushwa.org See www.ushwa.org members tab from which to download membership applications for regular or associate members. Contact ushwainfo@gmail.com for any questions (Jerry Connors, Secretary).
Harness Racing Museum
Harness Racing Museum
Join Now!!! https://www.harnessmuseum.com/membership Contact https://harnessmuseum.com for hours of operations, how to donate, merchandise sales and the Hall of Fame
New Vocations
New Vocations
Please take a moment to consider gifting a vital donation to help retired racehorses in need. Please select what kind of gift suits you best. Your contribution today helps us continue our important work to help rehabilitate, retrain and rehome over 450 racehorses each year. All donations to New Vocations are tax-deductible pursuant to applicable laws. New Vocations truly appreciates your generous support! To make a donation contact http://www.newvocations.org
goshenhistorictrack
goshenhistorictrack
To sponsor a Matinee or Grand Circuit race or make a donation, call the Goshen Historic Track office during regular business hours at 845-294-5333, or email us at sponsor@goshenhistorictrack.org
United States Harness Writers Association
United States Harness Writers Association
Contact www.adoptahorse.org for information on events, donations, employment and to download application forms.