Six inducted into Hall of Fame
On Sunday, July 7, 2019 a record number of six people were inducted to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Inductees included Blair Burgess, Ted Gewertz, Joe Holloway, Linda Toscano, Ted Wing, and Jerry Silverman. The balloting was conducted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport’s leading group of communicators.
All of the Hall of Famers except Silverman 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. Silverman was selected for direct admission to the Hall, through the bylaws of USHWA and its Veteran category, which once every three years allows its Hall of Fame Screening Committee to choose one nominee (aged 70+) to directly become a Hall of Famer, and was announced earlier.
Blair Burgess now completes a “Hall of Fame double,” having been voted into the Hall in his native Canada last year. Burgess has been a frequent figure in the winners circle of the sport’s top races: the Hambletonian (Amigo Hall and Triple Crown winner Glidemaster), Breeders Crown (Real Desire), Meadowlands Pace (Frugal Gourmet and Real Desire) and Little Brown Jug (Tell All). Real Desire and Glidemaster were both voted Horse of the Year by the Harness Writers. Twice the trainer of the Year in Canada, Burgess is the son of Canadian Hall of Fame breeder/owner/executive Bob Burgess.
Ted Gewertz first caught the harness racing “bug” when Kennedy was President, and his love for the sport has not waned over the years. He has been co-owner of three Hambletonian winners – Giant Victory, Windsong’s Legacy (Triple Crown winner and Trotter of the Year), and Deweycheatumnhowe – in addition to such horses as Huntsville and Housethatruthbuilt, the latter having her best year in 2004, when USHWA named Gewertz the Owner of the Year. Conscious of keeping the highest standards in the sport, Gewertz is a director of the Hambletonian Society and a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum.
Joe Holloway started in the sport as a caretaker in his native Delaware when he was in grade school. Holloway connected with the uppermost level of the sport with his masterful handling of Jenna’s Beach Boy, three-time Breeders Crown winner, twice Pacer of the Year, and a horse whose record for a race mile of 1:47.3 stood for a decade. Holloway, voted the sport’s top trainer in 1995, has since buffed up his resume by developing She’s A Great Lady, Shebestingin, and Somwherovrarainbow, as well as the handling of 1:46 pacer Always B Miki at two and three.
Linda Toscano has long had a harness background association, dating back to her driving ponies in races when her age was in single digits. She served an apprenticeship with legendary NYC horseman Buddy Regan, then went out on her own in 1985. Linda has attracted widespread attention throughout much of the current decade, including being named 2012 Trainer of the Year by USHWA – in that year alone she had the Hambletonian winner Market Share, but he was a (high-class) second fiddle that year to Horse of the Year winner Chapter Seven. The ill-fated Walner, champion 3YO Heston Blue Chip, and half-mile track world champion Jet Laag have also benefited from her care and tutelage.
Ted Wing was an Olympic-caliber skier before suffering an injury, and the loss of the downhill sport was harness racing’s gain, as the native of Maine captured titles in New England in his early years of the sport, then emerged as one of the leading horsemen in the founding days of The Meadowlands, balancing his racing at that track with regular duty at Roosevelt/Yonkers. Inducted into the New England Harness Racing Hall of Fame the same year as Bill O’Donnell and Jim Doherty, who would later go on to the national Hall, Wing has been an important part in the success of such stars as Skip By Night, Gallo Blue Chip, Butler BG, and Calvert.
Jerry Silverman was one of the leading Grand Circuit trainers for five decades, from the 1960s through the 2000s. He made a big impact in 1966, when he was 31 (a “mere pup” among the trainers of his days), with Triple Crown winner Romeo Hanover, and the subsequent years saw a stream of champions such as Fame, Hit Parade, Masquerade, Saccharum, Die Laughing, and Glowing Report (the last-named a stakes winner 40 years after Romeo Hanover) among the large stable that he ran with intelligence and endurance. Silverman retired four years ago, but continues assisting his son Richie, himself a fine horseman.
USHWA announces HALL OF FAME nominees
Tom Charters, Jeff Gural, Bill Popfinger, and Tim Tetrick have been selected by the Hall of Fame Screening Committee of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) as ballot candidates for this summer’s election vote toward harness racing’s highest honor, membership in the sport’s Hall of Fame.
The chapters of USHWA, the sport’s leading media organization, nominate deserving candidates based on prepared biographical information and discussion within the chapters. This list of names is then considered by the USHWA Screening Committee, with consultation with several Hall of Fame members, on Hall of Fame Day, the first Sunday in July at Goshen, and they then select the candidates for that year’s balloting, with the provision that anyone connected to a candidate is excluded from the discussion of and vote on that candidate’s viability. A person must receive 75% of the yes-no voted of the USHWAns eligible to vote and the current Hall of Fame members in order to join the Goshen pantheon.
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 recordholder 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 dashwinning 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 awardwinners, the name “Tetrick” will be associated with several of the champions.
Charters, Gural, Popfinger, and Tetrick will be joined on the ballot by Phil Pikelny, former author and publicist, and Ken Weingartner, media relations manager for the USTA, the two ballot candidates for the Communicators Hall of Fame selected by USHWA directors at their annual meetings this past February.
Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame
One cannot pass through the picturesque town of Goshen, N.Y., without feeling the presence of the Standardbred. A former watering hole for weary carriage horses now marks the town square, local businesses commonly feature logos with a horse and high-wheeled sulky, and a scenic and serene half-mile racetrack is situated just off Main Street. Adjacent to that same thoroughfare sits a century-old stable, yet another reminder of Goshen's historic past as the birthplace and epicenter of the Standardbred sport.
In 1951, when Goshen was still the home of the Hambletonian stake, a group of seven visionary horsemen transformed that stable, formerly William H. Cane's Good Time Stable, into what would become the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. Stalls were transformed into exhibition areas, hay chutes served as display cases, and harness racing history found its home adjacent to Historic Track. Several additions to the original stable and a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 1998 have made the museum and Hall of Fame a destination for tourists and harness fans from around the world.
The museum's displays trace the entire history of the Standardbred sport from the breed's beginning with the revolutionary sire Messenger, through the rise of such legends as Pop Geers, Dan Patch, Delvin Miller and Billy Haughton, to the momentous career of Moni Maker and today's racing stars. The vibrant and interactive exhibit includes movie theaters, computer databases, a mechanical talking horse, the opportunity to announce a race and bid at a horse auction, and the world's only 3D harness racing simulator which allows visitors to experience the thrill of driving in a harness race.
The museum also houses the Peter D. Haughton Memorial Library, its books, magazines and videos available for research, and an education department which introduces hundreds of schoolchildren, scouts, and 4-Hers to harness racing each year.
In addition to preserving the sport's history, the museum's Hall of Fame honors the people and horses who have contributed significantly to the sport. Hall of Fame inductees are elected by members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association and were first installed in 1961. A life-like statuette of each inductee is displayed in the Hall of Fame.
Since 1995 outstanding horses have been inducted into a special Horse Hall of Fame voted on by the museum's members-and anyone can be a member. Museum members may also nominate men, women, and horses who have died as Immortals of the Hall of Fame. A committee reviews the nominees each year and the final inductees are elected by the museum's board of trustees.
The Communicators Hall of Fame honors communicators who have used their talent to report and document the sport/industry of harness racing. Inductees, elected by U.S. Harness Writers Association members, are honored by caricatures hanging in the Communicators wing of the museum.
Museum president Lawrence S. DeVan and director Janet Terhune work to ensure the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame continues to "protect the past, support the present and promote the future of the great sport of harness racing."
The membership of USHWA has elected the following leaders in harness racing to the sport's highest honor. The year listed is the year in which the honor was voted with the actual induction taking place the following year.
1961 - E. Roland Harriman*, Stephen G. Phillips*
1966 - George Morton Levy*
1967 - Octave Blake*, Lawrence B. Sheppard*, Bion Shively*
1968 - Frank Ervin*, William R. Haughton*, Walter J. Michael*, Delvin G. Miller*
1969 - Stanley F. Dancer*, Thurman Wayne Smart*
1970 - Joseph C. O'Brien*, Harry E. Pownall*, Sanders Russell*
1971 - Ralph N. Baldwin*, John F. Simpson*
1972- Clint Hodgins*
1974 - Howard Beissinger, Adelbert Cameron*, James J. Dunnigan*, Frederick L. Van Lennep*
1975 - Herve Filion, Elbridge T. Gerry*
1976 - NONE
1977 - Earle B. Avery*
1978 - NONE
1979 - John Chapman*, Robert G. Farrington*, Max C. Hempt*
1980 - Clarence F. Gaines*, A.E. (Ted) Gibbons*, Delmer M. Insko
1981 - Norman O. Woolworth*
1982 - Glen G. Garnsey*
1983 - NONE
1984 - George F. Sholty*
1985 - Carmine Abbatiello, Levi B. Harner*, James M. Lynch*
1986 - William Connors*, James Cruise*, Keith Waples, T.J. (Ted) Zornow*
1987 - Stanley F. Bergstein*, Ernest B. Morris*, Kenneth D. Owen*
1988 - Dunbar Bostwick*, Henry C. Thomson*
1989 - Clinton G. Galbraith, Willliam D. "Buddy" Gilmour*
1990 - John D. Campbell, William A. O'Donnell
1991 - Hugh A. (Andy) Grant Jr.*, Don R. Millar*, Gene Riegle*
1992 - John A. Cashman*, Corwin M. Nixon*, Philip W. Tully*
1993 - Joseph A. DeFrank, John Patterson Sr.*, Edward M. Ryan*, Ron Waples
1994 - Doug Ackerman*, Anthony T. Abbatiello, Elbridge T. Gerry Jr., and Ted Leonard*
1995 - Dr. J. Glen Brown, Jack Kopas, Michel Lachance,
1996 - Dominic H. Frinzi*, George Segal
1997 - William S. Brown*, Ray Remmen and Chuck Sylvester
1998 - NONE
1999 - Guy Antonacci*, Frank Antonacci*
2000 - Vernon Dancer*, Dave Magee
2001 - Jim Dennis*, Harry Harvey*, Catello Manzi
2002 - Jim Doherty*, Berndt Lindstedt, Bob McIntosh
2003 - John Simpson Jr.
2004 - Ron Pierce
2005 - Ron Gurfein, Tom Thomson*
2006 - Jimmy Arthur*, Wally Hennessey, Phil Langley
2007 - Chuck Coon*, Lou Guida*
2008 - Tom Crouch, Alan Leavitt, Tim Rooney
2009 - Hal Jones*, Dave Palone
2010 - Judge Walter Russell*, Jim Simpson
2011 - Jimmy Takter
2012 - Richard Stillings, Bob Quigley
2013 - David Miller, William Weaver*
2014 - Joe M. Thompson
2015 - Charles E. Keller III, Bruce Nickells
2016 - Brian Sears
2017 - Maragareta Wallenius-Kleberg, Jules Siegel
2018 - Blair Burgess, Ted Gewertz, Joe Holloway, Linda Toscano, Jerry Silverman, Ted Wing
Communicators Hall of Fame
Inductees to the Communicators Hall of Fame have proven themselves worthy of the highest award given in the field of journalism that covers the sport of harness racing. The USHWA membership votes on their induction. The year listed is the year in which the honor was voted and the actual induction took place the following year.
1983 - Edward C. Binneweg*, Ed Keller*, Michael Lee*, Jack Schultz*, Roy Shudt*, Chuck Stokes*
1984 - Lawrence T. Evans*
1985 - Leonard Cohen*, Louis Effrat*
1986 - Stanley F. Bergstein*, James C. Harrison*
1987 - Clyde Hirt*, Thomas F. Shehan*, Robert L. Zellner*
1988 - Mike Cipriani*, John J. Hugerich Jr.*, Anthony W. Sisti*
1989 - Al DeSantis*, Lou Miller*
1990 - William F. Brown Jr.*, Philip A. Pines*
1991 - Robert A. Hackett*, Col. Dave Herman*, Karel (Bud) VanderVeer*
1992 - Allen J. Finkelson*, Joseph H. Goldstein*, George A. Smallsreed*
1993 - Donald P. Evans*, Leslie P. Ford*
1994 - Lew Barasch*, Izzy Katzman*
1995 - Sam Anzalone
1996 - Bowman A. Brown Jr.*
1997 - Marvin Bachrad
1998 - NONE
1999 - Bo Gill*, Ed Reddy*
2000 - John Bradley*, Roger Huston
2001 - Curt Greene*, Ed Palladino
2002 - Bruce Stearns*
2003 - NONE
2004 - Nick Saponara, Tom White
2005 - Jack Ginnetti*, Bill Heller, Ed Keys, Virginia O'Brien*
2006 - Ray Brienza*, Marie Hill*, Dean Hoffman, John Manzi
2007 - Murray Janoff*, Alan Prince*
2008 - John Berry, Leon Zimmerman
2009 - Murray Brown, Jim Moran
2010 - Joe Hartmann*, Gary Seibel
2011 - Jean Emerson, Moira Fanning
2012 - Bob Heyden, Sam McKee*
2013 - Carol Cramer, John Pawlak
2014 - Kathy Parker, Bob Marks
2015 - David Carr, Jerry Connors
2016 - Gordon Waterstone, Steven Wolf
2017 - Carl Becker, Dave Briggs
2018 - Mark Hall, Dave Little