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The United States Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards banquet, which honors the best equines and humans in harness racing, will return to the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday night, Feb. 24, 2019. The site played host to the Dan Patch Award weekend for the first time ever in 2018 and proved so popular the venue was quickly booked for the 2019 dinner that will spotlight the best of this year. Sponsorship opportunities are now available and with record attendance expected after the glowing reviews of the Shingle Creek property and the dinner itself, it's never too early to take advantage of early booking. "We received numerous compliments during the last Dan Patch Awards at Rosen Shingle Creek," said USHWA President Shawn Wiles. "This venue is first class, with the property having many amenities, it was an easy decision to return here in 2019." To inquire about sponsorship opportunities for the weekend, including Dan Patch Presenting Sponsor, live video streaming sponsor, Red Carpet reception and live feed sponsor hosted by Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, please contact: Shawn Wiles at swiles@empireresorts.com. USHWA would again like to thank this year's sponsors, which include: Downbytheseaside partnership; Hoosier Park; Fourth Dimension partnership; Finn Tack; Embroidery Unlimited; Burke Racing/Weaver Bruscemi LLC; Meadowlands; Tioga Downs; Vernon Downs; Winner's Bayonne; George Brennan; Hanover Shoe Farms; and the United States Trotting Association. All the award winners will be announced in advance of the dinner except for Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year. The names of those three prestigious award winners will remain sealed in envelopes, and revealed at the conclusion of the dinner. As for Rosen Shingle Creek, the stunning 230-acre property 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 part of the weekend, USHWA's annual general membership meeting will take place earlier on Sunday morning, with its board of directors meeting the previous afternoon. More details will be made available at the USHWA website, https://www.ushwa.net/, and through trade media as they become available throughout the year. Ken Weingartner

HARRISBURG PA - If you have everything prepared for a winning effort, and that effort results in success, and you have the same people in place for the next time - why make any changes from a winning formula? So thought the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading group of journalists, who are announcing that their 2019 meetings and Dan Patch Awards Banquet will return to the wildly-popular 2018 site, the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. "We received unprecedented praise and high marks for bringing our night to honor 'the best and brightest of the sport' to Rosen Shingle Creek in 2018," said USHWA president Shawn Wiles. "The facility proved great for our purposes, the cooperation of the staff was terrific, and above all our Banquet honorees really enjoyed their surroundings. So it's back to the Rosen Shingle Creek for USHWA in 2019!" The Harness Writers will have their annual meetings on Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24, 2019 in the central Florida location, with the Dan Patch Banquet held on Sunday evening. More information about prices, journal advertising, reservations, and the like will appear over the next few months on USHWA's website, www.ushwa.net. From National USHWA      

Hightstown, NJ --- In only his third full season as a harness racing trainer, Marcus Melander enjoyed a memorable year that culminated with Fourth Dimension being named the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. Melander, who turned 26 in January, came to the U.S. from Sweden less than five years ago and worked for trainer Jimmy Takter before starting his own stable in late 2014. He is based in New Egypt, N.J., at a farm that was home previously to each the legendary Stanley Dancer and Continental Farms stables. Last year, Melander’s horses won 38 races and $1.31 million in purses, nearly tripling his earnings from the previous season. His victories in 2017 included the Valley Victory Stakes with Fourth Dimension, a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial with Long Tom, and an elimination of the Hambletonian Stakes with Enterprise, who later was fourth-placed-third in the final. Melander’s stable this year numbers 40 horses, with the majority being 2-year-olds. He recently took time to talk with Ken Weingartner, the U.S. Trotting Association’s media relations manager. KW: First of all, congratulations on Fourth Dimension receiving the Dan Patch Award. What does that mean to you, especially at such a young age? MM: That meant a lot. There are so many good horses and so many good trainers. To have the best one, it means a lot, especially in my third year as a trainer. Like you said, I’m young, and it’s not easy to get those awards. I’m very happy with it. KW: What’s it been like getting settled here in the States and how have you seen your stable change? MM: The first year when I was here, we only had about six babies (2-year-olds). We had a couple that were OK. But after that, I got a horse (Clifton Beach) from (owner) Courant. He was a 3-year-old gelding that made breaks, but I did good with him. After that, I got some more horses from them and we did well. That’s when I started to pick owners up. You need to have good owners to have good horses. I’m very thankful to all my owners. KW: What have you learned over the first couple years? MM: First of all, I learned a lot when I worked for Jimmy Takter my first year here. Then I went on my own. You’ve got to put horses in the right condition, you have to figure out travel, there is always stuff you look at and maybe change. Last year with Enterprise for the Goodtimes we went back and forth (to Canada) and he was no good in the final because he had a problem with ulcers. Maybe we should have stayed up there. You’re always learning things. I’m only 26. I’ve got a lot to learn still. But I’m feeling more comfortable every season. KW: Have you done anything different training wise? Changed your approach? MM: Maybe a little bit. Last year we had a really good year with both the 2- and 3-year-olds. But you always look to improve things. You think about things as you’re out there driving. KW: With the experience you gained last year does that help you going forward? MM: Oh yeah absolutely. With Long Tom and Enterprise, they started early very good and I think maybe I topped them a little too early. They raced great until the (Hambletonian) and after that they flattened out a little bit and we had some bad racing luck. That’s stuff you learn too. Maybe we won’t qualify as early. But it was a little different because Enterprise only made one start as a 2-year-old so you had to be going a little earlier. KW: How are your 2-year-olds coming along? MM: They’re good. I’m very happy with all of them. It’s a good group. I can’t pick anyone out right now, but I’m looking forward to seeing them race. KW: Are they all trotters? MM: I’ve got three pacers. I’ve got 25 trotters and three pacers. It’s fun. They’re really nice. I’ve got one Captaintreacherous colt (Sundown Showdown) and one Sweet Lou filly (Sweet Body) and a Roll With Joe colt (Quickcallblue Chip). They pace very good. I’m happy with them. We’ll see how they do. KW: Do you see much difference with the pacers? MM: No, like I said, I learned a lot the first year I was here working with Jimmy. We had a lot of pacers there. You maybe do some things differently, but it’s not much different. KW: Has it been an adjustment living in the States? MM: I’ve loved it here from the day I got here. This will be my fifth year here. I’m happy. My whole family is here and there are a lot of Swedes around, friends and stuff, so it’s good. KW: What do you most like about living here? MM: I like the racing here. In Sweden it’s very good too, but it’s a little bit different here. I just like it here. KW: What do you most enjoy about working with the horses? MM: We have really good horses this year. I’m looking forward to the season. Hopefully we can have a great year again. Hopefully everything goes well and we have a good year. KW: Do you feel more pressure because of last year? MM: Not really. It’s not pressure. I have good owners that stand behind me. I’m feeling confident in what I do and I think that’s the most important thing. You can’t feel nervous about it. You have to train the horses the way you want and if it doesn’t go well, maybe because of sickness or something else, then that is it. But you can’t go around and feel pressure. I feel more excited and looking forward to the racing season getting started. It will be fun. KW: This is the position you want to be in, with stakes horses. MM: Oh yeah, absolutely. Thirty-seven of 40 (horses) are 2- and 3-year-olds. That’s what we’re looking for, for sure. KW: What do you like to do when you’re not working? MM: I like to be on the farm. There is always work on a farm when you own it. I like to be on the farm. I never leave the farm much if I’m not going racing. Following is a look at 2- and 3-year-olds in the Melander Stable, courtesy of www.melanderstable.com: 2-Year-Olds Army Of Monkeys (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows) Demon Onthe Hill (Muscle Hill-Sabrina Hall) Dreamgirl Hall (Muscle Hill-Danica Hall) Fly Hawk Hanover (Explosive Matter-Free Spirit) Georgia Beach (Conway Hall-To The Question) Great Explorer (Muscle Mass-Mayflower Volo) Heather Deo (Trixton-Caylee Dream) Isolde (Cantab Hall-Tosca) Kesha Blue (Chapter Seven-Kendall Blue) Kredit Karma (Credit Winner-No Pain No Gain) Matter Of Fact (Explosive Matter-Chips N Caviar) Mimi'spearloflindy (Cantab Hall-Lindy’s Showgirl) Olympic Goal (Donato Hanover-Bewitching Beauty) Profit Prophet (Father Patrick-Jupiter) Quickcallblue Chip (Roll With Joe-Put On A Clinic) Reverie Deo (Trixton-Brigham Dream) Rifleman (Father Patrick-Designed To Be) Shee La (Cantab Hall-Victory Bouquet) Shocking Blue (Andover Hall-Angela Hall) Speed Titan (E L Titan-Show Your Lindys) Sundown Showdown (Captaintreacherous-Rideintothesunset) Sweet Body (Sweet Lou-Beach Body) Tangent (Cantab Hall-Fraction) Tuscaloosa (Father Patrick-Sweet Alabama) Whiteline Hanover (Andover Hall-Wishful Me) 3-Year-Olds Bay View (Yankee Glide-South Bay) Evaluate (Andover Hall-Blathin) Follet (Muscle Hill-Ruling Class) Fourth Dimension (Chapter Seven-Corazon Blue Chip) Fuel Her Flame (Cantab Hall-Graceful Touch) Muscle Playmate (Muscle Hill-Lima Playmate) Stonecoldassassin (Wishing Stone-Horseshowmom) Sweet On You (Kadabra-Dynamite Honey) Thrust Control (Cantab Hall-Ideal Harbor) Tokarev (Muscle Hill-Christiana Hanover) What A Knockout (Donato Hanover-Southwind Sofia) by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ --- Trace Tetrick will head to Orlando this weekend to receive harness racing’s Rising Star Award, and even if he stops off at a nearby theme park it will be difficult to top the ride he enjoyed in 2017. Tetrick, a 31-year-old driver who grew up in Illinois and now calls Indiana home, set career highs with 569 wins and $6.81 million in purses. He cracked North America’s top 10 in victories for the first time, finishing fourth, and was No. 11 in North America for earnings, another lifetime best. Interestingly, nine of the drivers ahead of him on the money list were former Rising Star Award winners, including his older brother, Tim. The award, presented by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, recognizes early career achievement for a driver or trainer age 35 or younger. Tetrick, who has won 4,443 races and $45 million in purses lifetime, will receive his trophy during Sunday’s Dan Patch Award banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. “It’s a great privilege to be honored in that category and to be invited to be a part of that event,” Tetrick said. “It was probably my best year overall. The highlight, I’d say, was the Breeders Crown. To be in the Breeders Crown again and get a couple wins was great.” Tetrick won Breeders Crown finals with Blazin Britches (3-Year-Old Filly Pace) and Fiftydallarbill (2-Year-Old Colt Trot). He also captured three Indiana Sire Stakes championships, two Kentucky Sire Stakes championships, and one Ohio Sire Stakes championship. In those eight victories, Tetrick drove the favorite only once. “I guess it was being in the right spots at the right time, being lucky,” Tetrick said. “Everybody is looking to beat the favorites. When you’re not the favorite, you can kind of run under the radar. But whether you’re the favorite or not, you’re just trying to put your horse in the best possible spot to make money. If things work out to where you get all of it, that’s even better.” Tetrick was the regular driver of Blazin Britches, who will receive the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old female pacer. The filly was trained by Brian Brown, who will receive the Trainer of the Year Award, and owned by Bruce Trogdon’s Emerald Highlands Farm, which will get the Owner of the Year trophy. Tetrick, Brown and Trogdon also won an Indiana Sire Stakes championship together last year with Always Bet De Grey and enjoyed success previously with Color’s A Virgin, who received the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old female pacer in 2014. “Brian and Bruce Trogdon have been very good to me and things have worked out,” Tetrick said. “It’s great to have the opportunity with those guys.” Another honoree at Sunday’s Dan Patch Awards banquet will be Hoosier Park, which will receive the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award. Hoosier Park, which is Tetrick’s home track, hosted the Breeders Crown last year to rave reviews from horsemen and fans. “I thought they did a great job,” said Tetrick, who has won six driving titles at Hoosier Park. “They put forth a lot of effort and they tried to put on a good show. That’s all you can ask. But I think that everyone that came for it had a great time. They loved it. We had a little bad weather the one day, but there’s nothing you can do about that. The racing was still good; the track was still fair. I thought they did a very good job and everyone was happy. “It also allowed so many people to see the event that never had the opportunity to go to the Breeders Crown; not only new people, but people from the Midwest that have been in the business for years. I think it was great for people to be able to come and see the Grand Circuit-type horses here.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager 

Come this Sunday night, February 25, the United States Harness Writers Association will host its annual Dan Patch Awards Night and part of the festivities will be the largest silent auction in the history of the event. Thanks especially, to all the donors who came forth with some super items. "Members from all corners of the harness racing community have really supported our silent auction with donations this year," said Tim Bojarski, president of the USHWA. "and as a result, we have a plethora of quality items for everyone to bid on. With a large live crowd expected and with the opportunity for anyone to bid in advance from home, this auction could prove to be one of the most profitable ever. "And all the proceeds will help fund worthy initiatives within the industry, spearheaded by the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and USHWA," Bojarski concluded. There are 26 unique items in the silent auction, great vacation and racing packages, superb artwork, special collectables, gift certificates, media services and even private handicapping lessons. Something for everyone. The items in the auction are listed below with the donor(s) for each item. For complete information, item descriptions, available photos and bidding instructions, please visit www.ushwa.org or call Steven Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Ellen Taylor at 317-908-0029.  Rosen Shingle Creek Package (Rosen Shingle Creek) 2018 Preakness Package (Maryland Jockey Club) Phillies/Mets Package (Nick Saponara) Batavia Downs Package (Batavia Downs) Red Mile Package (Red Mile Sponsorship Team) Always B Miki Print (Michelle Hogan) NY Yankees tickets vs Houston Astros plus food and beverages (Bob Boni/Northwood Bloodstock) Autographed baseball from C C Sabathia (Bob Boni/Northwood Bloodstock) Autographed baseball from NY Yankees Aaron Judge (Bob Boni/Northwood Bloodstock) Stained Glass Panel (Barbara Dresser & Callie Davies-Gooch) Cigar Label Collection (Barry Lefkowitz and Harness Racing Museum) Adios Print (Tom Charters) Macau Print (Leon Zimmerman) Cam Fella Print (The Farm Ventures, Off and Pacing, Ryan Clements, Lanon Mulhall) Wine Goblets (Suzanne D'Ambrose) Bow River Necklace (Bow River Jewelry) Ohio Sires Stakes Gift Basket (Ohio Sires Stakes) Hoosier Park Gift Basket (Hoosier Park) Canadian Horse Racing Gift Basket (Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Retromedia Publishing & Melissa Keith) Tim Hortons Gift Basket (Melissa Keith) Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Gift Bag (Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown) Campbell Collection (Gordon Waterstone, Moira Fanning) Meadowlands TV Night (New Meadowlands) PR Services (Mark McKelvie & Melissa Keith) Handicapping Session (Garnet Barnsdale) Off & Pacing Package (The Farm Ventures & Off and Pacing Team) Fennell's Gift Certificate (R E Fennell's Company) Red Mile Gift Shop Gift Certificate (Jeremy Wilson) Big Dee Gift Certificate (Big Dees Tack & Vet Supply) Submitted by National USHWA  

And the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Award as the 2017 Horse of the Year is .......... At approximately 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will fill in the blank at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. If you aren't among the attendees at the dinner you can still watch the big announcement -- as well as that of Trotter of the Year and Pacer of the Year -- as the entire awards ceremony, sponsored by Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Ron Burke, will be broadcast live on USHWA's Facebook page, which can be accessed here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association's YouTube page the following day, Monday, Feb. 26. Dinner tickets must be ordered by Tuesday, Feb. 20, by contacting Judy Wilson via email at zoe8874@aol.com or by phone at (302) 359-3630. You can also order the $175 dinner tickets on the USHWA website at www.ushwa.net. Dinner selections must be made at the time of ordering, with the choices either filet mignon, Caribbean spiced grouper or a vegetable plate. All meals are prepared gluten-free. Post time for the evening is 6 p.m. with a one-hour cocktail reception sponsored by the Downbytheseaside Syndicate getting things under way. A special guest will be Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair, considered by many to be the greatest professional wrestler of all-time. Flair is attending the Dan Patch Awards dinner as a guest of one of the honorees and will also be meeting and greeting attendees on the Dan Patch Red Carpet, sponsored by Hoosier Park. Also starring on USHWA's version of the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It's your guarantee to see who's wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale's Facebook page can be found here. Heather Wilder's Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/heather.k.wilder. Rooms at Rosen Shingle Creek are nearly sold out so if you plan to attend and still need to book, you can access USHWA's special portal by going to the website www.ushwa.net. Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ --- Carl Becker was barely a teenager when he provided play-by-play for a summer softball league in Altamont, Ill., but at that moment he knew he wanted a career behind a microphone. Becker’s election to harness racing’s Communicators Hall of Fame is the result of his ambitions fulfilled, although not exactly as he imagined during those early days. “I thought I was the next Cardinals baseball broadcaster; I had no doubt in my mind that’s what I was going to be,” Becker said with a laugh as he recalled his start. “Things took a little turn. It worked out the best for all of us, including the Cardinals fans probably.” Becker, who has spent more than five decades calling horse races, will be honored at the Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 25, with his official enshrinement in the Communicators Hall of Fame coming July 1 at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y. “It’s a tremendous honor when you think about the people that are in the Hall and the ones that are going in,” Becker said. “It’s something I didn’t expect and I really appreciate it.” Also elected to the Communicators Hall of Fame was writer Dave Briggs. Elected to the Hall of Fame were Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, two of the sport’s most successful breeders and owners. Becker’s introduction to harness racing came at the Effingham County Fair in Altamont. “I would watch the horse races and I loved them,” Becker said. “When I got to high school, my buddies and I would pick a number and play for a penny or a nickel. I couldn’t get away from it. I liked the excitement of it. I had a favorite horse named Trigger Colleen. When he raced at Altamont I was on edge the night before and couldn’t wait to see what happened the next day. It just kind of grew from there.” His path to the racetrack announcer’s booth was gradual, but his career picked up steam quickly once he headed that direction. Becker graduated from the University of Illinois, where he majored in agricultural education and minored in animal science, and spent five years as a teacher. He was 27 when he began calling races regularly at the fairs and soon found himself on some of the sport’s biggest stages. “The announcing part, I thought I could do that,” Becker said. “It all just fell into place. I just thoroughly enjoy watching horses race. We would have some very competitive races at the county fairs. “I did the Illinois State Fair, and that was a dream come true. Back then, the Grand Circuit went from Springfield to Indianapolis to Du Quoin, and The Red Mile was a few weeks later. I did the Illinois State Fair, and I did Indiana, and Du Quoin and The Red Mile. It was a six-week period and it was exciting. I saw all the great drivers, all the great horses. It just was a real trip.” Two of Becker’s many memorable days occurred in 1980. The first was Billy Haughton winning the final Hambletonian Stakes at Du Quoin with Burgomeister, a horse owned by his late son Peter, who had died in a car accident earlier that year. The second was Niatross’ 1:49.1 world record time trial at The Red Mile, which marked the first time a horse broke the 1:50 barrier. “I was very blessed,” Becker said. “Two of the greatest moments in harness racing I was fortunate to be part of. The Haughton win with Burgomeister, there were a lot of tears flowing. It was a very emotional time. “The Niatross time trial, to this day I haven’t seen anything like it. The emotion was unbelievable. When he hit the wire the crowd erupted. People were rushing onto the track wanting to touch the horse. (Trainer/driver) Clint Galbraith was so generous and so good; he spent a lot extra time on the track making sure people did get to touch Niatross.” Other top races for Becker included Workaholic’s win in the first Breeders Crown in 1984, the world-record 1:51.2 dead heat between Jaguar Spur and Laag in 1987, and Trim The Tree’s world-record 1:53.3 mile in the rain in 1982. All three were at The Red Mile. Becker’s career in harness racing has also involved owning and breeding horses as well as serving as a pedigree reader for numerous auctions. The 80-year-old remains active as a pedigree reader and still calls races at the fairs. “I do seven or eight fairs a year now,” Becker said. “I do as many as they ask me to do. It’s fun. My son Kurt does a few fairs when he’s home. Between us we do most of the fairs in the area.” Becker’s enthusiasm for harness racing has been a key to his success. “You have to be excited about what you’re doing,” Becker said. “If you’re not excited, it’s hard to call races. For two minutes, you have to put something into it. I believe it’s always come naturally because I’ve always felt that way. I’ve always been excited.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Harrisburg, PA --- The Dan Patch Awards Dinner is rapidly approaching and along with it, the annual silent auction held in conjunction with the evening's festivities on Feb. 25 in Orlando. Once again the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and USHWA's industry outreach will benefit from the sales. This year's auction features a wide variety of items so there is sure to be something of interest for everyone in attendance. Phone bidding is possible but must be arranged prior to February 24. Lots available include: 14K horsehead necklace with diamond and chain (donated by Bow River Jewelry); 2018 Preakness Stakes Package (donated by Maryland Jockey Club); The "Campbell Collection" of memorabilia including board game, posters, shirts, hats, programs and more - most autographed by the one and only John Campbell; Custom harness racing stained glass panel (donated by Barbara Dresser and Callie Davies Gooch); Signed and numbered Always B Miki mounted pen & ink print (donated by Michelle Hogan); "Night on the Meadowlands TV Set" experience; "Handicapping Session with Garnet Barnsdale"; Production of audio advertising piece by Retromedia; (PR services for audio production, script and voiceover: donated and provided by Mark McKelvie and Melissa Keith) Red Mile Package $1000 value Dinner and programs for 4 in The Red Mile Clubhouse (excluding alcohol) and Railbird Box Seats (for up to 6 people) - all during  2018 The Red Mile Grand Circuit meet! Exact location for box seats to be determined. (Donated by the Red Mile) Rosen Shingle Creek hotel vacation package (donated by same); Baseball package including tickets for Mets and Phillies games (donated by Nick Saponara); Collection of framed, vintage cigar box labels of Ashwood, Peter Manning, and Single Kay; Off & Pacing game package; Limited-edition Cam Fella print by equine artist Fred Stone: (donated by The Farm Ventures (Off and Pacing/Ryan Clements/Landon Mulhall) Set of 6 hand-painted goblets (donated by Suzanne D'Ambrose); Variety of gift baskets from Batavia Downs, Hoosier Park, Ohio Sires Stakes, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, and Hambletonian/Breeders Crown; (Canadian horse racing gift basket: items donated by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Retromedia Publishing, and Melissa Keith) Gift certificates from Fennell's, Big D's and The Red Mile Gift Shop; And perhaps a few late entries! Proceeds from the silent auction go to fund the Harness Horse Youth Foundation's Summer Programs as well as the U.S. Harness Writers Association's industry outreach initiative, which this past year made contributions to the Harness Racing Museum, Historic Track rebuilding fund, the Filion family and the Clyde Hirt Media Workshop during Hambletonian week. For complete information, item descriptions, available photos and bidding instructions, please visit www.ushwa.org or call Steven Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Ellen Taylor at 317-908-0029. by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA

Hightstown, NJ --- Bill Donovan has participated in harness racing at multiple levels, from working as a groom to owning a breeding farm, but he is perhaps best known because of his involvement in the sport as a horse owner. And Dan Patch Award winner Youaremycandygirl has become the most recent to provide Donovan with the sweet taste of success. Youaremycandygirl was voted the sport’s best 2-year-old female pacer in 2017 after winning nine of 11 races and earning $895,615. She became the fastest 2-year-old female pacer in history thanks to her 1:50 victory in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington’s Red Mile, a time that tied colt Hayden Hanover for the best of any 2-year-old pacer last season. She will be among the honorees at the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando. “She had a great year,” Donovan said. “When I think of all the great fillies over the years, for her to come out of the year with the world record and the earnings that she had, you realize just how blessed you are.” Prior to last year, Donovan’s best known horse was the Dan Patch Award-winning trotter Maven, who made $1.75 million in her career and competed in Europe as well as North America. She retired in 2014. “Maven will always be special,” Donovan said. “Maven racing in the Elitlopp was a highlight for me. It’s such a great race and there’s such enthusiasm there from the Swedish fans. That was special.” Youaremycandygirl is proving capable of special moments too. Donovan bought the filly, by American Ideal out of Sweet Lady Jane, as a yearling for $150,000 at the 2016 Standardbred Horse Sale. Her dam is a half-sister to standouts Sweet Lou and Bettor Sweet. “I went to Harrisburg intent on purchasing a top pacing filly,” Donovan said. “I had two that I was adamant I was going to buy one or the other. The first was Kissin In The Sand, and I was the underbidder on her. Candygirl sold the following day and I was going to take Candygirl home with me no matter what. “She had everything going for her. I love the family. I was happy to get her because I think that’s one of the hottest maternal families in the sport right now.” Youaremycandygirl’s career got off to a rough start when she made an interference break in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs. From there, though, she was nearly perfect as she captured the She’s A Great Lady Stakes, Breeders Crown, Matron, and Three Diamonds in addition to her division of the International Stallion. She finished the season on a seven-race win streak. Yannick Gingras drove her in six of those starts, with Louis Philippe-Roy at the lines in the She’s A Great Lady. “Her first start up at Vernon she got run into,” Donovan said. “That’s the way the sport is; you never know. She really only had one bad race, and that’s when she tied up at Yonkers (and finished fifth). She wasn’t at her best. But outside of those two races she was just outstanding. “She really had a great year, there’s no doubt about it. (Trainer Ron Burke) and his team did a great job in bringing her along. She can be a little headstrong. Yannick is the perfect driver for her. He gets along with horses like that better, I think, than some other drivers. He can rate her when he needs to, as much as he can. “It was good the season ended when it did because she raced hard. She enjoyed the time off. She needs to mature a little mentally over the winter, hopefully. We’re looking forward to next season.” Donovan was born and raised in Boston and developed his interest in harness racing by going to the races at the now defunct Foxboro Raceway. He worked as a groom during summers while in high school and college and was preparing to become a trainer before his father passed away and left Donovan needing to help with the family’s Mayflower moving agency. He eventually took over the company and also started a number of businesses involving trucking and logistics management. He has since sold all of the businesses except one logistics company. He also sold his breeding farm, which he started in 2010. “I got out of the breeding business several years ago,” Donovan said, adding with a laugh, “I found out I was a lot better bidder than I was a breeder.” Donovan currently owns 37 horses, with 21 being 2-year-olds. “When you put your heart and soul, and pocketbook, into the business, you hope for success,” Donovan said. “When you do achieve it, it’s most satisfying. Just having horses that are able to compete at the top level is rewarding.”   by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Charlie Williams, the stallion manager at harness racing's Southwind Farms in New Jersey, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Williams, 68, has worked at Southwind Farms for nearly three decades. Williams was born in Georgia and began working with horses as a young man in Florida. He spent the early part of his career with Thoroughbreds, as an exercise rider and caretaker, before a knee injury forced him to give up riding. While sidelined because of his injury, Williams answered an advertisement for a part-time job at Southwind Farms. His horsemanship and attention to detail eventually led him to his current position at the farm, where he has cared for some of the sport’s top stallions, beginning with Valley Victory and Artsplace right through to today with Muscle Hill. “This is something I’ll never forget,” Williams said of his Caretaker of the Year honor. “From picking cotton as a young kid to go on and take care of world champions, it’s been a dream come true. I started working at the bottom and worked my way to the top. I was very fortunate to luck out and work with horses. I’ve had the chance to take care of the best. “The sport has been really good to me and there are so many good people in the sport that have been really good to me. I love the sport, I love the horses, and I love the people.” All caretakers in North America are eligible for the Caretaker of the Year Award. A seven-member panel – all former caretakers – selected the winner after reviewing nomination letters detailing the skills and special qualities of each nominee. Williams will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, and two tickets to USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando, Fla., where he will be presented a trophy. He will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities. Williams received several nominations, with one writing, in part, “There are grooms and caretakers at all stages of a horse’s life and this man exemplifies the true embodiment of a caretaker and is truly worthy of Caretaker of the Year. This man puts his heart and soul into every stallion that is lucky enough to stand in a stall in his barn. “Please consider allowing this exceptional caretaker a moment to shine in an industry that sometimes forgets those of us who aren’t in winner’s circles but nevertheless are in a barn day in and day out, without vacation, wind, rain, and snow. You will not find a more true definition of an exceptional caretaker in our industry than Charlie Williams.” Williams is self-described “old school” when it comes to taking care of his horses. But the stallions are more than horses to Williams, they are friends. “I love everything about them,” Williams said. “They have personality. With Muscle Hill, he’s like my best friend out there. I know how he thinks and he knows how I think. It was the same thing with Artsplace. They’re like people. It’s unbelievable when you work in the barn with them. “I have a habit, I talk to them. I’m in the stallion barn, so I talk with all the horses like I’m talking to a human. And I never cut corners with them. I give them the love and attention and they give the love and attention to me. I’m 68 years old and I can’t wait to get up in the morning and come to work. When you walk in the barn, they know you and sound off. They’re happy to see you and you’re happy to see them.” For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet, visit www.ushwa.org. By Ken Weingartner, for the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

Hightstown, NJ --- Yannick Gingras’ focus is on winning races, not harness racing awards, but when you win races like he did in 2017 it’s no surprise when recognition follows. Gingras drove four horses last year that captured Dan Patch Award divisional honors, including the three horses ranked at the top of the season’s final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll: No. 1 Hannelore Hanover, No. 2 Ariana G, and No. 3 Manchego. The remaining Dan Patch winner, Youaremycandygirl, was ranked seventh. He led the sport in purses for the fourth consecutive year, with $12.9 million, and topped the driver standings on the Grand Circuit. His Grand Circuit victories included four Breeders Crown finals, the Hambletonian Oaks (for a record-extending fourth consecutive year), the Maple Leaf Trot, and Little Brown Jug. All totaled, Gingras won 33 races worth at least $100,000 last season and did it with 16 different horses. And when it was all said and done, Gingras received his second Driver of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers Association. His previous honor came in 2014. “It’s always nice, there’s no doubt,” Gingras said about the award. “Going into the year, it’s not what I’m looking to get. I’m trying to win the big races and stay healthy. But it’s nice recognition. It means you had a good year and the horses had a good year. “You go on the track and try to do your job,” he added. “I was lucky this year that the horses I drove stayed healthy. That’s the main thing.” There were numerous memorable moments for Gingras last year. In addition to winning his fourth Hambletonian Oaks, with Ariana G, he guided Hannelore Hanover to the fastest mile by a female trotter in history, 1:49.2 at Lexington’s Red Mile, and piloted Youaremycandygirl to the fastest mile ever by a 2-year-old female pacer, 1:50, also at the Red Mile. Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover, Youaremycandygirl, and Manchego all won their respective Breeders Crown finals, with Manchego becoming the first undefeated Breeders Crown 2-year-old female trotting champion in history. It was a rewarding weekend for Gingras, who said he never felt pressure with Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover, or Manchego other than at the Breeders Crown because he wanted to keep potential Horse of the Year honors alive for all three of the horses. “Going into the Breeders Crown I definitely did feel a little pressure on those three,” Gingras said. “I love all three of them in different ways and all three are special to me. You want all three of them to have the best shot at winning the Horse of the Year. You don’t want to come to a point where you win with two of them and one of them you mess up the drive. “It’s one thing if they get beat because they’re sick or some other horse is better and beats them. But it’s another thing to lose the race and maybe lose a chance for those owners to have a Horse of the Year because of my own mistake. Getting it done with all three of them was definitely very special. They got the job done. They did the work. But I put them in position to win and they all three did it.” As for which of the three should receive Horse of the Year, which will be announced at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando, Gingras had a simple solution. “Personally, I hope it’s a triple dead-heat,” he said. “I think all three are very special.” With the horsepower Gingras has returning this year, the 38-year-old Quebec native could be looking forward to another strong season. “I’m really happy with the way (2017) went,” said Gingras, who was the sport’s Rising Star Award winner in 2003 and has won 6,672 races and $157 million in purses lifetime. “Hopefully we have a couple more like that.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager 

Hightstown, NJ --- Barry Guariglia bought his first horse in 1987, owned Dan Patch Award-winner Stienam’s Place a decade later, and has enjoyed his share of successful harness racing horses in the years that followed. But none of it compared to what he experienced last year with Manchego. It was, in a word, perfect. Manchego was a perfect 12-for-12 in 2017 and became the first undefeated 2-year-old female trotter in Breeders Crown history as well as the first unbeaten 2-year-old female trotter to win a Dan Patch Award. She will be among the honorees at the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando. “I’d have to put her on top,” said Guariglia, whose Black Horse Racing shares ownership of Manchego with John Fielding and Herb Liverman. “Stienam’s Place was the last million-dollar horse I had, ironically 20 years ago, and in the middle we’ve had some nice horses, but nothing quite like this.” Guariglia, a financial advisor, has enjoyed harness racing for more than 40 years. He was at the Meadowlands Racetrack when it opened in 1976 and got into racehorse ownership at the age of 27. “I bought my first yearling then; I didn’t know anything,” Guariglia said. “It’s just kind of grown since then. I like going to the track, I like the whole process. It’s one of the pleasures I have, a good diversion from what I do here.” In addition to owning Stienam’s Place and Manchego, some of Guariglia’s other successes have included stakes-winners Emotional Rescue, Money On My Mind, Muscle Mass, My Starchip, and Take The Money. He bred millionaire Green Day, the 2007 Yonkers Trot winner. Manchego was a $120,000 yearling buy, under the name Whispering Hills, at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale. She is a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic whose family includes millionaire Possess The Magic. She had four wins under her belt when she captured her first stakes final, the Jim Doherty Memorial on Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands. Victories in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, Peaceful Way Stakes, Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes, and the Breeders Crown followed. She ended the year with $873,948 in purses. “Training down, I always heard good things,” Guariglia said about Manchego, who is trained by Jimmy Takter. “I saw her on a 15 degree day last February and I thought she was pretty mature for February. She looked all business. She’s not the biggest thing, but she always held her own. She was pretty nice. “When she won the Jim Doherty, I started to think she was a little special. Obviously, she just kind of rolled from there. I love her attitude. She pins those ears and she likes to be in front.” Guariglia was unaware Manchego could make history in the Breeders Crown until two days prior to the race. “I had no idea, which was probably better,” he said, laughing. Manchego won all but one of her races by at least 2-1/4 lengths and had an average margin of victory of nearly four lengths. “Hopefully she’s going to come back as good,” Guariglia said. “Of course, they always have to get a little better at 3. I always tell people that I never anticipate winning, because you never know what’s going to happen, but it’s kind of nice to have one that you feel has enough to handle anything you’re going against. “We’ll take it one race at a time. Something like this doesn’t come along too often.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Last year it was "Elvis" who greeted the attendees at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards dinner in Las Vegas, and this year on Sunday night, Feb. 25, it will be retired professional wrestler Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair who will welcome everyone at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla. Flair, who will be attending the dinner as a guest of one of the honorees, is a 16-time world champion over a career that spanned 40 years and is considered by many to be the greatest professional wrestler of all time. He is a two-time inductee into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, first inducted in 2008 for his wrestling career and four years later as a member -- ironically -- of The Four Horsemen, a professional wrestling stable in the National Wrestling Alliance and later World Championship Wrestling. Flair will meet and greet the attendees on the Dan Patch Awards Red Carpet. The one-hour reception begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the awards ceremony and dinner beginning at 7 p.m. The Red Carpet hour will be broadcast live on the Facebook pages of well-known harness names Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder. The two Heathers will roam the Red Carpet area and interview several of the award winners and attendees. To watch a video message from Flair about the event, click here. In addition, the awards ceremony, hosted by Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir, will be broadcast live on the USHWA Facebook page, with viewing available the following day on the U.S. Trotting Association website www.ustrotting.com and its YouTube page. Information about the banquet and the entire week, which will also contain the annual meetings of USHWA, can be found at www.ushwa.net, including links for making hotel reservations at special rates; banquet tickets; and congratulatory or acknowledgment ads in the keepsake souvenir journal. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

Over the past three years, no female pacer can match the accomplishments of Pure Country. In fact, few in the history of harness racing can produce better resumes when it comes to accumulating awards. Pure Country became the first female pacer to receive a Dan Patch Award at ages 2, 3, and 4 when she was named the sport's best older pacing mare in December. Only two pacers have ever won more Dan Patch trophies, Anndrovette and Eternal Camnation, with four each. "It's quite an accomplishment," said Adam Bowden, whose Diamond Creek Racing owns Pure Country and whose Diamond Creek Farm bred the mare. "It takes a special horse to be the best at 2 when they're early developers and then continue to be the best at 3 and 4 when everybody else catches up. "I'm just happy to be part of it." Pure Country was a perfect 10-for-10 at age 2 and joined JK She'salady (2014), See You At Peelers (2010) and My Little Dragon (2005) as the only 2-year-old female pacers to win a Dan Patch Award with an undefeated season. Pure Country and See You At Peelers won again at age 3. For her career, the Jimmy Takter-trained Pure Country has won 25 of 47 races and earned $2.23 million, which puts her on the verge of joining the 10 highest-earning female pacers in North American history. Her victories include two Breeders Crown finals, the Fan Hanover Stakes, Lynch Memorial, Lady Liberty, TVG Series championship, Artiscape, and Matron. Pure Country started slowly in 2017, but won five of her last 10 races of the campaign, including the Breeders Crown and TVG Series championships to close out the stakes season. "I think in many of the big races in her career, Jimmy has gotten her to race at her best," Bowden said. "And she did it again this year when the big money was on the line. She won the races she had to win to win the (Dan Patch) award. "It's always tough to come back at 4 and do it. As Jimmy said last year, it's sort of a two-year commitment because these 4-year-olds need time to mature and learn how to race against these older, tougher mares. She clearly learned how to do that and ended the year on the top." Pure Country is a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of one of the first horses Diamond Creek bought, Western Montana, in the farm's formative years. Pure Country is enjoying a winter holiday in Kentucky, but will return to Takter's stable in the coming weeks to begin preparations for her 5-year-old season. "She's hanging out right now getting bigger and stronger," Bowden said. "She looks great. She's bigger than the colts that we have; she's always been like that. She's a big strong mare. I would expect her to come back and have a good season again. Or at least I hope so. "The expectations placed on her by me personally are probably almost too much to live up to. That may not have been fair. She's always been at the top of her division. We've entrusted her to Jimmy Takter, who has gone above and beyond. I can't be more thrilled with that." Bowden's award-winning horses in 2017 were not limited to Pure Country. Diamond Creek Racing is among the owners of 3-year-old male pacing champion Downbytheseaside and 2-year-old male pacing champion Lost In Time. Diamond Creek Farm bred Lost In Time, a son of A Rocknroll Dance out of Summer Mystery who sold for $47,000 at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale. Diamond Creek Racing joined the colt's ownership group in September 2017. "It's kind of neat," Bowden said. "A Rocknroll Dance was kind of the first major stallion that we went after and stood. To have his best son so far, not only that we bred but now own a piece of, is exciting. He clearly got a lot of his father's qualities, which proved themselves on countless occasions. He's such a big, strong horse that I would expect to see good things from him (at age 3). "It's fun to be involved with good horses. Just being part of the ride is exciting. A lot of times, we as owners get to give interviews and get attention, but really it's a team effort, especially for us with these homebreds. From the girls that work at the farm to the farm managers to the trainers to the grooms to the drivers. Everybody gets to take credit for the success of these horses, everybody can share in it. That's great." Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications  

HARRISBURG, PA---Positive commentary and industrious promotion of harness racing are the best ways to gain new owners, fans and gamblers as well as retain the ones already engaged in order to keep this industry viable for the next generation. And there is no one that does these things more effectively on a daily basis than T.J. Burkett and Jason Settlemoir. As a result, they will each be presented an USHWA President's Award for their contributions to the sport at the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet that will be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, February 25. Burkett is the Executive Editor of Hoof Beats Magazine and has spent more than a decade working on the publication for the U.S. Trotting Association. After joining the USTA in 2007 as associate editor, he became the youngest-ever executive editor of Hoof Beats in December of 2010. Burkett has continued the magazine's long tradition of providing harness racing fans with an insider's view of the sport through in-depth features and profiles. But he has also directed the magazine's focus to promoting the stars of racing, tackling the issues that racing faces and shining a light on those who work hard at every level, but haven't gotten the recognition they deserve. During his tenure, Burkett has implemented some significant improvements in the monthly publication. Among the biggest was the transition of the annual Stan Bergstein experimental ratings to a modern day formula, the significant growth of the Hoof Beats photo contest and introducing the digital format "Hoof Beats Direct" in 2013, making the magazine easily accessible through any handheld device. Currently Burkett is supervising a major redesign of Hoof Beats that is scheduled to be unveiled in March of 2018. He is also leading the way on a project to digitize the entire historical archive of the magazine with search term capability. Settlemoir is the COO/GM of New Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners OTW at Bayonne, N.J., and is vice president of racing, simulcast and sponsorship for American Racing and Entertainment (Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs). He is also simulcast director for the Little Brown Jug as well as their second announcer, a vice president of Harness Tracks of America, past president and chairman of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, a Grand Circuit and Little Brown Jug Society Director, a member of the USHWA Hall of Fame Screening Committee, and a director for the United States Trotting Association. Settlemoir was awarded the 2006 U.S. Harness Writers Association's Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award for his work in opening up Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and was inducted into the Upstate New York Chapter of USHWA's Hall of Fame in 2011. Settlemoir has also always been a big part of any community he has lived in and sat on the board of directors for the Tioga County Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Tier Red Cross and the Tioga County United Way, where he was chair for the annual campaign drive, before making his move to The Meadowlands and New Jersey. "T.J. and Jason were both born and raised in this business and have made it their life's work. Their extensive first-hand experience gives them a unique understanding of harness racing at every level," said Tim Bojarski, President of USHWA. "They both come to the office each day with a positive attitude towards the sport, its participants and the viability of its future, and they work to try to infuse that into every aspect of their individual responsibilities. As a result. I believe harness racing as a whole is better for their efforts now and will continue to improve in the future under their respective leadership roles." "Although rivals at the academic level (Burkett went to Michigan State and Settlemoir Ohio State), the Big 10 produced a great team of harness racing proponents who both have made significant contributions to date and will continue to do so for a long time," Bojarski concluded. From USHWA (U.S. Harness Writers Association)  

Hickory Lane Farm, Findlay, OH has partnered with Taylor Made Stallions, Inc., Lexington, KY, and Steve Stewart of Hunterton Farms, Lexington, KY, to purchase the 2017 Dan Patch award winning 'Three Year Old Colt Trotter of the Year', What The Hill, 2, 1:54.4, 3, 1:51.4 ($1,263,864.00) (Muscle Hill-KT Cha Cha-Angus Hall), who will stand the harness racing 2018 breeding season in Ohio at Hickory Lane Farm. “We are thrilled to have the privilege of partnering with Taylor Made and Hunterton Farm, two of the most well-known and respected names in the horse racing industry.” Stated R. Kevin Greenfield, President, Hickory Lane Farm. Trained by Ronald Burke throughout his career and driven by David Miller for his previous owners Burke Racing Stable, LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, LLC, and Deo Volente Farms, LLC, What The Hill was the top performing three year old colt trotter this year winning numerous prestigious races including the $527,500.00 elimination and final Breeder’s Crown; the $684,000.00 (Can.) Canadian Trotting Classic in stakes record time, 1:51.4; an elimination heat of The Kentucky Futurity; and, the $350,000.00 TVG Series Championship defeating aged trotters in 1:51.4. At two, he won the New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship and the $294,450.00 Peter Haughton Memorial Final. In a dramatic twist of fate this year, What The Hill crossed the finish line first in the $1,000,000.00 final of the Hambletonian Stake only to be disqualified by a controversial judges decision that is presently under appeal. What The Hill is being syndicated and shares are now available for purchase under very attractive terms. He will stand at a service fee of $7,000.00 and it is expected that his book will fill quickly. For more information regarding purchase of shares or bookings contact Hickory Lane Farm c/o Ashley Stickel, Office Manager or Brad Wallace, Farm Manager at ashley@hickorylanefarm.com ph: 419-422-3004; fax: 419-425-2999; website: www.hickorylanefarm.com. Hickory Lane Farm, Taylor Made Stallions, Inc., and Steve Stewart of Hunterton Farm. 2017 Hambletonian Trotting Stakes 2009 Hambletonian Final - Muscle Hill Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Colt Trot – What The Hill What The Hill - Canadian trotting classic

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