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CHESTER, PA - From tables and tables loaded with memorabilia to eight Hall of Fame inductees in the crowd, it was a fitting evening of "catching-up" and remembering the "old times" at Harrah's Philadelphia Friday evening for the Garden State Park Reunion Night. Hosted by Harrah's Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association as part of their Summer Series of Racing and Remembering, hundreds of race fans came out to the track and were treated to an evening of live harness racing, live music, mechanical bull rides, outdoor BBQ and terrific memorabilia show and contest with hundreds of pieces on display. "I enjoyed reconnecting with people from Garden State that I had not seen in some time," said Hall of Famer John Campbell, now President and CEO of the Hambletonian Society. "I particularly enjoyed the memorabilia and the race replays that were running on the big TV. It brought back great memories of all the tremendous horses and top-notch races that Garden State hosted over the years." Campbell was one of eight inductees of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame that were in attendance, meeting fans, employees and horsemen and women that all worked, raced or wagered on the harness meets at Garden State Park. Other Hall of Famers in attendance included Cat Manzi, Ron Gurfein, Marvin Bachrad, Leon Zimmerman, Moira Fanning, Jerry Connors and Steve Wolf. Missing from the lineup was another Hall of Famer, Robert "Bob" Quigley, the former President of Garden State Park, who could not make the trip from Florida due to hip replacement surgery. "If not for my surgery," Quigley said. "I would have been at Harrah's for the Garden State Park Reunion Night. I send my deepest regards and well-wishes to everyone who made it out. So many great people, employees and horsemen and women I would love to have seen again. I hope everyone had a great time." Conducting interviews throughout the night was Steve Ross, the former advertising and promotions manager. Other guests were Jay Farrar, who headed simulcasting at the track, race office official Al Kraszewski, publicist Gen Sullivan, former driver Jimmy Larente, Jr., track photographer John Pantalone of World Wide Racing Photos and other horsemen and women, plus numerous former employees including pari-mutuel tellers (some who were still working right at Harrah's Philadelphia), admissions personnel and more. Perhaps the "hit guest" of the evening was none other than former track announcer, Larry Lederman, who called the sixth race on the card, which was the Bill Fidati Memorial, a tribute to the former head of publicity at Garden State Park. "We are really pleased with our Summer Series of Racing and Remembering," said Barry Brown, Director of Racing at Harrah's Philadelphia. "Last month's Liberty Bell Park Reunion Night was great and tonight's Garden State Park Reunion was even stronger with much more memorabilia than expected. It was great that we had to add more tables for the show and contest. Philadelphia's sports radio icon, WIP's Jody McDonald, an avid racing fan, was the judge for the Memorabilia Contest. The top prize, a $150 wagering voucher, was awarded to Dennis Sanford, a big harness racing fan from Woodlynne, NJ for his collection of every collector's glass giveaway, both Harness and Thoroughbred, from Garden State Park. Second prize of a $100 voucher went to former employee Connie Scerati of Mt Laurel, NJ for collection of GSP uniforms and pins, many of which she wore and, of course, saved over the years. Third place with a $50 voucher went to Al Kraszewski, who is currently the assistant race secretary at Ocean Downs in Maryland, for his autographed win photo of the great Secretariat, who won at Garden State Park as a two-year-old. Next month the Summer Series of Racing and Remembering concludes on Friday evening, September 8 with the Brandywine Raceway Reunion Night starting at 6:30 pm. In addition to the memorabilia show and contest, live racing and other activities, the first 400 fans to purchase a Harrah's Philadelphia race program, will get a free Summer Series commemorative t-shirt. "I know we will be needing more tables for the memorabilia show for this night," said Barry Brown. "We really look forward to this final Friday night of live racing as Brandywine Raceway was such a fixture here in the Delaware Valley and the track was located just down the road from Harrah's Philadelphia." By Steve Wolf, for Harrah's Philadelphia & the PHHA        

On Friday, August 11, Harrah's Philadelphia will host, along with the Pennsylvania Harness Horseman's Association (PHHA), the third Summer Series Friday night harness racing card of the season. The theme of the evening will be the Garden State Park Reunion Night with the festivities getting started at 6:00 pm. One of the special highlights of the night will be the 6th race $17,500 pace, The Bill Fidati Memorial. William C. "Bill" Fidati, was the publicity director at Garden State Park and was loved by everyone who ever worked with or for him or was able to be friends with him. He passed away at age 76 in 2011. Before coming to Garden State Park, he worked for two decades for two of the top newspapers in Philadelphia, the Daily News and then the Bulletin. He covered City Hall and in 1970 won the area's Press Association award for his stories. Bill also covered horse racing, both Thoroughbred and Standardbred and became the publicity director of Philadelphia Park in 1982 and then moved across the Delaware River to work at the new Garden State Park four years later. Everyone who was associated, worked for or raced at Garden State Park is invited to Harrah's Philadelphia Friday evening. Special guests in attendance will be Hall of Famers John Campbell and Catello "Cat" Manzi along with former track announcer Larry Lederman and other co-workers and horse people that competed at the track. Patrons are urged to bring in any memorabilia from Garden State Park, win photos, giveaway items, etc. and they will receive a gift from Harrah's Philadelphia. The memorabilia will then be put on display for all to see and there will be $300 in betting vouchers given away to the top three items. Judging the memorabilia contest will be WIP Sports Radio legend, Jody McDonald. After each live race on the program there will be a replay of one of the great races held at Garden State Park and former advertising and promotions manager, Steve Ross, will be interviewing the special guests in the winner's circle. There will also be live music, free mechanical bull rides along with an outdoor BBQ and more, all taking place on the outdoor grandstand patio. The race program will feature a special eight-page insert of photo memories of Garden State Park. Garden State Park was located on Route 70 and Haddonfield Road in Cherry Hill, NJ. It opened on July 7, 1942 as a Thoroughbred track until a disastrous fire burned the Clubhouse and Grandstand on April 14, 1977. Garden State Park no longer held races until securities trader Robert Brennan financed construction of a new $178 million steel and glass grandstand/clubhouse which opened on April 1, 1985. The track held both Thoroughbred and Standardbred races until it closed in 2001. For more information, visit or contact Harrah's Philadelphia at www.caesars.com/harrahs-philly. By Steve Wolf, for Harrah's Philadelphia    

JOHN CAMPBELL & CAT MANZI TO ATTEND

CHESTER, PA - Harrah's Philadelphia kicked off its Summer Racing Series Friday with a Liberty Bell Park Reunion Night at the track that was enjoyed by all in attendance. It was the first of three Friday Night live race cards with reunion events for former Delaware Valley harness tracks. The next is Garden State Park Night on Friday, August 11 followed by Brandywine Raceway Night on Friday, September 8. Post time each Friday is 6:30 pm. There was live racing on the track Friday, live music on the patio area, a mechanical rodeo bull for people to try and ride, games for both children and adults, outdoor barbecue and more. Meeting racing stars and former employees from Liberty Bell Park was the main attraction for the many racing fans that crowded the Harrah's patio. Other draws included an outstanding memorabilia show with a contest for $300 in betting vouchers judged by legendary sports talk show host, Jody McDonald of WIP Sports Radio and video clips of past races from Liberty Bell. Jody, also on hand to greet fans and answer questions, will return to host the next two Reunion Nights. He was assisted in the judging contest by John Polvinale and The Summer Series Reunion Nights were developed by Harrah's Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association (PHHA). Former track announcer at Liberty Bell Park, Steve Ross, was the emcee for the night and after each live harness race showed video clips of top races from Liberty Bell Park and then interviewed drivers, trainers and former employees from the winner's circle. Eddie Davis, the all-time winningest driver/trainer at Liberty Bell Park and Brandywine Raceway, nine titles at both tracks plus a national dash winning title one year, was trackside, meeting horsemen and women, former employees and race fans. "This was so great tonight," Davis said. "I saw people from Liberty Bell that I haven't seen in 30 years. What a great idea. When they called and invited me to come to the track for this, I could not say no. Now I am really looking forward to coming back for the Brandywine Reunion Night." "We were pretty worried that people would not come out because of the severe thunderstorms and rain we had earlier in the afternoon," Said Barry Brown, Director of Racing Operations at Harrah's Philadelphia. "But the rain ended by 5:30 pm and we had a great crowd come out and everyone really enjoyed themselves." Other horsemen and owners from the Liberty Bell Park days that came out included Joe Green, Jimmy Larente, Jr., Alvin Stafford, Kim Hankins, John Polvinale, Rick Wyatt and Dave Krelow. Former employees in attendance were Hall of Famers Marv Bachrad, Jerry Connors and Steve Wolf along with Judy Davis Wilson, Peter Lawrence, John Pantalone, Al Kraszewski and former Philadelphia Inquirer horse racing writer Jack Chevalier. Representing the PHHA were Peter Marinari and Ed Kobesky. The memorabilia contest featured hundreds of items including race programs, photographs, giveaway items, even an original letter from the owner of Liberty Bell Park to Herve Filion congratulating him on winning that year's driving title. The top prize of $150 went to Alvin Stafford's family, who brought in the original first race finish and win circle photo of Majesty's Knight from opening night in 1963. "Tonight, was so overwhelming to me," said horseman Jimmy Larente, Jr. "I had not been back to a racetrack since 1989 and had forgotten so many people. When I saw someone I thought I knew, and they looked at me the same way, we introduced ourselves and then hugged and talked about the old days. It kept bringing tears of joy to my eyes. I will not miss the next two reunions for sure." Details for the Garden State Park Reunion Night (Aug. 11) will be announced shortly. For the Brandywine Raceway Reunion Night (Sept. 8), the first 400 race fans to purchase a Harrah's race program, will get a special Summer Series T-Shirt. For more information, visit www.caesars.com/harrahs-philly. By Steve Wolf, for Harrah's Philadelphia    

Chester, PA - Harrah's Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association (PHHA), are hosting the first of three special Summer Series reunion nights starting this Friday, July 14 with Liberty Bell Park. Post time Friday is 6:30 pm with prizes for the best memorabilia brought to the track. "We wanted to do a racing promotion with the PHHA for these Friday night programs," said Barry Brown, Director of Racing Operations at Harrah's Philadelphia. "We decided on the reunion nights for the three main tracks in the Delaware Valley area that are gone. We are excited that so many people are talking about them." Liberty Bell Park was located on Knights Road off I-95 in Northeast Philly and featured world class harness and thoroughbred racing from 1963 through 1986. The property is now the site of the Franklin Mills Mall. Race fans are urged to dig around their storage areas and bring any memorabilia from Liberty Bell Park to the track. Everyone that brings in a piece of Liberty Bell Park memorabilia, a race program, admission pass, collector glass, matchbook, win circle photo, will get a gift from Harrah's Philadelphia. There will be judging of the memorabilia items with prizes given out to the top pieces. Special guests attending include WIP Radio Sports legend, Jody McDonald, who will be at the track to meet fans each of the three Summer Special Reunion Nights. Also in attendance will be Eddie Davis, the all-time leading driver at both Liberty Bell Park and Brandywine Raceway. The emcee for the evening will be Steve Ross, former track announcer at Liberty Bell Park. There will also be a special eight-page insert of Liberty Bell Park photos in the race program and live music during the evening on the outdoor patio. Other Liberty Bell Park guests include harness racing Hall of Fame journalists Jerry Connors (LBP pr assistant), Nick Saponara (Philadelphia Bulletin) and (LBP pr assistant) Steve Wolf. "We encourage everyone who remembers or went to Liberty Bell Park to come on out this Friday night," Said Brown. "We hope to see lots of race fans, former employees and horsemen and women from the Liberty Bell Park days of old and enjoy a great reunion night. We are also hopeful of some surprise guests that will be in attendance." The next Summer Series Reunion Night will be Friday, August 11, celebrating Garden State Park and then the finale will be Friday, September 8, Brandywine Raceway Night. For the Brandywine Raceway Night, the first 400 fans to purchase a Harrah's race program, will get a free commemorative T-Shirt for the Summer Series Reunion. For more information, visit or contact Harrah's Philadelphia at www.caesars.com/harrahs-philly. By Steve Wolf, for Harrah's Philadelphia      

Coral Springs, FL - The Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has announced five candidates who will receive awards this year from the Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Fund. The scholarship fund was established in memory of Hall of Famer Allen J. Finkelson, the former Vice President of Public Relations at Pompano Park and longtime Chairman of the Board of the national USHWA organization "There were eleven candidates that were eligible for the scholarships," said Thomas H. Hicks, who chairs the scholarship committee. "And our committee worked diligently in deciding who would be the winners. We are very pleased to have had so many applications this year and it was not easy making the final selections." Two students, Daniel Clien and Jessica Hallet, will both receive scholarship checks for $750 each as the two top candidates. Students Amber Kelley, Paul Levia and Sarah Birkhold will each get $500. Preference for these scholarship awards were given to a student(s) majoring in journalism, communications or equine related studies. On average, there has been up to $3,000 awarded annually in scholarship money. Applicants must be a resident of the state of Florida and currently accepted or enrolled in a fully accredited college or university in the United States. Criteria for selection include community service, academic achievement, and leadership. Daniel Clein will start his freshman year this fall at the University of Central Florida with a goal of becoming a veterinarian. He is a graduate of Wellington High School with a GPA of 3.6, was in the Wellington HS Equine Pre-Vet Academy Magnet Program and participated in numerous community outreach programs, including creating a 501C3 not-for-profit charity. Jessica Hallett will be a freshman at Nova Southeastern University. She is the daughter of trainers John & Michelle Hallett and has spent most of her life around harness racing. She graduated from Deerfield Beach High School with an impressive GPA average of 5.12, was a star athlete, volunteered in numerous community service activities and has been writing feature stories on harness racing for Harnesslink.com. Sarah Birkhold is from Sarasota and is a first year graduate student at Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinarian Medicine. She has been an Allen J. Finkelson scholarship winner the past four years. Her GPA is 3.72 and she has been President of the Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen Society, Treasurer of Block & Bridle Group, a teaching assistant in Equine Management and did an internship at Firethorn Equine in Ohio. She is the daughter of FSBOA Director and horse owner, George Birkhold. Amber Kelley is from North Lauderdale and is a sophomore at Florida Atlantic University and is majoring in Multi Media Journalism Studies. She has a GPA of 3.789 and was nominated for both the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Society for Collegiate Leadership. She is also secretary of the Kiwanis Circle K International local chapter and is involved with a Mentoring Project. Paul Levia hails from Pembroke Pines and is a junior at Florida International University and is majoring in Broadcast Media. He has a GPA of 3.875 and is an AP Scholar, National Honor Society since 2014 and is a volunteer at the Broward Public Library. By Steve Wolf, for the Florida USHWA Chapter  

Pompano Beach, FL - Screaming and shouting, cries of joy echoing throughout the grandstand. These echoes travel across the racetrack to where drivers, trainers, owners, and grooms can hear. Anyone within an ears distance can hear these chants and cheers. The atmosphere of the racetrack brings a variety of emotions whether it be tears of joy or sadness, screams of happiness or anger, the crowd is never silent. The noise doesn't fall short of the horsemen and women that work behind the scenes and stand near the paddock gate watching their horse race on any given night. However, there is one voice that overpowers them all, draining out all of the noise. Rather than putting the name to the face, people put the name to the voice for one track announcer, John Berry. John Berry is a man of many talents and wears many hats as most would say. “He is the Picasso of Harness Racing. Journalistic knowledge and professionalism second to none,” Wally Hennessey, Hall of Fame Driver and leading trainer at Pompano Park, recounts. Aside from a race announcer, John Berry has played a vital role in harness racing as anything from a race office assistant to a publicity man to a live broadcaster. It's no doubt that John Berry is one of many that form the base of the horse racing business. In the February 5, 1964 edition of The Horseman and Fair World, the week Pompano Park opened, there was a letter to the editor concerning time trials by John Berry. And here we are, 53 years later, and Berry is still at it---writing brilliant, informative stories, announcing on occasion, co-hosting the Pompano Park pre-race show, writing a handicapping column, and serving the horsemen and our sport with the same enthusiasm that was evident back more than a half century ago. Inducted into the Hall of Fame as a communicator several years ago, he has participated in school career days, countless charitable events, seminars, and many promotions to enhance the image of harness racing. He was even highlighted on a CBS (Chicago) news segment entitled “Someone You Should Know.” The feeling all horsemen know or come to know at some point in their careers is the moment when your horse is pacing or trotting lengths ahead of the pack at the three-quarter pole. Down the stretch and the win is a guarantee. That moment in time is brief but the memory of the feeling lasts a lifetime. At this point in John Berry’s life, it was like he had experienced this brief moment forever. “That was amazing, I must admit,” Berry smiled. “It was a surreal moment. “I used to get films from Sportsman’s Park---16 millimeter films---and I went to different nursing homes and rehab facilities lugging my 50-pound projector to put racing programs on for the patients there. “I went to the administrators of these facilities to see who needed a morale boost, so to speak.” Berry explained. “Then, I made programs up and put patients down as drivers of the horses. On this one occasion, the ‘winning’ driver was a lady that had a stroke several months prior and could not speak. “Well, after the race,” Berry said. “I went right up to her with her daughter alongside and congratulated her on her win. I asked her to tell me how she won the race (as the doctors and nurses were cautioning me that she couldn't speak) and she grabbed the ‘mike’ and, after struggling a bit, said, “I tried hard’. “To say that the doctors and nurses were amazed is an understatement,” Berry recalled. “Their jaws literally dropped. The administrators got ahold of CBS news about this miracle of sorts and, a few weeks later, when another show at the facility was arranged, CBS was there with a crew and it became a segment on a newscast in Chicago. “It wasn't necessary,” John said, “but they said this story must be told. “It merely propelled me to keep trying and looking for yet another miracle.” John Berry, a man with a long history that keeps growing. Aside from racing, he holds his own titles himself - for bowling. Interestingly enough, the 16-year-old's career in bowling led him to harness racing. In Chicago of 1959, Berry won a match that began his new and long lived career. “It was a match,” Berry recalled, “where four of us put up five dollars apiece with the winner taking $15, second place getting his money back and the lowest two scorers paying for the highest two bowler’s lines (games). “I bowled a 248, 268, and 258 and I took the money.” Berry said with a smile. “A gentleman by the name of Luke Schroer approached me after that match to give me a “tip” of sorts,” Berry added, “as he won some money betting on the match.” Although John refused the offer, they ended up going out for a bite to eat. On that August in 1959, Schroer had taken John Berry to the racetrack, up to a box at Sportsman's Park---”41-A” Berry recalls. From that night on, Berry had an ever-growing interest in the sport. The gentleman who arranged for Berry to get Sportsman's Park films, Don Stevens, introduced him to Stan Bergstein. Bergstein, who later would become harness racing’s only double Hall of Famer, being inducted to both the Living Hall of Fame and as a Communicator, helped John to get his very first position in the harness racing world, as an Associate Editor of the ‘The Illinois Sulky News,’ working for the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association. His first position led to other doors opening. These ‘doors’ included jobs in publicity and public relations at Balmoral Park. At Balmoral, he wrote press releases and worked on handicapping and interviews. “It was demanding since it turned out to be a seven day a week grind from early morning to late at night.” John said. Developing a passion as well as a talent for writing, John Berry won a few regional awards for journalistic evidence. In 1979, Berry accepted a position with the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey. His new agenda included handling publicity and public relations; and hosting the long running series of television shows featuring Stakes races from The Meadowlands, Freehold Raceway and Garden State Park. He also created and designed New Jersey's Stallion Directory and hosted several Miss Equine New Jersey contests. “The Board of the SBOANJ was extremely active in partnering with the racetracks to publicize the sport,” Berry said. “Tony Abbatiello and Ronnie Dancer led the brigade back then and one couldn't have asked for a more dedicated Board of Directors looking to move the sport in the right direction. “I worked with John Higgins, then the Executive Director, a very knowledgeable horseman.” Berry added. “I also worked with an extremely talented gentleman by the name of Leon Zimmerman, who know every nook and cranny in Trenton, New Jersey, where the political stuff went on. “Leon and I got elected to the Hall of Fame the same year,” Berry said. “and it was an honor to work with him and gain a bit of insight into the world of politics.” During that time, Berry won the prestigious National John Hervey Award for an article he wrote in 1979 for Hub Rail Magazine about the Little Brown Jug. “I have written many, many articles,” he said, “but this is, absolutely, one of my favorites because, when I put it in the typewriter---yes, we still used typewriters back then---the words just kept flowing and I, literally, didn't make any changes once the article was finished. “It included a Roger Huston race call and I have been told on many occasions that the reader could ‘hear’ Roger’s voice while reading it.” After three years with the SBOANJ, he accepted a position with the USTA as Public Relations Manager, working from an office, in Freehold, New Jersey, to cover the New York-New Jersey and eastern racing scene, which was blossoming at the time. When they asked him to move to Columbus, Ohio, he parted ways with the USTA and accepted a position with Sports Information Database (SIDB) as a Senior Editor for harness racing with the objective of putting the entire history of harness racing on computer. “I was honored to work with many of the great minds in sport, including Bill Shannon, the famed official scorer for baseball; Logan Hobson and Bob Canobbio, the inventors of ‘punch-stat’ for boxing matches; and one of harness racing’s great geniuses, Phil Sporn.” A consolidation deal fell through and SIDB went out of business. Berry was asked if he was interested in moving to South Florida to be Public Relations Director at Pompano Park. The track enjoyed its finest two seasons in history benefitting from promotions like a car giveaway, cruise nights, where 10,000 cruise passes were distributed to guests, and mall promotions. John Berry has always worked to make the name of harness racing go viral across the world. He gained more exposure to the track when he became the host of his own radio show, featuring big bands and jazz from the 1920’s and 1930’s. “The show featured music from many of the great bands that were left somewhat obscure to the vast majority,” Berry explained. “I guess you would call them ‘territory bands.’ While modern and pop music was taking over the radio stations, Berry’s interests in the ‘throwback’ tunes caught on in the public ‘ear’, so to say, and he had a lot of loyal listeners. Around this time, Berry was elected President of the United States Harness Writers Association and served that organization for a two-year term. In the 1980’s, he was lured into taking a position with a newly formed company--brainchild of well-known owner and breeder Eric Cherry. The start-up company, National Raceline, had a goal to provide results and race calls from tracks coast-to-coast. Within the company, Berry secured many racetracks that sent in results by fax for the information to be disseminated over a “900” network of telephone lines. In short order, the “Raceline” became the nation's leader in providing information on racing results with nightly calls growing by “leaps and bounds”. Later, he was approached by Allen Greenberg to see if he would be interested in conducting auctions aboard cruise ships. “I agreed to ‘try it for a couple of weeks’ to see if I liked it enough to continue.” Not only did Berry like the position, he was “auctioneer of the year” the first two years the award was given and broke several records along the way. During one of the auctions at sea, a representative of WPBT-Channel 2 Public Television approached John with an offer to go on the air during the station’s membership drives. Accepting the offer, John became one of the hosts of the show and eventually served the station during their on-air auctions. Conducting over 1,800 auctions within his career and raising money for many charitable organizations, libraries, and his beloved Harness Writers Association; the most expensive item sold at one of his auctions was an internet domain name --Sex.net--for $450,000. Serving as an auctioneer, Berry was absent from the sport for a few years. However, like any true horseman who cannot stray too far from the track, he returned after an offer from Isle of Capri’s director, Jim Patton, and Director of Publicity and Marketing, Steve Wolf, in 2004. Both directors persuaded Berry to return to the track, to work in publicity, serving as a “point man” for the upcoming referendum on allowing casinos to be built in Broward County. “Steve (Wolf) came up with an ingenious plan to canvas the area to try and secure support for the casino referendum,” Berry said. “which had failed in two previous attempts. “Well, we got it done and it was quite a scene as we broke ground and, here we are, with a now well established casino that has a 10-year history and racing is still flourishing in South Florida.” Today, Berry, now approaching his mid-70’s, continues to perform several duties at the track---a “three-of-all-trades” ---as he says. He particularly enjoys handicapping for his many followers and looks for “value” in his selections. “Hardly a man in now alive,” he says, “who paid his mortgage at 3 to 5!” One of his most memorable recollections from the handicapping floor comes from the time he predicted a dead-heat during a seminar at The Meadowlands in 1980. Other moments being earning his PHD--Professional Handicapping Degree-- from Tele-Track in 1983 after a six-for-six night there, selecting a “cold” pentafecta at Pompano Park this season, and a string of recent longshot winners in his nightly Pickin’ Berrys handicapping column, one as high as 50 to 1. “The prediction of a dead-heat was as much luck and handicapping skill---something like Babe Ruth predicting his home run at Wrigley Field. “I couldn't separate numbers six and seven and just happened to blurt out, ‘to tell you the truth, I cannot separate these two horses, so I think it'll wind up to be a dead-heat and it was!” Aside from picking his most memorable handicapping memory, John claims the most memorable race he has ever seen was on March 17, 1962 at Maywood Park in Chicago. “I've seen a lot, yes, from Su Mac Lad to Bret Hanover to Albatross to Niatross to Nihalator, to the stars of today but [this] was my most memorable race.” John describes the temperatures to have been wavering in the 30’s mixed with snow, sleet, and rain. “The track had turned into a quagmire,” John explained. “There was a horse named Scotsman, driven by Ken Lighthill, who won in 3:38 ⅗… yes, 3:38 ⅗, which was the slowest winning pari-mutuel mile in history. “It's a record that will ever be broken and it, indeed, is the most memorable race I have ever seen.” John has gotten some well-deserved accolades when in the announcer's booth, too, subbing for Gabe Prewitt when called upon. Racing fan Rich Stern from Chicago lamented, “I love his race calls. They are clear and concise and he's added some nice terms like ‘double-bubbled’ when a horse is three wide. “He gives those behind the scenes nice credit, too. I like that!” His meticulous morning lines have also drawn praise and he was the first and only Morning Line maker to make all horses the same odds--7 to 2--in a six-horse field last season at Pompano Park. The horses had all been around the same time, been beaten about the same number of lengths and were so evenly matched that they all deserved consideration. “I decided to make them all the same in the morning line and that race got huge attention from the media because of it!” Clearly, John Berry has a knack for talent as well as talent himself, in the harness racing world. As a publicity man, fill-in announcer, and writer among many other hats that Berry wears, he covers all bases of harness racing. “He is the equivalent of an encyclopedia of harness racing, a true gentleman,” Standardbred owner and trainer, John Hallett, conveys. Outside of racing, as mentioned before, John was a champion bowler, including capturing the Illinois State Bowling Singles in 1970 by averaging 246 for the tournament. And he is one of few who have ever bowled a perfect 300 game. He lives with his “bride of many years,” Abby and their Quaker Parrot, Pistachio, who, as he says, “brings us joy beyond belief.” Berry has had a lot of “firsts” during his career and plans on helping the sport he loves and its participants as long as possible. Today, John splits his time helping publicize the sport for the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association in the am and doing the late shift in Pompano Park's racing operations office in the afternoon and night. Many horsemen know and recognize John Berry for his talent as a writer and his character as a horseman. “I've known John for many years. He's a nice guy and fun to be around. Working with him sure makes the day go by faster,” iterates Rosie Huff, who works with Berry at the FSBOA office. Berry related, “at the FSBOA, I am lucky enough to work with Rosie Huff, one of the most dedicated individuals with whom I have ever worked. At Pompano, I am honored to work alongside someone as great as Gabe Prewitt, who has an enthusiasm for the sport like no other. “We enjoy and respect each other's talent and company. “You could call it a ‘pari-mutuel’ admiration society!” If there is anyone that the sport of harness racing needs to clone to help promote the industry, they should look no further than John Berry. By Jessica Hallett, for Harnesslink   Jessica Hallett is a new correspondent for Harnesslink. Jessica, 17, lives in Margate, Florida and is currently a senior at Deerfield Beach High School. She is the daughter of Pompano Park owner/trainers John and Michelle Hallett.

Argentina's top harness racing pacer, Chucaro Arts Surco, has completed his quarantine and arrived Monday at his new home with trainer Angela Porfilio at the Meadows Racetrack in Pennsylvania. As a two-year-old, Chucaro Arts Surco won an astounding 20 races in just 24 starts last year under the tutelage of trainer Sebastian Gonzalez. He is owned by the Bencardin Family of Argentina. Chucaro Art Surco closed out his 2016 season with a very impressive 1:57 track record triumph (1609 meters race) in the Argentina Breeders Crown Championship final. “He is feeling good,” Said trainer Angela Porfilio. “I already took him to jog a few laps and he is happy and very well behaved.” Porfilio has had success with other imports from Argentina, including Albionkinginfinito, who earlier this season won three straight races at the Meadows, including a lifetime mark of 1:52.4. Porfilio hopes that Chucaro Arts Surco, once adjusted to his new surroundings, will be the best Argentinian import ever to the USA. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Pompano Beach, FL --- Steven Wolf, president of the Florida chapter of the United States Harness Racing Writers Association (USHWA), has announced that the chapter is now accepting applications for its 2017 Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Awards. The scholarship fund was established in memory of Hall of Famer Allen J. Finkelson, the former Vice President of Public Relations at Pompano Park and longtime Chairman of the Board of the national USHWA organization. Preference for these scholarship awards will be given to a student majoring in journalism, communications or veterinarian related studies. On average, there have been up to $3,000 awarded annually in scholarship money. Applicants must be a resident of the state of Florida and currently accepted or enrolled in a fully accredited college or university in the United States. Criteria for selection include community service, academic achievement, and leadership. Applicants must have demonstrated scholastic ability with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.8 and show evidence of community service and leadership through certificates, awards and/or letters of commendation. Fully completed applications must be postmarked no later than May 29, 2017, for consideration of a June 2017 award. Recipients may reapply annually for a maximum of four years. Applications should be submitted/addressed to the Florida Chapter USHWA, Scholarship Committee, 3508 Sahara Springs Blvd., Pompano Beach, FL 33068. For more information or to receive an application on the internet, contact via e-mail to Thomas H. Hicks at renparlc@gate.net or Steven Wolf at stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. From the Florida Chapter of USHWA  

When we first started the harness racing newsletter feature "Insider Access" we aimed to release new issues every two weeks, however the workload to produce the Stallion reviews, combined with the day to day management of the Harnesslink website has been making this difficult. So henceforth we will release these issues within a longer, more sporadic timeframe. We appreciate your support and continued readership. Starting in this months Insider Access, author Tina Sugarman, whose debut novel, Horse Flesh, has been a number one top selling equine novel on Amazon.com, is going to share special excerpts from her superb novel only to Harnesslink.com followers! Then every week on Harnesslink, racing fans will get to read part of Horse Flesh. The novel is a page-turning thriller based around harness racing in Ontario, Canada. Harnesslink thanks author Tina Sugarman for sharing her great novel with the harness racing world! Also this month we bring you the most prolific analysis of the equal fastest three-year-old on the Planet, world champion racehorse and stallion, He's Watching. We also review the New Zealand Yearling Sales and salute our own operations director Steve Wolf on his Hall of Fame introduction at the Dan Patch Awards! It's FREE to sign up for Insider Access, just fill out the box below. If you are already a member you got our newsletter already!   Sign up to "Insider Access" Full Name Email Subscribe

The organizers of TROTBritain along with management at Chelmsford City Racecourse (CCR), have agreed to host dates for the running of LeTrot races in 2017. Two LeTrot races will take place on the Chelmsford City’s all-weather track on Tuesday, August 15, Saturday, September 30 and Thursday, October 12. All dates are subject to British Horseracing Authority and British Harness Racing Club approval. “Last season we experimented with our inaugural TROTBritain LeTrot races at Chelmsford City Racecourse and it was a smashing success.” Said TrotBritain’s George Button. “Both organizations were pleased to increase the racing for 2017 and now we have three race dates this season.” The races will again be shown in all the Betfred shops and as before some of the other big bookmakers will also feature the races. With the continued growth of LeTrot races, and the influx of horses due to the success of the new LeTrot three-year-old stakes initiative, TROTBritain hopes by 2018, to have full meetings at the South East of England All Weather Track. “CCR has recently received planning permission for a racino and a turf track to be built inside the existing all-weather track.” Said Button. “These are exciting developments for CCR. The ambitious commitment CCR management have made for the future, to develop their track, is great for horse racing in Great Britain, and also for TROTbritain and LeTrot. TROTbritain will endeavor to continually take trotting forward,” Button added. “to enable all the owners, trainers and drivers who have prepared to buy into what we are trying to achieve, the opportunity to race on the bigger stage for increasingly bigger prize money.” By Steve Wolf, for TROTBritain

The family of renowned horsemen, Aime J. Choquette, have finalized funeral arrangements that will take place this Saturday, February 4 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Choquette, passed away January 24 at the CHSLD St-Vincent Hospital in Sherbrooke. He was 102 years old. He spent nearly all of his life working and training horses, starting with jumping and show horses early in his career in Quebec and then 30 plus years as a Standardbred harness racing trainer, working for the late Hall of Famer Delvin Miller. The family will be present at the Immaculate Conception Church, 1085 Adélard-Colette Street, Sherbrooke, in the presence of the ashes, starting at 10:00 am on Saturday, February 4, 2017, in order to receive sympathies from relatives and friends. A religious service will follow at 11:00 am. The ashes will be placed at the cemetery of Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley at a later date. Aime Choquette was the brother of Suzanne, the late Gertrude, the late Beatrice, the late Robert, the late Gilles, the late Simonne, and the late Guy. He left his nephews, nieces: Yvan, Raymonde, the late Raymond, Louise, Claude, Pamela, Jocelyn Ann, Martha, the late Peter, Danielle, Peter Smith and many other nieces and nephews and many cousins in Quebec, the United States of America, and around the world. His relatives would like to sincerely thank Dr. Anne-Marie Boire-Lavigne and all the staff of the CHSLD St-Vincent (3-A) in Sherbrooke for the good care and good services received and thanks to all the staff of Résidences du Carrefour of Sherbrooke for their good services. In lieu of flowers, your remarks of sympathy can be translated into a donation to the VITAE Foundation and forms will be available on their website at http://www.coopfuneraireestrie.com/avis-de-deces/aime-choquette-138837/, or donations can be made to the Aime Choquette Sunshine Fund that assists horsemen and women in need. Checks can be made payable to "Florida Chapter USHWA" and posted to P.O. Box 669273, Pompano Beach, FL. USA, 33066. By Steven Wolf      

Harness racing's newest inductees to the Hall of Fame, driver Brian Sears and communicator Steve Wolf, will be the special guests on the top Thoroughbred radio show in south Florida Wednesday afternoon, It's Post Time With JJ Gracie. The program gets underway on the internet at 3:00 pm at www.wdbfradio.com. It's Post Time With JJ Graci takes place seven days a week, live on Thursday from the studio and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday they are on location at Gulfstream Park. The show features sessions about the horse racing industry, including harness racing, handicapping, live race calls, trivia with prizes, and great guests! Sears, a south Florida native and graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School, won his first race at age 16 at Pompano Park and hails from three generations of harness horsemen. Both his grandfather, Gene, and father, Jay, are inducted in the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Currently, Sears has amassed 9,714 driving wins, purse earnings of more than $176,000,000 and has a very impressive career UDR of .329. Wolf has been living for 17 years in south Florida. Starting out as an owner/breeder in 1977 with his father, Manny, and their Leo Wolf & Son Stable, he was the Director of Racing Operations at the Isle Pompano Park for nine years and is now a horse racing consultant. "I really like and appreciate harness racing," said JJ Graci, "and it will be great to have two of the sports newest inductees to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame on our show Wednesday." You can follow It's Post Time With JJ Graci on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Its-Post-Time-with-JJ-Graci-227868714000411/?fref=ts. From It's Post Time With JJ Graci      

OFFALY, Ireland - It has been announced by Derek and James Delaney of Oakwood Stud in Ireland, that they will be standing the French trotter, Rachmaninov Seven, for the 2017 breeding season. It will be the first time a French trotter has ever stood in Ireland. Acquired in a lease arrangement from his owner in Belgium, Rachmaninov Seven is a 12-year-old stallion sired by Korean from the Pelican Du Pont mare, Indiana Of The Bridge. Korean is also the sire of world champion racehorse Sebastian K. "We hope to have Rachmaninov Seven at Oakwood Stud by mid-March," said Derek Delaney. "It's great news for Oakwood to get involved in the breeding of French trotting horses here and to bring a horse of his calibre to the quality broodmares that have been bought in France for Ireland and the UK." The resulting foals from the 2017 season at Oakwood Stud will be eligible to all of the LeTrot Series in both Ireland and the UK plus they will be eligible to race not only in France, but throughout Europe. Rachmaninov Seven made 55 career starts with 12 wins, six second and four third place finishes with earnings of €418,975 and a record of 1.11.9 at 2175 meters. He was victorious in the Prix D'Angouleme, Prix Joseph Aveline, Prix De Clermont-Ferrand, Prix Magimnus and the Prix Bernard Le Quellec, all raced at Vincennes, Paris. He is owned by Lieven de Groot and is being leased from Star Breeding Company. 2017 will be the fourth season standing stud for Rachmaninov Seven. "His oldest foals are now three," Delaney said. "And the trainers are all talking good things about the ones they have training in Belgium. Delaney said they have not yet set a stud fee price for Rachmaninov Seven. "This is a win win situation for all of us." Delaney added. "The revitalization of the trotter here in Ireland and the UK over the last year thanks to the arrangements made with LeTrot in France is outstanding and growing by leaps and bounds." By Steven Wolf, for Oakwood Stud    

Essex, UK – There will be two full fields of Trotter Francais LeTrot races at the Betfred owned all weather Thoroughbred track, Chelmsford City Racecourse, on Thursday, November 10. TROTBritain is the organizers of this first-ever event being staged under the floodlights on the same racing card with the thoroughbreds. The race meeting will be attended by dignitaries from LeTrot, the French trotting governing body. “This has become a super inaugural event for both the Thoroughbreds and Trotter Francais racing fans.” Said TROTBritain organizer George Button of Kent. “The officials at Chelmsford City are truly excited about having our LeTrot races as part of their racing program.” Both LeTrot races will be held over a distance of one mile one furlong on the Polytrack surface. The opening "Fleet Hire LeTrot” race is a 10-horse affair, and on paper is a very open race with any of the ten horses having a shot at winning. The Fleet Hire LeTrot race will have an International feel with the French based, Swedish woman driver, Theresa 'Titti' Fontaeus, driving the Pimlott Stables six-year-old mare, Alma des Sablettes, and they have #1 on the gate. She has had winners in five European countries, including France, Sweden, Belgium, Great Britain and Norway, where she won the Nordic Championship in 2007. Most recently in Great Britain in 2016, Fontaeus had ridden the current "TROTBritain Horse of the Year" Sulky du Bleguin to victory in the first-ever Monte Trotting race at Tir Prince Raceway in Wales. The second LeTrot race and the last race of the meeting is the "George Button Senior Trotteur Francais Cup" which is for the top French trotters in Great Britain and a stellar field has been assembled. Feature will be the Irish invader, Twist du Layon, who is the 1 1/4-mile record holder in Ireland in 2.33.3. He takes on Sire Pazenais, who happens to be the 1 1/2-mile record holder in Great Britian. Other top contenders include the 2015 Horse of the Year, Show Business, the 2016 Horse of the Year, Sulky du Bleguin and Tenor Meslois, the 2016 Grass Champion. There are 11 starters in the race “These two races fittingly close out the 2016 LeTrot season,” Button added. “and should be a real cracker. It is our hopes at TROTBritain that these two races will have great exposure in all of the Betfred owned bookmaking shops and that SIS will transmit to other bookmaking outlets. With the culmination of the meeting, TROTBritain hopes that they and the Betfred owned track will be able to continue their agreement and work together in have additional LeTrot races staged in the future at Chelmsford City Racecourse. “This historic event could not have happened without the enthusiasm and determination of the management of Chelmsford City Racecourse,” Button said, “and the support of LeTrot, the French Trotting governing body. It has taken a lot of work and we hope that everyone considers coming out for the races or have a wager or two via Betfred and help show your support for this special inaugural night at Chelmsford City.” For more information about Chelmsford City Racecouse, visit http://www.chelmsfordcityracecourse.com/. By Steve Wolf, for TROTBritain

Dublin, Ireland - It was a proud day for harness racing in Ireland as Trotter Francaise, Vichy de Moem, and driver Alan Richard put in a last half mile in :57.7 to rewrite the world record on a half mile track for two-miles at 4:05.7 Sunday at Portmarnock Raceway. The race was for the Barney Richardson Memorial Cup with five of the best trotter in Ireland going for the world record that was held by Ake Svanstedt's Clear Sign at 4:06.8 in Sweden in 2013. It was closing day at Portmarnock for the 2016 season and the world record attempt was the fifth race feature on the program. A huge crowd was in attendance to see if Ireland could own its first world record. It was Silvano Bello and driver Donal Murphy who took early commend and led the field for the first three laps, unofficially going to the first quarter in :31 as they raced Indian style to the half mile in 1:05, the three-quarters in 1:33.4. Then at the one mile marker in 2:35.7, the thought was that the record was out of reach, but once they passed the teletimer at the 1.5 mile mark in 3:08, Alan Richardson came charging to the front with Vichy De Moem for the final lap. Looking strong on the lead, Vichy De Moem was then challenged in the backstretch the final time by Twist Du Layon and driver Patrick Kane, Jr. of Miraculous fame, who came after the race leaders up on the outside. Those two made it a race to the finish as Vichy De Moem kicked in another gear coming down the stretch to win by one and one-half lengths. Twist Du Layon was second with Scoop's Team and driver Brenda Hudson grabbing third place. Driver Alan Richardson was beside himself as he brought Vichy De Moem back to the winner's enclosure amidst a roaring crowd cheering the world record holders on. There were nearly 100 family members, friends and well-wishers crowding the track. "What an amazing day." Richardson said as he got off the race bike. "He (Vichy De Moem) is a super horse and what a huge day this is for Ireland. We finally own a world record." A seven-year-old gelding by Viraldi De Chanu, Vichy De Moem has been one of the top Trotter Francaise in the LeTrot Series in Ireland and the UK this year. By Steven Wolf for Portmarnock Raceway  

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