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GOSHEN NY - The Hall of Fame Screening Committee of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the Standardbred sport's leading media organization, annually meets on the first Sunday in July, in consultation with a group of Hall of Fame members, and considers nominees submitted by USHWA's chapters to determine those to advance to the possibility of earning the sport's highest honor, membership in the Hall of Fame. Quality always results from the deliberation about the best of the best by the Screening Committee; what was unprecedented this past Sunday was the quantity of outstanding individuals that the Committee selected to advance beyond their consideration stage. One person was selected for direct admission to the Hall, through USHWA's bylaws and its Veteran category, which once every three years allows the Committee to choose one nominee (aged 70+) who will directly become a Hall of Famer. That honoree was the veteran trainer of Standardbred stars, Jerry Silverman. Five other individuals were put forward by the Committee to appear on a midsummer ballot, conducted among USHWAns and Hall of Famers. If the nominee secures 75% of the yes-no votes in the balloting, they will join Silverman as inductees into the hallowed Hall on July 7, 2019. This quality quintet includes Blair Burgess, Ted Gewertz, Joe Holloway, Linda Toscano, and Ted Wing. Jerry Silverman, named by the Committee to the Hall of Fame in the Veteran category, was one of the leading Grand Circuit trainers for five decades, from the 1960s through the 2000s. He made a big impact in 1996, when he was 31 (a "mere pup" among the trainers of his days), with Triple Crown winner Romeo Hanover, and the subsequent years saw a stream of champions such as Fame, Hit Parade, Masquerade, Saccharum, Die Laughing, and Glowing Report (the last-named a stakes winner 40 years after Romeo Hanover) among the large stable that he ran with intelligence and endurance. Silverman retired four years ago, but continues assisting his son Richie, himself a fine horseman. The five candidates to be placed on the summer ballot for Hall election have all contributed to top-level racing in a variety of different ways: Blair Burgess will look to complete a "Hall of Fame double," having been voted into the Hall in his native Canada last year. Burgess has been a frequent figure in the winners circle of the sport's top races: the Hambletonian (Amigo Hall and Triple Crown winner Glidemaster), Breeders Crown (Real Desire), Meadowlands Pace (Frugal Gourmet and Real Desire) and Little Brown Jug (Tell All). Real Desire and Glidemaster were both voted Horse of the Year by the Harness Writers. Twice the trainer of the Year in Canada, Burgess is the son of Canadian Hall of Fame breeder/owner/executive Bob Burgess. Ted Gewertz first caught the harness racing "bug" when Kennedy was President, and his love for the sport has not waned over the years. He has been co-owner of three Hambletonian winners - Giant Victory, Windsong's Legacy (Triple Crown winner and Trotter of the Year), and Deweycheatumnhowe - in addition to such horses as Huntsville and Housethatruthbuilt, the latter having her best year in 2004, when USHWA named Gewertz the Owner of the Year. Conscious of keeping the highest standards in the sport, Gewertz is a director of the Hambletonian Society and a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum. Joe Holloway started in the sport as a caretaker in his native Delaware when he was an altar boy, as the new local priest took up harness racing as a way to connect with his flock. Holloway connected with the uppermost level of the sport with his masterful handling of Jenna's Beach Boy, three-time Breeders Crown winner, twice Pacer of the Year, and a horse whose record for a race mile of 1:47.3 stood for a decade. Holloway, voted the sport's top trainer in 1995, has since buffed up his resume by developing She's A Great Lady, Shebestingin, and Somwherovrarainbow, as well as the handling of 1:46 pacer Always B Miki at two and three. Linda Toscano has long had a harness background association, dating back to her driving ponies in races when her age was in single digits. She served an apprenticeship with legendary NYC horseman Buddy Regan, then went out on her own in 1985. Linda has attracted widespread attention throughout much of the current decade, including being named 2012 Trainer of the Year by USHWA - in that year alone she had the Hambletonian winner Market Share, but he was a (high-class) second fiddle that year to Horse of the Year winner Chapter Seven. The ill-fated Walner, champion 3YO Heston Blue Chip, and half-mile track world champion Jet Laag have also benefited from her care and tutelage. Ted Wing was an Olympic-caliber skier before suffering an injury, and the loss of the downhill sport was harness racing's gain, as the native of Maine captured titles in New England in his early years of the sport, then emerged as one of the leading horsemen in the founding days of The Meadowlands, balancing his racing at that track with regular duty at Roosevelt/Yonkers. Inducted into the New England Harness Racing Hall of Fame the same year as Bill O'Donnell and Jim Doherty, who would later go on to the national Hall, Wing has been an important part in the success of such stars as Skip By Night, Gallo Blue Chip, Butler BG, and Calvert. There will also be midsummer balloting (75%+ of yes/no ballots required) of USHWAns on writer/commentator Dave Little and photographer Mark Hall, who were nominated for the Communicators Hall of Fame at the annual Directors meeting of USHWA this past February. From the United States Harness Writers Association

Goshen, NY --- Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg took different roads to success as harness racing breeders and owners, but those paths merged Sunday when they were inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame during ceremonies on the grounds of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Siegel, a retired pharmacist who operated a chain of drug stores before turning his full attention to harness racing, owns Pennsylvania’s Fashion Farms. Siegel and his late wife Arlene owned 1995 Hambletonian Stakes winner Tagliabue. Other successes have included eight divisional champion horses and five victories in the Breeders Crown. She was introduced by USTA President Russell Williams, who spoke first in Swedish and then in English.Wallenius-Kleberg, the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame, is widely regarded as the First Lady of International Trotting. She owns Menhammar Stuteri, the renowned breeding farm that has led Sweden in purses each of the past 11 years. The farm was purchased by her father, shipping magnate Olof Wallenius, in 1947 and has produced an impressive list of notable trotters. "Being here tonight is the result of a fantastic combination of American and Swedish friends and partnerships through the years," Wallenius-Kleberg said. "I do hope I can fulfill what is expected of me as a Hall of Famer. And as the first woman with this title, I hope I can be inspiration to all girls and young women out there." Also honored Sunday were the late horseman Hakan Wallner, who was inducted into the Hall of Immortals; writer Dave Briggs and announcer Carl Becker, who were inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame; horses Cantab Hall, Western Ideal, Gala Dream, and Sweet Future; and amateur driving champion Hannah Miller. Siegel was steered into harness racing by his wife Arlene, a retired nurse whom Jules has called “the real inspiration” for a retirement spent with horses. The couple worked together at Fashion Farms, with Arlene among those who guided Jules through the early years of the farm’s operation, even getting him to assist with mares when foals were born. “This honor is by far one of the most unbelievable experiences of my 90 years," Siegel said. “First, mostly John Campbell was my go-to guy in the beginning. I was amazed at his consistent ability to make good horses into great winners. Jim Campbell, my trainer, taught me how the horse business works. How in the world can I ever reward him for all he’s done for me? “The one person who is responsible for my standing here is my wife Arlene who made all this possible. She told me ‘dear, I will not let you retire to nothing.’” The Siegels received the Owner of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers Association in 2002 and 2009 and Siegel was Standardbred Canada’s Owner of the Decade for the 2000s. Other honors included being named the Pennsylvania chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Breeder of the Year in 2008 and 2009. Tagliabue was the first of the Siegels’ Dan Patch Award-winning horses, followed by two-time recipient Galleria, Broadway Hall, Broadway Schooner, Possess The Will, and two-time honoree Broadway Donna. Broadway Schooner, a daughter of Broadway Hall bred by the Siegels, won the 2009 Hambletonian Oaks and is the dam of Broadway Donna. Wallenius-Kleberg was one of the first people to recognize the importance of international bonds among trotting breeders and regulators. She created a North American-European comingling of racing and breeding talent with her partner, the late Hall of Famer Norman Woolworth, headed by stallions Zoot Suit and Smokin Yankee. Zoot Suit was Sweden’s top sire for six consecutive years, 1991-96, and was preceded at the top of the list by Smokin Yankee in 1990. Menhammar Stuteri also was home to two-time U.S. Horse of the Year Mack Lobell. One of Menhammar’s earliest stars was Big Noon, who was Scandinavia’s version of American’s early 20th century star Dan Patch. Among the horses bred by the farm are 2014 Prix d’Amerique winner Maharajah, 2013 Elitloppet winner From Above, and 2005 Hambletonian Oaks winner Jalopy. Beginning this year, Menhammar Stuteri stands recently retired Nuncio, who was a star in North America and Europe. Nuncio’s wins included the Kentucky Futurity, Yonkers Trot, and Elitloppet. After Wallenius-Kleberg’s purchase of Zoot Suit from Woolworth, the two trotting devotees developed a bond that opened doors in North America for her burgeoning interests in trotting. Wallenius-Kleberg began keeping and breeding mares in the U.S. and having fillies trained and raced in North America before they entered the Menhammar broodmare band. By the 1980s, Wallenius-Kleberg was a familiar figure at the Hambletonian, the Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile, and the Hall of Fame weekend in Goshen. She also traveled to Florida regularly to see her young horses in training. Concurrently she was developing contacts and friendships throughout Europe so that she could broaden the Menhammar influence on the continent. She was a regular at the Prix d’Amerique in Paris and cultivated contacts among French horsemen and breeders. Recognizing the importance of sustaining the trotting sport, Margareta has assisted and encouraged many young people in racing. She always insisted on the highest standards in the horses she acquired and used her business skills to operate successfully. Already a member of Sweden’s Trotting Hall of Fame, Wallenius-Kleberg has held numerous positions in organizations related to the sport in her native country and abroad and worked to promote harness racing on both sides of the Atlantic. She is a Hambletonian Society director and received the Harness Racing Museum’s Pinnacle Award in 2011. Wallner, too, was a globe-trotting pioneer who raised the bar of Swedish racing and breeding to an international level. Wallner, who won the Elitloppet and Prix d’Amerique in Europe, was convinced he could succeed in the U.S. as a trainer of trotters and in a short amount of time he was competing at the highest level and affecting every facet of harness racing from the yearling sales to the Grand Circuit. With Jan Johnson and Berndt Lindstedt he founded Continental Farm, which counted among its many accomplishments winning the first-ever Breeders Crown race with Workaholic in 1984. The stable was a force in the series, winning four trophies and $2.85 million in the first eight years of the Breeders Crown. Its $3.94 million in purses overall in the event remain No. 6 among all trainers in history. Continental Farm also won the Hambletonian in 1988 with Armbro Goal and multiple editions of the Hambletonian Oaks. Wallner led the way for other Scandinavian and European horsemen to move to the U.S. and compete at the sport’s highest level. The list includes Soren and Jan Nordin, Jimmy Takter, Per Eriksson, Per Henrikson, Stefan Melander, Mario Zuanetti and Pekka Korpi. Collectively that group has nine Hambletonian winners. Wallner died Jan. 20, 2001, in Treviso, Italy. He was inducted to the Swedish Trotting Hall of Fame in 2015. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Ron Waples always enjoys returning to Historic Track in Goshen, N.Y., but this year's visit will combine business with pleasure. The business comes in the form of competing in Sunday's $10,000 Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge Gerry Memorial Trot, an invitational race for Hall of Fame drivers. The pleasure will be seeing renowned writer Dave Briggs inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame during festivities later that evening. "I always liked Goshen," said Waples, a Toronto native who was inducted into the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1986. "Even back when I was racing New York-sired horses, it amazed me that there is no betting there but you've got all the fans. That just takes you back to your roots. "When you look up there in the grandstand and it's full and everybody is hooting and hollering and cheering, it just gives you a very good feeling." The Gerry Memorial Trot is the highlight of the third of the four-day Grand Circuit meet at Historic Track. The meet coincides with the sport's Hall of Fame inductions, which will be held Sunday evening at the adjacent Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Also participating in the Gerry Memorial Trot are Wally Hennessey, David Miller, Dave Palone, Brian Sears, Richard "Dick" Stillings, and Jimmy Takter. Commemorative cards will be distributed to the first 500 fans on Sunday and the Hall of Famers will be available for photos and autographs following the race. Waples won the Gerry Memorial Trot in 2015. When asked if he was looking forward to this year's event, he responded with a laugh, "How did I draw?" When informed he drew post six, he laughed again and asked, "Did I get any power?" He then said, "It's a pretty big honor to be in there. The Gerry family, they support (harness racing and the museum) so much, it's unbelievable really. I think everybody kind of feels the same way; you don't want to let them down and you want to help out a little bit. If this helps out a little bit, then so be it." Among this year's Hall of Fame inductees are breeders Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, and the late horseman Hakan Wallner. Briggs will join announcer Carl Becker as inductees into the Communicators Hall of Fame. Briggs, who like Waples resides in Ontario, has received a record 11 John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing feature writing and reporting. He also is a three-time winner of the Standardbred Canada Media Excellence Award for Outstanding Written Work as well as the recipient of multiple International Harness Racing Media Awards and American Horse Publication Awards, and the Ontario Equestrian Federation Media of the Year Award. "I have a special feeling this year because Dave Briggs is getting inducted there," Waples said. "He's just one of a few. He's a great writer and a great guy and just all for the sport. It will be worth the trip just for that." Racing begins at 1 p.m. each day at Historic Track. For Sunday's complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

HARRISBURG PA - Tim Bojarski, the immediate past president of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) and now the chairman of the board, the organization's webmaster, and a publicist for Batavia Downs (NY) and Plainridge Park (MA), has been named to a six-year term on USHWA's Hall Of Fame Screening Committee, it has been announced by Shawn Wiles, current president of USHWA, the largest harness racing organization devoted to standardbred communicators. Bojarski, of Akron NY, has a background in harness horse ownership and training, and has driven in qualifying races. He has been a member of USHWA for 17 years, 11 of them as a Director of the Association. Voted in as national second vice-president in 2012, he progressed "up the chairs" to become the organization's president from February 2016 to February 2018, and per the USHWA bylaws will serve as the Chairman of the Board until the 2020 national meetings. Tim is familiar with the procedures of the Screening Committee, as the president of USHWA is an ex officio voting member of all committees, so he has attended the group's last two sets of screening sessions. Bojarski works with his "hometown track," Batavia Downs, as the publicist during their racing season, and since has linked with Plainridge Park near Boston and the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts. He is a regular columnist for Hoof Beats magazine, the acclaimed publication of the United States Trotting Association (USTA). Tim is also kept busy updating the USHWA website, bringing the latest of information about the organization, its activities, and major racing news to all visitors to www.ushwa.net. And in case that doesn't fill all his time, Bojarski also serves as the president and secretary of the Upstate New York chapter of USHWA. "Tim brings with him a wide range of knowledge of harness racing and its vast and glorious history," said USHWA president Wiles upon making the appointment. "As past President of USHWA he is familiar with the inner workings of this committee. He will be a welcome addition to an already-strong slate of members on this prestigious committee." Bojarski will begin his new term, which expires after the 2023 meeting, with the gathering of the Screening Committee during Hall of Fame weekend at the Hall / Harness Racing Museum in Goshen NY, that weekend culminating with the induction of the newest Hall of Famers at a dinner on Sunday, July 1. United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA)

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

Pompano Beach, FL - The Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has debuted their new website at www.ushwa-florida.com. The Florida Chapter has also developed a Facebook Page at Florida Chapter USHWA. "The Florida Chapter has dedicated this year to working harder than ever to help promote the sport of harness racing in Florida and across the nation." said Florida USHWA Chapter president Steve Wolf. "The debut of our website and our new Facebook Page is just the start of our 2018 program. "The harness racing industry, especially in Florida," Wolf explained, "needs to have more exposure to the general masses. We will be doing more stories on owners, trainers, drivers, caretakers and the many training/breeding farms throughout the state, working on special events in the local communities, and hopefully help educating new fans to this great sport through our chapter. "Our Chapter's treasurer, Thomas H. Hicks," Wolf credited. "created and developed the website and did a super job." The Florida Chapter of USHWA was first formed in 1964 following the opening of the Pompano Park racetrack. Over the many years the Chapter has worked with racetrack management and the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association in helping promote the sport both locally and nationally. The Chapter annually hosts the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame Banquet, has given out tens of thousands of dollars through the Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship for Florida residents studying journalism or equine related majors, and provides special funding for Florida horsemen and women in need due to poor health, accidents and/or dire financial situations through the Aime Choquette Sunshine Fund. From the Florida Chapter of USHWA          

Goshen, NY - The Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, an organization that has been raising money for local harness horse racing venues for the past six decades, will sponsor the inaugural Iron Horse Motorcycle Poker Run to benefit Goshen Historic Track and the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 26, 2018. Chapter Vice President/Secretary Janet Terhune noted, "We are thrilled to host this exciting inaugural event, the Iron Horse Poker Run, which will bring well over 100 new visitors to the Museum and introduce them to Harness Racing." The Harness Racing Museum in Goshen has been selected as the home base for the ride, a 70-mile loop with three additional checkpoints located throughout Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties; O'Toole's Harley-Davidson in Wurtsboro, the Mountain Brauhaus in Gardiner, and the Angry Orchard in Walden. Terhune, the Museum's Director, continued, "We will serve the participants brunch in our beautiful Haughton Hall during the event registration, and welcome them back for prizes, raffles and additional refreshments following the run. This is a great opportunity for harness racing to reach out to a relatively untapped demographic that enjoy taking part in benefit activities." Shawn Wiles, the Chapter's Vice President/Treasurer agreed. "Once this event becomes popular, it will grow into a great kick-off for the Goshen Historic Track season, with matinee racing beginning the following weekend in the 'Cradle of the Trotter.' A donation of $20 for all partakers includes food and refreshments before and after ride, as well as door prizes, raffles, 50/50's, and a grand prize of $500 for the best poker hand. Although motorcycles are preferred, cars, trucks and vans are also welcome. Registration and brunch starts at 10:30 am at the Harness Racing Museum, 240 Main St., Goshen. Kickstands up at 12 noon. The primary beneficiaries of the funds raised by the Chapter are the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and Goshen Historic Track...two distinct entities that share the same hallowed ground and a mutual purpose of preserving and promoting harness racing. Lifetime donations by the Chapter to these iconic organizations are approaching $100,000. For more information about the Iron Horse Poker Run go to ironhorsepokerrun.com or contact Chris Tully attullytrot@yahoo.com or call 845-807-7538. by Chris Tully for the Iron Horse Poker Run  

Goshen, NY - When the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association held their annual meeting on Sunday, April 22, it was confirmed by the officers that the Chapter would host a Motorcycle Poker Run to benefit Goshen Historic Track and the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 26. Newly elected chapter Vice President/Secretary, Janet Terhune noted, "We are thrilled to host this exciting inaugural event, the Iron Horse Poker Run, which will bring well over 100 new visitors to the Museum and introduce them to Harness Racing." The Harness Racing Museum has agreed to be the start and finish venue for the ride, a 70-mile loop with three additional checkpoints located throughout Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. Terhune, the Museum's Director, continued, "We will serve the participants lunch in beautiful Haughton Hall during the event registration, and welcome them back for prizes, raffles and additional refreshments following the run. This is a great opportunity to reach out to a relatively untapped demographic that enjoy taking part in benefit activities." Shawn Wiles, the chapter's Vice President/Treasurer agreed. "Once this event becomes popular, it will grow into a great kick-off for the Goshen Historic Track season, with matinee racing beginning the following weekend." In other business, long-time Chapter leader John Manzi was elevated to the office of Chairman of the Board, stating, "We work hard to raise money for the Hall of Fame and the (Historic) Track. This year certainly illustrates our commitment ...it's our 60th annual awards banquet. The Chapter has been giving local horsemen and women awards since 1959!" The popular event will be held at the usual location, The Fountains at Wallkill Golf Club, on Sunday, December 2, 2018. This year, the Chapter's lifetime achievement award honoree will be Frank "The Elder" Antonacci of Lindy Farms fame. Of course, the primary beneficiaries of the funds raised by the Chapter are the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and Goshen Historic Track...two distinct entities that share the same hallowed ground and a mutual purpose of preserving and promoting harness racing. Lifetime donations by the chapter to these iconic organizations are approaching $100,000. For more information about the Iron Horse Poker Run go to ironhorsepokerrun.com or for opportunities to sponsor our Annual Awards Banquet please contact Chris Tully at tullytrot@yahoo.com or call 845-807-7538. by Chris Tully, President, Monticello-Goshen USHWA  

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      

HARRISBURG PA - Aaron Merriman, who was won more races than any other harness racing driver in North America for each of the last three seasons and who recently became the 13th - and youngest - sulkysitter in continental history to record 10,000 career victories, has been voted the Mary Lib Miller Award, the most prestigious award given by the Keystone chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. "Ironman" Merriman commutes on many racing days between The Meadows near Pittsburgh and Northfield Park on the outskirts of Cleveland - a lot of miles, and on a tight schedule that is hard to maintain (in winning an award in Florida recently, the "background music" as he approached the stage was the wail of a police car's siren). But Aaron has much more success on the racetrack than he does on the interstate - last year he won 1095 races, second-highest yearly total ever and almost 500 victories ahead of his nearest competitor. The Mary Lib Miller Award is named after the wife of The Meadows' founder, Hall of Fame horseman Delvin Miller, who was the goodwill ambassador and hostess to scores of dignitaries who raced at The Meadows. (How much she would have seen of Merriman, who always seems to be racing a horse or racing to a car to drive at another track, is difficult to say.) Hannelore Hanover, 2017 Harness Horse of the Year, was the logical choice for Pennsylvania-bred Horse of the Year. Raised at the renown Hanover Shoe Farms (another Keystone Chapter honoree after breaking their own record for yearly earnings with $31.5M), the trotting mare posted the second-fastest mile on her gait, a 1:49.2 mile at Lexington, and often defeated male company. The Meadows-based horse, trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing, Weaver / Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables, bankrolled just over a million dollars in a championship campaign. A filly who many think may soon rank in the stratosphere is Manchego, a Jimmy Takter-trainee who was voted Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horse of the Year. Last year at two she was undefeated in 12 outings, including two prelim wins in the Sire Stakes and then an authoritative victory in the Championship, with her 1:54.2 time in the final matching the stakes record of Wild Honey. Horses purchased by the Bill Bercury stable after successful stakes campaigns in their youth were named the PA Overnight Pacer and Trotter of the Year. The sidewheeler is Dapper Dude, who beat Sweet Lou in his PaSS championship at two and now has gone in 1:50 in each of the six years since, with 13 wins and $163,000+ at age eight in 2017; the trotter is Barn Girl, who has won 19 times since being acquired by Team Bercury in October 2016, including 15 triumphs last year while amassing over $200,000. Team McMullen added their second Small Stable of the Year award to the one they earned in 2012. Headed by patriarch John McMullen Jr., the three-horse stable ran up a UTR of .660 at the fairs, and had two Fair Final champions: Hockey Hanover, a two-year-old trotter who became the first PA horse to win his Stallion Series Championship and his Fair Championship in the same year, and All Set Lets Go, the only repeat Championship winner from two to three in 2017, and the top pointwinner at the fairs this summer. The freshman pacing colt Venier Hanover earned a Special Achievement Award for the unprecedented speed show he put on at the fairs this season, setting eight track records, going seven times in 2:00 or better, and tying the all-age track record of 2:00.1 at Wattsburg under the guidance of Dave Brickell. This elite group of Keystone State campaigners will be awarded their trophies in racetrack ceremonies throughout the state's pari-mutuel tracks, and at the fairs when they resume in early summer. Keystone Chapter, U. S. Harness Writers Association

HARRISBURG PA - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the leading organization of harness racing's chroniclers, held their annual meetings this past Saturday and Sunday at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, in conjunction with its annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, which on Sunday evening celebrated the best of brightest of the sport during the 2017 campaign. Saturday's meeting gathered the organization's board of directors, while Sunday's session was an open gathering for all of USHWA's members. Two major developments, one affecting the size of the Board and one broadening the parameters of USHWA membership, took place on Saturday as the directors voted on amending USHWA's By-Laws and Rules & Regulations (R&Rs). A by-law change saw the number of directors from each of the sport's "chapters" (regions) reduced from two to one, in part of the organization's ongoing effort to streamline in keeping with the harness racing times. There will now be 5 Officers, 11 Past Presidents, and 13 chapter directors guiding the affairs of the organization. In an effort to encourage younger harness fans to explore the possibilities of sulky journalism, the Board created a "Youth" category of membership, with interested parties able to gain a non-voting membership at a lower price while increasing their exposure to established members of the sport's media. More information on the process of applying for USHWA Youth membership status will soon be posted on the organization's website, www.ushwa.net. An operation R&R change will see the organization reaching out to racetracks to allow full USHWAns access to horsemen, the race paddock, and other important sources of stories, while an Awards R&R sets new parameters for the Rising Star Award, which honors an up-and-coming young trainer or driver. Another Awards change saw the Broadcasters Award for outstanding achievement in video named after the late Sam McKee, the Hall of Famer (and former winner of the award) who set the highest standards for the sport as an announcer, media director, and other employments in communications areas. USHWA continued its renewed efforts to improve the financial situation of the organization, with a profit being shown in 2017, and every expectation of another plus figures after the highly-successful Dan Patch Banquet. The group seeks to establish a winning association of streamlining costs with growing revenue sources such as advertising in the annual Dinner Journal and with sponsorships of the Association's activities. As reported earlier, USTA photographer Mark Hall joined with Meadowlands media man and former New York Daily News Racing Editor Dave Little as ballot candidates for this summer's election for the status on being a member of the Communicators Hall of Fame. Shawn Wiles, Executive Director of Racing and Facilities at Monticello Raceway in the Catskills of New York, was voted president of the organization after Tim Bojarski, who now becomes the Chairman of the Board of Directors, completed his two-year term at the top, a standard length of service in USHWA. Kim Rinker will now serve as the organization's Vice President, with Barry Lefkowitz and Jerry Connors returned as treasurer and secretary in the voting. At the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, trotting matron Hannelore Hanover was named Harness Horse of the Year, as that announcement was reserved for the banquet this year to heighten excitement. Hannelore was also named Trotter of the Year, while the richest harness horse of 2017, Downbytheseaside, won honors as Pacer of the Year. Also honored were Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg upon their election to the sport's highest honor, the Hall of Fame, along with were Carl Becker and Dave Briggs, who were voted into the Communicators Hall of Fame. This quartet will be formally inducted on the first of July at the site of the sport's Hall, Goshen NY. Jerry Connors

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

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 --- 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

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