USHRAA Newsletter
October, 2018
Issue - 003
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Call Freddie Hudson @ 631 896-9838
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In This Issue

Introduction, by Freddie Hudson
In My Opinion, by Monica Bencal
An Interview with Judy Bokman, by Allison Conte
Status of Safe Act, by Susan Arrington
Water Hay Oats Alliance , by Staci Hancock
Legislation helps insure Integtrity, by Andy Barr
Things we should do to save the sport, by Charle Martino
How I Became a Groom, by Oscar Belliveau
They once had 2 International Trots, by Freddie Hudson
Up Coming Sales

By Freddie Hudson

Welcome to the United States Harness Racing Alumni Association's October newsletter. Our newsletter is published on the first of each month. We cover horse and human interest stories and we  focus on the issues that are of concern to all involved in the harness racing industry.

The mission of the USHRAA is the enhanced promotion of the harness racing sport, the passage of legislation that benefits the sport and the promotion of best practices in the aftercare of our horses.

In this issue we are introducing Monica Bencal's monthly column "In My Opinion." She will have  a monthly column  addressing the sports attitudes, horse welfare issues, marketing, drugs, gambling and industry leadership issue. Also in this issue Oscar Belliveau continues with his column of his journey of becoming a groom.

I hope that you continue to enjoy  reading  our articles and that you find them educational. If you have an article,  an announcement, or comment for our next issue please email it to [email protected]

Thank you,

Freddie Hudson

Freddie Hudson with Cullens Bluejean

In My Opinion 
By Monica Bencal
Like so many of you that are reading this newsletter, I LOVE HARNESS RACING! And why shouldn’t I? For 47 of my 63 years, harness racing has been a part of my life. Heck, for a large majority of those 47 years, it was my life. And although harness racing is, without a doubt, the hardest way to make a living, especially if you are a groom or a small-time trainer or owner, that is exactly what it allowed me to do: Make a living. Now granted, sometimes, that was barely a subsistence-level living, but it was a living nonetheless. And ultimately, harness racing has been very good to me. 
Therefore, like so many other people in this business, I am ​genuinely distressed at the direction our industry is taking. In my opinion, I think it is safe to say, that our industry is in decline. There is not usually a week that goes by, where I don’t hear or read about an event that chronicles this decline. For example, in just the last month, I’ve read articles about:

1, The fact that Freehold had to cancel their Labor Day card due              to a lack of horses;

2, The Meadowlands reiterating once again about how they will              have to cut stakes next year if they do not receive a subsidy   
     from the NJ legislature;

3,   A writer in HRU, once again, lamenting about how large  
      take-out rates affects our fan base;

4,   A different HRU issue contained a feedback letter from a fan               bemoaning the fact that penalties are lacking for trainers
      that abuse the medication guidelines with impunity;

5,   In that same issue, a different fan remarked how a horse ran             off the screen after its shoes were pulled. His problem was                 not that the horse won, but that the shoes were pulled with               no mention of this fact BEFORE the race went off;

6,   There was also the FB post decrying demise of the DuQuoin                meet and the demolishment of various grandstands around             the country;

7,   And finally, in yet another FB post, a successful young           
      trainer noted that a racetrack advertised our sport on their                 website by referring to it as “cart racing”. This same trainer                 also noted that this same racetrack had not updated their                   feed in over a year.

Actually, I think there were other articles, but I am certain you understand the picture I am trying to paint. To be fair, I did read two (2) positive articles this past month. One was about how the Red Mile will be adding a prestigious 2-year-old stake race next year, and secondly, that a mixed sale will be added during the Lexington meet this year. But even given my unscientific count of 7 negative items vs 2 positive items, from where I sit, things are not looking good for the sport of Harness Racing. Even our signature publication Hoof Beats, published an article from the USTA Chairman of the Board, Ivan Axelrod, which I would characterize as a “call to arms” and was titled “Lessons Learned: What can we extract from other industries to improve our own?” The second last paragraph of his article reads, “So this is the question before us: Are the key stakeholders in our industry willing to make the changes and long-term investments necessary to bring our industry forward, be competitive, and provide our fans and gambling base with what they want?” (Hoof Beats, August 2018, p. 10-12). My answer to that question would be no.

Let me focus on Mr. Axelrod’s article for a moment though if I may. First of all, I thought the article was great! Well written and articulate, it not only let us see why Mr. Axelrod fell in love with harness racing at an early age, but it laid out why the industry flourished during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It also however, documented the start of the decline during the late ‘70’s and ‘80’s. It then points to events he feels affected the industry negatively. I agree with Mr. Axelrod. Most of us already know what problems are affecting our industry negatively. We just have to step up, and figure out a way to address those issues.

To that end, I have compiled a list of items, that people much smarter than I, have said need to be addressed in order to halt the decline of harness racing. Please recognize that while I may have asked a few of my friends for their opinions, this list is my own. You may agree with my list, or you may not, but it is my opinion that unless we address the following issues, the industry all of us love will be unrecognizable in the near future. Having said all that, the list of things I would like to see fixed and a brief description of why I think this is a problem, is as follows:

1,   Attitudes – We live in the past and we, as an industry, do not like change much. However, in order to survive we MUST change. We need to appeal to “to-day’s fans”. Trying to force an unappetizing product on the public is not working. People do not have to spend their entertainment dollars at a harness racetrack: And they don’t.

2,   Leadership – We have none. One of my friends told me he thought we had “negative leadership”. Now before everyone gets all huffy saying that I am libeling or denigrating certain people or organizations, you should be aware that Forbes describes Leadership as “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal”. Please understand that I am simply saying that there is not a person, or group of people, that has a cohesive and comprehensive outline of where we, as an industry, are headed in the future. We have people, or groups of people making sure that “their” segment of the industry profits, but we do not have the leadership element that can introduce and implement the change we so badly need.

3,   Marketing – In a world, where every form of entertainment is marketed relentlessly, we essentially do nothing. How can we expect outside people to know about us unless we tell them?

4,   Organizational Structure – Our one real organization, the USTA is not set up to govern the industry. To be fair, it was never designed to do that job. But I think it is time for us as an industry to realize that something needs to change in this area. I believe we need to either broaden the scope of the USTA and give it some real power or, accept the fact that the USTA is only a record-keeping vehicle, and then incorporate the USTA into another organization with real oversight powers.

5,   Drugs and/or Chemical Warfare in Racing
– I believe, that as an industry, we need to openly acknowledge this is a problem, AND we need to take steps to mitigate this problem. When people inside the industry talk about withdrawal times, and smaller trainers lament that they need to use illegal medications to compete and survive, I think it is way past time to admit that the industry has problem in this regard.

6,   Horse Welfare – I believe that in this area, contributions need to be mandated. All of us who make our living off the backs of the standardbred horse, need to contribute to and help provide for these animals when they can no longer serve our needs. Except for a very few, well-intentioned but overtaxed entities, we do not have a comprehensive safety net for the majority of animals. In my mind, this is the responsibility of every single person in harness racing.

7,  Employment/Recruitment Issues – We are an “old” industry. Young people do not flock to harness racing for employment. I understand why people no longer want to work in harness racing, especially if you are looking at a groom’s job. It is hard, back-breaking, under-appreciated, sweaty work that, largely does not afford a person the work protections (unemployment, vacation pay, sick days, insurance policies, bonuses, and career advancements) you can receive in the outside world. If you are a small owner and/or trainer there are other issues as well as all of the ones listed above.

8,   Gambling Related Items – This is not an area where I am well-versed, but from what I understand, even IF we get a new person to come and try the sport of harness racing on the betting side, it is an unattractive proposition. That certainly would need to change if the industry is to recover.

9,   Breeding and Horse Population Issues – The fact that Freehold Raceway had to cancel its Labor Day Card due a shortage of horses entered sums up the problem. Vernon Downs has also canceled race cards because there were not enough horses entered to fill a race card. Additionally, the Meadowlands has made no secret that they have a difficult time getting enough horses to race at their track and once Pocono and Chester open. There simply are not enough horses to go around.

The above listing may not be exhaustive, there may be other issues that I am missing, but I do believe that every single one of the items on my list needs to be addressed if the industry is going to recover and prosper. I am not, by any measure, a key player in the industry. However, I am part of the industry. And there are thousands of other people out there just like me. I believe we already know most of the problems that are causing our industry to decline. I also believe the time for asking questions has passed. It is now time for some of the key stakeholders to step up and become leaders. If you do, I think you will find a legion of people willing to support the cause of restoring our industry so that, we as a whole, become vibrant once again. If we do not begin to work together, I truly believe we are tearing our industry apart.


Monica Certainly the most comprehensive non-biased overview of harness racing that I have read to date. Your points are spot-on. Your conclusion well thought out. In my “world” of management there are three answers to this conundrum: 1- As you state, the dire need for a single leader 2- In my opinion, downsizing is a necessity. Darwinism is starting to evolve as we speak 3- Marketing: Local only. Jointly sponsored by horseman (skin-in-the-game”) and horseman associations.
Jimmy Bernstein.
To Jimmy Berstein: First, I want to thank you for responding to my article. And while I appreciate your kind words, what I think is more important is that you realize that before change can take place in our industry (and it needs to) all of us in Harness Racing NEED to be part of the conversation. And while I am heartened that you agree with me that our current form of leadership and the lack of marketing are problems, it was your concept of “Darwinism” that I found most intriguing. I know that Darwinism is the concept of “Survival of the Fittess” but I would love to hear your thoughts on how we as an industry can address this growing problem. 
Monica Bencal
This article and the opinions expressed within are solely the opinions of the author. This article is also intended to be the first article in a series of articles exploring the changes that would be necessary to reverse the trend seen by the author in the harness racing industry. Please feel free to express your opinion on any topic discussed within this month’s article. Each month the author will attempt to address one issue that was listed in more detail. Any questions or replies to the article may be addressed to the author and sent to [email protected] All responses will be acknowledged and printed provided that a name and contact information is provided. The next article will try to go in to detail regarding the issue of Attitudes. Thank you and see you next month!
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  Five Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Racehorsen

Rescuing Standardbreds 

About the Standardbred Retirement Foundationd

Founded in 1989 by Judy Bokman and Paula Campbell the SRF provides humane care and services for horses in need of lifetime homes, and in crisis, through rehabilitation, training, adoption, lifelong follow-up, or lifetime sanctuary; and offers therapeutic equine opportunities for children, and adults. Currently the SRF is caring for 415 horses.

An Interview with Judy Bokman
​By Allison Conte

How did you (Judy Bokman) and Paula Campbell decide to start the Standardbred Retirement Foundation?

When we discovered that nearly all the trotters and pacers run through the rural community buyers and are resold at the large local auction in their area, such as New Holland, then on to slaughter, it outraged us. These dealers from the rural communities would say they would rest the injured horses and use them as their Sunday ride to church. That was not the case.

What were the early days like, from the ground, up?

I was up in Goshen at that time. We were taking horses off of the track at Monticello. Those horses had a lot of injuries and it was very concerning, but we were able to find them homes where they wouldn’t be used very much. We did have to euthanize several due to injuries and they were in pain. These horses came out of cheap claiming races, it was very sad but they were in too much pain. The trainers would say, “Oh he’ll be fine if he rests, he’ll want to race again, he’s got a lot of heart.” So we would have a vet look at the horse sand he would say, you know it’s inhumane to keep this horse alive.

We just started doing some fundraisers. I was down at the Meadowlands and Paula and I started a relationship with the Meadowlands back then where they did a very large fundraiser for us to get us started. We struggled because people just were not ready for this. It was too far-fetched for them. It still is a little bit, but people now are starting to realize that it’s very inhumane what we do with these animals when they’re done racing.

Was there a particular horse that inspired this mission for you?

I only owned one racehorse; he was a big black horse. I kept him until he was 33; his teeth wore out and he had to be put at peace. He was at the barn in Goshen one day and an Amishman was looking at him. When I started to ask questions, that’s when I realized that what was going on with these horses was real.

How did you go about initially trying to place these horses in homes?

We were very fortunate in the beginning because it’s very rare, but one horse that we put in a home, actually it was the first horse, came from Bill Eppedio in Monticello; it was a stallion. He went to a retired Army Colonel in Port Jefferson, NY and they wouldn’t geld him. I said, “You know you really have to geld this horse.” He said, “Oh no, I’m not gonna geld him.” I didn’t pressure him and he had this horse until he died, and just within days of the owner, the Colonel, passing away, so did the horse.

It’s unusual to find someone to keep a horse until they die. The times are different now, and you know the average home per Standardbred is less than four years before he needs another home. We follow them up semi-annually and if we didn’t follow up where would they be all over again? Back at risk.

Training these horses, tell me about that?

My husband used to play polo with Nadala after he retired with us him! The riders all thought he was a warm-blood (Laughs). I’m not kidding, at the old Cedar Lakes Stud, where Escape Artist stood, we were living there, and they were playing polo there quite a bit. We never trained him to play polo, and they all thought he was a warm-blood, it was great.

Billy Haughton, Judy Bokman & Freddie Hudson

Would you say that the follow-up is the big difference between your group and a lot of other organizations?

People have lifestyle changes and their animals are the first to suffer. Divorce, financial issues, going off to school, whatever it is, it is real. SRF never relinquish ownership so we can protect these horses from being at risk again, and we require semi-annual veterinary reports so we know each horse is still well cared for. No other organization does this for the Standardbreds

When was the first time you started to feel really accomplished with SRF?

That’s a very hard answer to give because it’s a double-edged sword. There are days you feel accomplished because we’ve really done a lot, but then we’ve accomplished nothing because nothing has really changed systemically. If there was a tiny amount coming from every aspect from the time the horse is bred to the time the horse is racing, there’s so many ways to make it work, but it’s very hard in this industry to get everybody to agree on something. It’s the people that can make these decisions that can put it together.

Let’s get an actuary in here and figure out how many horses need homes every year and how many might come back and then what would it cost to do this. And then based on what it costs to do, see where you can get the money from. It’s really the industry that should be doing this. It shouldn’t be a charity.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the SRF today?

You know, when I first saw that question my answer was: tomorrow. That’s all I could think, it’s tomorrow. It’s because financially there is nothing to count on for tomorrow, to protect the ones in homes, and help others in need.

We go from year-to-year and our endowment is embarrassing it raises $250 a year. So tomorrow is my answer, and mostly it’s because financially, we never know where we’re going to be.

What’s your favorite thing about being part of the SRF?

It’s when someone runs a fundraiser on their own and calls and says, “You know what, we’re going to do a fundraiser.” George and Tina Dennis, completely on his own called and said, “I’m going to do this golf outing down here and give the funds to SRF. That’s something that makes me smile so we can see the smiles on those who give these horses a chance in loving homes."


Susan Arrington 
​USHRAA - Strategist

Susan is a former Department of Interior (DOI) Analyst, who worked with Congress on appropriations and later Northrop Grumman consultant in strategic Planning.

Status of Safeguard American Food Export Act of 2018
by, Susan Arrington, USHRAA

Last week we joined the American Horse Council of Washington DC in a “Ride-in” to speak with congressmen and congresswomen and staffs on several key bills impacting the horse industry. These are the Farm Bill which includes Disaster Preparedness (NADPR), National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and the National Animal Health Vaccine Bank; the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST) H.R. 1847/S. 2957; the Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Regulations; increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs for sports therapy and equine-assisted therapy of $1.5M in 2019; the AG and Legal Workforce Act of 2018, H.R. 6417 to remedy guest worker shortages; and, Recreation Not Red Tape (RNR), H.R. 3400/S.1633 and Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act of 2018, H.R. 6510/S.3172 for maintenance of riding trails. The American Horse Council is led by Julie Broadway, President, Cliff Williamson, Director of Health and Regulatory Affairs, and Brian Brendle, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. I spoke to the House Agriculture Committee staffers , Rep. Conaway of Texas, on the Horse Racing Integrity Act.

As last Friday, September 28th was the final day of the fiscal year before the House recess, it appears that the Safeguard American Food Export Act (SAFE ) of 2018 may not pass in this session. There are a few days in November and December 2018 that may be opportunities to get the bill on the floor. Please contact your Representative to contact House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA to schedule a floor vote on the SAFE Act. There are now 219 co-sponsors which is a majority of the House, with Conor Lamb, D-PA and Mark Veasey, D-Tx coming in during September.

I would like to offer some initial, possible contingency plans for 2019 in lieu of non-passage of the SAFE Act this year. These are the following:

1, Development of a Task Force for USHRAA (i.e., Gang of 5) to     gain ideas toward solutions.

2, Identify key people who have contacts or relationships with     horse organizations, congress members, state general  
    assemblies, racehorse owners, and others for concepts and     potential action.

3, Determine if and how we might start a campaign to rescue   
    Standardbred racehorses from selected auctions in states,   
    such as Pennyslvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey,  
    Delaware, and Maryland, with a sufficient number of people     involved in varying capacities.

4, Consider modifying state laws through legislation of  
    General Assemblies on prohibiting transport of horses to  

To start, we will be doing some of the due diligence to make these kinds of decisions, such as developing more precise data and information on how many Standardbred racehorses currently need rescuing from slaughter and their approximate locations.

We would appreciate any thoughts and comments on these very early ideas on an alternative plan to gaining federal legislation – thank you.

Susan Arrington

L- Eric Hamelback, Cliff Williamson, Ward Stutz & Jerry Black

Rep Barr (KY) & Rep Valadao (CA)

 Join WHOA’s 1,700 members that includes 85 Standardbred Members, including Track Owner Jeff Gural, HOF Trainer Jimmy Takter, HOF Member Bob Marks and leading Owner/Breeders Cindy and Steve Stewart, and support the Horseracing Integrity Act. From owners and breeders to trainers and drivers, from industry professionals to racing handicappers – YOU have a stake in the game. By simply adding your name to the membership roster, you will support WHOA’s national grassroots movement. Visit our website for more information.
“For our industry to move forward and return to prominence, we must eliminate performance-enhancing drugs. The mainstream media frequently paints horse racing as a drug-riddled sport while the general public views our sport with the same negativity as other sports that have suffered through performance-enhancing drug scandals. It is up to our industry to change this perception by taking an aggressive approach to cleaning up our sport. The first step towards doing this is eliminating all race day medication and considering the support of federal legislation to create a more uniform set of medication rules and strict penalties for violators.
The continued use of performance-enhancing drugs is dangerous to both our horses and human athletes. Customers have lost confidence betting on horse racing because of the lack of integrity in regards to drug use and the public views our sport as dirty. Members of our industry have refused change for too long; this step towards cleaning up the sport and restoring integrity must be taken if our sport is to survive.”

Jeffrey R. Gural 
Chairman, American Racing & Entertainment Lessee/Operator, New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC Owner/Breeder, Allerage Farms New York/Pennsylvania

“Finally we have an organization that can improve our business and sport.  God created a wonderful animal in the horse, that we have the pleasure to work with on a daily bases.  In return it is our responsibility to care for these horses and to treat them with respect. 

Horse racing is a costly business and I understand that through very competitive competition revenue needs to be generated to sustain the cost involved.  Performance enhancing drugs are not the means to improve one's chances of competitiveness. Performance drugs jeopardize the health of horses and human participants and the confidence of the betting public.  

In order for horse racing to thrive we need uniform rules/laws and uniform enforcement of these rules/laws in The United States.  The Horseracing Integrity Act can give us that.

I am very proud to be joining the efforts of WHOA.”

Jimmy Takter
Standardbred Hall of Fame Trainer

“We spend virtually every waking hour on the farm making sure the mares and foals we raise are as healthy as they can be.  And we want them to stay healthy, happy, and successful for the rest of their lives, on and off the track.  Over the decades of working toward that goal, we've come to believe that horse racing needs fewer drugs, period.  We applaud the efforts of WHOA to stop the administration of race-day drugs and hope its well-meaning efforts spread more quickly to the Standardbred industry, which has suffered long enough from suspicions that not every race is run on the level.”​

Cindy and Steve Stewart
Hunterton Farms

Horseracing Integrity Act

Congressman Andy Barr

Garland Hale "Andy" Barr IV (born July 24, 1973) is an American politician and attorney who has served as the United States Representative for Kentucky's 6th congressional district since 2013.

Legislation helps ensure integrity
by Andy Barr

When I was elected to Congress, I dedicated my service to becoming a champion for the signature industries of Kentucky. No industry is more synonymous with our commonwealth than Thoroughbred breeding and horse racing, which has long been a source of jobs and opportunity for the people of Kentucky.

Kentucky's 6th Congressional District, in particular, holds claim to the title "Horse Capital of the World." Ten of the 12 Triple Crown winners were foaled in the 6th District, including American Pharoah. Lexington is surrounded by more than 400 beautiful horse farms. And Keeneland is home to both the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes and the 2015 Breeders' Cup World Championships.

As chairman of the Congressional Horse Caucus, I regularly share these facts with my colleagues.

But advocating for this industry requires more than just celebrating a proud heritage. The horse industry contributes $25 billion annually to the American economy and generates nearly 380,000 jobs. So with the privilege of representing the Horse Capital of the World comes the responsibility of fighting for its future.

In 1978, Congress recognized through the Interstate Horseracing Act that horse racing is a national industry defined by interstate commerce. That is still the case today. Approximately 50 percent of all starts by Thoroughbreds in 2014 were made by horses that competed in more than one state.

And 90 percent of wagering on races in the United States comes from simulcasting and off-track betting, much of which occurs across state lines.

Yet American Thoroughbred racing continues to labor under a patchwork of conflicting and inconsistent rules governing medication policies and practices across 38 jurisdictions. Immense disparities exist in state-based rules governing prohibited substances, testing, lab accreditation and penalties for violations. These different standards in different states have created an uneven playing field and a perception of unfair competition.

Industry organizations such as the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium have worked admirably to address this problem on a voluntary basis by developing uniform model rules.

Unfortunately, adoption of these model rules has been sporadic and inconsistent. This lack of uniformity has impeded interstate commerce, compromised the international competitiveness of the industry, and undermined public confidence in the integrity of the sport.

Congressman Andy Barr (KY)

With renewed public interest following American Pharoah's amazing run to the Triple Crown, now is the time to build on the progress made by the consortium and finally achieve uniformity in the rules of racing. That is why I, along with my co-chair of the Horse Caucus, Rep. Paul Tonko, D.-N.Y., have introduced the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act, legislation that would establish an independent, nongovernmental anti-doping authority charged with implementing a national uniform medication program with input from the industry.

The yearlong process of developing this legislation has been deliberative, thoughtful, inclusive and bipartisan. We have listened to our constituents and engaged the industry at all levels. We have performed due diligence on successful international regulatory models. We have taken into account feedback and made changes to earn endorsements and address concerns that made previous efforts to reform the industry unsuccessful.

The result is a broad and diverse coalition of support including The Jockey Club, Breeders' Cup, the Water Hay Oats Alliance, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Humane Society and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.

My vision is that a new golden era of Thoroughbred racing is not only possible but readily achievable with reform that tears down barriers that divide the industry and unites the sport under a single, uniform set of medication rules and procedures.

By enacting these bipartisan reforms aimed at uniformity, safety and integrity, we will lay the foundation for future growth, popularity and international competitiveness.

Harness Racing Today

Things we should do to save a sport
by Charles Martino

As I just watched one of the most exciting Little Brown Jugs in years I asked why? Why is it that we can have a horse Going for Pacing's triple crown and the only people to know about it are the people that are in the Business? There once was a time when the Cane and Messenger drew 15-20,000 people, sadly today I believe we are hard pressed to see 2,000 people attend them. The Jug has been the bright spot, crowds still turn out, even as those other races faltered the Jug has withstood. But let us not lose sight of what the Cane and Messenger once meant to the Industry overall and how they were part of the industry’s growth. Those races then allowed people in different venues  the opportunity to see the best horses in the Country compete. Because of that an interest in the series was developed. The strength the business had in those days allowed them to spread the series out over close to a 3 month time span. Maybe it work because the race season itself was far shorter lasting only 6 or 7 months, but what worked then is not working now. It was the opening of  the Meadowlands were the real demise began, by adding large purse new stake races with conflicting dates  the Meadowland started diluting the fields that showed up for those staple events . Thus cheapening what once was our premier showcase that we offered to the public. No longer were all the best horses coming so no longer did fans bother to take time out their schedule to see those races. There is little difference if we look at our Trotting Triple Crown either. With the exception of the Hamiltonian few people other than those in our industry know names of the other legs.

Now let’s reckon that with what the Thoroughbred have done. What may be especially poignant to this is that this year they too had the possibility of a triple crown winner going into the Belmont and that gave the Belmont even more clout. If you are like me you always get a tweak of jealousy  when you hear people talking about  the Thoroughbreds,  especially when the people talking have shown little interest in racing before.  Yet that is.exactly what you heard in the buildup  to Justify's  win in the Belmont.. All of a sudden Justify’s  name was rolling off the lips of average people who believe they were about to witness  a moment in history worth seeing..  All 3 Thoroughbreds events draw big crowds, thus we cannot argue that they have created a more broader interest in their product, and because it is the same 7-8 weeks of the year they have made it easy to follow so it keeps peoples interest. The Thoroughbreds look at these events as for a National Audience, using all their available resources to promote it. They make sure they are giving off the perception that these races are the  Most  SPECIAL of all their events..

Charles Martino

We on the other hand have always ran our business as a regional product, never understanding that we need to care for the industry as a whole. For too long we failed to adjust our thinking and modify these event to first, represent the best we have to offer in racing and secondly,  make it easy to follow. We should immediately find an eight week time frame, sometime in late May or early June were we look to hold the attention of a National Audience.  For the sake of making it the Big Event  we should run our Trotting and Pacing Triple Crown events simultaneously. Then to create more interest in an attempt to  hold the puplic’s attention we should race each event over different size tracks, one on a ½ mile, one on a 5/8’s, and one on a 7/8 or mile track. We can do this while rotating one event as heat racing each year.

 We need to adjust if we really want to win people back to these events, the most important adjustment would be making it easy for people to follow them. Running our Triple Crown events the same time every year in the same 8 week time span would do exactly that. But we also need to block those days out so the best always show up. We can no longer present an inferior product that is only marketed on a regional basis and we can nolonger have it  stand for the interest of individuals  outweighing the best interest of the game. For too long leadership has had us doing the same thing and expecting a different results. That can no longer stand, it may be time for us to think about  moving to a national commissioner. This may be one of the simplest fixes for us to do. Yet if current Leadership fails to make the simplest of adjustment are they ever really going to lead us to a better place? 

Then and Now

How I became a groom
by Oscar Belliveau

This is the next instalment of my story about how I became a groom. After I had returned to my home the previous October of 1965, and my father and beaten me pretty soundly, I made a vow to myself that it would be the last time, and that I would leave again. I stuck that in the back of my mind and returned to my school life, although I wasn’t thrilled and it wasn’t a success as far as school.

In the summer of 1966, I was growing restless because that was my nature. I had enjoyed my summer months spent taking careof horses, and hanging out with my friends in the horse business. We would train and care for the horses, and they raced on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Those days were always the highlight of the week. Then a new twist came that allowed me help me see a new  path for myself.

A man needed to send two horses to Quebec City which was about 300 miles from my home. They asked me if I wanted to take them by train. Of course, I said yes, and my parents said okay. We put the horses on a train in a special car just for them. The horses and I left in the afternoon and we got there the next morning. The train ride was by itself an adventure. The horses had a big space to lay down or stand up, whatever they wanted to do. We had laid some straw down so it was
soft. I took a blanket and slept next to the horse and slept very well. We arrived in Quebec early in the morning, and someone
came with a horse van to bring us to the racetrack. Quebec was a very beautiful city. It was one of the earliest city established in Canada.

Oscar Belliveau

It was very exciting to see a racetrack like that, because compared to the track in Moncton NB, it was the most beautiful track that I could imagine. Moncton was a small track, but Quebec was the big leagues, or so it felt like. I spent a couple of weeks there and enjoyed my time very much. I helped out the
trainer that had received the horses and he bought me breakfast and lunch (no pay). Then July was coming to an end and I knew that I would have to return home sooner or later. 

Since I had no money, I had to hitchhike all the way back by myself. That was an adventure by itself. It took me two days to get back. Heck, I didn’t have a map, but I knew the general direction since I knew the lay of the land, so to speak. So one fine morning I just up and left. I took a bus to the ferry that
crossed the Saint Lawrence River and hit the road. In a funny way, that part of the trip wasn’t as memorable as the first time I ran away, but it took me over two days and more importantly, it had given me a taste of how to travel to any destination that I desired. Actually, the experience of travelling to Quebec City and back had set the stage for my next move! That was an adventure by itself. More importantly, it gave me a view of what was out there, and that stuck in the back of my mind, setting the stage for the chapter in my young life.

International Trot

They once had two International Trots
​By Freddie Hudson

After the initial success of the first Roosevelt Raceway International Trot in 1959 where a almost record crowd of 46,000 fans attended, the following year, 1960, Yonkers Raceway introduced the United Nations Trot which was held October 20, 1960 in which Tie Silk would win in front of 23,000 fans. The Netherlands Haros II would be seventh and the great French trotter Jamin would be eighth after making a break at the start in the mile and quarter race.

Going into the 1961 season both tracks started competing against each other for the European horses. They would end up having their battles appear in the papers and court rooms and finally having the NY Harness Racing Commission stepping in and setting up rules and regulations regarding International racing policies for both tracks.

With the start of the 1961 season Yonkers Raceway announced that they had signed the French trotting mare Masina to race in the United Nations Trot that would be held in April (three months before the Roosevelt Raceway International Trot). Masina had just won the Prix d;Amerigue beating the best European trotters.

The problem was that the owner of Masina had also signed a contract with Roosevelt Raceway to race in the International Trot giving Roosevelt an option that had not yet expired.

Roosevelt Raceway took legal action against Yonkers Raceway and served the track with a show cause order. Roosevelt contended that Henri Levesque, the owner of Masina, had signed a contract with Roosevelt giving them until June 15 to invite Masina to race in the Roosevelt International Trot which would be held on July 15.
If they exercised that option the French mare would have to race at Roosevelt before she could race at any other track in the United States.

Roosevelt Raceway withdrew its suit and allowed the French mare to race in the Yonkers United Nations Trot. The mare finished seventh after hooking wheels. She made a second appearance the following week in the Yonkers National Championship in which she was involved in an accident and ended up finishing last.

In June of 1961 the New York Harness Racing Commission made rules as to what defined an International race and also prohibited the offering of special payments to lure choice horses.

Both tracks would continue to be competitive against each other in their search for the best horses in the world. The feud between the two tracks officially ended in July of 1965 when Roosevelt Raceway extended a invitation to then Yonkers Raceway's President Marty Tananbaum to race his mare, Our Own, in the Roosevelt International Trot representing New Zealand. Mr. Tananbaum gladly accepted the invitation and his mare would finish sixth in the 1965 International.
The foregoing content of articles is solely the opinion and facts of the author, not that of the U.S. Harness Racing Alumni Association. We reserve the right to clarify wording and/or edit any articles without modifying context prior to publication.

Up coming Sales

Lexington Selected Yearling Sale Co. LLC - Fasig Tipton Pavillion, 

Yearling 10/02/18 10/06/18
Randy Manges
1200 Red Mile Road
Lexington, KY 40504 Phone: 859-255-8431
FAX: 859-255-0302
Email: [email protected]
Lexington Selected Mixed Sale - Fasig Tipton Pavillion

Mixed 10/07/18
Randy Manges
1200 Red Mile Road
Lexington, KY 40504 Phone: 859-255-8431
FAX: 859-255-0302
Email: [email protected]
Hoosier Classic Select Yearling Sale - Indiana State Fairgrounds

Yearling 10/19/18 10/20/18
Steve Cross
PO Box 1488
Middlebury, IN 46540 Phone: 574-825-4610
FAX: 574-825-0915
Email: [email protected]
Standardbred Horse Sale Co. - PA State Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg, PA

Yearling 11/05/18 11/07/18
Paul F. Spears
P.O. Box 339
Hanover, PA 17331 Phone: 717-637-8931
FAX: 717-637-6766
Email: [email protected]
Standardbred Horse Sale Co. - PA State Farm Show Com, plex, Harrisburg, PA

Mixed 11/08/18 11/09/18
Paul F. Spears
P.O. Box 339
Hanover, PA 17331 Phone: 717-637-8931
FAX: 717-637-6766
Email: [email protected]