Night School, the racing industry's national online fan education program, announced today a major expansion into the Standardbred racing world with the unveiling of Harness Night School. The popular online fan education programs that have served the Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse industries since February 2011 will begin a new course curriculum focused on harness racing beginning Thursday, July 26.
Title sponsor for Harness Night School is the United States Trotting Association, in conjunction with presenting seasonal sponsor Daily Racing Form. Harness Night School's supporting sponsor is Meadowlands Racetrack. Founded by Horse Player NOW's Joe Kristufek and Jeremy Plonk, the Night School brand has provided fan education courses throughout the racing industry over the past 16 months and has been viewed live or in archives by more than 400,000 racing enthusiasts from newbies to hardcore handicappers.
"Night School has a proven track record of success,” said USTA Director of Communications Dan Leary. "I've attended many Night School classes myself and found them both informative and entertaining. It will be a great way to learn more about harness racing and wagering for everyone from the newbie to the experienced handicapper. I'm certain that our fans will enjoy and learn a great deal from Harness Night School.”
"I grew up in Hanover, Pa. and my first job was trimming weeds along the fences of Lana Lobell Farm,” said Plonk. "When you have those two names in your pedigree, Harness Night School will be a homecoming of sorts for me.”
Harness Night School's 90-minute classes will be held each Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern time and continue through the Oct. 25 Breeders Crown Preview. A different handicapping subject will be featured weekly as well as a look at the weekend's major harness races on the USTA's Strategic Wagering schedule. Hosts for Harness Night School will be T.J. Burkett, executive editor of Hoof Beats, the official magazine of the USTA, and Tom Kelley, director of publicity and handicapper for Balmoral Park and Maywood Park. Horse Player NOW's Joe Kristufek and Jeremy Plonk, co-founders of the Night School Program, will serve as emcees and executive producers for Harness Night School.
"Daily Racing Form is thrilled to be part of the Night School experience for harness racing,” said Derick Giwner, Managing Editor of DRF Harness publications. "Combining the Night School teachings with our available content and DRF Harness Eye and Daily Harness Program online past performances is just another logical step in bringing the Standardbred sport to the masses.”
"The Meadowlands Racetrack is very excited to be a part of Harness Night School," said Meadowlands Racetrack Director of Racing Operations Alex Dadoyan. "New fan education is vital to grow our industry. It's one thing to get new people out to the track, but we have to take the next step to engage them, teach them and make them active participants in our game into the future."
Harness Night School will run separately from the regular Tuesday editions of Night School. The Harness Night School classes will be available at four websites for the initial season – ustrotting.com, drf.com and horseplayernow.com. Each week, fans will receive free, downloadable study materials and be eligible to win prizes by simply registering. The courses are free to anyone from any computer.
Following each Thursday night edition of Harness Night School, fans will be directed to drf.com for an "After Night School Special” featuring live racing video from top national tracks such as the Meadowlands, as well as expert live commentary, interactive fan chats, free giveaways and more. Other projects featuring Harness Night School will be announced in the coming weeks. Fans are encouraged to join the email list at Horseplayernow.com for updated news. (HRC)