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