Trio inducted into Florida Hall of Fame
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The inductees were owner, trainer and driver, Dan Daley of Vero Beach, long time trainer/driver Warren Harp of Bell, and renowned second trainer, Odell Thompson, of Lauderdale Lakes.
"What a special honor this is tonight for all my years working in harness racing," Said Warren Harp. "I could not be prouder with this award and am especially thankful to the Florida USHWA Chapter."
"It is so great to get this special honor," said Dan Daley, "And to have my family with me tonight made it all the better."
"I was just about speechless when I went to the podium to get my trophy," said Odell Thompson. "I could not thank enough people to have helped me throughout my career and who have been my friends for so many years. It's a blessing I will never forget."
Elected to the Communicators Corner of the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame was renowned author, owner and publicist Victoria Howard, of Boca Raton.
"This is one of the biggest thrills of my lifetime," Howard said. "I could not be happier. I love writing about racing, owning and breeding race horses, everything about harness racing. It has been in my blood for most of my life and I could not think of doing anything else but being in this great sport."
The William Popfinger Award for developing outstanding juvenile pacers went for the second time to trainer Kim Sears of Osteen. Kim could not make the dinner but her trophy was accepted by horsewoman Donna Richardson and former USHWA national chairman of the board, Chris Tully. The current president of the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of USHWA, Tully was also the events special auctioneer for the evening.
Florida Chapter treasurer, Thomas H. Hicks, was the Emcee for the evening presentations. All money raised from the silent auction, live auction and program journal go to support the Allen J Finkelson Scholarship Fund and the Aime Choquette Sunshine Fund.
The Stanley Dancer Award, which recognizes achievements of a trainer who has been continuously outstanding in the development of young trotters, was presented for the first time to trainer-driver Jason MacDougall of Astor.
Winner of the Delvin G. Miller Award, which recognizes someone or an organization whose life in harness racing reflects dedication and integrity furthering the growth of the sport went to Elizabeth Hennessey Schaut of Pompano Beach.
The Frances Dodge Van Lennep Award, which recognizes an outstanding female who has made great contributions to the sport was presented to Kathy Breedlove of Pompano Beach.
The Peter Haughton Award, which goes to an upcoming young driver at the Pompano Park meet went to 23-year-old James "JD" Yoder of Bell.
The winner of the Dana Irving Award for breeding excellent juvenile performers in 2017 was presented for the first time to Marianne and Maggie Audley of Gold Star Farm in Bell.
The Florida USHWA Chapter's Lifetime Achievement Award goes to longtime trainer/driver Tom Merriman of Delray Beach and caretaker, racetrack maintenance man, Emmitt Davis of Pompano Beach.
The annual Caretaker of the Year Award is presented to an outstanding individual who, over his or her career, has dedicated untiring time and efforts caring for the horses in the stable(s) they worked for. This year's winner was Joanie Uszak from the Mike Murphy Stable, who has been grooming horses for nearly 60 years.
"It was a superb event tonight," said Florida USHWA Chapter president, Steve Wolf. "Everyone had such a great time with family and friends and those who won awards I know were well earned and will cherish them always. We even had a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday for Ann-Mari Daley's mom, Cookie Fedun, the long-time horsemen's valet at Pompano Park, who was celebrating her 89th birthday. It's all made for a fun-filled evening." (Florida USHWA)