USTA District 7 holds annual banquet
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The United States Trotting Association's annual meeting for District 7, which covers Pennsylvania, was held here Saturday afternoon (Jan. 17) at the Bedford Springs Omni Hotel Resort, in the hometown of District 7 Chairman Sam Beegle, followed as traditional by the Pennsylvania Fairs Awards Banquet.
Beegle presided over the district meeting, which included presentations by USTA's executive VP Mike Tanner, reviewing 2014 activities and highlighting 2015's major projections for the organization, and Ron Battoni of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, who discussed several major economic factors that Pennsylvania racing would need to address in this year of a new state governor, Tom Wolf.
The annual review of the proposed USTA bylaw changes was handled by USTA director, lawyer, and Bergstein Proximity award winner Russell Williams. Among important decisions made by the membership for their directors to take to the USTA annual meeting were rejection of a rule changing pylon size and placement, along with rejection of a change detailing a progressively-severe punishment schedule for drivers found guilty of kicking; among items accepted were the "uncoupled owner/driver” rule, amended to include only pari-mutuel races, and the end of forcing a horse to re-qualify with the removal or addition of hopples.
Tabled were the proposals dealing with Racing Under Saddle (RUS) as pari-mutuel events, as Pennsylvania law does not allowing wagering on saddled harness racing contests.
The annual Fair Banquet must rank among the "best values” in all of harness racing, as for the $35 price banquet attendees enjoy outstanding food as well as drawings for over $10,000 in harness equipment, generously donated, including a Spyder race bike.
Equine fair prizes fall in two categories: a set for those who earn the most points during the regular fair season, and an award for the horses who capture their Fair Championship in the fall at The Meadows.
Winners in the point category were: 2TC – Police Navidad; 2TF – Peoplesayimnogood; 2PC – Nippy (the season's leading pointwinner over all divisions); 2PF – Tropical Terror; 3TC – Fly Past Hanover; 3TF – Cantabs Lightning; 3PC – Mister Chaos; 3PF – La Fiesta.
The championship winners were headed by 3TC Fly Past Hanover, who not only was the only horse to win both his points title and Championship, but who also was the only sophomore who repeated a freshman Championship victory. Others in this category were 2TC – Wimborne Hanover; 2TF -- Isabella Carina; 2PC – Marshmallow Fluff; 2PF – Keystone I Wish; 3TF – Sheema Star; 3PC – Wellsaidandone; and 3PF – Wiggle It Hanover.
Singled out for special praise were trainer Bill Daugherty Jr., for his campaigning of both Fly Past Hanover and Wimborne Hanover – the fourth 2TC Champion for the Daugherty barn in the last six years; and Team Shaw – owner Mason (now all of three years old), trainer/father Jason, and driver/uncle Chris, primarily for their prowess with freshmen Tropical Terror, Marshmallow Pulse, and Nippy – who among them won 43 races in 56 starts, and amassed $136,325 in fair campaigning.
And to round out the Pennsylvania Night of Youth, six-year-old Owen McMullen won the Spyder race bike. Local racing hopes these two, from royal racing pedigrees in PA, stay around the business for a long time to come.--By Jerry Connors