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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Things to be Thankful for - The 2013 Edition

As is my annual tradition, it's time for my annual 'Things to be Thankful For' list. I am sure I am missing some people so forgive me ahead of time.

Here is this year's list with the entries in no particular order.
  1.  Captaintreacherous and Bee A Magician - Who would think we would be at the conclusion of the 2013 racing campaign and still have a debate about who may be  the recipient of Horse of the Year Honors?  Sure, Bee A Magician right now is in front, but a victory by Captaintreacherous in the TVG FFA Series Final against older horses would result in the Captain taking the honors away from this fantastic filly at the last possible moment
  2. TVG and the Meadowlands for the TVG FFA Series - With all due respect to the Cleveland Classic, without this partnership of TVG and the Meadowlands, most of the top FFA horses would have called it a season after the Breeders Crown.  This partnership is giving us two great races and shows what can happen when ADWs and tracks work together. 
  3. I could mention the Gural team at the Meadowlands for their efforts in bringing Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment to fruition but it is time we mention someone within Team Gural for praise.  For that reason, we are thankful for Nick Salvi, a man without a title but is everywhere.  In addition to his duties at the three Gural-operated tracks, he write press releases for the Breeders Crown, The Red Mile, and is seen at the sales and of course Lexington.  Did I mention that Nick is also Vice-President of the Grand Circuit?  Nick may not have made his mark as a driver/trainer, but the sport is richer having Nick on the business-side of the industry.
  4. Once again, we are thankful for John Manzi - Not only does he attempt to keep racing in the forefront as much as possible at Monticello Raceway, Manzi is another Press Release King.  Let's see from memory, in addition to writing press releases for Monticello Raceway, he writes press releases for the CKG Billings Series, NAADA, USHWA Monticello-Goshen  Chapter, Historic Track and others.  If there is a press release to be written, they know who to call, John Manzi.
  5. Brett Boyd, President of the MHHA - The situation in Michigan is becoming worse every year and most people wouldn't want to be stuck in a position of leadership, yet Boyd keeps fighting the battle on behalf of Michigan Harness Horsemen no matter how poor the odds are.  The horsemen in Michigan should be thankful they have someone like Boyd fighting for them and maybe he will be able to pull victory out of the lions mouth.  We should be thankful as well.
  6. Dave McCaffrey - The leader of the Illinois Harness Horsemen Association has been put through the screws this past year with the fight over ADW wagering in the Prairie State.  Would you like to be the leader of a group facing the possibility of only 13 days of racing in 2014 if the politicians can't be won over?  Neither would I but we are thankful McCaffery still is working on leading the harness industry in his state to a renaissance. .
  7. Bob Marks - Now a man without a portfolio since Peretti Farms has had its dispersal sale, we can say how much racing has been blessed to have Marks on our side.  From Top Trotter, to writing articles for Hoof Beats, to marketing Peretti stallions and yearlings, he has done it all.  Marks may be talking about life outside of racing but I don't think having Marks outside of racing is in our best interests.  While we are thankful for what Marks has done, hopefully someone ropes him in, at least on a part time basis, so he remains in racing.
  8. Heather Vitale - Ms. Sunshine is a wonderful spokesman for the sport with her hosting and producing Post Time and co-hosting PA Harnessweek with her partner in crime Steve Ross.  Despite being run down in the effort of putting together her Post Time show, she maintained her good nature.  When she is not producing these shows, she takes care of her two children and volunteers with non-profit organization.  Heather gives it all for the sport and the time has come for this regional treasure to be given national exposure, perhaps working the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown. 
  9. Jodie Doherty - In addition to raising children and being the backbone behind a small family stable, this young lady spends her time educating people on the plight of unwanted race horses and about those looking to take advantage of those good-natured people trying to help them.  She doesn't just talk the talk, she also walks the talk as she has her own barn of pensioners, including a thoroughbred horse. There are others who do similar work be it running rescues or have a higher profile to speak from but Doherty's pretty effective just the same.
  10. Horse Rescues (legitimate) - Harness racing and for that fact all of racing should be thankful for their respective rescues.  Yes, there is a flood of unwanted race horses but these rescues do their part by saving as many horses they can while constantly fundraising and struggling to pay the bills.  It's a thankless job but they are doing it.  We thank these rescues and those who volunteer their time helping them.  A thank you to their donors needs to be said as well.
  11. Those tracks and horsemen groups which go the extra mile and support efforts to promote those groups who support horse rescue.  Yes, things are tight these days but there are ways to help bring attention and funds to these groups and even get some publicity out of it.  Yet it is surprising how many groups when asked to make a relatively small donation to help promote these groups say no.  I just hope those who say 'No' when asked are doing their part in other ways.  Otherwise, shame on them.
  12. Finally, we are thankful to all those who are doing what they can for Anthony Coletta who is battling to recover from a nasty accident at Harrah's Philadelphia.  From those who have the resources to do a lot to those who don't have the resources to do much, we are thankful that you are doing what you can.
Allow me to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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