Paul Fontaine, Director of Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville, Massachusetts, has been elected to be the 24th President of Harness Tracks of America (HTA). Fontaine, who succeeds Western Fair CEO Hugh Mitchell in the post, has served as an HTA Director for the past 13 years and on its Executive Committee for the last seven.
Of his election by his peers, Fontaine stated: “I believe the changes that are being made at HTA will feature responsive and vibrant representation for our member tracks as we look forward to the challenges of our industry with optimism and resoluteness.”
Fontaine, a practicing attorney since 1963, has also been active for over 40 years as an owner, breeder, yearling buyer and racetrack representative. His horses have raced from Maine to California and include No No Yankee, winner of the Inaugural Woodrow Wilson in 1977. He was a co-founder of the former New England sire stakes program, and as President of the Standardbred Owners Association of New England, representing horsemen at three major New England racetracks, was a prime mover and signatory to the first-ever contract entered into between tracks and horsemen sharing retention on a 50/50 partnership basis, helping to usher in a new era of cooperation between tracks and horsemen.
A longtime advocate for honesty and integrity in harness racing, Fontaine was elected as a director of the United States Trotting Association (USTA) in 1980 and has over 30 years of service on the USTA board as both a horseman and a racetrack representative, including a 7-year term as its chairman. He is presently serving as Vice President on the Board of Trustees for the Harness Horse Youth Foundation (HHYF) and as a Trustee of the American Horse Council (AHC). Throughout his career he has spearheaded the creation and adoption of integrity policies that are still in effect today at the USTA, HTA, HHYF and the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
Fontaine was elected to the New England Harness Writers Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and was the 2009 recipient of the Joseph A. Vacaro memorial award for lifetime achievement in the sport of harness racing. Drawing on his political background, having served in the Rhode Island State Senate from 1966-1976 and as deputy majority leader, he has been active as a liaison to foster better relationships and communication between the racing industry and state racing commissions.
Re-elected as HTA officers were James K. Boese, COO and General Manager of Racing at Harrington Raceway, to the post of Senior Vice President; Jason Settlemoir, VP of Racing, Simulcast and Sponsorships for Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, as Vice President; Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming, Inc., serving as HTA Treasurer; and Paul Estok as HTA Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary. As announced on February 7, 2011, Stanley Bergstein is now HTA’s Executive Emeritus.