For the second year in a row, George Brennan, the 45-year-old Monticello, New York, native is Harness Tracks of America’s Driver of the Year, the formidable achievement that remains the most difficult award in the sport of harness racing to win.

The evidence of the accomplishment is clear in the fact that of the 3,438 drivers who competed for purses in North America in 2012, only six were able to finish in the top 10 in Money Won, Races Won and Universal Driver Rating System (UDRS) in-the-money percentage.

Under the HTA formula, points are awarded on the basis of 25 for first down to one for 25th in the standings in Money Won, Races Won, and UDRS, with a 25-point bonus for finishing in the top 25 in all three categories.

Brennan’s 2012 Driver of the Year trophy will be presented at the Harness Racing Congress as part of the United States Harness Writer’s 2013 Dan Patch Awards Dinner on Sunday, March 3, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Click here to read the entire Press Release


New York State Racing Fan Advisory Council 2012 Report and Recommendations

New York State Racing and Wagering Board
Chairman John D. Sabini
Member Charles Diamond
Member Daniel Hogan

Dear Chairman Sabini, Members Diamond and Hogan,

Pursuant to the Racing and Wagering Board’s 2011 directive establishing the Racing Fan Advisory Council, I am pleased to present you with the Council’s inaugural report of recommendations for your consideration.

The Racing Fan Advisory Council has been working hard over the past year to identify a comprehensive cross section of who the current racing fan is, who the possible new fans are, and what he/she wishes to see to make the sport more attractive and enjoyable.

Click here to read the report.

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Nominations are now being accepted for the 2012 “Groom of the Year” Award. The award, sponsored annually by Harness Tracks of America and Hanover Shoe Farms, recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport, the grooms who maintain the health and welfare of the sport’s horses.

All that is needed to nominate a groom for the 31st annual “Groom of the Year” award is a letter from an individual or group to Harness Tracks of America detailing the skills and special qualities of the groom. The winning groom receives an oil painting of himself or herself with the horse of their choice. All individuals nominated for the award receive a certificate of excellence and the first 50 grooms nominated also receive an embroidered jacket as a groom of the year nominee.

The “Groom of the Year” Award was founded in 1982 after Delvin Miller, addressing attendees at the annual HTA meeting as its Messenger Award winner for that year, noted the sport gave no recognition to its grooms, its unsung stars. The 2011 “Groom of the Year” was Greg Haverstick.

The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2012. All letters detailing why candidates are deserving of the honor as groom of the year should be mailed to Harness Tracks of America, 12025 E. Dry Gulch Pl., Tucson, AZ, 85749. Nominations also may be submitted by fax to 520-529-3235 or by e-mail to [email protected] Letters must contain the name, address, telephone number and jacket size (S, M, L, XL, XXL) for the nominated groom, along with the name, address and telephone number of the nominator.

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Tito Moreno v. Penn National Gaming and Mark Loewe Decision filed November 14, 2012

A U.S. District Court judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that a state regulation allowing licensees to appeal ejections from parimutuel facilities is unconstitutional because it does not guarantee that the appeal will be heard promptly.

To view or download a copy of the Moreno decision click here.

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The unbearable, devastating loss of Alan Kirschenbaum

By Dave Briggs.

That Alan Kirschenbaum readily shared his time, profound talent and genial soul won’t surprise anyone who knew him. What you don’t know is that to us at The Sportsman, he was also a verb.

He once told me the secret to good writing is not giving away the ending or the best part. Ever since, when one of us wants to share the juiciest parts of an interview or an idea for an ending, the other would inevitably say, ‘don’t Kirschenbaum it’ as encouragement to save the surprise for the finished story.

As a man who loved the written word and was particularly deft at stringing words together, I like to think he would have been touched by that and laughed about it. Alan had a generous spirit and spent his life trying to make others laugh. I would have liked to have returned the favour.

So, apart from being our part-time blogger, lone Hollywood connection and a dear friend to me and us and all of harness racing, I will immortalize him as a verb — albeit, now with both a smile and a sadness I doubt I’ll ever shake.

Reports are that Alan took his own life. He was 51. He leaves behind his wife, Vicki, their teenage daughter Molly — whom Alan loved beyond measure — his parents, a sister and scores of friends who, like me, are stunned and angry and empty.

Why? We’re all struggling with that one. Friends say he had been battling depression, but pinpointing a cause for his death would be conjecture at best.

A New York native and the son of comedian Freddy Roman, Alan was also an active owner, breeder and noted amateur driver who tried his hand at training a stable at the Meadowlands for three years in the mid- 1980s before moving to Hollywood in 1988 to become a sitcom screenwriter. His  riting, producing, directing and creator credits include: “Yes, Dear”, “Coach”, “My Names Is Earl”, “Raising Hope”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”, “Dear John”, “Stark Raving Mad”, “Down The Shore”, “The Gregory Hines Show”, “Center of the Universe” and a new sitcom called “Friend Me” he co-created that is  urrently in production at CBS.

That he died a day before the Breeders Crown was, I would imagine, unintentionally symbolic. Alan wrote the series’ mission statement, helped with early advertising copy and will forever go down in Crown lore as the man who elicited Bill O’Donnell’s famed “no s—“ comment during a live television interview on ESPN in 1987.

Alan had many passions — family, friends, comedy, music, hockey — but harness racing was as big as any of them. He took that passion to California where he was a strong advocate for racing in the state, becoming president of the California Harness Horsemen’s Association and standing his beloved stallion, Little Steven, there. In recent years, Alan even waived his stallion fees to help the standardbred population survive.

He also had strong ties to Ontario where he had horses with Dr. John Hayes, Ron Waples, Jr. and Blair Burgess in recent years and maintained a close friendship with driver Randy Waples from the other side of the continent.

While I am honoured a photo Dave Landry took for us of Alan standing trackside at Mohawk (below left) has been widely circulated on the Internet with the obituaries and tributes, I prefer to see Alan as we had him on our cover in 2008 (below right) — in his colours, as a great friend of harness racing. I’ll cherish his friendship and writing advice and hope the sting and bitterness over his senseless death doesn’t linger and spoil my memories.

The truth of the matter is, we’re blessed he chose us, even for such a relatively short time. We’re better for knowing him and we’re definitely better for his practical, tough-love advice (read his blog Tongue Tie Off on our website: For love was always part of the relationship. During the Hollywood writers’ strike in 2008, Alan even wrote a movie script about harness racing with a friend. That’s all he would tell me. He didn’t want to Kirschenbaum it. I would love to see it one day.

Funny, I never told Alan he had become synonymous with never giving away the end of your story. I just wish with all my heart I could have changed the ending of his.

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