Goshen, NY — When the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association holds its 61st annual awards banquet on Sunday (Dec. 15), Dave Brower will receive the Phil Pines Award for his outstanding media coverage of the sport of harness racing.
No stranger to the bright lights of the Metropolitan area Standardbred sport, Brower has been a fan of harness racing since childhood when his dad would bring him to the original “new” Big M back in the late 1970s.
Growing up in nearby Passaic, N.J., just five minutes from The Meadowlands Racetrack, the ace handicapper and television personality has always had his finger on the pulse of the industry.
While attending classes at St. John’s University he also rubbed horses on the backstretch for Rick Farrington, John Conte and Randy Perry during the late 1980s and early 1990s along with working as an intern in the publicity department under Ellen Harvey. After graduating with a degree in journalism in 1991 he has held many positions in and around the top floor of The Meadowlands.
“I operated the teletimer, was a chart caller for Sports Eye and then became the morning line odds maker and program comments producer…all while sitting two seats to the left of Ray Brienza in the press box,” Brower recalls with pride. “There was a lot of action in the press box in those days.”
As the in-house television and simulcast broadcasts grew, Brower got more opportunities to work in front of the camera. Brower, along with Gary Seibel, were the first hosts of TVG’s Drive Time at the Meadowlands. Focusing on racing at the East Rutherford mecca, the duo provided on-site analysis and interviews during the Campbell-O’Donnell era.
That experience proved to be serendipitous as the pair now team up annually for CBS Sports Network to host the live Hambletonian Day television coverage.
“Live broadcasts are a true test of your abilities. You have to have faith in yourself, you gotta get it right. It’s quite an adrenaline rush,” Brower exclaims. “It is one of my favorite parts of the job.”
Brower is good at it too. In fact, the right people have taken notice. He also anchors the Little Brown Jug week simulcast show and was brought in to provide color at the Red Mile this past season.
But Brower is quick to give credit to his colleagues for planning and executing the broadcasts.
“The TV department develops replays, we have voice checks, camera checks, the announcer adapts the content into the program sequence and preview highlights, and so on. There are hours, sometimes days, of advance notes and preparations.”
To this day, aside from his current handicapping duties, he still anchors the Racing from the Meadowlands broadcast. His past and present colleagues read like a who’s who in harness communicators: Sam McKee, Bob “Hollywood” Heyden, Ken Warkentin, Dave Little, Gabe Prewitt, etc.
Also very active on social media, many folks get their first breaking news about the night’s racing card from Brower’s Twitter and Facebook feed. Drivers changes, scratches, special guests…Dave sees it all first and then informs the public.
But it’s all in a day’s work and the harness racing lifer takes it all in stride.
“A lot has changed since we opened the Star Ledger to see what Ray Brienza had to say.”
In addition to the year-end awards for horses and horse people from the local tracks, the Monticello-Goshen chapter will also honor Mickey Burke (Lifetime Achievement Award); Noelle Duspiva (Excelsior Award); Barbara Martinez (Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award); Larry Lederman (John Gilmour Good Guy Award); Purple Haze Stable (Cradle of the Trotter Breeders Award); Tony Verruso (Amateur Driver); and Joe Chindano Jr. (Rising Star).
Tickets for the gala event at The Fountains at Wallkill Golf Club, Middletown, N.Y., can be reserved by contacting Shawn Wiles at 845.794.4100, ext. 458 or by email at email@example.com.
To place a congratulatory ad in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully at 845.807.7538 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.