Plainville, MA — An idea that was spawned close to a month ago will be coming to fruition this week. Bill Ellis, president of the Western New England Harness Horsemen’s Association, called his board of directors when the pandemic started and said that we need to help the Standardbreds in New England during the COVID-19 dilemma. The directors of the WNEHHA backed the recommendation and they discussed the logistics of how they would like to see this accomplished.
The plans of Scarborough Downs in Maine and Plainridge Racecourse in Massachusetts opening the first week of April were scrapped due to the quarantine and the members of the harness racing community were getting nervous as many hadn’t raced since the end of 2019.
Alice Tisbert, managing director of Harness Horsemen’s Association of New England and Mike Cushing, president of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association, were called by Ellis to let them know that the WNEHHA would like to work in conjunction with them to help the members of their respective associations. It was determined that a grain feed program would be best and Cushing felt that Poulin Grain would be a good partner in this venture. Ellis contacted Mike Tetrault, senior vice president/general manager and discussed how this grain feed program could be established.
Assembling a list of all those in need was now in order. In Massachusetts, Tisbert worked to gather the information of the HHANE members and she was assisted by her board of directors. In Maine, Cushing and his board of directors called upon Deb Patterson, the office administrator for the MHHA, to work on their list.
Many hours were spent in garnering those people who were eligible and much telephone time between the three horsemen’s groups and Poulin Grain, putting the finishing touches on the grain feed program.
The week of May 4 will see the dispersing, via mail, of feed certificates to the trainers of the 750 horses who were eligible. Each horse will receive an $80 certificate to be used at one of the 126 Poulin Grain dealers in New England.
This is a bright moment in what has become a very dark hour. Special recognition and thanks should be offered to the following: Poulin Grain: Mike Tetrault and Mark Christman; Western New England Harness Horsemen’s Association: Bill Ellis, David McDuffee, Ralph Andersen, Stephen LaCasse, David Ingraham and Paul Rounds; Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association: Deb Patterson, Mike Cushing, David Crochere, Bethany Graffam, Aaron Hall, Rep. Donald Marean, Jim Dunn, Bill Phipps, Ron Cushing and Mike McGee; Harness Horsemen’s Association of New England: Alice Tisbert, Paul London, Paul McHugh, Frank Antonacci, Joe Therrien, Jim Hardy, Joe Flynn, Paul Silva and Bob Bogigian.