Monticello-Goshen USHWA to host awards banquet

by John Manzi, publicity director, Monticello Raceway

Monticello, NY — The 49th annual awards banquet of the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association will be held on Sunday night, October 28, at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello, N.Y. Once again, it promises to be an outstanding gathering of great people in the sport.

The harness writers will honor Mal Burroughs with the chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award for longtime dedication and excellence in the Standardbred sport. Burroughs, long considered “the Godfather of Amateur Racing,” has won two of the sport’s most prestigious events. In 1994 he won the Hambletonian Oaks with Gleam and in 1997 Mal won the Hambletonian with Malabar Man — only the second amateur driver to win the prestigious race. He also won the famed Italian event, the Orsi Mangelli, with Malabar Man that same season. But Burroughs’ involvement with harness racing runs long and deep. A builder — his company built The Meadowlands — Mal has owned and raced harness horses for over 40 years and he has enjoyed all aspects of the sport as well as all the wonderful people in the game.

Blue Chip Farms president, as well as horse owner and part-time harness driver, Mike Kimelman, is this year’s recipient of the Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding efforts on behalf of Goshen Historic Track. A longtime member of the track’s Board of Directors and a tireless worker on behalf of the National Historic Landmark, Mike currently serves on the executive, the building and grounds, the personnel, the purse and race days and the financial planning committees. He’s very dedicated to the preservation of Historic Track.

The chapter will also honor Benny Webster with the Excelsior Award for an outstanding career in harness racing. Webster, born in Rochester, N.Y., made a mark for himself as an outstanding driver. In a career that has spanned six decades, he won many of the sport’s most prestigious races including the 1984 Hambletonian with Historic Freight and the 1975 Little Brown Jug with Seatrain. He also won the Beacon Course Trot, two Oliver Wendell Holmes paces, the Messenger Stakes, the Kentucky Futurity, the Prix d’Ete, the Woodrow Wilson Pace, the Tarport Hap and the Battle of Brandywine, to name a few. He drove 4,248 winners and his horses earned purses in excess of $42 million.

For all he’s done in the name of racing integrity, Monticello Raceway’s General Manager Shawn Wiles will be the recipient of the chapter’s Good Guy Award. Wiles, whose involvement in harness racing spans decades, was among the first racetrack general managers to establish and enforce a policy against illegal medications and deal severely with those who don’t play by the rules. A lover of the Standardbred sport, Shawn works tirelessly at and for Monticello Raceway.

This year’s Amateur Driver of The Year will be Peter Gerry, the longtime President of the Delvin Miller Amateur Drivers Association, sponsor of the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series. Besides his efforts to produce an annual Billings schedule and compile statistics, this season Peter’s driving exploits — eight Billings wins — has him currently atop the Eastern Region leaderboard.

Of course, the writers will also celebrate the best performances, both human and equine, at Monticello Raceway and Historic Track during the 2007 season.

The Banquet is open to the public. Tickets, at $55.00, are available by calling John Manzi at Monticello Raceway (845) 794-4100, x455. And should anyone want to salute the award winners, space is still available in the charity journal. Proceeds from that journal are always donated to Historic Track and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.

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