When it comes to harness racing Mike Kimelman is a man for all seasons. He’s the president of Blue Chip Farms, a member of the Goshen Historic Track Board of Directors as well as a member of the Standardbred Owners Association of NY and a U.S.T.A. District Director since 2002. He has also trained and driven harness horses and occasionally still does.
Recently Kimelman has been appointed to the Board of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding and Development Fund, also referred to as the Sires Stakes Fund. He was appointed to that position by the New York State Senator, John Bonacic.
For all that he does and has done for the Standardbred sport, especially in the breeding business in New York State, Mike is this year’s recipient of the Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA’s prestigious Excelsior Award. He will receive that honor on Sunday night, November 17 when the scribes hold their 55th Annual Awards Banquet at the Fountains in Middletown, NY.
For Mike Kimelman, a profession in anything other than harness racing was out of the question. After all, his grandfather Oscar Kimelman had established the world renowned Blue Chip Farms in Wallkill NY in 1969 when young Michael was in the fifth grade. His family moved there and harness horses became a way of life for him. So much so that he opted not to go to college to pursue his career with Standardbreds.
As a youngster Mike worked on the farm and learned a great deal about the horse breeding industry from Hall of Famer, Bill Brown who was the Farm Manager.
“I was only a kid and at first I did menial jobs like stapling arrows all over to direct people to the Farm, but as I grew older and spent more time with Mr. Brown I began to realize what it took to run such a magnificent establishment, “ Kimelman said.
In the 1970’s Kimelman spent a lot of time around the training farms, too, and at Goshen Historic Track learning the ropes of training and driving harness horses from some exceptional horsemen.
“Del Cameron used to train our (Blue Chip Farms) horses and I was often with him in Pinehurst (Training Center) and at many racetracks in the northeast,” Kimelman noted. “And I always loved going to Goshen Historic Track to spend time with Harry Pownall, Sr. I was always trying to learn from the great ones.”
Out of school Kimelman worked for top horsemen like Billy Popfinger, Steve Demas and Billy Herman and in 1984 he opened a public stable which was a realization of a lifelong dream of becoming a professional trainer/driver.
And Michael was good at his chosen profession, too. Over the years, with a small stable and a limited amount of starts he won over 500 races and handled some very nice horses.
But it was a connection with a childhood friend and schoolmate that redirected Kimelman’s life.
I went to the 11th grade at Wallkill (NY) High School and then my brother Scott and I went to Hackley Prep School in Tarrytown, NY where we both graduated,” Kimelman explained. “It was there that my brother and I met and befriended Tom Grossman who, as fate would have it, purchased Blue Chip Farms a few years ago.”
According to Kimelman restructuring was taking place at Blue Chip Farms and Grossman not only bought the establishment but offered Mike a job.
The offer from Grossman was not only a chance for an outstanding career move but it also gave Kimelman an opportunity to raise his family in a spectacular rural setting where he now lives with wife Sally and children, Oscar and Olivia.
“I am so appreciative that Tom gave me such a tremendous opportunity and I have been president of Blue Chip Farms since 2001,” Kimelman added