by john manzi for Monticello-Goshen USHWA
The Monticello Goshen Chapter began in 1959 and is currently one of 13 chapters that constitute the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), a national organization, now with Canadian members, whose main business is to help promote the sport of harness racing.
Members of ‘Mon-Go’ are extremely proud that the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, as well as Historic Track, are in its jurisdiction. The fact that the sport of harness racing was weaned in—and around--Goshen, NY in the late 1830’s and still continues today, explains why Goshen has always been known as the “Cradle of the Trotter”, although it was often referred to as Trot Town-USA. That also is the reason why the chapter goes out of its way to make annual donations to help perpetuate both venues.
On November 16 the 56th Annual Awards Banquet of the Monticello Goshen Chapter USHWA will be held at The Fountains at the Wallkill Golf Club on Sands Road in Middletown, NY and once again promises to be an outstanding gathering of great people in our sport.
Besides honoring the exploits of our local horses and horsemen the chapter will also cite prominent industry people. This year the main honoree will be longtime horse owner, Ted Gewertz, who’ll receive the chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other prominent awards will be presented to the New York State breeding operation at the Crawford Farms (Excelsior Award) and to the U.S. Trotting Association’s great writer and publicist, Ken Weingartner (Phil Pines Award). Harness racing’s Mr. Everything and one of the sports true rising stars, Jason Settlemoir will receive the John Gilmour Good Guy Award.
The major award from Goshen Historic Track, the Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award, will be presented to the Historic Track Board of Director’s vice president, George Casale. Geri Schwarz, Monticello Raceway and Historic Track’s award winning photographer, will receive an Award of Appreciation for her expertise behind the camera.
At earlier banquets the chapter has cited many outstanding individuals some who have gone on to be elected the Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Those Hall of Famers include: Phil Tully, Cat Manzi, Bill Brown, Hal Jones, John Cashman, Harry Harvey, and most recently Joe Thomson, who’ll be inducted this coming summer.
However the chapter’s strong support also has helped Joe DeFrank, Tommy Thomson, Ron Gurfein, Jim Doherty, John Simpson Jr., Wally Hennessey, Phil Langley, Clint Galbraith and Buddy Gilmour to reach the hallowed Hall.
Chapter members, both past and present, who are now enshrined in the Communicators Hall of Fame (and their year of induction) include: Jim Harrison (1986), Al DeSantis (1989) Phil Pines (1990) Allen Finkelson (1992), Wesley “Bo” Gill (1999), John Bradley (2000), Ed Palladino (2001), John Manzi (2006) and Joe Hartmann (2010).
Many Monticello-Goshen Chapter members have also gone on to become the USHWA National President. It began with Allen Finkelson and followed over the years by Phil Pines, John Manzi, Ed Palladino and currently Chris Tully. And last year at the national meetings Shawn Wiles was elected second vice president and he will work his way up the chairs and become the sixth member of Monticello-Goshen who has risen to national USHWA prominence.
The Banquet is open to the public and anyone can attend. The ticket price of $65 includes a one-hour open bar, a full course dinner and door prizes. Congratulatory ads, ranging from $100- $300, can be purchased by calling 845.794.4100ext.455 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, I almost forgot--but maybe on purpose. I serve as master of ceremonies and after the presentation of awards, four or five of my friends who may end-up being ex-friends, will ‘roast’ me, gently I hope, since they know that I will have the microphone last.