Horse Racing in Pennsylvania: It’s A Winner
June 17, 2016 Qualifiers
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A picnic buffet starts at 5:45PM, first pitch for the game is 7:05, and there will be a fireworks display after the game.
Enjoy an evening with the Wild Things and your fellow MSOA members! Seats are limited, so get your tickets today from Heather Wilder in the MSOA Office, or call 724-228-3644 for more information.
“This means a lot to me,” Wilder said. “There are a lot of guys with more wins, but 7,000 is a good number. The way I look at it, it represents a lot of hard work and dedication. I’m very thankful and blessed to have people give me great horses to drive. I get a lot of work and a lot of chances, so I’m very fortunate.”
A native of Springfield, Ohio, Wilder began jogging horses when he was 8 under the tutelage of his stepfather, David Ritter, who trained Standardbreds at the Shelby County Fairgrounds. Wilder was a phenomenon at Lebanon Raceway, where he won 13 driving titles, and he captured two driving championships at Scioto Downs before moving his tack to The Meadows in 2001.
He’s never worked anywhere but the racetrack — except for a brief stint as an electrician.
“My biological father is an electrician, so I tried that out for about three months,” he said. “I never got shocked, and I never set anything on fire, so I must have done a good job. It didn’t take me long to see that harness racing was what I wanted to do.”
For Wilder, harness racing is a family affair. He works with, and drives all the horses for, his father-in-law, veteran trainer Dan Altmeyer. Wilder’s wife, Heather, handles marketing and public relations for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) and received the 2013 Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award. Their children, Scarlett, 14, and Lauren, 13, often can be found in the paddock; Scarlett coordinates jog cart rides for patrons during MSOA “Family Fun Nights.”
Wilder regards that family involvement as a considerable asset.
“There are a lot of positive vibes,” he said. “Our hearts are all in this sport. They’re in different parts of this sport, but it’s all for harness racing. It’s quite an honor to go to the barn and sit with Dan every day. He’s a great trainer — look at the great horses he’s developed.”
At 44, Wilder intends to keep driving but can see a day when he might shift to another role.
“You’d love to do this forever,” he said. “Obviously, you’re dreaming if you think you can. You can’t put a number on it, but I would love to drive until I’m 50. When I see the time has come to slow it down, I’ll try to be a trainer. Dan said anytime I would want to pursue that, he would help me get started.
“Who wouldn’t want to follow in Dan’s footsteps? My kids will be in college, so I can do the Florida thing in the winter and get away from the snow. If I’m financially able to do that, it would be a great lifestyle.”
The MSOA’s annual day at Kennywood Park has been set for July 14. Tickets are $29 per person, and kids 14-and-under are FREE.
The bus will leave The Meadows’ main parking lot at 12Noon.
You MUST be signed up and paid by June 20. For more information or to sign up, see Sharon Kirwan or Lisa Beinhauer, or contact the MSOA Office at 724-228-3644.
Those attending are asked to bring a covered dish.
Brigette Bray, Wendy Uber, George DeFazio, Robin Neil Haberle, Suzie Bittner Valdisera, Michael Hoyes, Tom Tkocs, Robert Gallis liked this post
Dear MSOA Members,
State legislators in Harrisburg are trying to amend the Gaming Act with a bevy of gambling expansion ideas that would drive people away from horse racing facilities.
The letter makes it clear that expanded gaming is bad judgement – and that it will hurt a growing horse racing industry that has created 23,000 jobs and invests millions into local communities and farms every year!
If you don’t know who your legislators are, you can find them: HERE
For more information, here is a link to the legislation: CLICK HERE
As you know, casino gaming in Pennsylvania could only be enacted when the state partnered with the agricultural community to ensure the horse racing industry stayed intact. It’s a partnership that aimed to preserve our farms, our workers, our veterinarians and all facets of the industry that support our racetracks. The law worked. Today, our industry has created 23,000 jobs, features some of the best horses in the world, is investing millions into the Pennsylvania economy, and is helping to preserve thousands of acres of open farmland.
But if some legislators have their way, they’ll expand gaming practically everywhere to include liquor establishments, fire halls, truck stops, video gaming terminals in taverns and more. There’s even a plan to allow for internet gaming at a much lower tax rate. That means casinos with racetracks are more likely to market internet gaming at the expense of our racetracks!
We must act now! Contact your local legislators today and tell them to oppose legislation that would expand gaming and hurt Pennsylvania’s horse racing industry.
Let’s stand together.
Rich Gillock, President
The Meadows Race Office announces that qualifying races for 2YO and older horses will be separated for the next few weeks.
Effective June 9 & 10, qualifiers for 3-year-olds and up will be held on Thursday mornings, while all 2-year-olds will qualify on Fridays. This will be in effect for three weeks, through June 24.
Deadline for ALL entries each week is Wednesday morning at 10AM. Post time for each day is 10:30AM.
All horses need ECs and a negative Coggins test on file in the race office.
Due to the late passage of the Pennsylvania state budget, the purse pool at the Meadows is taking a drastic hit because the annual funds taken by the Commonwealth are being withdrawn in a very condensed time frame. In previous years, the Racehorse Development Fund paid these funds over 22 weeks between July 1st (beginning of the state fiscal year) and approximately December 22nd.
This year, due to the delay in the passing of the 2015-2016 budget, causing the new beginning date of May 5th, the payback is spread over only 8 weeks (to be concluded by the end of the State fiscal year) instead of 22 weeks as in the past.
Therefore, the purses will be reduced by 10% beginning May 22nd. The MSOA regrets having to take such a measure, but it is imperative to take immediate action to avoid a non-scheduled break in the racing schedule.
Harness Tracks of America and David Snyder, President of International Sound Corporation, are pleased to announce the renewal of the Harold Snyder Memorial Scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year. The annual program offers $15,000 in scholarships for post-secondary education to daughters and sons of licensed trainers, drivers, caretakers, management personnel, or young people themselves who are actively engaged in the harness racing industry. Three $5,000 grants are customarily awarded every year.
For additional information, CLICK HERE.
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by Mark Massimino
Q: Some may not remember, but years ago you trained a successful stable. What do you remember most about having your own barn?
A: You know, I really enjoyed training and, of course everyone has their favorite, but I enjoyed every part of it. I enjoyed the training part, I enjoyed putting the horses away in their stalls and doing the right stuff. I really took a lot of pride in how my horses raced and I miss that part of the game. I had an old claimer by the name of Lavette’s Paleface. He made me look good, actually. I didn’t know much about driving and I was a little rusty out there against the top guys. It didn’t seem to matter how I raced the horse, the horse always ran a good race and made me look good. And he was a standout horse; he was a beautiful red horse with a white face. He was my favorite, and I took a lot of pride in grooming him.
Q: Can you ever see yourself going back to training again?
A: I mean, I don’t know. I guess maybe somewhere down the line I’ll do it as a hobby. Get a couple babies and mess around with them, but I never want to open a stable and grind every day and do it. It’s just too tough.
Q: You’ve accomplished so many goals already…what keeps you motivated at this point?
A: I’m still in love with racing horses. Winning races, showing up, hanging out with the guys and trying to figure out how to get things done. It’s just something that I’ve always enjoyed. And you know, maybe I don’t enjoy the cold winters and the sloppy days as much, but I do enjoy racing the horses, and especially the young horses in the stake races.
Q: Of all of the horses you’ve ever sat behind, who do you think was the quickest off the gate, and who was the fastest closer?
A: It might be the same horse. The best horse I ever drove by far, ability wise, was Sweet Lou. He was able to do just about anything you wanted him to do. But I’ve driven a lot of very fast horses. Foiled Again is one that comes to mind that was able to just go fast. Another horse I drove that I really loved, it might’ve been the fastest horse Ronnie (Burke) ever had off the gate was Maltese Artist. I got my 12000th win with him. Those are the favorites that you’ll never forget and those are the ones I was fortunate enough to drive in my career.
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The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association and the Harness Racing FanZone are teaming up with Cyrus Rahimi, a soon-to-be graduate of Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., to create a weekly Wednesday blog on www.HarnessRacingFanZone.com, along with video and photos of his initial experiences attending harness races and learning how to wager at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino starting on Monday (April 25).
Rahimi, who first attended the races at The Meadows for the third annual College Games for Charity hosted by the track on April 9, has never wagered on harness racing. He is a senior at W&J, located just five miles from The Meadows, and will graduate with a degree in finance in just a few short weeks. Following graduation, the San Diego native will be moving to New York City for a job with Merrill Lynch.
Starting with his visit to The Meadows for racing Monday (April 25) with a 1 p.m. first post time, Rahimi will be blogging about his experience in a special feature with video and pictures from track photographer Chris Gooden, which will be featured in a special Harness Racing FanZone #WednesdayWager promotion for the next five weeks.
The feature will begin with Rahimi’s his first steps through the door of the casino, finding the racebook and purchasing a program. He will be given $25 a day to fund his effort.
Viewers will be able to follow along with his experiences as he learns about the basics of handicapping and wagering including reading the program, understanding the wagering menu and how to make bets through mutuel tellers, self-betting machines, MBET and Xpressbet.
Viewers can follow Rahimi’s journey from the beginning by using the following link at The Harness Racing Fan Zone.
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Instead, Dott’s sign proudly announces the arrival of the latest member of his family…a four-legged Standardbred member named Clavius.
Dott, 61, is a Standardbred owner and breeder from McMurray, Pennsylvania that first got hooked on harness racing in the 1970s. “I came to The Meadows and heard Roger Huston calling a race. That was it, I was hooked,” he says. “There was no turning back from there.”
He spent most of his life as just a fan, but five years ago decided to take the next step and become an owner. He met trainer Tim Twaddle and claimed a Real Artist mare named Hard Shoe Hannah. A lifetime winner of more than $280,000, Hard Shoe Hannah was a good racehorse, and Dott hoped that she would make a great broodmare prospect as well. “We turned her into a pet,” he says. “She didn’t race as well as we wanted to, so we sent her to Dennis and Gina Hoffman at Lindwood Farms to start a new career.”
Hard Shoe Hannah’s first foal was a Shark Gesture filly that was given an unusual name, Jeffrey Hard Shark. “My wife Adele and I named her after my nephew, who died at 12 of a brain tumor. I had told my brother that I would name the horse after his son. We wanted a colt, but it was a filly, and I still kept the name.”
Jeffrey Hard Shark, co-owned by Dott and John Valdisera, made a handful of appearances on the track last season before spending the winter at Pinehurst. “Gordon Corey trained her down there this winter. He’s a very good trainer. I always liked Pinehurst. I used to play golf there and wanted my horse down there. We just brought her back and Tim (Twaddle) is getting her ready for her three-year-old season. Tim’s a good guy and a good trainer.”
The second foal, Pjonmyshoulder, by Hypnotic Blue Chip, is a two-year-old this season, and the latest arrival is Clavius, by Western Ideal, foaled this month at Lindwood, as the sign in his yard proudly notes. “Everybody stops by my house and sees the sign out there,” he says. “Lindwood Farm also promotes it, and I’ve had nothing but positive comments. I love racing and The Meadows.”
That love is evident to anyone following Dott on the highway as well, where stickers with the names of his horses cover the back windows, just like the stick-family decorations on many minivans on the road.
Dott’s goal in the sport is the same as most other owners, “Hopefully I can make some money and have really good, winning horses.” But for now, he is just happy seeing his Standardbred family grow, and sharing that news with his family and friends. “I’ve tried not to spoil the horses, but I love them all. They’re my babies.”