Q&A: Doug Snyder

This is the first in a series of Q&A sessions with Meadows trainers and drivers, conducted by MSOA Intern and horse owner Mark Massimino.

Doug Snyder

Photo by Chris Gooden

DOUG SNYDER has spent his entire life in harness racing, most of it at The Meadows.  He was the track’s leading driver for several seasons in the 1980s, driving many top horses for his brother, Dane, as well as other leading trainers.  He has transitioned in recent years into a trainer/driver with a strong stable of upper-level trotters.

Q: You’ve had a long, successful career as a driver. When your career started, did you still picture yourself doing it in 2015?

A: Oh yeah. I’m fourth generation and this is what we do. I was at a high school class reunion and many people asked “are you retiring?” and I said “you don’t retire in our business, you die.” You don’t quit this business.

Q: You’ve driven horses in countless styles of race bikes over the years. How has the game changed thanks to different bikes?

A: Well, personally I never raced in a single shaft, and there’s people I know that did and said that was the greatest thing ever, but I thought the Cheetah was the best bike I ever raced in. These bikes nowadays, I’m a firm believer that you have to have good wheels. And that’s the biggest thing with any bike. It’s the wheels.

Q: You have really built a strong stable. What has been the key to getting the right horses?

A: You have to have good owners in this business who are willing to go out there, put up a little money and purchase the proper horses. You’ve gotta have a little backing.

Q: You have a mix of younger and older horses in your barn. Do you have a preference when it comes to both training and driving?

A: At my age now I’d just as soon train, but I obviously enjoy driving a good trotter or a good pacer, but I’d prefer a good trotter. I think the young guys, they’re at the top of their game and the older guys I think they get along with trotters pretty well, but I don’t know if they belong out there with the pacers.

Q: Looking back on your career, what horse or horses would you consider to be the best that you’ve raced?

A: The best horse I’ve ever raced, in my opinion, was American Winner. He was an awesome three-year-old, and I got to drive him early in his three-year-old season. He was just by far the best trotter I ever drove. Pacer, Cami Whitestockings, and she was my biggest winner I ever had. She actually is a broodmare now for Hanover, so she was a heck of a good mare. We raced her in one of those big races they had. She was a pretty nice horse.

Make plans now for this year’s Chinese Auction


from the 2:00 Club

The 2:00 Club, together with the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is very pleased to announce that the 27th annual Chinese Auction for Charity will take place on Sunday, December 6, 2015 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Southpointe.

This event has raised more than $250,000 over the past 26 years for the benefit of worthy local charities as well as the Standardbred Retirement Foundation in New Jersey and New Vocations Racehorse Adoption in Ohio. All proceeds of the auction are donated to charity.

Doors will officially open at 5:00 p.m. with the drawings to begin around 7:00 p.m. The auction has grown so large over the years; it will be in the Washington Grand Ballroom at The Hilton Garden Inn, Southpointe this year.  A buffet dinner will be provided by the MSOA along with a cash bar. Prizes can be viewed and tickets can be purchased beginning at 1:00 p.m. on the day of the event; winners need not be present for the drawing.

Thanks to the many generous donors, the event raised $28,300 last year and it hopes to surpass that total this year. Please consider donating a prize to add to the ‘prize list.’ Some suggestions for your gift donation are: Gift Certificates for Area Restaurants; Basket of Cheer; Holiday Decorative Item or Apparel; Tickets to Sporting Events or Theater Shows; Horse Supplies; Items Related to Your Business; Lottery Tickets; Horse Related Jewelry or Clothing. We welcome all gifts and they are tax deductible.

Prizes can be left at the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) office during regular business hours. Please be sure to include your name with your donation. Prizes can also be sent to Janet Campbell, Chinese Auction Chair, 9711 Downing Place, North Huntingdon, PA 15642. Please contact the MSOA at 724.228.3644 or email msoa@themsoa.com or contact Janet Campbell at 724.331.2660 or email jjcamp1@comcast.net if you have any questions.

Make plans to join us and bring a friend. Tickets for most prizes are $1.00; the larger gifts are $2.00 or 3 for $5.00. There are a few prizes valued over $500 including cash and these tickets are $5.00 each. Don’t miss this exciting evening and your chance to win a great prize while contributing to a great cause.

Former Meadows pacer gets a second chance



After a long journey, Coldheartedrevenge has returned to Western Pennsylvania with a new lease on life.

The gelding, now 14 years old, started his racing career in 2003.  He achieved quite a bit on the track, earning more than $847,000, some of which came at The Meadows several seasons ago.  He raced for many trainers over the years, but in 2012, at the age of 11, his racing career came to a close, more than 200 starts after it began.

Not much is known regarding his whereabouts for the past three years, but in late October he showed up at a horse placement agency in need of a home.  That’s when several Meadows-based people stepped in.

Missy Rothfuss, the track’s outrider, along with Julie Allison and Heather Wilder, rescued the retiree.  Rothfuss offered a home for the horse while Allison and Wilder offered to purchase the veteran from the placement agency.

“I hate seeing old class horses that gave their all end up without a home,” said Rothfuss.  “I’ve been helping older horses like him my whole life, mostly with riding horse breeds.  I like the challenge of retraining them and getting them a second chance.  Within the last year or two, I’ve started doing it with more Standardbreds, trying to promote life after racing for the breed.”

Rothfuss recently took part in the Equine Comeback Challenge with 11-year-old retired Standarbred Stormont O My, who she has since adopted.  Shortly after helping that retiree, Coldheartedrevenge came along in need of a home, and Rothfuss had room at her farm and in her life to take him in.  On October 21, Coldheartedrevenge arrived back in Washington, PA to begin his new life.

The horse was underweight and needed general care, and several people donated money to Rothfuss specifically for Coldheartedrevenge.  The pacer that had brought happiness to many horse owners over the years was now the recipient of an outpouring of support.  Several horsemen sent money and supplies.  Some came to visit the pacer they remembered, and an equine dentist offered his services for free.  

Soon Rothfuss, her daughter Shaunna Morris, and family friend Autum Luellen began working with him as a riding horse, and quickly found that he was calm and laid back, very willing to learn.  

As the days have passed, Coldheartedrevenge has been learning more and more, gaining weight and showing his personality.   His progress was noted on his own Facebook page, started by Rothfuss, and promoted by others within the harness racing world.

He then caught the eye of horse owner Steven Ream of Ohio, who is now in the process of adopting Coldheartedrevenge and giving him a forever home.

It is a happy ending to the story for Coldheartedrevenge, a classy veteran who deserved a second chance, and now has it. 

Race Office announces Thanksgiving draw schedule

The Meadows Race Office has announced updated dates for draws around the Thanksgiving holiday.

CLICK HERE for full information.

UPDATED: Legislative Update: MSOA takes part in Harrisburg talks

UPDATED NOVEMBER 6, from the PA Department of Agriculture:

After two weeks of negotiations, the Wolf administration and the four legislative caucuses tonight reached an agreement in concept on how to fix a long-standing structural deficit in the State Racing Fund. The deal reflects significant compromise on the part of all of the parties, as well as the other stakeholders, including horsemen and breeder organizations and race track operators.

In recognition of the agreement in concept, the administration said it is postponing any action on the suspension of racing for another week to allow the four chairs of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees to brief their members. Representatives of the five parties — the administration and the four caucuses — agreed to meet next week to continue finalizing details of the plan.

“This was not an easy process, but in the end, it’s been a productive process,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Every discussion we have engaged in these last couple of weeks has been worth the effort. Everyone at the table recognizes the importance of racing to Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry and the broader economy.

“I am grateful to all of the stakeholders – the horsemen’s groups; the track operators; and especially, our partners in the General Assembly, particularly the four chairs of the agriculture committees, Senators Vogel and Schwank and Representatives Causer and Carroll – for continuing to come to the table each day, negotiating in good faith, and ultimately, helping us to arrive at this framework for a deal.

“We look forward to working with the General Assembly to continue moving Senate Bill 352, which Senator Vogel sponsored, through the legislature and to the Governor’s desk.”


EARLIER POST: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has posted an article regarding this past week’s news out of Harrisburg regarding racing at Pennsylvania’s tracks.

CLICK HERE for the article.

7th Annual Pink Out event held

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association and The Meadows Racetrack & Casino hosted 7th Annual Pink Out event benefitting breast cancer research as part of a special card on Saturday, October 31

Featured on the card was the Mary McCune Trot, featuring a field of nine female drivers.  The race was named in honor of McCune, a Pennsylvania native who was a driving force behind the promotion of amateur racing across the country in the first half of the 20th century.  She is a member of the Keystone USHWA (United States Harness Writers Association) Hall of Fame.

Nikki Harvey, driving Tough Call, was a wire-to-wire winner in the event.  Myology, driven by Tabatha Canarr, finished second, while Gambler Springs, driven by Mary Birkhold, was third.  

Three races on the card were designated as Breast Cancer Research events, and both the MSOA and the track donated their share of the commissions from money wagered on the race to breast cancer research at the Washington Health System in Washington, PA.

NOTICE: 45-day rule until further notice

Due to the 3-week racing hiatus in October, The Meadows Race Office has announced that the 30-day qualifying rule will be extended to 45 day until further notice (approximately Jan 1st).

PHRC issues notices regarding Cobalt, Hobbles and Methylprednisolone

The MSOA advises horsemen of three notices released by the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission.  Please read each of the notices below by clicking on the links.

Hopples/Hobbles 05-2015

Methylprednisolone 05-2015 (UPDATED)

Cobalt Testing

360-Degree Camera takes a trip around The Meadows

360Fly, a company based just a few miles from The Meadows, recently teamed with the MSOA to test out their product on the helmet of Mike Wilder during a race.  Enjoy the video!

Qualifying standards: Effective April 16, 2015

From The Meadows Race Office:
Effective April 16h the new Qualifying standards will be, until further notice:

2:00 Pacers
2:02  Trotters

Three-year-olds will be allowed 2 seconds.
Two-year-olds will be allowed 4 seconds.

Cambria Suites Meadow Lands discount available to MSOA members

cambria2A reminder, MSOA members are eligible to receive a discount at the Cambria Suites, Meadow Lands.

Be sure to mention the MSOA when booking by phone at 724-223-5555.

The Cambria Suites is located at 451 Racetrack Road.