HALL OF FAME WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS
Sunday, July 02, 2017 - by the USTA Communications Department
Goshen, NY --- On a sultry Sunday (July 2) midsummer’s evening in the Hudson River Valley, inductions for the Harness Racing Hall of Fame were conducted.
The sole inductee into the Living Hall of Fame was Brian Sears, one of the sport’s elite drivers over the course of the last 15 years. Joining Sears were Communicators Hall of Fame inductees Steve Wolf and Gordon Waterstone; and Living Horse Hall of Fame inductees Mr. Muscleman, Rock N Roll Heaven, Artstopper, Benear, Fox Valley Monika and Stienam’s Place.
Sears, 49, was inducted in to the Hall for his skill as a driver with 9,771 wins and $178,144,754 million in purses. Honored as USHWA’s Rising Star of the Year in 1991, the talented reinsman is the only driver to capture the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks on the same day, accomplishing the feat with Muscle Hill and Broadway Schooner in 2009 and again with Royalty For Life and Bee A Magician in 2013. He also won the Hambletonian in 2015 with Pinkman in the only instance he piloted the horse that season.
The sport's Driver of the Year in 2009, Sears has won 26 Breeders Crown titles, good for No. 4 on the all-time wins list in the series. Horses driven by Sears have earned more than $10 million in the series, which is among the top five in history.
Sears has also steered three winners of the Horse of the Year title: Rocknroll Hanover in 2005, Muscle Hill in 2009, and Bee A Magician in 2013.
“It’s pretty amazing to think about being mentioned with people such as (Del) Miller, (Billy) Haughton, (John) Campbell and (Bill) O’Donnell,” said Sears. “My dad (Jay) is the one who puts things in perspective, It means a lot to my family, since I grew up around the sport. The horses come and go, but the people have stayed, and getting to drive for a lot of the same ones now that I did when I first started means a lot. I always appreciate the opportunities that are given to me, and I enjoy going out there and competing.
“When I first started, I’d watch guys such as Bill Fahy (at the Meadows) and pick their brains. Today, it seems the new generation of drivers—Scott Zeron, Doug McNair, Joe Bongiorno-are getting chances to drive better horses at a younger age.”
Communicators Hall of Fame
It is only fitting Waterstone and Wolf, whose careers have essentially commenced and progressed together since their entry into the sport in 1979, were inducted into the Hall of Fame on the same evening. Both men have been president of USHWA and each has won that organization’s Member of the Year Award, with Wolf being the only individual honored in that capacity twice. Both have won the Harness Publicists Association's Allen J. Finkelson Golden Pen Award for outstanding lifetime achievement in promoting harness racing, and both have won the Clyde Hirt Media Award from Harness Horsemen's International. Both have also chaired several important USHWA committees and are also the presidents of their own respective region’s USHWA chapters.
For much of the late 20th century, Wolf was a publicist for several tracks in the immediate area of his native New Jersey (Freehold Raceway, Brandywine Raceway and Liberty Bell Park) and for the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) before relocating to Pompano Park in South Florida, where he rose through the ranks to become senior director of racing operations, until he created his own consulting company. Wolf also was the president and served on the Board of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation.
"My main goal in harness racing was to attract new people to the industry and become just addicted to harness racing as I was," Wolf said.
Waterstone was for many years the publicist for Hazel Park in Detroit, also working at other area racetracks as well as Northfield Park, before becoming associate editor of The Horseman And Fair World, for whom he wrote two John Hervey Award-winning stories. Waterstone also serves as an Internet editor and a popular columnist for that publication. He was also a member of the Breeders Crown publicity team.
"If you would have asked me back in 1979 when I was a publicity assistant at Hazel Park if I would ever be here I would have said the odds were better for a reality star would be elected as president," Waterstone said. "It is humbling to be up here to be introduced for the Hall of Fame by Moira Fanning, my dear friend, and to be up on the podium with Roger Huston."
Living Horse Hall of Fame
Mr Muscleman t, 2, 1:59; 3, 1;53.3; 4, 1:53.1; 5, 1:51.1; 6, 1:52.1; 7, 1:52 qualified for induction into the Hall of Fame based on his career as a racehorse.The gelded son of Muscles Yankee-Meadowbranch Irene collected $1,178,115 in 2003, which was the most money ever earned by a 3-year-old trotting gelding. In 2004, winning the Maple Leaf Trot and American-National helped earn Mr Muscleman the title of Older Trotter of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada. In 2005, 5-year-old Mr Muscleman's victories included the Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, Titan Cup and Classic Series, where he set his record 1:51.1. His season's earnings of $1,364,220 were the most ever by an older Standardbred gelding and made Mr Muscleman the only Standardbred to earn $1 million in two non-consecutive seasons of North American racing. He was voted 2005 Trotter of the Year and Older Trotter of the Year. He is owned by Adam Victor and sons, was trained by Noel Dailey and piloted by Hall of Famer Ron Pierce.
Rock N Roll Heaven, p, 2, 1:50.2; 3, 1:47.3 qualified to enter the Hall of Fame on his merits as a racehorse. When the 2010 Horse of the Year and world champion was the 10-leading single-season money-winning Standardbred of all time, recording 20 wins out of 30 career starts. In 2009, 2-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven earned $592,626 and set a world record 1:50.3 for 2-year-old pacing colts on a five-eighths mile track. In 2010, 3-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven won 16 of 21 starts, banking $2,156,192, which made him that season’s leading money-winning Standardbred. The stallion was elected 2010 Dan Patch Horse of the Year, Dan Patch Pacer of the Year, and Dan Patch and O'Brien 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year.
"I can't say thank you enough to all the people that supported him and bred to him," Joe Bellino said. "There were so many heartfelt people along that way that reached out to my family about his horse. We keep buying horses now to find another one like him."
"Thank you for the people that voted for Rock N Heaven to enter the Hall of Fame," Saunders said. "He is a very deserving inductee and was the horse of a lifetime."
In winning the Little Brown Jug in record time (1:49.2), Rock N Roll Heaven became the first horse to pace two sub-1:50 miles on the same day, while setting the world record for pacing on a half-mile track in a two-heat race and the record for 3-year-old pacers on the half-mile. In 2010 he paced a record 11 sub-1:50 race miles, including seven consecutive, with victories in 1:49.2 or faster on half-mile, five-eighths mile, seven-eighths and mile tracks. Rock N Roll Heaven, a son of RocknRoll Hanover-Artistic Vision, is owned by Frank Bellino. He was conditioned by Bruce Saunders and driven by Dan Dube.
Artstopper entered the Hall of Fame due to her meeting the criteria for induction. The daughter of Artsplace-Ain't No Stopn Me was born in 2003 and was unraced. Bred and owned by Roll The Dice Stable, the mare produced the fastest Standardbred of all-time and 2016 Horse of the Year Always B Miki p, 5, 1:46, )$2,715,368), Yagonnakissmeornot p, 5, 1:49.3, $(1,458, 850) and One Stop Deal p, 4, 1:50.4, ($114,549).
"This is something that means more to me anything," Joe Hurley said. "This is all done for love of the Standardbred."
Benear (Badlands Hanover-Veneer) is a Hall of Fame inductee although she was a very good on the racetrack. In fact, she earned $319,321 and set her mark of 1:49.3 as a 4-year-old. As a broodmare, Benear, who is owned by Geoffrey Martin and was bred by Susie Stafford, is the dam of 2014 Little Brown Jug victor Limelight Beach p, 3, 1:49.1, ($1,277,529), Momas Got A Gun p, 3, 1:50.1 ($509,844) and Manhattan Beach p, 3, 1:49.3, ($514,915).
Fox Valley Monika entered the Hall of Fame as a result of her proficiency in the breeding shed. The daughter of Incredible Finale-Lady Kin (1998, p, 3,1:53.3 ($64,049), produced Glass Pack p, 4,1:49.4 ($1,002,820), Doubletrouble p,5,1:50 ($702,203) and Our Dragon King p,4,1:49.1 ($523,801). To date, Fox Valley Monika has produced three fillies and six colts, with seven starters and earnings of more than $3.1 million. She is owned by Duane Miller.
"Legacy Farm only has between eight and 12 broodmares, so it shows you don't have to be a Hanover or Winbak Farm," said Miller's son Darin. "It has great feeling of accomplishment to our little farm in Indiana, as we bred and raised all of her foals and then developed relationships with all the people associated with them all the way."
Stienam’s Place, despite being world champion and the 1997 Dan Patch 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year, entered the Hall of Fame because of her progeny. The daughter of Artsplace-Stienam’s Girl (p, 3,1:50.4, $1,402,301) was responsible for Put On A Show p, 5,1:47.3 ($2,406,628), Showherthemoney p, 3,1:49 ($871,161) and Good Day Mate p,3,1:49.3f ($503,349). To date, Stienam's Placehas produced seven fillies and four colts, with nine starters and earnings of more than $4.5 million. The 23-year-old mare is now owned by Green Mountain Farm and Kentuckiana Farms.
"I have such great memories of Stienam's Place racing and as a broodmare, although it did take awhile for her to come around," said Barry Guariglia. "Of course I have to thank her and I have to thank everybody."
2017 Harness Racing Hall of Fame Amateur Driving Champion
Hannah Miller, 25, was honored for the second consecutive year as leading driver on the Billing Series of races for amateur drivers. Miller’s success in the sulky has benefited the work of the Museum, as her contributions in lieu of commissions benefit its work.
Last year Miller repeated her stellar season from 2015, again tallying 32 triumphs, which is the most ever by an amateur driver. In Sept., Miller represented the U.S. in the international amateur World Cup in Budapest, Hungary, and finished second by only one point. She ruled the 2016 C.K.G. Billings Series, as she was the combined points champion and captured the East Region Final at Pocono Downs and the $25,000 Billings Series final.