Florida's Finest Honoured At Banquet

The Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association held their 24th annual Hall of Fame awards banquet Friday evening with a crowd of nearly 200 present at the Pompano Beach Elks Club.

Elected to the chapter’s Hall of Fame, which recognizes special individuals who have been outstanding leaders within the industry for more than 10 years and who have contributed to the betterment of the Standardbred industry, were owner/breeder/trainer Tom Audley of Bell, owner/breeders Anthony Amante and Christine Garrity of Amante Standardbreds of Delray Beach and owner/trainer Lou Rapone of Pompano Beach.

Also being inducted on the equine side into the Hall of Fame was Amante Standardbred’s great Florida-sired pacer, Hearty Fellow. He raced only at Pompano Park his entire career, nine straight years with 50 wins and earnings of over $380,000.

National Hall of Fame Communicator John Berry did a superb job keeping the crowd's interest with his witty introduction of all the award winners and he also was the auctioneer for the live auction, where all of the money was donated to the Florida USHWA Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Fund, the Aime Choquette Sunshine Fund and the Lester & Eunice Vance Scholarship Fund.

Other awards presented by the Florida USHWA Chapter included the Delvin G. Miller Award, which recognizes someone or an organization whose life in harness racing reflects dedication and integrity furthering the growth of the sport. The award went to former harness racing driving great Lucien Fontaine of Margate.

The Stanley Dancer Award, which recognizes achievements of a trainer who has been continuously outstanding in the development of young trotters, went to trainer Lou Ginesi of Deerfield Beach and the co-presenter of the award was Stanley Dancer’s wife, Jody Dancer.

The William Popfinger Award for developing outstanding juvenile pacers went to trainer Mike Deters of Coconut Creek and there to help present the award was none other than Bill “Hollywood” Popfinger.

The Frances Dodge Van Lennep Award, which recognizes an outstanding female who has made great contributions to the sport, went to Carol Macomber of Fort Lauderdale.

The winner of the Allen J. Finkelson Award, recognizing an individual in the sport who has contributed to the positive promotion of the Standardbred industry, was Victoria Howard of Boca Raton.

The winner of the R.D. Ricketts Award, presented to an owner whose contributions to Florida racing have been outstanding, went to Laurie Poulin of Okeechobee and the winner of the Dana Irving Award for breeding excellent juvenile performers in 2014 was presented to Kim and Jay Sears of Osteen.

The Peter Haughton Award for the best newcomer to Pompano Park went to Canadian Aaron Byron, who is now one of the leading drivers at Pompano this season. The Dan Gawlas Good Guy Award, presented annually to an outstanding individual who has always contributed positively to the sport, went to Dr. Marah Lee of Lauderdale By-The-Sea.

The Florida USHWA Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to longtime owner Heddy Nelson of Tamarac. The annual Caretaker of the Year Award, which is presented to one of the 12 monthly caretakers selected during the race season in 2014, went to Donna Richards. The award goes to an outstanding individual who, over his or her career, has dedicated untiring time and efforts caring for the horses in the stable(s) they worked for.

In addition to the Florida USHWA chapter’s awards, presentations were made by the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association to the owners of the top two-year-old, three-year-old and older state-bred trotters and pacers from the 2014 season.

The annual FSBOA Breeder of the Year Award went for the fifth time to Kim and Jay Sears and the Florida Amateur Driving Club also present their year-end Driver of the Year award, which went to Ted “Touchdown” Bowman.

The divisions FSBOA Crystal Awards went to the following horses:

2YO Pacing Filly – Gold Star Dynasty
2YO Trotting Filly – Brandy
2YO Pacing Colt – Owosso Flash
2YO Trotting Colt – Railee Workable
3YO Pacing Filly – Limelight
3YO Trotting Filly – Markie
3YO Pacing Colt – Gold Star Kenny P
3YO Trotting Colt – Showing Off
Older Pacing Mare – Dont Spank Me
Older Trotting Mare – Tyrees Treasure
Older Pacing Horse – Prairie Jaguar
Older Trotting Horse - Lugar

(With files from USHWA)

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