A group of nearly 300 horsemen, legislators and friends of harness racing turned out for the 18th annual Delaware Standardbred Owners Association (DSOA) Awards Dinner at Modern Maturity in Dover, Delaware on Friday, Jan. 16.
The annual DSOA meeting at mid-day preceded the awards dinner and its early evening cocktail hour under the auspices of DSOA Executive Director Sal DiMario and his staff of Denise Rothermel and Lisa Pearson.
Again, this year, popular TV hostess Heather Vitale and annual visitor Bill Ellis served as co-emcees presenting videos of award-winning horses plus colourful, fun-filled high spots of Ms. Vitale’s weekly “Post Time” programs on WBOC TV.
The highlights of the 2014 racing season featured top horses of the Dover Downs and the Harrington Raceway meets. A silent auction to benefit Horse Lovers United Inc., a not-for-profit organization which provides a residence and care for retired horses, was held in conjunction with the banquet.
In addition to leading horsemen and friends in attendance at the banquet were, as usual, many of Delaware’s top legislative executives. The list included Congressman John Carney; State Senators Bethany Hall-Long, Gary Simpson and Bryan Townsend; along with State Legislative Representatives Gerald Brady, Ron Gray, Kevin Hensley, Harvey Kenton (who presented the pre-meal blessing), Ruth Brigs-King, John Kowalko, Bobby Outten, Trey Paradee, Steve Smyk, Jeff Spiegelman, Dave Wilson and Lyndon Yearick.
In attendance were Delaware Harness Racing Commissioner Patricia Wagner and Executive Director Mark Davis. Also present were USTA District Directors, Chairman Dr. William Moffett, and directors Jim Boese and Russell MacKinnon.
Introduced were the DSOA board of directors – President, Andy Markano, Brenda Bramble, 1st vice president, Barbara Bramble, 2nd vice president, Dr. William Moffett, treasurer, Frank Diliberti (excused absence), secretary, Frannie West. Other directors include George Dennis, Vic Kirby, Russell McKinnon, Presley Moore, George Teague, Max Walton, Valerie Warnick, and directors’ emeritus Dan Camac and Ralph Holloway.
Also among the dignitaries were members of the media. The Media Award was presented to Andy West, Managing Editor of the Delaware State News, a former harness writer and today a strong supporter of harness racing.
DSOA 2014 Award Winners
The fifth annual James T. Case Jr. DSOA Horizon Award (to a horseman making outstanding progress during year) was presented to harness driver Jonathan Roberts, one of the sport’s rising stars. Roberts enjoyed his finest season in 2014 driving his most winners and money won by horses he drove during the year.
The DSOA Special Appreciation Award was presented to Andy West, Managing Editor of Delaware State News for "Outstanding Coverage of Harness Racing and Related Horsemen’s Issues."
2014 DSOA Special Appreciation Award was presented to State Senator Bethany Hall-Long, “A True Friend to Delaware Harness Horsemen and Women.”
The James T. Case Jr. $1,000 Scholarship, in memory of the longtime DSOA President, was presented to Erica Brittingham, attending Del. Tech & U Community College, majoring in Physical Education.
Again this year, the DSOA gave out a total of $6,000 in Scholarship awards.
A multi-coloured program featuring DSOA honoured horses was placed at each seat. The horse honourees were:
Trotters – Political Foe (colt); Penny Paratrooper (filly)
Pacers – Sonofa Sizzle (colt); Purrfect Bags & Totally Rusty [tie] (filly)
Trotters – I Like My Boss (colt); Overnight Hit (filly)
Pacers – Casino Bags Carlo (colt); Seboomook Fool Yah (filly)
DSOA Horses of the Meet:
Horse of the Meet – Nova Artist, for the second season in-a-row
Trotter of the Meet – Awsome Valley, also winner last season
Claimer of the Meet – Mach Lady
Horse of the Year – Just A Jolt
Trotter of the Year – I Like My Boss
Claimer of the Year – Sir Jonathan Z Tam
Following award presentations, many door prizes were handed out.