USHWA Announces Media Award Winners

Published: January 22, 2019 04:52 pm EST

The United States Harness Writers Association has announced that Dave Briggs and Bob ‘Hollywood’ Heyden have been named the winners of the 2018 John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing journalism. Chris Gooden and Michael Burns have been named recipients of the George Smallsreed Awards for photography, and the Woodbine Entertainment Group has been selected as the winner of the Sam McKee Award for broadcasting.

The winners will be recognized at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 24 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando. Meadowlands Racetrack Chairman Jeffrey Gural is continuing his longstanding sponsorship of the awards by providing banquet tickets for the winners.

Briggs won in the feature writing category for his two-part series ‘Inside the Mind of Jimmy Takter’ that appeared in the Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 editions of ‘Harness Racing Update.’ To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here. With the win, Briggs extended his record for Hervey honours to 12, with eight of the trophies for feature writing.

Heyden won in the news/commentary category for his essay ‘Requiem for Sam McKee,’ which appeared in the March 9 edition of Harness Racing Update. To read the piece, click here. The honour was Heyden’s first in the journalism category; he was recognized previously, with McKee, in the broadcast division.

Honourable mention in the feature writing category went to Jessica Hallett for her story ‘Stronger Together: Florida horsemen work together to bring a friend to a survivor,’ which recounted the efforts of horsemen to find a therapy dog for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Kayla Schaefer. The story appeared in the June issue of ‘Hoof Beats’ magazine.

Honourable mention in the news/commentary category went to Derick Giwner for his column ‘Is the Standardbred horse shortage real?’ that appeared in the June 21 edition of ‘DRF Harness Weekend’ and to Briggs for his coverage of the Hambletonian Stakes in the Aug. 6 edition of Harness Racing Update.

The writing categories were judged by a panel consisting of past Hervey winner Brad Schmaltz, freelance writer Lou Monaco, and former ‘Philadelphia Inquirer’ Sports Editor John Quinn.

In the Smallsreed competition, Gooden won in the race action category for his photograph ‘Blizzard,’ which appeared online on March 14 on Australia’s National Trotguide website. Gooden is a two-time Smallsreed winner.

’Blizzard’ (Chris Gooden)

Burns won in the feature category for his photograph of pacers behind the starting gate that appeared on Oct. 18 on the Woodbine Mohawk Park website. Burns also is a two-time Smallsreed recipient.

Pacer Behind the Starting Gate (Michael Burns)

Honourable mention in the action category went to Clive Cohen’s racing silhouette photograph that appeared on March 23 on the Woodbine Facebook and Instagram pages, and to Ryan Thompson’s Hawthorne triple-dead-heat photograph that appeared on the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association’s website on Jan. 11, 2018.

Honourable mention in the feature category went to Brad Conrad’s snowy post parade photograph that appeared in the January 2018 issue of Hoof Beats and to Gooden’s ‘Ice Crystals’ that appeared on Nov. 20 on the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association’s Facebook page.

Judges for the photography categories were racetrack and newspaper photographer Bill Denver, multiple Eclipse Award-winning photographer Barbara Livingston, and former harness racing groom and longtime newspaper/magazine photographer Phil McAuliffe.

In the McKee competition, Woodbine Entertainment Group was honoured for its story on three-year-old pacer Lather Up, which appeared as part of the June 16 North America Cup coverage on TSN. The story was written and produced by Phil McSween for the NA Cup special produced by Kris Platts. It was narrated by Paul Salvalaggio and edited by Jason Vanderzee. The camera operators were David Syrie and Gage Fletcher. The win gave WEG its third award in the broadcast division. To watch the story, click here or watch the embedded video which appears below.

Honourable mention went to CBS Sports Network’s coverage of the Aug. 4 Hambletonian Stakes eliminations, produced by Peter Lasser and featuring broadcasters Gary Seibel, Dave Brower, and Greg Blanchard.

Entries for the Sam McKee Award were judged by Kurt Becker, track announcer at Keeneland and an Eclipse Award-winning broadcaster.

For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet, visit


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