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Schnittker Awarded Hamilton Memorial Medal

Published: October 23, 2010 11:54 pm ET

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Harness Horse Breeders of New York State has announced Ray Schnittker as the fourth annual recipient of the Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to harness horse racing and improvements in the breeding of standardbred horses in the State of New York.

Ray Schnittker may be a Hambletonian winning driver-trainer, but he began his career in harness racing at Buffalo Raceway and he’s never forgotten that. By hard work and determination, he and his father were able to move their operation to the Metro New York tracks and parlay early success into better quality horses and a larger stable. Today Schnittker is one of the most recognizable trainers in the sport.

His best-known student is Deweycheatumnhowe, winner of the Hambletonian on his way to a $3.15 million bankroll and 2008 Trotter of the Year honours. However, he has long trained some of the top horses in the New York Sire Stakes program, including Make It Happen ($647,921) and NYSS champions Riggins ($812,578), Munis Blue Chip ($471,127), Twin B Senorita ($365,205), Last Call At Dems ($293,958) and Chippewa Street ($232,028).

His no-nonsense attitude and colourful quotes make him a favourite of media, especially in Buffalo, Batavia and around his current base at Goshen Historic Track. The accessibility he has offered reporters—from an up-close look at his top performers to a dirt-kicking ride in a jog cart—has helped the sport receive interesting media coverage in an era when sportswriters seldom cover harness racing.

Additionally, Schnittker has decided to give back by sponsoring scholarship races at Goshen Historic Track that not only dole out thousands of dollars in assistance for students continuing their education, but also allow those students to spend time learning about harness racing and the care and skill involved in the sport. His idea served as a model for Tioga Downs and Batavia Downs to host similar races and has advised Harness Horse Breeders as the organization works to expand the races to all the tracks in the state. He is also a significant sponsor of the Dewey Degree College Scholarship awarded by the Upstate New York Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Schnittker’s generosity with money and time has made these endeavours an overwhelming success.

The trainer also donates his time to the sport as a director of the U.S. Trotting Association for District 8. He was honoured by the Upstate New York Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association as a member of its Hall of Fame earlier this year and has received countless honours from the New York Sire Stakes program and tracks throughout the state.

Schnittker will be honoured during the New York Sire Stakes and USTA District 8 Awards Dinner held at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 14. For more information or reservations, contact Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858.

The Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal is given to an individual who bests exhibits Hamilton’s exemplary qualities of character and accomplishment in the harness racing industry. Hamilton served as the Executive Secretary of Harness Horse Breeders of New York State for 18 years. During that time he managed the New York Sire Stakes program masterfully and was able to unite the racing and breeding industries to successfully lobby for VLTs at tracks.

(Harness Horse Breeders of NYS)

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