Bruce Hamilton Award To Polisseni

Published: October 8, 2013 10:37 am EDT

The Harness Horse Breeders of New York State are proud to announce that Wanda Polisseni has been selected as the 2013 recipient of the Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal.

For the seventh consecutive year, this award recognizes an individual who has shown outstanding integrity in the sport and also has taken the time to give back to both harness racing and their community in the State of New York. Polisseni has certainly exemplified these traits since becoming involved in the industry.

Polisseni was born and raised in Yates County and her love of harness racing started early as her family boarded standardbred horses on their farm in the town of Potter, New York. However she would not buy her first one until after her husband, Gene, passed away in 2001. That is when she decided to do something she had always wanted and purchased her first six standardbreds.

Living in Fairport, Polisseni is only minutes from Finger Lakes Racetrack and also enjoys thoroughbred racing. So she decided to invest in some of those, too. Before long, the Purple Haze Stable (the business name chosen for her daughter Kimberly’s favourite colour) was home to over 100 horses; about a 50/50 split between both breeds.

Polisseni has always been a big supporter of the New York Sire Stakes program and has been heavily invested in New York-bred stock since getting into the business. Her successes there have been many and horses like Blacktuxwhitesocks have also made names for themselves on the Grand Circuit as well. But there is one thing she enjoys more than watching her horse’s race; and that is helping others.

The Polisseni Foundation was formed in the memories of Wanda’s daughter (Kimberly, who died in an auto accident) and husband (Gene) and has the mission statement ‘Improving the quality of life in upstate New York.’ Since its inception in 1983, it has donated millions of dollars to worthy causes in an attempt to make the lives of those in Rochester, New York and the surrounding suburbs better. And they have certainly accomplished what they set out to do.

A short list of contributions include building the Polisseni Center for minimally invasive surgery and Endoscopy unit at the Rochester General Hospital, the new ice hockey rink at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the new track and field complex at St. John Fisher College, a state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging centre at the F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua, and they have also made major contributions to the Special Olympics of Monroe County, Advent House, Golisano Children’s Hospital, Marine Corp scholarship fund, Upstate Guide Dogs, Equicenter (horseback therapy for the physically impaired), National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Hunter’s Hope Foundation.

Polisseni personally takes part in and contributes to any and all track-sponsored fundraisers that occur during the racing year.

Polisseni was also a driving force in the formation of a horse rescue foundation called the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program (FLTAP). Her contribution there built ‘The Purple Haze Center,’ which is a 10,000 square foot facility housing 12 x 12 foot stalls with stall doors that have a fold down design that allows the horses to interact with barn visitors. Outside there is a 70 x 72 foot riding arena as well as four 60 x 60 foot paddocks for turnout and two 60 foot round pens that allow the horses time on grass.

Over 400 horses have been placed in new homes through the efforts of the FLTAP.

Character, accomplishment and benevolence are the qualities the Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal seeks to honour every year. And there is no one who displays those more than Polisseni.

The Bruce Hamilton Memorial Medal will be presented to Polisseni at the New York Sire Stakes/USTA District 8 awards dinner on Sunday, October 27, at 5:30 p.m. at Tioga Downs. For reservations or more information, contact the Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858 or [email protected].

(Harness Horse Breeders of NYS)

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