Harness Horsemen International’s annual meetings concluded on Wednesday, March 9 at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa, Deerfield Beach, Fla.
The Wednesday session included a presentation from Joe Pennacchio, the president and executive director of Florida’s SBOA, who discussed ‘de-coupling,’ an issue which recently threatened the existence of harness racing in the Sunshine State.
Later that morning, HHI members voted to meet in Las Vegas in 2017, along with the USTA and United States Harness Writers Association's annual meetings. HHI elections then ensued.
Re-elected to serve new three-year terms to the HHI board are president Tom Luchento (SBOANJ); Kim Hankins (Meadows HHA) as first vice president; Tony Somone (Illinois HHA) as second vice president; Mike Izzo (PHHA) as treasurer; and Sal DiMario (DSOA) as secretary.
Tim Powers (Maine HHA) and Gabe Prewitt (Kentucky HHA) were both re-elected to one-year terms as at-large directors, as were Peter Maranari (PHHA) and Andrew Markano (DSOA), who replace retiring directors Ron Battoni (PHHA) and Jerry Knappenberger (OHHA). Both Battoni and Knappenberger were honoured as HHI directors emeritus via unanimous vote for their many years of service to the organization.
USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner, PHHA’s retiring executive director Ron Battoni and Harness Racing Communications' Ken Weingartner were honoured at HHI’s annual awards luncheon that afternoon. Tanner was presented with the Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year Award; Battoni with the HHI Appreciation Award; and Weingartner with the Clyde Hirt Media Award.
HHI is comprised of horsemen’s associations from the United States and Canada who collectively represent the agriculture based industry of harness racing in North America. HHI’s governing body consists of representatives from its member associations.