On Tuesday, September 16, the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) announced that Joe Thomson, Kathy Parker and Bob Marks have been elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.
Thomson, owner of Maryland-based Standardbred breeding operation Winbak Farm, started the enterprise with his wife, JoAnn, in 1991. The operation has ranked No. 2 among all breeders in purses earned each of the last 12 years, totaling more than $205 million since the start of 2002, and produced three Horse of the Year Award winners.
In addition, Bob Marks, the longtime marketing guru of Perretti Farms and a noted writer and handicapper, and Kathy Parker, the editor and general manager of The Horseman and Fair World publishing company, were elected to the Communicators Hall of Fame.
The three honourees will be inducted during ceremonies at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., on July 5.
Winbak Farm – which stands stallions in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario – bred consecutive U.S. Horse of the Year Award winners in pacing colt No Pan Intended, in 2003, and pacing filly Rainbow Blue, in 2004, and later saw trotting colt Muscle Hill claim the honour in 2009.
No Pan Intended is the last pacer to win the Triple Crown. Rainbow Blue is one of only three filly pacers to be named Horse of the Year. Muscle Hill is one of two Hambletonian winning trotters bred by Winbak, joining 2005 winner Vivid Photo.
Thomson, who lives in Phoenixville, Pa., is the president of the Pennsylvania Harness Breeders Association. He also is co-owner of the Red Mile, the historic harness racing track in Lexington, Ky., and serves as a director of the Hambletonian Society.
In 2013, Thomson received the Stanley F. Bergstein-Proximity Achievement Award from USHWA, an honour bestowed by the organization that is second only to election to the Hall of Fame. Other honours for Thomson include being named to the Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame in 2009.
Marks’ work in harness racing spans 50 years, starting as a contributor to Trotter Magazine and later as a writer and editor for Trotter Weekly. He handicapped for Top Trotter’s daily letter from 1966 to 1978 and was among the original chart commentators for Sports Eye, starting in 1968.
Over the years, Marks was a contributor to Hub Rail, Times Standard, Hoof Beats, and Sports Eye. He also was host of ‘Accent on Racing,’ on Meadowlands Cablevision, from 1980 to 1985, and host and analyst for ‘Racing from Roosevelt’ in 1982.
In 1988, he began working as pedigree analyst and marketing director at Perretti Farms. He wrote more than 500 ‘Trotlines’ for the farm’s website and 1,000 advertisements, in addition to naming more than 2,000 horses.
Parker started her employment at The Horseman and Fair World, a Lexington, Ky.-based trade magazine, in 1980 while still attending the University of Kentucky, and rose through the ranks until arriving at the top by being named editor and general manager in 1995.
During Parker’s tenure, The Horseman and Fair World has expanded its efforts to provide news and information, starting with the launch of a website in 1998, and then the introduction of an e-newsletter, ‘Harness Racing Weekend Preview,’ in 2009.
As a writer, Parker has travelled the world to report on the sport’s top events, including all major stakes races in North America, plus the Elitlopp in Sweden, Prix d’Amerique in Paris, and Inter-Dominion in Sydney.
Among Parker’s honors are a Hervey Award for excellence in writing, the Harness Horsemen’s International Media Award, and the Kentucky Harness Horsemen’s Media Award. In 2010, Parker’s The Horseman and Fair World received the Proximity Award from USHWA.