Sunday, April 6, 2014

HANA Harness Announces Additional Sponsors and Final Handicapper

April 6, 2014 - HANA Harness is pleased to announce additional sponsors (one new and one returning)  to the 2014 HANA Harness Grand Circuit ‘Shoot-Out’ Handicapping Contest presented by The Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs.

New as a Silver Sponsor this year is the Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) which presently represents horsemen at WEG tracks.  Returning for a third year of sponsorship at the Silver level is Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park.  As Canadian sponsors, their donations will be used to benefit Canadian standardbred rescues. 

We encourage all followers of the handicapping challenge to visit our sponsors’ websites by visiting the contest website and clicking on their logos. 

Sponsorship opportunities remain available.  Tracks, horsemen associations, racing stables, and those vendors who market to the harness racing industry and/or fans are welcome to become sponsors.  For additional information regarding sponsorship, click here

HANA is also pleased to announce the roster of handicappers has been finalized with the addition of Brian McEvoy.  McEvoy, works for Harnesslink in various capacities.  This will be his first appearance in a HANA handicapping contest and he will be playing for Horse Rescue United.

The first leg of the 2014 Grand Circuit ‘Shoot-Out’ is scheduled for April 26, 2014 when the finals of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pace and the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series will be contested at Yonkers Raceway.  A complete list of contest days may be found here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

HANA Harness Announces Initial Sponsors and Handicappers for 2014 Handicapping Challenge

March 23, 2014 - HANA Harness is pleased to announce the initial Gold Sponsors of this year’s handicapping contest along with the handicappers and rescues they are representing in this year’s event.

This year’s Grand Circuit ‘Shoot-Out Handicapping Contest is being sponsored by prior year sponsors, The Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs.  New this year to the Gold Level Sponsorship level is DRF Harness and Northfield Park.  Thanks to the sponsors which have already committed, at least $3,000 will be distributed to standardbred rescues as a result of this year’s contest.

Additional sponsorships, primarily at the Silver and Bronze levels. are still available.  Whether a racetrack, horsemen’s group, or a provider of services related to harness racing, HANA Harness welcomes your sponsorship of this contest.  100% of all funds are directed to approved standardbred rescues.  For further information regarding sponsorship opportunities, you may send an email to

In addition to the initial gold level sponsors, the contestants for the 2014 HANA Harness Grand Circuit ‘Shoot-Out’ Handicapping Contest presented by The Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs have been named.  This year we have a mix of handicappers of all age groups, from teens and up; some returning and first time contestants.  Along with the names of the handicappers is their primary relationship to racing, how they finished in their last HANA Harness Contest (if competed before), and the standardbred equine rescue they are playing for in this year’s contest. For complete biographies of the handicappers, you may visit the contest website for additional information.

Garnet Barnsdale – Harness Racing Writer; Finished 6th in 2013, Rescue: TROTR; Therapeutic Riding and Off-Track Rehabilitation)

Ray Cotolo – Internet Harness Racing Analyst and Writer; Did Not Compete, Rescue: Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals 
Ray Garnett –Handicapper; Finished 10th in 2013, Rescue: Rockin T Equine Rescue
Derick Giwner - Editor, DRF Harness; Did Not Compete, Rescue: New Vocations

Sally Hinckley – On-air Handicapping Personality; Finished 9th in 2013, Rescue: Sunshine Horse Rescue.

Brian McEvoy - Works for Harnesslink, Did Not Compete, Rescue: Horse Rescue United

Mark McKelvie – Handicapper; Finished 8th in 2013, Rescue: Rainhill Sanctuary.

Rusty Nash – Trackmaster Handicapper; Finished 2nd in 2013, Rescue: Central Virginia Horse Rescue

Dennis O’Hara – Handicapper, Former Asst Race Secretary; Finished 5th in 2013, Rescue: Standardbred Retirement Foundation
Earl Paulson – Handicapper, Yahoo Harness Racing Forum Director; Finished 3rd in 2013, Rescue: Heading for Home

Anne Stepien – Handicapper, Former Trainer; Finished 4th in 2013, Rescue: Heart of Phoenix

Gordon Waterstone – Associate Editor, Horseman and Fair World; Finished 7th in 2013, Rescue: Racer Placers

Brandon Valvo – Handicapper, Writer; Did Not Compete, Rescue: Changing Fates Equine Rescue

Josi Verlingieri – Handicapper; Did Not Compete, Rescue: Helping Hearts Equine Rescue.

Bob Zanakis – Ocean Downs Handicapper; Finished 3rd in 2012, Rescue: Horse Lovers United.

The first leg of the 2014 Grand Circuit ‘Shoot-Out’ is scheduled for April 26, 2014 when the finals of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pace and the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series will be contested at Yonkers Raceway.  A complete list of contest days may be found here

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Contestants for 2014 HANA Harness' Grand Circuit 'Shoot-Out' Handicapping Challenge

For the 2014 HANA Harness Grand Circuit 'Shoot-Out' Handicapping Challenge presented by The Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, fourteen handicappers have been assembled to do battle.  Here is a brief biography of each handicapper, listing their finishing position in their last HANA contest and the the charity they will be competing for in 2014.

Garnet Barnsdale (Finished 6th in 2013, TROTR) – Barnsdale returns for a second year of competition.  He is the writer of Driveon blog at and hosts a harness racing radio show, North American Update on SRN Media Works..  Garnet is a contributing writer to the Down the Stretch newspaper and writes a harness racing column for HANA's  monthly online magazine. .

Ray Cotolo (Did Not Compete, Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals ) – Cotolo was raised into the industry by former TIMES: In Harness editor and father Frank Cotolo. In the middle of his teenage years, Ray works on such projects as Harness Racing America and North American Harness Update, an Internet radio broadcast on SRN Mediaworks Friday nights from 9-11 p.m. alongside fellow contestant Garnet Barnsdale. He also writes his column Ray on Racing, also found on SRN Mediaworks’ site. 

Ray Garnett (Finished 10th in 2013, Rockin T Equine Rescue) –  Returning for a second year, Garnett is a veteran handicapper, handicapping both standardbreds and thoroughbreds.  Ray has participated in numerous online and track handicapping contests including winning one such as a contest at Sam Houston Park.  Ray also plays contests at winning several feeder contests in the last year plus .He's the former owner of a Maine Sire Stakes horse, Frapper Joe.  Frapper Joe raced in Maine Sire Stakes Final finishing a nice 2nd in a race with a purse of over $68,000.   
Derick Giwner (Did Not Compete, New Vocations) – Giwner serves as Editor of DRF Harness for Daily Racing Form ( and for the newspaper DRF Harness Eye. He is DRF’s lead handicapper for The Meadowlands and also manages its social media accounts on both Twitter (@DRFHarness) and Facebook. Giwner, who started in the industry in 1996, has worn many hats, including owner, amateur driver, track announcer and chart-caller.

Sally Hinckley (Finished 9th in 2013, Sunshine Horse Rescue) – Hinckley returns for a second year of competition.  She is a long time handicapper who has travelled to East Coast tracks but she particularly loves Maine Fair Racing.  She is the author/creator of Lady Lewiston Says:, a daily handicapping column.  Hinckley is the secretary of The Maine Harness Racing Promotion Board and does a live handicapping show at Scarborough Downs.  Her first horse, Home Girl Van is 25 years old and has been joined at the farm in Alna, Maine by Stelerbration and Armbro Brando.

Brian McEvoy (Did Not Compete, Horse Rescue United) - McEvoy works for Harnesslink in several capacities.  He is making his first appearance in a HANA contest.

Mark McKelvie (Finished 8th in 2013, Rainhill Sanctuary) – McKelvie returns for a third straight year.  He has long been around Mohawk/Woodbine Racetracks and was the winner of HANA’s 2012 The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge and looking to regain his crown.

Rusty Nash (Finished 2nd in 2013, Central Virginia Horse Rescue) – Nash returns for the second year and has written for Trackmaster since they started their harness selection services in 1998.  He had a one year stint writing a column called The C-Note for the USTA.  Nash has also owned quite a few standardbreds that raced in the Northeast, having the most success with Shark St Partners and Carlspur.

Dennis O’Hara (Finished 5th in 2013, Standardbred Retirement Foundation) – Returns for a second year of competition.  Dennis retired from the NYC Police Department after a 40 year career.  He has been an avid harness fan since the late 1970's leading him to become a co-owner of several race horses who campaigned on the Grand Circuit and in the NY Sire Stakes in the 1980's/  O'Hara worked two years as the assistant race secretary at Buffalo Raceway.
Earl Paulson (Finished 3rd in 2013, Heading for Home) – Paulson is competing in his third HANA contest, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the last two contests and hopes to break his maiden this time out.  Paulson was drawn to harness racing in 1971 when he saw an old gelding on the program named Earl The Pearl which was his first bet.  While he lost, his interest in Harness Racing grew, and he eventually became a handicapper for Sports Eye.  Subsequently, Paulson has developed his own computer program for handicapping harness races which he constantly refines.  A retiree, Paulson recently completed his third screenplay, Miles To Go Before I Sleep, a story of a gambler, who buys a 14-year-old gelding.  He manages a Yahoo group dedicated to Harness Racing, MerryGoRoundRacing. 

Anne Stepien (Finished 4th in 2013, Heart of Phoenix) - Stepien has been a life-long fan of harness racing and once trained horses for Dr. Robert Johns after which she went on the Grand Circuit working for Gene Reigle.  She is looking forward to participating in this handicapping contest for a second year, which ‘doesn’t require you to handicap the entire card’.  For several years, Anne handicapped for Bobby Z’s Picks at the Races.

Gordon Waterstone (Finished 7th in 2013, Racer Placers) - Waterstone is associate editor of The Horseman And Fair World whose race picks over the years have appeared in several newspapers and tip sheets. He has competed and contended in several National Harness Handicapping Championships at the Meadowlands and is looking forward to the ‘Shoot-Out’ format of this contest. 

Brandon Valvo (Did Not Compete, Changing Fates Equine Rescue) - Is 19 year old harness racing enthusiast whose home track is Saratoga Casino and Raceway.  He recently has been hired at the brand new new website as the Lead Writer/Handicapper.

Josi Verlingieri  (Did Not Compete, Helping Hearts Equine Rescue)  – Verlingieri is a horse racing fan who enjoys racing and participating in horse racing forums and groups.  A veteran in handicapping, be it harness or thoroughbred, she looks forward to the contest.

Bob Zanakis (Finished 3rd in 2012, Horse Lovers United) – Bobby Z who returns to the handicapping contest wars after taking a year off has his own website where he has handicapped several tracks online since 2003, prior years he was at and   Zanakis competed and finished 2nd in the Pen v Chip at Tioga in 2010 and finished third in the 2012 Pen v Chip Road to the Breeders Crown.  His selections have been on the video feed at Ocean Downs since 2006.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Plans Underway for the 2014 HANA Harness Grand Circuit 'Shoot Out' Handicapping Challenge

March 1, 2014 - HANA Harness is pleased to announce its plans to hold the 2014 HANA Harness Grand Circuit 'Shoot Out' Handicapping Challenge.  The contest will once again use Grand Circuit races although some stakes have been eliminated from the contest schedule to make it more manageable.  A proposed list of races included in the contest may be found here.  The contest tentatively begins with the George Morton Levy Memorial and Blue Chip Finals on April 26 at Yonkers Raceway and concludes with the Cleveland Classic at Northfield Park on December 12.

The contest rules have been modified from last year's contest.  In the 'shoot out' format of the contest, each contestant will be given $250 to wager on the day's stakes races.  While the handicapper must wager on at least one of the stakes races that day, they may spread the $250 over more than one contest race if they wish.  The fact the handicapper is not required to wager on each race is what gives the contest  the 'shoot out' format; handicappers will be seeking to wager on the race(s) they feel they will be able to get value in.  Wagers will be restricted to Win, Exacta, Trifecta, and Superfecta wagers.

Once again, sponsorships are being offered to those involved in racing, whether they be racetracks, horsemen groups, or vendors.  Funds raised from these sponsorships will once again be donated to standardbred rescue group(s) in the sponsor's respective country (In the first two years of this contest, over $7,000 has been donated to such groups).  Sponsorships are offered in the Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels.  For further information regarding sponsorship opportunities, please contact HANA Harness at

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

HANA Harness Handicapping Contests Nets Standardbred Rescues $7,000 Over Two Years

December 17, 2013 – In addition to providing handicappers an opportunity to show off their handicapping skills and provide race fans with some wagering ideas during the year, one of the major goals of HANA Harness has been to raise awareness and funds for standardbred rescues.  Thanks to our handicappers, who have been willing to handicap lengthy contests for nothing more than satisfaction in knowing they are helping unwanted horses and our sponsors who have allowed HANA Harness to donate $in excess of $7,000 over the past two years.

While HANA Harness is thankful for last year’s sponsors, we would like to specifically thank this year’s sponsors for their donations, for without their assistance, we would not be able to donate funds to this year’s worthwhile rescues.    

Thanks to our Gold Sponsors, the Hambletonian Society, Chicago Harness (Balmoral and Maywood Parks), Illinois Harness Horseman Association, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs.  In addition to these sponsors, recognition also goes to our Silver Sponsor, Red Shores Charlottetown for their donation to Canadian Standardbred Rescue.

HANA Harness looks forward to hosting another handicapping contest in 2014.  We welcome sponsorships from racing organizations, tracks operators, horsemen associations, suppliers, and owners.  If you wish to be considered for possible sponsorship opportunities in 2014, you may contact HANA Harness at to be contacted when the time is appropriate.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Richard Scott Named Champion of 2013 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge

December 15, 2013 – Despite attempts by other contestants to execute  ‘Hail Mary’ wagers in an effort to seek the payoff positions, Richard Scott is the winner of HANA Harness’ 2013 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, Chicago Harness, IHHA,  Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. 
Scott’s victory seemed assured as far back as July 21 when he exploded for a profit of $1,023.40 at Tioga Downs that weekend which created a lead which would never be challenged as no other handicapper was able to get that ‘big hit’ to put them back in the running.  Scott’s final winning margin was $743.67.
However, in the last event of the season, Rusty Nash was able to use the Cleveland Classic at Northfield Park to earn a weekly profit of $51.60, allowing him to sneak into second place, pushing Earl Paulson into third.  The only other handicapper which showed a profit for the week was Scott with a profit of $0.60.
The prize fund for the contest reached $3,250.  As a result of the final results, Scott’s horse rescue, Changing Fates Equine Rescue will be a recipient of $1,250.  Nash’s rescue, Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals is slated to receive $875, while Paulson’s third place finish results in a $375 donation to Heading for Home.  In addition to these donations, additional donations will be made in honor of Scott’s victory by the Illinois Harness Horseman Association and Red Shores Charlottetown to local standardbred rescues.  Those organizations which handle more than standardbreds have committed to using these proceeds solely for the benefit of standardbred rescues.

Here are the final standings for the contest.
Final Standings
Week Gain
Net Profit
Last Pos
Days Missed
Richard Scott

Rusty Nash
Earl Paulson
Ann Stepien
Dennis O'Hara
Garnet Barnsdale
Gordon Waterstone
Mark McKelvie
Sally Hinckley
Ray Garnett
Ten grace days permitted.  After ten days, there is a penalty of $30 per race.

HANA Harness would like to thank all our sponsors, the Hambletonian Society, Chicago Harness, IHHA, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, and Red Shores Charlottetown for not only being sponsors of this year’s contest but their commitment to help standardbreds seeking a second chance.