(March 13, 2015) - The field has been set, the races picked, and the rescues selected for the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, all sponsors who have renewed their support for standardbred rescue with their sponsorship (additional sponsors are anticipated).
As for handicappers, one old friend and three new faces join the returning roster of handicappers. Richard Scott returns to the contest after a one year hiatus. Scott was the winner of the 2013 handicapping contest and looks to attempt to reclaim his title. Scott is a former trainer who worked for the Bessinger, Silverman, and David Elliot stables in his career. Making their debut to the contest this year are Michael Carter, the current track announcer at Buffalo Raceway; Mark Dezii, a racing fan who is a musician who hails from Philadelphia, PA; Bryan Owen. a former owner of horses such as Corleone Kosmo (BC Open Trot Winner 2008)and Luckycharm Hanover as well as an amateur handicapper.
The complete roster, last year’s placing, and selected rescues for the 2015 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge is:
Garnet Barnsdale – Harness Racing Writer, WEG Handicapper for DRF Harness; (1st); TROTR; Therapeutic Riding and Off-Track Rehabilitation)
Michael Carter – Track Announcer at Buffalo Raceway; (Did Not Compete); Central Virginia Horse Rescue
Ray Cotolo – Internet Harness Racing Analyst and Writer; (15th); Sunshine Horse Rescue.
Mark Dezii – Race Fan and Musician; (DNC); Horse Lovers United
Ray Garnett –Handicapper; (14th); Rockin T Equine Rescue
Derick Giwner - Editor, DRF Harness; (8th); New Vocations
Sally Hinckley – On-air Handicapping Personality; (12th); Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals
Brian McEvoy - Works for Harnesslink, (3rd); Helping Hearts Equine Rescue
Mark McKelvie – Communications Coordinator for WEG; (2nd); Horse Rescue United
Rusty Nash – Trackmaster Handicapper; (9th); Rainhill Sanctuary.
Dennis O’Hara – Handicapper, Former Asst Race Secretary; (11th); Standardbred Retirement Foundation
Bryan Owen – Former Owner, Handicapper ;(DNC); Standardbred Retirement Foundation
Earl Paulson – Handicapper, Yahoo Harness Racing Forum Director; (5th); Racer Placers
Richard Scott – Handicapper/Former Trainer, (DNC; 1st in 2013); Rainhill Sanctuary. [Update: Jay Hochstetler replaces Richard Scott]
Anne Stepien – Handicapper, Former Trainer; (13th); Heading for Home
Brandon Valvo – Handicapper, Writer for Harness Racing America; (6th); Horse Lovers United
Josi Verlingieri – Handicapper; (7th); Heart of Phoenix
Gordon Waterstone – Associate Editor, Horseman and Fair World; (10th); Changing Fates Equine Rescue
A new scoring system has been implemented for this year’s contest with handicappers focusing on the horse who will win the race, bringing a mix of quantity and value to the handicappers’ plans this year. For those who wish details on how the scoring will be done, the rules page explains. The competition begins on April 24 with the inaugural Meadows Futurity Trot and concludes on November 29 with the Progress Stake at Dover Downs. Handicappers and fans may follow the contest by visiting the contest website at http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com.
HANA Harness is the Harness Racing division of Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA), a group which since 2008 represents over 3,000 horseplayers in dealings with the racing industry. Since HANA Harness began sponsoring handicapping contests, over $10,000 has been donated to standardbred recues. All horseplayers, regardless of breed are invited to join HANA for free. For further information regarding HANA, please visit the HANA website at http://horseplayersassociation.org/.
For further information on joining the current sponsors by becoming a sponsor at the Gold, Silver, or Bronze level, click here.