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Recap of the 50th Annual Meeting

Shamderock CHHA Horse of the Year Ridge Jumper, Kimmie Girl & Pres Jenuine Inducted Into Cal Hall of Fame; Neil & Mary Kelly Receive Lifetime Commitment Award

On Sunday, March 25th, the California Harness Horsemen’s Association held its Annual Membership Meeting and Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Hotel near Cal Expo. The horsemen’s association was also celebrating its 50th Anniversary – known as the Western Standardbred Association (WSA) from its inception in 1962 to the early 1980’s, and from then on the California Harness Horsemen’s Association (CHHA).

The meeting began with a business session, with Alan Horowitz introducing prominent members and horsemen & horsewomen in attendance, and then giving an update on the status of Cal Expo’s search for a new operator to take over the reins at Cal Expo. The report, based upon Cal Expo’s presentation that was made before the California Horse Racing Board on the previous Thursday, noted that two entities have continued to make progress in discussing leasing Cal Expo for Fall racing and beyond – a European group that currently provides Advanced Deposit Wagering and is interested in obtaining the harness meet, the daytime satellite wagering operation and the State Fair’s mixed breed meet, and a group headed up by Ben Kenny, a successful businessman and horseman, and former President of CHHA.

Catching up on business from earlier in the Winter race meet, 2012 and from the Fall race meet, 2011, awards for “Leading Trainer” and “Leading Driver” were presented to Bobby Johnson and Steve Wiseman, respectively. In addition, a Special Achievement Award was presented to Driver Luke Plano for having eight trips to the Winner’s Circle during the fifteen race card on January 21st.

The business session concluded with a special presentation by last year’s Lifetime Commitment Honorees – Don and Barbara Arnstine. Their song “We’re Not Leavin’ Just Yet” was sung by Don & Barbara, with Don on the guitar and those in attendance joining in on the chorus. This song was dedicated to the California Harness Horsemen.

After the musical interlude, the Awards session of the meeting began with the Hall of Fame presentations. Chairperson Robin Clements named the Committee’s 2012 Inductees – Ridge Jumper, Kimmie Girl and Pres Jenuine. Owner-Breeders Neil and Mary Kelly were announced as recipients of the Lifetime Commitment Award.

Susan Travers from the Sires Stakes Committee presented the Sires Stakes’ Divisional Champions for 2011, the Stallion Awards for 2011 and the Achievement Awards for Outstanding Trainers and Drivers in the 2011 Sires Stakes. Division Leaders for Two-Year-Olds included Trotting Filly – Vari Forgetful, Trotting Colt – El Azteca, Pacing Filly – Pismo Beach and Pacing Colt – Ra Ra Steven. Leaders among Three-Year-Olds included Trotting Filly – Thatssomebracciola, Trotting Colt – Im So Sulky, Pacing Filly – Dine N Wine and Pacing Colt – Shamderock.

The Sires Stakes also presented awards to Pacing Stallion of the Year – Hi Ho Silverheels and to Trotting Stallion of the Year – Armbro Variable. “People Awards” were also presented to two Trainers of the Year – Vickie Desomer (Highest Earnings) and Bobby Johnson (Highest UTRS), and two Drivers of the Year – Steve Wiseman (Highest Earnings) and Richard Wojcio (Highest UDRS).

The final award was CHHA’s “Horse of the Year” for 2011. This prestigious award was presented to Shamderock, the very talented three-year-old Cal Bred pacing colt. Shamderock was bred and owned by D. & E. Racing Inc., and trained and driven by Rick and Luke Plano.

Usually, the last agenda item at our Annual Meetings is to announce the results of our Election of Directors. It was announced that this year in order to accommodate to an anticipated number of member’s ballots that might be forthcoming in the days following the meeting itself, all of the ballots would be opened and tallied on Friday, March 30th at Noon in the CHHA office trailer at Cal Expo. The results of the election would then be announced.