Harrisburg, PA --- One leads a quiet life in Ohio, away from the racetrack; one leads the most public of lives as he pursues records and exudes ability -- and rapport with fans -- wherever he goes. But both do very important jobs for harness racing in these varied pursuits, which is why the United States Harness Writers Association have voted Dot Morgan the LeeAnne Pooler Unsung Hero Award and Dave Palone the W.R. Haughton Good Guy Award.
A multitalented horsewoman with a degree in agriculture and experience in almost every phase of equine performance and care, Dot Morgan started the New Vocations racehorse adoption program in 1992 from her base in Laura, Ohio, and continues to this day as overseer of the organization’s Standardbred division.
New Vocations does just what its name implies -- the group takes racehorses that are no longer competitive on the racetrack and helps them find a “new vocation,” a second career, through its equine adoption program. More than 150 Standardbreds pass through New Vocations every year.
As chief administrator, Morgan visits major equine events, regardless of breed, produces newsletters and promotional/educational materials, and aids the group’s finances with stallion auctions and a benefit at the Little Brown Jug.
The best asset Morgan brings to New Vocations, though, is herself -- a trustworthy, devoted veteran of racehorse replacement, always working with a sincere eye towards giving a retired horse the best home possible for her or his “new vocation.”
In a year when he broke the North American record for most victories in his career (15,523 and counting), drove in many major stakes, and held off USHWA Driver of the Year Tim Tetrick in a spirited late contest for winningest driver of the year (675-670), you might think Dave Palone would have moments when he wanted time out of the spotlight, time for himself or with his family, time just being away from the glare of the media and others.
But Palone -- like the man for whom his award was named -- indefatigably made himself present for media of all kinds (including a three-part USTA video study of “A Day in the Life of Dave Palone,” and a segment on a local PBS station), track events at his home base of The Meadows, and wherever his presence would help portray harness racing in a more positive light.
At ease, articulate, and oftentimes even funny, Palone has a realization of what can positively accompany being in the uppermost reaches of the sport, and his gracious use of time and energy does nothing but boost the sulky sport.
Harness Horsemen International, the trade organization of horsemen, came to the same conclusion when it named Palone its “2012 Man of the Year.”
Dot Morgan and Dave Palone will be honored on Sunday (March 3) at the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, the climatic event of Harness Congress VI weekend, to be held at the Westin Beach Resort and Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Further information about the banquet, the Congress, and related events is available at www.ushwa.org.