12/5/13 Meeting: The World of Harness Racing

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

Attending (15): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Terry Brewer, Jim Leyhane, Dick Drumm, Rommel Tolentino, Carole Spencer, Charlie Foote, Len Leonidas.

Guests (1):
Amy Dowd.


Program: The World of Harness Horse Racing


Amy Dowd describes photos of some of her race horses.
Amy Dowd describes photos of some of her race horses.

President April introduced Amy Dowd, her daughter-in-law, who is co-owner of Stone Hollow Farm and Dowd Racing Stables in Stillwater, Saratoga County.

Amy is a licensed horse trainer and owns the business with her husband Colin Dowd. It involves shipping horses to various tracks, farms and sales venues across the country, boarding horses, birthing foals and training racing horses.

She explained the differences between Thoroughbred and Standardbred horse racing — the former uses jockeys, the latter uses drivers and horses are required to maintain certain types of trotting gaits. She also distributed an information packet called “Harness Racing 101,” prepared by the Saratoga Raceway.

Among some of her comments:

— Every Standardbred horse has the same official birthday, January 1, regardless of when they are born.

— Amy now has 10 horses in training and five actually racing.

— She shared photos of a 2009 foal and one of her Standardbreds, Wee Small Hours, in harness. They begin racing at age 2 and retire at 14. Many horses go to Amish facilities after they retire because they are accustomed to the harness and are used to pull buggies.

— The Saratoga Raceway track is a half-mile long and the race is one mile.

— Horses race on various schedules. Amy races hers about once a week, in addition to training sessions being held. She explained the differences between trotters and pacers, what skills drivers need to handle their assignments. She has raced her horses at Saratoga, Monticello and Buffalo in New York and the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

— Amy also spoke about the process of birthing foals (she is a certified vet tech)  and some problems she has had that have caused personal injuries. She said Stone Hollow Farm has cameras posted around the stables connected to a monitor in the house that allows her to keep track of mares about to give birth. She has been known to sleep in the barn when a birth is imminent.

— A number of Rotarians expressed interest in having a summer 2014 tour of Stone Hollow. Amy said she would be glad to arrange something for them.


Announcements/Business:

• The Clifton Park Rotary will hold “Breakfast with Santa” on Saturday, December 14.

• Our “Cans In a Box” food collection will officially end on Thursday, December 12 (although we’ll take last-minute contributions after that). Bill Dowd will deliver the contributions to the East Greenbush YMCA, which is partnering with us on the food drive and will deliver items to local pantries for us.

• The club’s membership has been reduced to 27 due to non-payment of dues and lack of participation by several members — Burke Adams, Jason Brown and Julius Frankel.

• The annual Rotary Run now has a Facebook page, thanks to Bill Dowd, as part of an effort to broaden its appeal beyond the usual local schools. It will be updated as work progresses.

• The East Greenbush Central School District wrote to us to inform us that its January “Winterfest” will need no donation this year due to our past generosity.


NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, December 12. Program: “So You Want To Be a Doctor,” with Dr. Rommel Tolentino.


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