MONTICELLO, N.Y. — Name a committee, executive board or organization in all of harness racing, and chances are that Moira Fanning has served on it — well. In fact, her name has become synonymous with getting the job done in the Standardbred sport.
On Dec. 2, United States Harness Writer’s Association’s Monticello-Goshen Chapter presented Fanning with its second highest honor, the John Manzi Leadership Award.
The award was established in 2016 and first given to its namesake, John Manzi. Recipients are chosen from industry individuals who have made an indelible and far-reaching impact upon the entities which they have led; given in Manzi’s honor for his four decades of contributions to Monticello Raceway and the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association.
Moira Fanning is a perfect example of why this honor was established: fearless leadership.
Fanning has been with the Hambletonian Society, based in Cranbury, N.J., for 30 years and was recently named the stakes administration organization’s Chief Operating Officer. She has earned this title from the ground up, providing publicity and event planning for decades to both the time-honored Hambletonian Day events and the prestigious Breeders Crown.
In fact, anyone who has ever worked alongside Fanning at these iconic affairs knows that she is the fuel that keeps all the engines running smoothly. New Hambletonian Society president John Campbell, a guy who knows a few things about winners, praised Fanning’s promotion.
“This is a well-deserved promotion for Moira,” said Campbell. “She has been a tremendous asset for the Society for many years and her professionalism, talent and commitment are unparalleled in our industry. It has been a pleasure working with and learning from her these last few months and I feel fortunate we will be working together for the foreseeable future.”
Raised in Valley Forge, Pa., she was bitten by the horse bug at an early age. Fanning went from giving riding lessons at a local farm to working with Standardbreds. Her duties took her from the East Coast to California, and along the way she has been a caretaker for Hall of Famers Howard Beissinger and Billy Haughton. Eventually she found her way to the “front side” of Brandywine Raceway, working publicity for Communicators Hall of Famer Marv Bachrad.
Already a member of the Communicators Hall of Fame herself, Fanning is an oft-sought expert of the big races of the sport. Shunning attention and deflecting fame to others, her humble nature and sense of humor has assembled Fanning a ‘who’s-who’ list of friends and admirers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Also a big fan of harness racing, Fanning enjoys traveling to Paris for the Prix d’Amerique and Stockholm for Elitloppet.
After the award presentation, Fanning outlined how men like Manzi, Bachrad, Tom Charters and Bill Fidati all gave her the opportunities the sport had to offer.
“For me, it was more like a ‘She Too’ movement…illustrating what her mentors thought, ‘If I could do it, she could too!”
And do it she has, rising to the top echelon of a male-dominated sport.
Other prominent honorees included, Chuck Connor (John Gilmour Good Guy), Peter Gerry (Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award), Salt Hill Farm/Jim & Anne Feeley (Cradle of the Trotter Breeders Award), Jennifer Lappe (Amateur Driver), Debbie Little (Phil Pines), Shane Darish (Rising Star), and Arthur Robinson (Award of Appreciation).
The local equine practitioners from the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association where also honored. Driver of the Year, Mike Merton was on hand to accept his award for most wins, as was Kearstin DeGraw, the Caretaker of the Year from the Gary Messenger Stable. Monticello Raceway’s horse of the Year was Johnnie DeSimone’s Sentimental Lady.
Proceeds from the advertisers in the souvenir journal and banquet ticket sales go toward making sizeable donations to both the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and Goshen Historic Track, two distinct and separate entities that each received $4,000 from the chapter coffers in 2018.
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