Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Settlemoir and Huston to Upstate New York Hall


The two newest members of the Upstate New York USHWA Harness Racing Hall of Fame representing Tioga Downs are Jason Settlemoir and Roger Huston.

After the votes were cast, the chapter members were in total agreement and the honorees will receive their "Empire Pinnacle Crystal" awards in the winner's circle at Tioga Downs on Sunday (August 28).

Jason Settlemoir's entire life has been devoted to harness racing.

He was 13 years old when he announced his first race at the Hartford Independent Fair in Licking County, Ohio.

He later did the same at numerous other county fairs in Ohio as well as the West Virginia State Fair.

His ability to describe the action eventually found him as a backup announcer at Scioto Downs and Northfield Park.

He got his first full time management position as Assistant to the Assistant General Manager (Jerry Kalb) at Scioto Downs in 1996, but he was soon promoted to Simulcast Program Manager.

Shortly after that he took on several more jobs there including Track Announcer, Simulcast Director, and Assistant Race Secretary.

In 2005 he was hired by the USTA as Director of Advertising.

But his tenure there was brief because he was offered the opportunity to be a part of a racing renaissance in New York State.

Jeff Gural brought Settlemoir on board to help bring one racetrack back from the brink of extinction and oversee the rebirth of another track that had been shuttered for 28 years.

While expending endless hours of work building a staff, planning promotions and growing simulcast outlets, Settlemoir was an integral part of keeping Vernon Downs alive and guiding Gural's new track, Tioga Downs, to be one of the finest racing facilities in New York.

Currently, Jason Settlemoir is Vice President of Racing and Simulcast for American Racing and Entertainment (Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs).

He is also Simulcast Director for the Little Brown Jug, Vice President of Harness Tracks of America, a Director for the United States Trotting Association District 8 and President of the U.S. Harness Writers Association.

Settlemoir is also active in the sport as a Standardbred owner.

He was awarded the 2006 U.S. Harness Writers Association's Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award for his work in opening up Tioga Downs and making sure Vernon Downs survived.

Settlemoir attended The Ohio State University and resides in Athens, Pa., with his wife, Lori, and their sons, Jeffrey and Travis.

There he is involved in the local community, serving on the Board of Directors for the United Way in Tioga County and chairing their annual fundraising campaign.

He is also on the Board of Directors for the Southern Tier American Red Cross and sits on the Board of Directors for the Tioga County Chamber of Commerce.

Roger Huston is a unique individual. His life exudes harness racing and he incorporates the sport in whatever he does.

He is first and foremost an ambassador to the sport who carries the message where ever he can every day.

In an era where everyone is looking for ways to promote the future of the sport, Huston has been doing just that for over half a century.

One could easily mention his 51 years of announcing 156,000 races at 126 different tracks in 17 states and seven countries or the fact that his voice has been synonymous with the tradition laden Little Brown Jug stake for 44 years.

But that would be too obvious and miss the point of what he really brings to the table.

Huston has done many charity events and fundraisers for various organizations in and out of the sport.

He MC's the New Vocation Horse Adoption auction event during Jug week and has since its inception.

He has called pig races, frog races, and even a race between the two inclines that go up the side of Mount Washington in Pittsburgh for various worthy causes like the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

And since he is arguably the most recognizable voice in harness racing, each one of these outings is like a billboard advertising the sport to people in all walks of life.

Through his career, charitable activities, and personal life, Roger Huston has introduced untold numbers of new fans to harness racing over the years and his efforts should be an inspiration to everyone in the sport who wishes to see it remain a viable industry for years to come.

Roger Huston has been calling races at Tioga Downs since they opened in 2006 and has been integral to its success with his high energy descriptions and recognizable style.