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Horowitz, Vallandingham Brothers Inducted Into CHHA Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Alan Horowitz, Gene Vallandingham and Bill Vallandingham, who were officially inducted into the California Harness Horsemen’s Association Hall of Fame.

Horowitz, who has worn many hats in the business, started out as a partner with longtime friends Donald and Barbara Arnstine and Steve Desomer with a $25,000 claimer named Quaker Byrd.

Quaker Byrd won his first race for the partners and Alan was hooked. Moving on, Alan would eventually become a board member and president of CHHA.

In 1994, Horowitz was instrumental in bringing in Steve Berry to purchase Capital Racing from the horsemen and turned racing around in California. As General Manager, he ran a very successful meet until changing hats to become the Executive secretary for CHHA until his retirement in 2013.

“This is quite an honor,” said Horowitz. “Even though I’ve been out of the industry for about three years, I still look back over my shoulder and keep track of what is going on.

“I especially want to thank Fred Kuebler for his very kind words at the induction ceremony.”

Also inducted into the Hall of Fame were brothers Gene and Bill Vallandingham. Gene Vallandingham, who has won 2,900 races as a driver with nearly $13.5 million in earnings.

Gene grew up in the business in Kentucky, eventually moving to Illinois where he took driving titles at Washington Park and Aurora Downs.

In 1971, he made the move to California where he established himself as a top driver/ trainer. Known for his long blond locks, Gene was then nicknamed “Golden Rod” or “Go Rod”.

With his red white and blue colors and famous white boots, he went on to become a fan favorite .

Bill Vallandingham was also a dedicated horseman to the California circuit in his own right. Wearing many hats as a groom, paddock judge, horse identifier, horse tattooer and eventual starting gate judge.

Bill was and still is the horseman’s friend and big supporter of California racing. While you may have seen him on the golf course or playing softball of a horseman’s team, his license plate said it all, Billy V 4 u.

If horsemen needed to school their horses Billy would on his own time make sure he had the gate out there so the young horses could get gate time or if a farm needed their foals tattooed, Bill was there when you needed him.

Divisional 3-year-old winners were also announced along with the 2014 horse of the year.

Placer 3, t 2:00.1m, $30,552 took top male trotter, owned by Desomer Stables

Ahh Panama 3, t 2:01.2m $28,569 was awarded the top filly trotter, owned by Henry Wieseneck, Martin Garey and Bob Johnson.

J’s Littlerockstar 3,p 1:55.2m $28,569 took top filly pacer honors owned by James Kennedy.

King of the Crop 3,p 1:54.3m $40,470 was awarded the top male pacer owned by Frank Nevarez.

El Azteca owned by Marco Rios was voted 2014 horse of the year.

James Kennedy picked up his first award for being the top driver/trainer in the Sire Stakes.

Top stallion awards were also given to the trotter and pacing stallions for their offspring’s performance in the Sires Stakes.

Panama Hanover, owned by Debra Budahn, took the trotting stallion award and Little Steven, owned by Shari Burns, took top pacing stallion honors.

The CHHA members also voted for three directors to the board with David Neumeister and Steve Wiseman retaining their seats and David Siegel now joining the board replacing Renee Mancino.

By Robin Clements