2017-2018 HTA Scholarship Winners


Harness Tracks of America and International Sound Corporation are pleased to announce six recipients of this year’s Harold Snyder Memorial Scholarships.

The awards, totaling $17,000, are presented annually to the offspring of harness racing participants or to individuals themselves who are actively engaged in the sport.

David Snyder, CEO of International Sound and HTA’s Scholarship Committee Chair, emphasized the difficult task confronting the selection panel: “Twenty outstanding students applied, all of whom merited aid.

We decided to add funds and expand the number of grants to six from the customary three.

The need is so great that any measure of assistance helps in these times of spiraling tuition.”

Winners of 2017-18 Academic Year Awards:

Lyndsay Hagemeyer

LYNDSAY HAGEMEYER, 25, Clarksville, OH, $5000.

The daughter of Scott and Cindy Hagemeyer, she is in her first year at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

A 2015 cum laude graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Lyndsay earned a BA degree majoring in Psychology with a minor in Biology. 

She made the Dean’s List 12 times at UC and was a Psychology Student of the Year. 

She is firm in her career goal of becoming an equine and large animal vet: “I chose OSU because I can remain active in Ohio harness racing and assist with the care of Standardbreds at the university’s hospital.”

While taking a year off to work full time as assistant manager at the Hagemeyer Family Farm, Lyndsay remained heavily involved in her church, the Warren County Farm Bureau and the 4-H Horse Club.

She also has been a dedicated volunteer for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association the past two years as an ambassador to Equine Affair and the Ohio State Fair.

Sarah Birkhold

SARAH BIRKHOLD, 23, Sarasota, FL, $5000. She, too, is in her first year of vet school at Lincoln Memorial College of Veterinary Medicine in Harrogate TN, located on the TN/VA/KY border in the Cumberland Gap.

She is the daughter of George and Cindy Birkhold, and her family has owned, bred and raced Standardbreds for over 60 years.

An Animal Sciences major and cum laude grad of the University of Florida last December, Sarah was active in extracurricular and mentoring roles.

She was president of the Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen, Treasurer of Block and Bridle, an Equine Sciences teaching assistant and a leader in the campaign to prevent decoupling of racing and gaming at Florida’s racetracks.

An ambitious sort with an entrepreneurial bent and plenty of experience working for herself and at part-time jobs, it did not take Sarah long to land a gig in Harrogate.

“While searching for housing, I familiarized myself with the town and met the owner of the local Ewing Stockyard,”

She wrote in her essay. “After talking for about an hour, he offered me a position to help him palpate cows before the weekend sale. I plan to help him as much as I can when I move so I can get as much experience as possible.”

Maja Brown

MAJA BOWN, 20, West Orange, NJ, $2500. Maja is a Nutrition and Wellness major who will earn a BS degree at the University of New Hampshire next spring, after which she intends to complete a fifth year in New Jersey to earn a nursing degree in an accelerated program.

She is a solid B+ student who has worked throughout high school and college as a groom, waitress and leasing assistant for a property management company.

Her parents, John and Nancy Bown, were Standardbred trainers and caretakers who worked side-by-side in their stable at Saratoga Harness and Gaitway Farm in New Jersey.

In 2007 both died just six months apart.

The pain of that experience helped spur her interest in nursing.

“With both my parents being sick, my sister and I had a lot of great and not so great nurses to deal with,” she wrote. “I want to have a positive influence with patients and their families.”

Maja’s affection for harness racing and fond memories of being with her parents at the barn remain undiminished. When home, she often goes to Gaitway Farm where her parents trained and where she assists in the stable of Donna and Jim Marshall.

She also volunteers annually for special events at Freehold Raceway, whose Director of Racing, Karen Fagliorone, had this to say in a letter of recommendation: “Maja was forced to mature and take on responsibilities much sooner than most children. I’ve been privileged to watch her grow into a strong, confident, hard-working young lady and could not think of a more deserving applicant.”

Jack Bumann 2

JACK BUMANN, 18, Woodhull, IL, $2500. Jack is a freshman, and member of the golf team, at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, having graduated as salutatorian in his high school class of 25.

Just a partial list of his achievements there is staggering: class president grades 9-11, National Honor Society, four-year GPA 3.96, varsity letter track 9-11, varsity letter golf 9-12 (low scorer and MVP all four years and fifth of 142 in five states invitation-only Midwest Elite Golf Tournament), Marine Corps Senior Male Distinguished Athlete Award, IL H.S. Assoc.

Concert Band Solo/Ensemble Awards 9-12, and Western IL U. Marching Band Champion Soloist 10.  Mr. Bumann’s charitable endeavors are equally impressive.

He initiated a proposed legislative change permitting an excused absence during school hours when a student plays Taps at the funerals of deceased veterans and active-duty armed services members, a community service he has performed numerous times. 

The bill was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on August 16, 2016, with Jack by his side. The accomplishment led to interviews and features on him in state-wide media, including NPR and the Chicago Tribune.

No surprise, then, when he was selected for the 2016 “Youth Trumpet and Taps Corps Founder’s Award” given to the top high school senior volunteer nationwide. 

Jack is the son of Shannon and Christine Bumann. His maternal grandparents, Sam and Sandra Hodgett, raced Standardbreds for 37 years in Illinois and Iowa.

Sam still drives the starting car at several county fairs and Jack goes with him to trumpet the Call to Post, another deed that he has performed for many fairs, including the State Fair in Springfield.

Jessica Hallett

JESSICA HALLETT, 18, Margate, FL, $1000. Jessica is enrolled as a dual degree pre-law/pre-med major at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale.

A graduate of Deerfield Beach High School’s International Baccalaureate Degree Program, she ranked 20th in her class of 545 with a weighted GPA of 5.3.

She captained the varsity softball team, played soccer, ran cross country and was a member of the French, Science and National Honor Societies.

For the last two years Jessica participated in the Broward Sherriff’s Office Explorer Post, which teaches young volunteers police and legal procedures as well as self-defense.

Within six months of joining she was promoted to Sergeant and three months later to Lieutenant. Recently she joined the Sheriff’s Office Fire Cadet program which offers basic firefighter and paramedic skills.

As the junior member of Team Hallett, the Standardbred stable consisting of parents John and Michelle and brother Jonathan, she has done it all around the barn and paddock.

To attain her IB degree, Jessica had to complete a personal project that involved learning a new skill and documenting the process. 

She sought out a local artist who taught her how to airbrush and Jessica then parlayed her new skill into designing and painting signs, race bikes and helmets. 

Brian Sears and Wally Hennessey are among her clients.

Ray Cotolo

RAY COTOLO, 18, Harrisburg, PA, $1000. Following four very productive years in which he amassed a cumulative GPA of 3.8, ranked 18th of 272 in his class and earned induction into the National Honor Society, Ray will be a freshman this fall at Elizabethtown College pursuing a BA.

His major of Communication Studies builds upon his high school extracurricular experiences in Thespian Society Dramapalooza Shows, four years of Concert Band and regular stints on the Falcon Broadcast Channel.

A precocious, inventive and extremely witty harness handicapper and commentator, young Cotolo has free-lanced for the Hambletonian Society (starting at age 10!), USTA, Twin Spires, US Racing, North American Harness Update and American Turf Monthly.

“By 2011,” he explained in his essay, “I was itching to do more work within the industry, but also aware of the lack of positions for an 11-year-old writer and handicapper. That was when I started my own blog, The Racing Inquirer, where I wrote up recaps near minutes after races and offered handicapping advice ranging from Pick-4’s to contenders in the North America Cup.”

In her recommendation letter, Moira Fanning, Director of Operations for the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown, extolled Ray’s character, work ethic and passion for harness racing: “Time and time again he has impressed me with his manners, maturity and grasp of any situation he is presented with. 

He shows up in a suit and tie and looks to fill in wherever needed and can usually do anything I ask him to do twice as fast as I can. His parents should be extremely proud of the young man they have raised.” 

Ray is the son of Kristen Cotolo and noted turf journalist Frank Cotolo.

Harness Tracks of America and International Sound Corporation have made 220 grants to 150 students since the scholarship fund’s inception in 1973.

A total of $825,950 has been awarded. 

The program remains one of the cherished legacies of deceased double Hall of Famer Stan Bergstein, the longtime Executive Vice President of HTA, and International Sound founder Harold Snyder, who died in 2015. 

HTA Scholarship Committee members Tom Aldrich (Northfield Park), Charles Lockhart (Dover Downs), Chris McErlean (Penn Gaming), Rick Moore (Hoosier Park) and Jason Settlemoir (The Meadowlands) are deeply grateful for the continuing financial support of ISC CEO David Snyder and his family. 

Their generous endowments have enriched the sport and touched the lives of harness racing families over many decades.