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Harness Museum filled with laughter for John Manzi retirement dinner

Harness Museum filled with laughter for John Manzi retirement dinner
Tuesday, June 02, 2015 - by Chris Tully, for the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame

Goshen, NY --- The John Manzi retirement dinner on Sunday (May 31) at the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., was a sell-out event in honor of the hardest working publicist the Standardbred sport has ever known.

Attended by more than 125 well-wishers, friends, colleagues, family members and fans, some of the sport's brightest stars came out to honor a guy who has been propping up the key players in the harness horse industry for more than 40 years.

Ann Mari Daley photo

John Manzi and his cousin, Hall of Fame driver Cat Manzi, at John's retirement dinner on May 31.

Not only did the Hall of Fame publicist provide racing coverage for Monticello Raceway for four decades, but John Manzi also churned out press releases for Goshen Historic Track, Delvin Miller Harness Drivers, North American Amateur Drivers, and the local chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association. The stories about racing that he has penned have been published in just about every industry and local news outlet imaginable.

Horse owners, breeders, drivers and trainers, and industry insiders young and old, near and far packed the William R. Haughton Hall to capacity to eat, drink, tell John Manzi stories (of which there are countless) and listen to nearly a dozen speakers -- all who had a chance to re-live some of their most cherished, and in some cases most hilarious, moments with the man they call JM in the PM.

Champion harness driver George Brennan, Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois, Hambletonian Society publicist Moira Fanning, Museum past president Ebby Gerry, Museum past treasurer Peter Gerry, Roosevelt Raceway publicity man Barry Lefkowitz, trainer/driver Eddie Lohmeyer, horse owner Larry Roman, and lifelong friend Steve Sharoff all took turns sharing stories about the man everyone loves to laugh with. New York Daily News racing writer Dave Little performed the duties of Master of Ceremonies and kept the event running smoothly, despite all the playful barbs from the guest speaker list.

By the end of the night, Manzi took the post in which he is probably most comfortable -- in front of the microphone. While working the room, he collected several bags of the various gag gifts, his own bobblehead, and commendations that he had been presented over the course of the evening. To a lengthy standing ovation, the man with the big hair and big smile graciously thanked everyone in the room and expressed his gratitude to an industry that, "made me want to get out of bed every morning for over 40 years!"

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