12/11/2014 11:38AM

Harness: John Manzi announces his retirement

John Manzi has served as Monticello Raceway's Publicity Director for 34 years.

Having reached a 50 year milestone working in the harness racing industry (with 34 years serving as Monticello Raceway’s publicity director), on Thursday (12/11) John Manzi announced his retirement effective December 19th, 2014.

“Every race has to come to an end,” said Manzi. “After five decades of answering the call to the post, the time is right for me to relax a little and enjoy my golf clubs and my grandchildren. After seeing so much being at the helm of the Monticello Raceway public relations office for many years, one thing remains supremely important to me. It’s all of the good people I have met and the friends I have made.” 

While he is officially retiring, Monticello Raceway management and John Manzi have agreed that he will continue to write articles for the track and from time-to-time he will offer assistance to racing operations office.

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“John Manzi is simply an industry legend,” said Laurette Pitts, Executive Vice President, COO, and CFO for Empire Resorts, Inc., owner of Monticello Raceway. “Through good times and bad, John played a pivotal role in promoting the harness racing sport. Utilizing his unique brand of creativity, he generated an incalculable amount of good will and positive exposure for Monticello Raceway.  While his booming laugh and friendly smile will be greatly missed, we understand his desire to enter this new phase of his life.”

Manzi began his harness racing career in 1958, three years before he would graduate from Monticello High School, when he began working as a trainer at the stables his family owned locally. Manzi consequently began his racing career and won his first seven out of eight races at local county fairs.  In 1974, after living and racing all over the East Coast, he got a chance to come back home when he became Assistant Racing Secretary at Monticello Raceway. Two years later, after a brief stint as Racing Secretary, Manzi was assigned to Monticello Raceway’s office of publicity and public relations. In 1980 he was promoted to the position of publicity director.

From racing elephants, to camels, to elephants against camels, to having a former New York Giants football player race against a horse, Manzi built an impressive legacy of garnering attention for Monticello Raceway.

A tireless fundraiser, Manzi has helped numerous industry organizations offset day-to-day expenses through his benevolent efforts. He has been the impetus for money raised and donated to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, the Goshen Historic Track, the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame, the Standardbred Retirement Fund, and the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. As a driving force in the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (“USHWA”), he runs its annual banquet that honors their local horsemen and then uses the proceeds to fund numerous other worthwhile causes throughout the year.

Manzi is a member of the Communicator's Hall of Fame in Goshen and has received the Proximity Award from USHWA, the Pinnacle Award from the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, the Appreciation Award from Harness Horsemen International, the Laurel Award from New York City USHWA, and was named USHWA's Person of the Year in 1992.

“I can’t thank Monticello Raceway management enough for all the wonderful years I’ve spent here,” Manzi added. “I grew-up in the area, graduated from Monticello High School in 1961, and always had a special feeling in my heart for Monticello Raceway; like ‘it was my own race track.

“Some say I’ve been good for the raceway, but I say the raceway has been good for me. I couldn’t have been more dedicated if I had owned the raceway myself.”

The entire Monticello Casino and Raceway management team and employees thank John for his years of dedicated service and wish John a long and healthy retirement. 

-edited release (Monticello)


Doug Adams 28 days ago
John, was just thinking about you. The "Mighty M" will never be the same without you. You are the best!
Gene Habinowski More than 1 year ago
the best to John Manzi hope you enjoy retirement and stay in good health ,you have been a icon at the might m, even though I didn't know you personally you were always respected by the horse players God Bless You
David Stolz More than 1 year ago
John - it's appropriate that you hang it up on my birthday Hope to still you at the Jug
Joe Antonelli More than 1 year ago
Wish him nothing but the best,they don't come any better than John Manzi,Harness Racing won't see the likes of John Manzi again
Jeff Biever More than 1 year ago
Congrats to a classy guy-enjoy your retirement ! Remember Jodie's Dear and Walker Blue Chip?