11/12/2015 11:52PM

Wittstruck of U.S. Trotting Association wins Bergstein Award


Chris Wittstruck, writing for the U.S. Trotting Association website, won the 2015 Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, which is sponsored and presented by Barry Irwin and Team Valor. The award was announced Thursday night at a ceremony at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sales pavilion in Lexington.

Wittstruck’s article “Watching the cheaters cheat,” published last November, talks about the existing statutes that pertain to tampering with sports events and penal law and concludes that diligent effort should be taken on catching cheaters in the act and delivering stiff penalties when they are caught.

Wittstruck declined to accept the $25,000 first-place prize, instead asking that Team Valor donate the money to the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, a charity that provides educational clinics and scholarships with the aim of creating new fans for harness racing. Bergstein, a giant in harness racing and who wrote a column for years for Daily Racing Form, was the recipient of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation's inaugural Service to Youth Award in 1979.

Wittstruck, a lawyer, also was presented with a bronze trophy from equine sculptor Nina Kaiser.

The other finalists for the fourth annual Bergstein Award were Frank Angst of The Blood-Horse for two articles, Doug McCoy and Frank Vespe of The Racing Biz, Ray Paulick of The Paulick Report for three articles, and Natalie Voss of The Paulick Report.

Judges for the award were Steve Haskin, Randy Moss, Lynne Snierson, George Strawbridge, and Jon White.

Before the award was announced, there were two guest speakers at the event attended by about 200 people. Ben Nichols, senior manager of media and communications for the World Anti-Doping Agency, talked about the role the media have in uncovering and reporting cheating in sports. Jeff Gural, who operates three harness tracks, including the Meadowlands, discussed the role that tracks should take in keeping the sport clean on behalf of racing’s bettors and the horses, saying it is a moral imperative.