Ann Straatman of Lucan, Ontario and Linda Toscano of Freehold, New Jersey, were elected to serve on the board of the Hambletonian Society. Both have diverse and long-term involvement in harness racing, and are deeply invested in the future of the sport in North America.
Straatman is the Reproduction Manager at Seelster Farms in Lucan, Ontario. With more than 20 years in this position, Straatman and members of the Van Bussel family are the third generation to manage Canada’s largest and most successful breeding farm. Seelster Farms encompasses over 600 acres and stands eight of the sports top sires. The farm stood the breed-changing pacing stallion Camluck until his retirement in 2014. Camluck passed away the following year at age 28, leaving an extraordinary legacy of more than $214 million in purses won by his offspring.
Straatman is also the current Sale Manager and President of the Forest City Yearling Sale, which Seelster owns in partnership. Straatman has been a Director of Standardbred Canada and was the Chair of the Breeders Committee.
Toscano, a native of Brooklyn whose introduction to harness racing came through the metropolitan racetracks of Roosevelt and Yonkers, worked her way through the ranks to become one of the top trainers in the sport today. She was the first female trainer to win the Hambletonian, sending Market Share to victory in 2012. That same year she was voted Trainer of the Year, and another of her charges, Chapter Seven, was voted Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year honors.
Toscano has tallied more than $46 million in purses since striking out on her own in 1984. Her first divisional champion was Giant Mermaid in 1995, but she has had multiple stake winners of both gaits, including the free-for-all pacer Jet Laag, who set a world record in 1999 and earned more than $1 million. Most recently her two-year-old trotter Walner was named champion of his division in 2016.
“Both Ann and Linda can provide valuable insight to the board,” said Hambletonian Society president John Campbell. “They have been long-time contributors to the sport in the most positive ways possible. We look forward to having them assist the Society in our mission.”
Other business of the meeting included approval of the conditions of Hambletonian No. 95, the stake for the Hambletonian and Oaks of 2020, and the 2021 Hambletonian Maturity.
The Hambletonian Society is a not-for-profit organization formed in 1924 to sponsor the race for which it was named, the Hambletonian Stake. The Society’s mission is to encourage and support the breeding of Standardbred horses through the development, administration and promotion of harness racing stakes, early-closing races and other special events.
The Hambletonian Society services 131 of harness racing’s richest and most prestigious events at 14 different tracks, including harness racing’s most prominent race, the Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters, a filly division, the Hambletonian Oaks, the Hambletonian Maturity, and the sport’s championship series, the Breeders Crown. The organization was responsible for the disbursement of more than $14.8 million in purses last year.
John Campbell is president of the Hambletonian Society and Jim Simpson chairs the executive committee