Goshen, NY — When the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association holds its 61st annual awards banquet on Sunday (Dec. 15), Noelle Duspiva will receive the chapter’s Excelsior Award, for her dedication and contributions to harness racing in the State of New York.
Just like many of her classmates, when Duspiva entered the Horse Husbandry curriculum at Morrisville State College in 2001 she enjoyed being around pleasure horses and thought, “I could just ride horses for the rest of my life and it will be profitable.”
She added, “I realized very quickly that this would be a difficult career path.”
As the neighs and whinnies of yearlings echoed through the vast halls of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, Duspiva noted that she had no idea that she would find herself managing a Standardbred breeding farm in Orange County, N.Y. less than a decade later.
While the din of the auctioneers could be heard in the background of the Harrisburg yearling sale, Noelle recounted her need for a summer job while on college break and one of the only positions available was in the breeding barn. Being late in the month of May, there was but one mare left to foal, so the then-18-year-old agreed to take a shot at foal watch.
The mare foaled perfectly, “but I was freaking out,” she adds with a laugh.
Luckily for Duspiva she was working in the breeding shed beside one of the most knowledgeable and well-known breeding managers in the state of New York, Dave Hanson.
She credits Hanson and Dr. Larry Sautter as two of her mentors in the industry and recalls the early days of collecting stallions, inseminating mares and ultimately prepping yearlings at the Morrisville College program.
“That summer I got a crash course in harness racing and breeding operations, literally from the ground up.”
She fell in love with the sport and was hooked. She picked breeding as her major concentration and stayed at Morrisville all four summers until she graduated.
But, before she could graduate, the program stipulated an internship at a breeding farm — which provided Duspiva the opportunity to enter the world of Winbak Farm. Following the internship and graduation in 2004 she was offered a job at the Standardbred nursery in Walden, N.Y.
She has been there ever since, taking over as manager in 2010.
Over the course of her work at Winbak of New York there has been as many as 12 stallions standing stud at one time.
Although she counts Muscles Yankee and Malabar Man as two of the most memorable, they each had their own distinct accomplishments and she is very proud to have worked with all of them.
In addition to her duties as farm manager, Duspiva is also the president of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. Her work with that organization has allowed her to interact with breeders from all over the state and to help implement improvements to the program in concert with the New York Sires Stakes and the Ag Fund.
This year, in addition to the year-end awards for horses and horse people from the local tracks, the Monticello-Goshen Chapter will also honor Mickey Burke (Lifetime Achievement Award); Larry Lederman (John Gilmour Good Guy Award); Purple Haze Stable (Cradle of the Trotter Breeders Award); Barbara Martinez (Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award); Dave Brower (Phil Pines Award); Tony Verruso (Amateur Driver); Joe Chindano Jr. (Rising Star); and Donald Bickle (Award of Appreciation).
Tickets for the gala event at The Fountains at Wallkill Golf Club, Middletown, N.Y., can be reserved by contacting Shawn Wiles at 845.794.4100, ext. 458, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To place a congratulatory ad in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully at 845.807.7538 or email email@example.com.