Her background story may read like this: ‘Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved horses, and she took that love of horses and made it into a successful career.’ That would be the perfect way to describe Dawnelle Mock, horse owner and marketing and event-planning whirlwind, who has become one of the leaders in the marketing and promotion of harness racing today.
Photo Credit to Chris Gooden

Dawnelle brings her extensive knowledge of harness racing; broadcast flair; impressive work on social media; and precise event-planning to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association, joined the team in mid-September.

“I was born into the business,” she described. “My mom and dad owned racehorses, and my dad (Dan Mock) trained, and I kind of got into it from them. My sister Dana and her husband (Spencer Kahrig) started training and took over the stable, and that was pretty much the start. They gave me my first part of a racehorse, and that was it for me!”
At the age of 18, Dawnelle was now a horse owner, and she experienced the thrill of watching her horse, Wingman Lauxmont win his first race.
She headed off to college with a major in computer science, but was always looking to gain more knowledge and experience in harness racing. She decided to attend the Dan Patch Awards in Florida with good friend Heather Wilder, a familiar name in harness racing, both with the horses she owns and races with her family and husband, driver Mike Wilder; and for her frequent interviews for various outlets. Heather was co-hosting the event and handling red-carpet interviews, and Dawnelle absorbed the exciting night from start to finish, as well as several seminars prior to the event.
“I knew then and there I wanted to help market the sport,” she said emphatically. “I came back and changed my degree to marketing and got started.”
What followed was several years working with the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association at the Meadows Racetrack in Washington, PA. Initially, she was the Social Media Director, but after a brief period, was promoted to Marketing Director, which also included planning and organizing special events and promotions.
Dawnelle held different events at the racetrack catering to the fans, as well as numerous family-friendly themed days to attract the younger generation.
From massive race days like the $375,000 Adios Pace For The Orchids, to the Corks & Kegs Craft Beer and Wine Festival; from Family Fun nights to a celebration of driver Dave Palone; Dawnelle kept the fans happy with fun events and giveaways. One event stands out in her mind as one of her favorites, however. “The Wiener Dog Races were my absolute favorite!” she laughed. “They were always the most work to put together, but once they were together, they were hilarious and people loved them. A lot of people are dog people, and I think if we can draw them in, I think it’s great.”
Attracting new fans continued to be a challenge, though. “I think people don’t give it a chance, but once they come out, they see how much fun it is. I have a couple young friends that I met, and they’ve come out to the races, and they love it! It’s something different for them to do, especially with Friday night racing. It does have an appeal to young people if they’ll just give it a shot. It’s something to entertain you for a couple hours, you get to drink and hang out on the apron, bet as little as $2. You don’t have to bet a lot of money! It really is fun if you just give it a shot!”
Dawnelle’s expertise with social media was in the forefront of her work in the past, and will continue with the PHRA. “I think it’s (social media) is the most important thing,” she said. “You can reach thousands upon thousands of people with social media. It’s true, ‘a picture says a thousand words’. You can put in text what’s going on, but people nowadays, especially with TikTok, they don’t want to read something. They want a :15 video or a quick picture that captures the moment, and that’s what they want to see. Instagram and TikTok are probably the biggest in social media, and those are quick images and videos, and that’s what people want to see now.”
Looking ahead to her new duties and new career with the PHRA, Dawnelle is brimming with enthusiasm. “I’m extremely excited! I grew up in harness racing, but I’m excited to cross over to the thoroughbred racing. Pennsylvania is a great state, and I think we have a lot to show for it. I’m excited to help show that, and put my passion into thoroughbred and harness racing, along with the breeders, and showcase why it’s so important for Pennsylvania to have the horse racing industry. I think it obviously will be challenging. I know a lot about harness racing, and I look forward to learning all about thoroughbred racing and the breeding industry. This is an amazing opportunity for me and I’m ready for it.”
Cover Photo Credit to Chris Gooden
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