The most notable personalities of Empire State racing gathered in the grand ballroom at the Vernon Downs Hotel on October 28 for the 2012 New York Sire Stakes Awards Banquet and USTA District 8 meetings. And once again this year, some of the best performers on the Grand Circuit were bred in New York State.
The 3-year-old trotter Archangel (1:53.1 $906,579 Credit Winner - Michelles Angel) was named the USTA District 8 sophomore trotter of the year and overall Horse of the Year. Owned by Alan Hainsworth, Clare Semer and his trainer, Peter Arrigenna, Archangel was victorious in the Empire Breeders Classic, Yonkers Trot, Tompkins-Geers and eliminations of the Hambletonian and Kentucky Futurity. He was undefeated in New York Sire Stakes action all year until making an untimely break in the final at Yonkers. After getting away second at the half in the Hambletonian, Archangel got locked in and shuffled back. When he did get out, he rallied back for fourth after the whole field had passed him. His $771,386 in earnings this year ranks him fifth nationally among his age and gait and his 11 wins were far the best in NYSS action.
On the lateral gait, Heston Blue Chip (1:48.4 $1,157,466 American Ideal - Shot To Go Blue Chip) was named the USTA District 8 Three-Year-Old Pacer of the Year. Longtime New York owner Ken Jacobs owns the classy colt that won the Empire Breeders Classic and eliminations of the Meadowlands Pace and the Cane Pace. After winning every leg of the NYSS during the year, Heston Blue Chip came up short in the final. Heston Blue Chip then went on to win his elimination and the final of the Breeders Crown. Heston Blue Chip is seventh in earnings in North America among 3-year-old pacing colts with $781,816 bankrolled and his mark of 1:48.4 was the tenth fastest mile by a 3 year old in 2012.
This year's list of category winners in New York Sire Stake action was as impressive a group that any stakes program could assemble. Here are some of the highlights for both equine and human performances.
The NYSS Breeder of the Year award in all three tiers of NYSS racing went to Winbak Farm with NYSS purse earnings in excess of $2,000,000 for 2012.
The NYSS Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year was Romantic Moment (1:50.1f, $996,955). Owned by Brittany Farms and trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, Romantic Moment amassed $314,347 in NYSS action and was undefeated in that series. But she also won an elimination of the Fan Hanover, the Valley Forge and an elimination of the Breeders Crown before finishing fourth in the final behind New York-sired American Jewel and Shelliscape.
Coraggioso (1:54.3 $506,478 Conway Hall - Electra Hanover) was named the NYSS 3-year-old trotting colt of the year. In a year that saw him win 50% of his starts, he began and ended it the same way; by beating Archangel. Owned by Tom Durkin and Joseph Spadaro and trained by Gates Brunet, Coraggioso won the Historic, the Tompkins-Geers and the NYSS final which brought his earnings from that series to $299,452.
Outstanding freshman pacer Doctor Butch (1:52 $344,411 Art Major – Classical Yankee) was tabbed the NYSS Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the Year. Owned by Ken Jacobs, Doctor Butch won $273,825 in the Sire Stakes and posted an impressive mark of 1.52 at Vernon Downs. His seasonal earnings rank him eighth among all two year-old pacers nationally.
Being as close to perfect as she could be, Summertime Lea (1:52.2 $294,853 Lislea - Donna Summer) won eight races out of nine starts racing exclusively in New York State for trainer Ron Burke. Owned by the Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino and Earl Smith, Summertime Lea finished the year as the tenth richest two year-old in North America.
Adding to her long list of accomplishments this year, Linda Toscano was named the top trainer among all conditioners competing in the New York Sire Stakes as well as USTA District 8 trainer of the year. The 27 horses she started earned $1,411,618 in purse money while posting 32 wins, 14 seconds and 17 thirds in 115 starts. Overall this year Toscano is ranked fourth in North America among trainers with $6.1 million dollars in earnings and a UTR of 380.
Truman Gale won NYSS County Fair Trainer of the Year. His twelve horses had 79 starts with an impressive 25 wins, 25 seconds and 12 thirds for purse earnings totaling $47,369 in NYSS action.
Jim Morrill Jr. was once again on top of the driver colony and was presented the award for being NYSS and USTA District 8 driver of the year. Morrill teamed 84 horses to 52 wins, 36 seconds and 25 thirds in 175 starts and deposited $2,633,647 into their connections bank accounts. Currently Jim Morrill Jr. is the number one percentage driver in the country with a UDR of .413. He also ranks tenth in North America in purse earnings with $ 7,448,149.
Here is a complete list of divisional winners for 2012.
2-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER
2-YEAR-OLD COLT TROTTER
2-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER
2-YEAR-OLD COLT PACER
3-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER
3-YEAR-OLD COLT TROTTER
3-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER
3-YEAR-OLD COLT PACER
(Harness Horse Breeders of New York State)