2017 Dan Patch divisional champs announced
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History-making Pure Country and Manchego, unanimous selections Ariana G and Hannelore Hanover, and money-leader Downbytheseaside were among the 12 horses named 2017 Dan Patch Award winners Thursday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
Pure Country became the first female pacer in history to receive Dan Patch honors at ages 2, 3 and 4. The complete list of award-winning pacers is Pure Country (older female), Downbytheseaside (3-year-old male), Blazin Britches (3-year-old female) Lost In Time (2-year-old male), Youaremycandygirl (2-year-old female) and Keystone Velocity (older male).
Manchego became the first undefeated 2-year-old female trotter to win a Dan Patch trophy since the category for fillies was created in 1978. In addition to Manchego, the divisional award-winning trotters are Ariana G (3-year-old female), Hannelore Hanover (older female), Fourth Dimension (2-year-old male), What The Hill (3-year-old male) and Marion Marauder (older male).
Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover, and Marion Marauder are repeat winners.
A total of 131 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by the U.S. Harness Writers Association's membership this year.
Dan Patch Award winners will be honored at a banquet Feb. 25 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., at which time Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year will be announced.
Ariana G, one of four Dan Patch Award winners from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, won 12 of 15 races this year and earned $1.12 million for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, who also bred the filly. Driven by Yannick Gingras, her victories included the Hambletonian Oaks, Breeders Crown, and Elegantimage Stakes.
Five-year-old Hannelore Hanover, the first repeat winner in the trotting mare division since Buck I St Pat captured three trophies in a row from 2008-10, won 10 of 17 races this season and earned $1.04 million. She became the fastest female trotter in history when she won the Allerage Farms Open Trot in 1:49.2 at Lexington's Red Mile and was the first mare to beat the boys in the Breeders Crown Open since Moni Maker in 1998.
Other wins for the Ron Burke-trained Hannelore Hanover included the Maple Leaf Trot, where she also defeated male rivals, and the Armbro Flight Stakes. She is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi partnership, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables. Gingras was her regular driver.
Marion Marauder, a 4-year-old stallion who was last season's Trotter of the Year, won three of 10 races this year and earned $769,182 for owners Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling. Marion Marauder's victories included the Hambletonian Maturity and Graduate Series championship and he was second in the International Trot. He was trained by the wife-and-husband team of Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling and driven by Scott Zeron.
What The Hill, another trotter from the Burke stable, won nine of 18 races this year and earned $948,178 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, and Deo Volente Farms. His triumphs included the Breeders Crown and Canadian Trotting Classic and he concluded his campaign by beating older horses in the TVG Series championship. He was driven by David Miller.
Manchego was a perfect 12-for-12 this season and earned $873,948 for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. Trained by Takter and driven by Gingras, her wins included the Breeders Crown, Jim Doherty Memorial, and Peaceful Way Stakes.
Fourth Dimension, trained by Marcus Melander for owner Courant Inc., won eight of 11 races and earned $397,410. His wins included the Valley Victory Stakes. He was driven by Brian Sears.
All of the winning trotters received at least 78 percent of the vote with the exception of Marion Marauder, who garnered 53.4 percent as he outdistanced runner-up Crazy Wow by 31 votes.
Pure Country joined male pacer Jenna's Beach Boy as the only pacers in the last 45 years to receive divisional honors at ages 2, 3 and 4. Jenna's Beach Boy accomplished the feat from 1994-96. The homebred Pure Country won five of 16 races and earned $461,168 for owner Diamond Creek Racing and trainer Takter. All her wins came in her final 10 starts, with Mark MacDonald in the sulky, and included the Breeders Crown, TVG Series championship, and Lady Liberty.
Downbytheseaside finished his campaign with a four-race win streak on his way to leading the sport with $1.60 million in purses. The colt's victories included the Messenger Stakes, Progress Pace, Carl Milstein Memorial, and Art Rooney Pace. He was trained by Brian Brown and owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and Diamond Creek Racing. Chris Page, Brian Sears, and David Miller all guided the horse to stakes wins.
He received 89.3 percent of the vote as he outpaced runner-up Fear The Dragon, who also was trained by Brown.
Youaremycandygirl, history's fastest 2-year-old female pacer thanks to her 1:50 mile in a division of the International Stallion Stakes in Lexington, won nine of 11 races this year and closed the season with a seven-race win streak. Her victories included the Breeders Crown, She's A Great Lady, and Three Diamonds. She earned $895,615 for owner Bill Donovan, trainer Burke and drivers Gingras and Louis-Philippe Roy.
Lost In Time, who was trained by Jim Mulinix before heading to the Takter stable for his final two starts, won five of nine races and earned $608,112 for owners A Rocknroll Dance Racing, Denny Miller, William Rufenacht, and Team S Racing Stable. His victories included the Metro Pace and Governor's Cup. He was driven by Zeron.
Blazin Britches won the balloting's closest vote, defeating runner-up Agent Q by 14 votes among 3-year-old female pacers. Blazin Britches, trained by Brown for breeder/owner Emerald Highlands Farm, won 11 of 15 races and earned $540,424. Her triumphs included the Breeders Crown, Nadia Lobell, and Shady Daisy. She was driven primarily by Trace Tetrick, but also scored a stakes victory with David Miller.
In the division for older male pacers, nine horses received at least one vote, with Keystone Velocity coming out on top by 31 votes over runner-up Mach It So. The 9-year-old Keystone Velocity won eight of 22 races and earned $783,442 for owners Allard Racing, Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr., and VIP Internet Stable. His victories included the Ben Franklin Pace and Levy Memorial Series championship. Trained by Rene Allard, he was driven by Dan Dube and Simon Allard.
Information regarding the Dan Patch Awards banquet is available at http://www.ushwa.org/. Follow are profiles for the 12 divisional champions.
Fourth Dimension (103 votes/78.6 percent)
Manchego (130 votes/99.2 percent)
What The Hill (120 votes/91.6 percent)
Ariana G (131 votes/100 percent)
Marion Marauder (70 votes/53.4 percent)
Hannelore Hanover (131 votes/100 percent)
Lost In Time (96 votes/73.2 percent)
Youaremycandygirl (128 votes/97.7 percent)
Downbytheseaside (117 votes/89.3 percent)
Blazin Britches (66 votes/50.3 percent)
Keystone Velocity (65 votes/49.6 percent)
Pure Country (121 votes/92.3 percent)