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Brennan Driver of the Year; Noble a Rising Star

December 20, 2011

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They’ve been locked in a furious 1-2 chase for the national championship in driving wins during 2011, so it seems appropriate that George Brennan would be voted the U.S. Harness Writers' Association (USHWA) 2011 Driver of the Year and Dan Noble would receive honors as USHWA's Rising Star Award recipient.
Brennan is the first outright winner of his award in consecutive years (Tim Tetrick won outright in 2007, then tied with Dave Palone in 2008). This season, Brennan took a quite different route to keep himself on top: instead of driving against the all-star colony during The Meadowlands meet and then concentrating on handling stakes horses the rest of the year, as he had for several seasons, Brennan in late 2010 set up shop at Yonkers Raceway, North America’s top track for purses, and focused his 2011 efforts mostly on overnight racing. To date this season he has racked up 693 victories and $11.2M at Yonkers alone, in a year where he has 750 total wins and $14.5M in earnings.

But don’t think George totally let the stakes horses go by this year – in fact, he accomplished a major “stakes double” by winning the sport’s biggest race, the $1,500,000 Hambletonian, with Broad Bahn, and the $750,000 Hambo Oaks with Bold And Fresh, on the big August Saturday card at the Meadowlands.

Dan Noble, son of three-time national UDR champion Sam “Chip” Noble III, has put it all together this season; while Brennan focused almost solely on Yonkers, Noble will be the leading driver at three Ohio raceway tracks – Northfield, Scioto, and Lebanon, all by goodly margins – and he won races at 25 different Buckeye fairs this summer, including his topping of the Grand Circuit-calibre driving colony during Little Brown Jug week at the Delaware OH County Fair.

As this is being typed, Noble has a 752-750 lead over Brennan for the crown, and no matter which horseman comes out on top, he will be only the 25th driver since records started being kept in 1946 to win the coveted title. (Should Noble win, he and his dad would be the only father-son team to have a national dashwinning title and UDR title between them.) And Brennan probably has a greater insight into what is facing Noble, and what he has done this campaign, than most – for George was the Rising Star winner in 1996! But no matter who gets the dash crown, both drivers deserve their accolades for their stellar 2011 seasons.

George Brennan and Dan Noble will receive their awards at the Dan Patch Awards Dinner, honoring Stan Bergstein, to be held Sunday, February 12, 2012, at the DoubleTree Hilton at Orlando (FL) SeaWorld. (USHWA)

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