Muscle Hill turned the competition for harness racing’s Horse of the Year honor into another romp. Muscle Hill, the trotter who was undefeated in 12 races as a 3 year old in 2009, received 164 of 173 votes from the members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association to outdistance the older trotter Lucky Jim and the pacer Well Said to claim the sport’s top award. He also won Trotter of the Year and was unanimously selected best 3-year-old male trotter.
Harness racing’s Dan Patch Award winners were honored Sunday night at Yonkers Raceway. Well Said, who won 10 of 14 races and joined Precious Bunny as the only horses to win the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug in the same year, picked up hardware for Pacer of the Year and top 3-year-old male pacer.
Other division honorees were 2-year-old male trotter Lucky Chucky, 2-year-old male pacer Sportswriter, 2-year-old filly trotter Poof She’s Gone, 2-year-old filly pacer Fancy Filly, 3-year-old filly pacer Yellow Diamond, 3-year-old filly trotter Broadway Schooner, older male trotter Lucky Jim, older female trotter Buck I St Pat, older male pacer Won The West and older female pacer Southwind Tempo.
Buck I St. Pat, Southwind Tempo and Muscle Hill each won a Dan Patch Award previously in their careers.
Muscle Hill’s wins in 2009 included the Hambletonian, Breeders Crown, Kentucky Futurity, Canadian Trotting Classic and World Trotting Derby. He set harness racing’s record for season’s earnings by any horse of any age, winning $2.45 million in purses.
In the Hambletonian, Muscle Hill equaled the all-age world record of 1:50.1 for trotting on a mile track. He was trained by Greg Peck and driven in all but one start by Brian Sears. Peck was recognized as Trainer of the Year and Sears as Driver of the Year.
Muscle Hill won 20 of 21 lifetime races and finished his career with a 20-race win streak. His average margin of victory was four lengths and no horse was nearer than one length at the finish of any of his 20 triumphs.
He was owned during his racing career by Jerry Silva, TLP Stable, Southwind Farm and Muscle Hill Racing and has been retired to stallion duty at Southwind Farm in New Jersey.
“I think somewhere along the line we expected somebody to challenge him, and they really didn’t,” Peck said. “And then we started to say, well, maybe the crop (of 3-year-old trotters) wasn’t that good. No, I think he made them that way. I think they were actually a very good crop.”
Lucky Jim won 17 of 18 races and also equaled the world record of 1:50.1 when he won the Nat Ray Invitational at the Meadowlands on the same afternoon Muscle Hill captured the Hambletonian.
Muscle Hill received 166 votes for Trotter of the Year. Lucky Jim got six votes for Trotter of the Year and five votes for Horse of the Year. Lucky Chucky got one vote for both Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year.
Well Said garnered 146 votes for Pacer of the Year and two votes for Horse of the Year. Sportswriter received eight votes for Pacer of the Year and one vote for Horse of the Year. Also receiving votes for Pacer of the Year among the divisional winners were Yellow Diamond, with six, Fancy Filly and Won The West, with three each, and Southwind Tempo, with one. (HRC)