Day At The Track

Dan Patch award winners announced

03:42 AM 01 Jan 2020 NZDT
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Jim King, Jr., harness racing Wanda Polisseni, harness racing Bob McClure, harness racing Dawnelle Mock, harness racing
Jim King, Jr. Good Guy Award Winner
USTA photo
Wanda Polisseni Unsung Hero Award Winner
USTA photo
Bob McClure Rising Star Award Winner
Chris Tully photo
Dawnelle Mock Breakthrough Award Winner
Chris Gooden photo
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HARRISBURG, PA - The remaining winners of Dan Patch Awards in the human and broodmare categories, as voted on by the membership of the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport's leading association, have been announced.

The Rising Star and the Breakthrough Awards are for up-and-coming stars in harness racing, in the trainer/driver and non-trainer/driver category respectively; the Good Guy Award is given to someone who thinks and speaks positively about the sport and has a good relationship with the media, while the Unsung Hero is someone performing important tasks for the sport out of the spotlight.

In grouping these four awards and their winners for description, the combinations of the foursome falling on male and female lines, as expressed in the title, is interesting.

Dawnelle Mock is the Director of Marketing for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. In her three years at the western Pennsylvania track, she has been the spearhead for the MSOA onto multiple digital platforms. She has shepherded several successful charity events; she has reached out to form a partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey team, a project with a large crossover potential; and she has been the MSOA liaison with the operators of The Meadows' racetrack for a number of successful promotions, which contributed to a 6% year-over-year rise in handle at the track. Mock "works well with others," but much of her success has been born of her own initiative and vision.

Wanda Polisseni has long campaigned harness horses under the name Purple Haze Stable with success, mostly in her home state of New York. She has founded a humanitarian organization to improve the standard of living - education, human services, civic improvement - in Upstate New York. Long an advocate for the after-track life of racehorses, on both the Standardbred and the Thoroughbred side of racing, Polisseni has now undertaken to buy a farm in New York that will serve as a home and a base for the Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program, for state-bred horses, that will also be the headquarters of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. If Wanda Polisseni can help, you can count her in; like Mock, she makes things happen.

Both Bob McClure, based in Ontario, and Jim King Jr., who races out of the state of Delaware but competes at all the major tracks, come from generations of horsepeople, and as such are not the type to seek the spotlight, though they cooperate with the media when attention comes their way.

Attention came to McClure in a big way during 2019, when he won the most prestigious harness race in North America, the Hambletonian, with Forbidden Trade. The victory was the culmination of a decade of continuous growth for the graduate of smaller raceways to the Grand River-Georgian Downs-Western Fair circuit and then right to the "A" class of his province's racing at Woodbine at Mohawk Park, where he ranks among the colony's top drivers. He earned over $5 million (Can.) for the first time in 2019, despite suffering a broken pelvis on April 25 - he was back racing in less than a month, using the cutting-edge technology of a hyperbaric chamber to aid his recovery.

Jim King Jr. has a reputation as a "ladies' man," but only in the best sense. In addition to having in his family two of the sport's best spokespeople - wife Jo Ann Looney-King, a former winner of the Good Guy Award, and the self-proclaimed "harness racing firecracker," awardwinning communicator Heather Vitale - King seems to have a particular touch with the pacing ladies, as evidenced by his two 2019 stars:

the free-for-all Shartin N, who won over $2 million in 2018-19, and the precocious two-year-old Lyons Sentinel, North America's biggest earner as a freshman while banking over $800,000. In keeping with his winning the Good Guy award, King will give honest, thoughtful answers to the media's questions, never assuring success, but conscious of the power of the stable that his talents has built.

Brittany Farms LLC, breeders of the 2019 "Millionaires' Row" of Bettor's Wish, Manchego, Six Pack, and American History among other top trotters and pacers, was voted as Breeder of the Year by USHWA. Also earning honors was the dam of Manchego, Secret Magic, who was picked as the Trotting Broodmare of the Year.

Brittany Farms, owned by Hall of Famer George Segal, was purchased in the late '80s and has been among the leading nurseries in the sport throughout Segal's ownership. In 2019 Brittany ranked third among breeders with offspring winning over $12 million, despite a much lesser number of produce racing than many other establishments. Brittany bred three Breeders Crown winners in 2019 - American History, Manchego, and Reflect With Me - to raise their all-time total to 25 Crown champions, one behind Hanover Shoe Farms.

As noted, the Cantab Hall-Chorine Hanover matron Secret Magic earned honors as Trotting Broodmare of the Year, primarily because of the $2 million world champion Manchego, but also contributing was In Secret, a ten-time winner and $200,000 earner against Open company. Brittany bred Secret Magic, raced her, and then kept her as a broodmare until selling her early in 2019 to Hanover.

The Art Major-Precious Beauty matron Precocious Beauty has only two foals of racing age - the powerful, Breeders Crown-winning freshman pacing colt star Tall Dark Stranger and the filly Beautyonthebeach, a winner of $540,428 who lowered her mark to 1:49.2 during 2019. These two sharp stakes performers were enough to secure Pacing Broodmare of the Year honors for Precocious Beauty, herself a racetrack winner of $838,004 and with ever-increasing prospects as a broodmare for James Avritt Sr., who bred her, raced her, and continues to own her as a broodmare.

This release completes the announcement of the Dan Patch Awards in the human and broodmare categories. The twelve racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands' "pre-races" show, with media releases following (availability to view that announcement will be released shortly).

All of the honorees in this release and their connections will be honored at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2019 will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet.

Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured; "post times" on February 23 are cocktails at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to follow. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630.

Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA's website, www.ushwa.net; a link to the hotel's computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com or 708 557 2790 (the 2019 journal is online at the writers' website).

From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

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