Day At The Track

New name for an old showcase

04:24 AM 01 Dec 2015 NZDT
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McWicked - Last years Progress Pace Champion
McWicked - Last years Progress Pace Champion

DOVER, Del. --- The final major three-year-old stakes event of the harness racing season has a new name: the $300,00 Hap Hansen Progress Pace.

Since 1996, and for its first 20 years, the Dover Downs signature event has been called the Progress Pace. Upon his passing, a year ago, the race has been renamed, the Hap Hansen Progress Pace to honor one of the sports finest administrators, a Dover Downs and Brandywine Raceway executive, and Harness Tracks of America (HTA) official, Wilmer E. Hap Hansen..

This year's event will again offer the largest-purse race in Delaware harness racing. The $300,000 Hap Hansen Progress Pace is the highlight of the track's 47th season and is the spotlight event of its 2015 "Novemberfest of Racing."

This year's Hap Hansen Progress Pace features the some of the sport's leading three-year-olds led by the top sophomore pacer and leading candidate for Horse of the Year honors, Delaware-based Wiggle It Jiggleit,a 1:49 winner of last week's elimination.

The History of the Progress Pace

The Progress Pace was created by Dover Downs' CEO Denis McGlynn in the fashion of a former state of Delaware sports' tradition - The Battle of the Brandywine - formerly the showcase of ill-fated Brandywine Raceway.

Last season, Canadian champion McWicked, driven by David Miller, notched the fastest win in event history, scoring in 1:48.4 in the 2014 edition.

Over the years, Most of the sports leading drivers, owners and stables have participated in the Progress Pace. Hall of Fame drivers include four-time winner John Campbell and three-times winners Ron Pierce and Luc Ouellette. Bret Pelling has trained three Progress Pace champions.

Sampson Street Stable has shared in three Progress Pace champions with Newman Racing, two, the only other with more than one winner.

The first Progress Pace was carded in 1996 with a $100,000 final. The winner was Armbro Operative, owned by Tom Walsh, Jr. and Dave McDuffy, driven by Mike Lachance. It was the first of three Progress Pace winners conditioned by Brett Pelling. Pelling also trained the winners of the next two winners of the event Dream Away, owned by Canadian horsemen Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband, won the 1997 event. Crown Jewel Stable's Browning Blue Chip took 1998 laurels. Both winners were driven by John Campbell.

Luc Ouellette drove Jeff Snyder's Royalflush Hanover to his first Progress Pace win. The gelding overtook Grinfromeartoear on the backstretch and pulled off for the 1999 title.

The following season, Ouellette came back to drive 2000 winner-Powerful Toy, owned by Newman Racing Stable, Sampson Street and Dodge A Bullet stables.

Ron Pierce made the winner's circle in the 2001 event driving Peruvian Hanover for owners Sidney Korn and Alvin Jacobson.

Art Major beat stablemate McArdle to win the 2002 edition. Owned by Deena Frost, Jerry Silva, Sampson Street and TLP stables, Art Major was the third Progress Pace champion driven by John Campbell,

In 2003, for the second straight year and third time in Progress Pace history, a colt co-owned by Sampson Street Stable, Radar Sign, won the final. And in 2004, for the second time in four years, another colt co-owned by Sampson Street and Newman Racing stables, Powerful Toy, made the winner's circle.

Longshot Holborn Hanover, with George Brennan driving for trainer Mark Harder and owners John Fielding and Canamerica Capital Corp., became the first sub-1:50 Progress Pace winner posting a come-from-behind 1:49.3f victory.

In 2005, Gryffindor, became the first Delaware-owned and trained winner. After being purchased by Three Point Acres in time to win the Messenger Stake at Harrington Raceway, the sophomore won the 10th Progress Pace wire-to-wire in 1:50 with David Miller in the sulky for conditioner Chuck Crissman. The purse was the event's all-time highest, $394,120.

Another Delaware owned and conditioned colt, Total Truth, was the 2006 Progress Pace champion. Trained by George Teague for owners Only Money and Teague Inc., the victory marked the first of two straight for Hall of Fame driver Ron Pierce.

Pierce returned to take the 2007 Progress Pace in upset fashion. Trained by Robby Siegelman for The Cheyenne Gang, Ghee House rolled down the lane for a 1:50.4 upset victory to take the 12th edition.

In November 2008, overlooked at 32-1, Cat Manzi guided the Joe Poliseon-trained Bettor Sweet to a surprise 1:52.1 victory, the second-richest Progress Pace boasting a $390,000 purse. Two locally owned horses, Rudy Rednose and Badlands Nitro, both trained by George Teague, finished second and third respectively.

Vertical Horizon and Jim Morrill Jr., were the winning team for the 2009 edition, with a 1:50.4 triumph.

In 2010, Yannick Gingras guided Rockin Image to an impressive 1.50.3 victory.

The 2011 winner was Westwardho Hanover piloted by the world's winningest driver, Dave Palone.

Heston Blue Chip completed an outstanding Fall campaign to win the 2012 Progress Pace with Tim Tetrick in the bike recording a then 1:49 event record.

John Campbell drove his fourth Progress Pace champion in 2013, guiding Sunshine Beach to victory in 1:50.3.

And in 2014, Casie Coleman-trained McWicked scored the fastest victory recording a 1:48.4 clocking.

Progress Pace Champions

Year Purse Winner (Driver) Win Time

1996 $100,000 Armbro Operative (Mike Lachance) 1:53f

1997 $100,000 Dream Away (John Campbell) 1:54f

1998 $225,000 Browning Blue Chip (John Campbell) 1:51.2f

1999 $225,000 Royalflush Hanover (Luc Ouellette) 1:51.2f

2000 $228,000 Powerful Toy (Luc Ouellette) 1:52.1f

2001 $337,100 Peruvian Hanover (Ron Pierce) 1:52.3f

2002 $335,000 Art Major (John Campbell) 1:51f

2003 $350,060 Radar Sign (Luc Ouellette) 1:51.4f

2004 $345,900 Holborn Hanover (George Brennan) 1:49.3f*

2005 $394,120 Gryffindor (David Miller) 1:50f

2006 $348,900 Total Truth (Ron Pierce) 1:52.2f

2007 $350,900 Ghee House (Ron Pierce) 1:50.4f

2008 $390,000 Bettor Sweet (Cat Manzi) 1:51.2f

2009 $350,000 Vertical Horizon (Jim Morrill Jr.) 1:50.4f

2010 $320,000 Rockin Image (Yannick Gingras) 1:50.3f

2011 $330,000 Westwardho Hanover (Dave Palone) 1:49.1f

2012 $270,000 Heston Blue Chip (Tim Tetrick) 1:49f

2013 $284,160 Sunshine Beach (john Campbell) 1:50.3f

2014 $301,560 McWicked (David Miller) *1:48.4f

2015

*- event record

Marv Bachrad

 

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