Day At The Track

Driver of the Year - plus more Awards

07:53 AM 29 Dec 2017 NZDT
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Yannick Gingras, harness racing Hanover Shoe Farms
Yannick Gingras is harness racing 'Driver of the Year'
Mark Hall Photo
Hanover Shoe Farms

HARRISBURG PA - In a year when he drove the horses ranking 1-2-3 in the Final Top Ten polls and making a sweep of the female trotter divisional characters while contributing almost a quarter of his $12.9M seasonal sulky earnings, Yannick Gingras was selected harness racing 'Driver of the Year' in balloting conducted among the U.S. Harness Writers Association, the sport's leading media organization.

One of this awesome distaff threesome benefiting from Gingras's driving talents was older trotting mare champion Hannelore Hanover, whose dam, High Sobriety, earned honors as Trotting Broodmare of the Year. And that mother-daughter connection certainly factored into Hanover Shoe Farms being picked as Breeder of the Year - they bred Hannelore, but perhaps just as importantly they set a single-season record for the earnings of the produce of one nursery, with $31.3M registered into the last days of the season.

Yannick Gingras has earned the respect of the leading horsemen of this era to the extent that he is principal catch-driver for most of the top stakes performers trained by both Ron Burke and Jimmy Takter, the "friendly rivals" almost always battling for #1 bragging rights in the sport. For Burke, Gingras guided the above-mentioned Hannelore Hanover, and for Takter, he steered three-year-old Ariana G (a repeat divisional champion) and the undefeated two-year-old Manchego. The group won fifteen $100,000+ stakes among themselves, and each won her respective Breeders Crown division, with the three Crowns for Gingras putting him at the top of the 2017 table.

But it wasn't all just going out there with the best horse and winning as expected for Gingras in 2017 - he drove Filibuster Hanover, who going into the Little Brown Jug Final was 2-for-13 on the season, and they combined to upset the "hometown favorite" 1-2 punch of Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon. In total, Gingras won 33 stakes races worth $100,000 or more in 2017.

Before Hannelore Hanover made the spotlight, if someone had told you that High Sobriety would be in contention for the Trotting Broodmare of the Year award, you might have good reason to question that person's sobriety - she had won once in a two-year racing career, and her first three foals had earned a combined total of $65,000. But then along came Hannelore Hanover, who added 10 wins, over $1M in earnings, and the second-fastest trotting mile in history - a 1:49.2 win at Lexington - to her already sizable accomplishments, and the glory of her campaign, where she defeated "the boys" on several occasions, brought honors to High Sobriety.

Hanover Shoe Farms is usually among the top names considered for Breeder of the Year honors - and that only makes sense, for they have led the list of money winning graduates for each of the 69 years that the USTA has been keeping that record. Along the way, there of course have been many, many champions bred by Hanover, with Hannelore Hanover joining the very highest of those ranks this year.

But the signal accomplishment of Hanover's 2017 was the $31+M intake by graduates of the Farm. This broke the old record of $30.4 - which Hanover set in 2015 - with that one breaking the old record set by Hanover in 2014 ... Hanover aggressively replenishes and adds to its breeding stock year after year, and the results speak for themselves.

Yannick Gingras and Hanover Shoe Farms (as Breeder of the Year and as owner of the Trotting Broodmare of the Year High Sobriety) will be honored at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 25 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Banquet's Awards Journal should contact Kim Rinker, Journal Committee chair, at trotrink@aol.com. Those wishing to attend the banquet can make room reservations online via a special "portal" on the USHWA website - but do so quickly to take advantage of the special room rates USHWA has obtained. Tickets for the banquet, priced at $175, can be obtained through Judy Davis-Wilson, Dinner Planning Committee chair, at zoe8874@aol.com.

Jerry Connors

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