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Hambletonian-winning filly Atlanta led a distinguished group of trotters named division champions in Dan Patch Award voting released Wednesday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Atlanta received 96.1 percent of the votes for best 3-year-old female trotter, the highest total among the six trotting honorees. Also named division winners were 2-year-old colt Gimpanzee, 2-year-old filly Woodside Charm, 3-year-old colt Six Pack, 6-year-old gelding Homicide Hunter, and 4-year-old mare Ariana G. Ariana G, who received the nod for best older female trotter, was the only repeat winner. She collected her third trophy and joined CR Kay Suzie (1994-96) and Peace Corps (1988-90) as the only female trotters to receive a Dan Patch Award at ages 2, 3 and 4. A total of 130 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by the U.S. Harness Writers Association's membership this year. Dan Patch Award winners will be honored at the organization's banquet Feb. 24 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., at which time Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year will be announced. Divisional pacing champions will be announced at noon Thursday during a live stream broadcast on the Facebook pages of both the U.S. Harness Writers Association and U.S. Trotting Association. Atlanta, who received 125 votes, became the first filly to win the Hambletonian since 1996 when she captured the $1 million final Aug. 4 at the Meadowlands. Trained by Rick Zeron and driven by his son Scott, she won eight of 14 races this year and earned a division-leading $1.01 million. Her victories also included the $320,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity and $238,613 Empire Breeders Classic. She finished second in the $500,000 Breeders Crown. A daughter of Chapter Seven out of Hemi Blue Chip, Atlanta is owned by Rick Zeron, Michelle and Al Crawford's Crawford Farms, William Holland's Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor, and Brad Grant. She was bred by Order By Stable. In the division for the 3-year-old colts and geldings, Six Pack received 54.6 percent of the vote in the closest balloting among trotters. He outdistanced runner-up Tactical Landing, 71-46. Six Pack, a son of Muscle Mass out of Pleasing Lady, won 11 of 15 races this year and earned a division-best $1.15 million. His triumphs included the $620,000 Kentucky Futurity, $500,000 Yonkers Trot, $223,673 Empire Breeders Classic, $210,150 Matron Stakes, and a $181,000 division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. His winning time of 1:49.1 in the Kentucky Futurity final is the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old trotter. Ake Svanstedt trained and drove Six Pack in addition to owning the colt with Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, Tomas Olofsson's Stall Kalmar FF, and Lars Berg. Six Pack was bred by Brittany Farms. Ariana G added to her hardware collection by receiving 63.8 percent of the vote for best older female trotter, finishing 50 votes ahead of second-place Emoticon Hanover. Ariana G was trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, who retired at the end of the season, and posted victories with drivers Yannick Gingras, Brian Sears, and David Miller. The homebred mare, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Cantab It All, won five of 14 races this year and earned a division-leading $597,802 for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. She beat male rivals in all her wins, including the $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity and $250,000 Graduate Series championship, which were for 4-year-olds, as well as the $150,000 Dayton Trotting Derby and an elimination of the Maple Leaf Trot. She finished third in the Maple Leaf final. Homicide Hunter, the fastest trotter in history thanks to his 1:48.4 winning mile in the Allerage Farms Open on Oct. 6 at Red Mile, received the Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter with 73.8 percent of the vote. Marion Marauder, the division's 2017 champion, was the only other vote-getter. In addition to winning the Allerage, Homicide Hunter captured the $500,000 Breeders Crown, $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial, and $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series championship. George Napolitano Jr., Aaron Merriman, and Brian Sears each had a Grand Circuit victory with the Chris Oakes-trained gelding. Homicide Hunter, a son of Mr Cantab out of Evening Prayer, is owned by Michelle and Al Crawford's Crawford Farms Racing and was bred by Patrick Graham. Gimpanzee and Woodside Charm were undefeated, marking the first time both 2-year-old trotting champions completed unblemished campaigns. They also were the two richest 2-year-old trotters this season. Marcus Melander-trained Gimpanzee, who got 90 percent of the vote, dominated the New York Sire Stakes circuit, winning six preliminary rounds and the $225,000 championship, before finishing his season by winning his Breeders Crown elimination and the $600,000 final. His 9-for-9 performance resulted in earnings of $591,358 for owners Anders Ström’s Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren's SRF Stable. Brian Sears drove Gimpanzee, who became the first undefeated 2-year-old male trotter to receive a Dan Patch Award since Wheeling N Dealin in 2012. Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven out of Steamy Windows, was bred by Order By Stable. Woodside Charm, who received 93.8 percent of the vote, won all seven of her starts for owner-trainer-driver Verlin Yoder. Her wins included the $600,000 Breeders Crown and $236,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes. She also won a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Saratoga in 1:53.4, the fastest mile ever by a 2-year-old trotter on a half-mile track. A daughter of Chapter Seven out of Fireworks Hanover, Woodside Charm was bred by AV & Son Bloodstock. She became only the second unbeaten 2-year-old filly trotter to win a Dan Patch Award, following 2017 honoree Manchego. 2-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Gimpanzee (117 votes/90 percent) Chapter Seven - Steamy Windows - Muscle Massive Yearling price: $170,000 under the name Army Of Monkeys at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Order By Stable Owners: Courant Inc., SRF Stable Trainer: Marcus Melander Driver: Brian Sears Races: 9-9-0-0 Purses: $591,358 Mark: 1:54.3 at Vernon Downs Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER Woodside Charm (122 votes/93.8 percent) Chapter Seven - Fireworks Hanover - Muscles Yankee Yearling price: Private Breeder: AV & Son Bloodstock LLC Owner: Verlin Yoder Trainer: Verlin Yoder Driver: Verlin Yoder Races: 7-7-0-0 Purses: $521,658 Mark: 1:53 at Pocono Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $236,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes 3-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Six Pack (71 votes/54.6 percent) Muscle Mass - Pleasing Lady - Cantab Hall Yearling price: $30,000 at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: Brittany Farms Owners: Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF, Lars Berg Trainer: Ake Svanstedt Driver: Ake Svanstedt Races: 15-11-2-1 Purses: $1.15 million Mark: 1:49.1 at Red Mile (world record) Top wins: $620,000 Kentucky Futurity; $500,000 Yonkers Trot; $210,150 Matron Stakes 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER Atlanta (125 votes/96.1 percent) Chapter Seven - Hemi Blue Chip - Cantab Hall Yearling price: $60,000 under the name Django Unchained at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Order By Stable Owners: Rick Zeron/Crawford Farms, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor, Brad Grant Trainer: Rick Zeron Driver: Scott Zeron Races: 14-8-5-1 Purses: $1.01 million Mark: 1:50.3 at Vernon Downs Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $320,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity OLDER MALE TROTTER Homicide Hunter (96 votes/73.8 percent) Mr Cantab - Evening Prayer - Like A Prayer Yearling price: Homebred, sold privately at age 4 Breeder: Patrick Graham Owner: Crawford Farms Racing Trainer: Chris Oakes Drivers: George Napolitano Jr., Brian Sears, Aaron Merriman Races: 16-9-0-2 Purses: $605,770 Mark: 1:48.4 at Red Mile (world record) Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $200,000 Hill Memorial; $145,000 Allerage OLDER FEMALE TROTTER Ariana G (83 votes/63.8 percent) Muscle Hill - Cantab It All - Cantab Hall Yearling price: Homebred Breeders: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld Owners: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld Trainer: Jimmy Takter Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Brian Sears, David Miller Races: 14-5-1-1 Purses: $597,802 Mark: 1:50.2 at Meadowlands Top wins: $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity; $250,000 Graduate; $150,000 Dayton Derby From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

Monticello, NY--Each year amateur harness racing becomes a bigger part in the Standardbred sport with many talented drivers displaying impressive abilities guiding spirited steeds to victory. And this season has been no exception especially with the expansive opportunities available with the ever-growing number of amateur organizations dotting the landscape. In spite of the talents of a multitude of amateur drivers the USHWA National Committee unanimously voted Joe Pennacchio this years recipient of National Amateur Driver of the Year. Although having prominent stats, which "Joltin' Joe " has, it takes more than that for consideration. Besides being a member of many amateur organizations Pennacchio is the president of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association and sits on the Board of the USTA. Since he purchased his first horse in 1987, over the years Joe has owned more than a hundred standardbreds and in 2004 his 3-year-old trotter, Yankee Slide, won the prestigious Breeders Crown at Woodbine in Canada with Brian Sears in the sulky. " Yankee Slide was trained by Steve Elliot and was sent off at odds of 40-1 and man we were pleasantly surprised with his victory," Pennacchio recalled. But Pennacchio still can remember the first horse he ever purchased. "In 1987 I bought a pacer by the name of Skipper Marlow and raced him at Monticello under the care of Craig Mosher. In 1995 I drove for the first time and had two wins in three starts. That year both wins were with a trotter by the name of Fox Valley Trump. I won at Delaware ,Ohio and then at the Red Mile. After that I was hooked," Pennacchio said. The next year Pennacchio and Fox Valley Trump won the $30,000 Billings Series Final at Freehold Raceway covering thr 1-1/4 mile distance in a time of 2:31.3 Since then "Joltin' Joe (his Billings nickname) has won 176 races. This past season he had 65 starts with 14 wins, 11 seconds and four thirds for a .330 UDR. He currently owns 14 race horses. Pennacchio's Florida contingent is handled by Jim McDonald while Allen Sisco trains his stock in New York. Over the years Joe has won races on all size racetracks and has enjoyed some nice horses along the way. He has even won races in Europe and thoroughly enjoys the sport and the horses he's owned. But arguably his favorite is Super Manning, who is still racing today. The veteran trotter has won $650,000 thus far in his career and earned a record of 1:54.1 taken at Yonkers Raceway. Pennacchio is a retired CEO who spent most of his career in department store retailing. His last assignment was as the president of Jordan Marsh department stores in Boston. He has had significant experience in running companies with both United States and foreign facilities and has served on several boards for both private and public companies. He will receive his National Amateur Driver of the Year Award when the US Harness Writers Association holds its annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Orlando, Florida on February 24, 2019. For room and ticket information, visit www.ushwa.org. by John Manzi, chairman of USHWA's Amateur Driver Committee

The best of harness racing journalism in 2018 will be honored with the 57th edition of the John Hervey Awards for writing, the 35th edition of the Broadcasters Award and the 19th edition of the George Smallsreed Awards for photography. The deadline for entries is 5 p.m. today (Dec. 10). Entries will be accepted for news/commentary writing, feature writing, broadcasting, race photography and feature photography. Entries published or broadcast between Dec. 1, 2017 and Nov. 30, 2018, are eligible. All entries must be in English. Judges in each category will select a winner and, where appropriate, up to two honorable mentions. There are no entry fees or cash prizes. Winners will be announced in January and will be recognized at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's annual Dan Patch Awards festivities Feb. 24 in Orlando. Winners will receive a plaque/trophy as well as two dinner tickets to the Dan Patch Awards dinner. Photo and written submissions must have appeared in a paid-circulation publication or on the website that is the same-name affiliate of a paid-circulation publication, recognized broadcast news organization or established industry/news website. Content that appeared on personal websites, message boards or lists and similar entities is not valid for inclusion in the competition. The final decision on eligibility is in the hands of the Hervey Committee. Broadcast entries will be accepted feature or live racing segment no longer than 10 minutes. The entry must have aired on a network television or cable station, recognized news and/or industry website, or have been included in a racetrack's simulcasting presentation. Documentaries or other long-form productions are not eligible although one segment of that documentary, edited only to fit the length limitations of no more than 10 minutes, may be submitted for consideration. The awards are not open to entries that are fiction, in the form of Q&As, or were prepared for commercial purposes (for advertisements/promo/publicity purposes). There is a limit of one submission per person per category. A person may enter more than one category, but not with the same submission. An entry may only be submitted in one category and the category must be indicated clearly. The Hervey Committee, at its discretion, may disqualify an entry at any time in the process, and reserves the right not to bestow an award in a particular category based on the quality and quantity of entries. All entries must originate with the author/photographer/producer and must include a signed cover letter expressing the wish to enter materials in the contest and granting permission for the materials to be used for promoting the awards in press releases. The letter must also include the following contact information for the writer/producer/photographer: name, full address, telephone numbers (home, office, cell) and email address. The letter must also include the date that the media organization published/aired the submission and specify the category for which the entry is being submitted. Editors may submit entries provided the cover letter includes contact information for the writer/producer/photographer as well as for the person submitting the entry. All other third-party entries will be rejected. Written entries must specify the category - news or feature - for consideration. All print entries must include a tear sheet of the entry (a PDF is acceptable) as it appeared in print and a plain text version with no identifying information (bylines, publication name, graphs, photos or other graphic elements). Broadcast entries must not exceed 10 minutes and must not contain commercials. Each submission (one per person or organization) should have a cover letter. Photography entries must include a cover letter designating the category for the photo - race or feature - and a tear sheet of the published photo, showing the date, name of publication and photographer's name. Tear sheets for Internet-based submissions will consist of a screen shot. Photographs should not be digitally enhanced beyond the basics needed to achieve realistic color balance and sharpness. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification. The decisions of the Hervey Committee and the judges are final. Email entries, or file shared for broadcast, should be sent to ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com. Questions can be directed to Ken Weingartner, chairman of the Hervey Committee, at the above email address. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

Not only is it Breeders Crown time, it's also time to start booking rooms for the U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) 2019 Dan Patch Awards banquet. USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet returns to Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 24, and room reservations are now available. The USHWA link to the hotel's reservation page can be found below. The 2018 Dan Patch Awards banquet was held for the first time at Rosen Shingle Creek and because of the tremendous positive response to the site and overall experience, USHWA decided to return for an unprecedented second year in a row. "Last year's event was so well received by many of the attendees and USHWA members that it was an easy decision to return for another year," said USHWA President Shawn Wiles. "Rosen Shingle Creek is a first-class venue that offers many amenities for its guests, we look forward to another excellent event." Located just off Universal Boulevard, within 10 minutes of the Orlando International Airport and minutes from the many area attractions, the 1,500-room Rosen Shingle Creek is a five-star property that is ranked a top-20 U.S. meeting hotel by Cvent. The stunning  230-acre property includes four swimming pools, two lighted tennis courts, sand volleyball, basketball, a spa that includes nine treatment rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and an 18-hole Arnold Palmer redesigned golf course. There are also 15 restaurants/lounges, including the upscale steakhouse A Land Remembered, the fine-dining bistro Cala Bella, Cafe Osceola, Tobias Burgers and Brews, Banrai Sushi, Mi Casa Tequila and Taquiera, and a 24-hour deli. Dinner ticket prices and menu will be announced later, with a reduced price available for children 12 and under. All attendees will receive a 10-percent discount at all of the above-mentioned restaurants, a 10-percent discount at the Spa at Shingle Creek, and a green fees discount at the Shingle Creek Golf Club. Rosen Shingle Creek offers complimentary shuttles to area theme parks and Orlando Premium Outlets. The Dan Patch Awards banquet annually honors the best and brightest performers, both human and equine, of the previous season. The award winners are selected by USHWA, with all winners announced in advance except for Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year, which will be revealed at the conclusion of the banquet. USHWA will hold its annual directors meeting on Saturday, Feb. 23, and its general membership meeting the morning of the banquet. All standard rooms under the USHWA block are $199 nightly (plus applicable taxes). For room reservations, please click here for USHWA's dedicated link. More details will be made available at the USHWA website, www.ushwa.org, and through trade media as they become available. To inquire about several sponsorship opportunities for the weekend, including live video streaming, the Red Carpet reception and live feed hosted by Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, please contact USHWA President Wiles at swiles@empireresorts.com. From the United States Harness Writers Association  

The United States Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards banquet, which honors the best equines and humans in harness racing, will return to the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday night, Feb. 24, 2019. The site played host to the Dan Patch Award weekend for the first time ever in 2018 and proved so popular the venue was quickly booked for the 2019 dinner that will spotlight the best of this year. Sponsorship opportunities are now available and with record attendance expected after the glowing reviews of the Shingle Creek property and the dinner itself, it's never too early to take advantage of early booking. "We received numerous compliments during the last Dan Patch Awards at Rosen Shingle Creek," said USHWA President Shawn Wiles. "This venue is first class, with the property having many amenities, it was an easy decision to return here in 2019." To inquire about sponsorship opportunities for the weekend, including Dan Patch Presenting Sponsor, live video streaming sponsor, Red Carpet reception and live feed sponsor hosted by Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, please contact: Shawn Wiles at swiles@empireresorts.com. USHWA would again like to thank this year's sponsors, which include: Downbytheseaside partnership; Hoosier Park; Fourth Dimension partnership; Finn Tack; Embroidery Unlimited; Burke Racing/Weaver Bruscemi LLC; Meadowlands; Tioga Downs; Vernon Downs; Winner's Bayonne; George Brennan; Hanover Shoe Farms; and the United States Trotting Association. All the award winners will be announced in advance of the dinner except for Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year. The names of those three prestigious award winners will remain sealed in envelopes, and revealed at the conclusion of the dinner. As for Rosen Shingle Creek, the stunning 230-acre property is located just off Universal Boulevard, within 10 minutes of the Orlando International Airport and minutes from all area attractions. Rosen Shingle Creek is a five-star property that is ranked a top-20 U.S. meeting hotel by Cvent. The property includes an 18-hole, Arnold Palmer-redesigned golf course, four swimming pools, a spa that includes nine treatment rooms, two lighted tennis courts, sand volleyball, basketball and a state-of-the-art fitness center. There are 15 restaurant/lounges located on the property, including the upscale steakhouse A Land Remembered, the fine-dining bistro Cala Bella, Banrai Sushi, Mi Casa Tequila Taqueria, and a 24-hour deli. As part of the weekend, USHWA's annual general membership meeting will take place earlier on Sunday morning, with its board of directors meeting the previous afternoon. More details will be made available at the USHWA website, https://www.ushwa.net/, and through trade media as they become available throughout the year. Ken Weingartner

HARRISBURG PA - If you have everything prepared for a winning effort, and that effort results in success, and you have the same people in place for the next time - why make any changes from a winning formula? So thought the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading group of journalists, who are announcing that their 2019 meetings and Dan Patch Awards Banquet will return to the wildly-popular 2018 site, the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. "We received unprecedented praise and high marks for bringing our night to honor 'the best and brightest of the sport' to Rosen Shingle Creek in 2018," said USHWA president Shawn Wiles. "The facility proved great for our purposes, the cooperation of the staff was terrific, and above all our Banquet honorees really enjoyed their surroundings. So it's back to the Rosen Shingle Creek for USHWA in 2019!" The Harness Writers will have their annual meetings on Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24, 2019 in the central Florida location, with the Dan Patch Banquet held on Sunday evening. More information about prices, journal advertising, reservations, and the like will appear over the next few months on USHWA's website, www.ushwa.net. From National USHWA      

Hightstown, NJ --- In only his third full season as a harness racing trainer, Marcus Melander enjoyed a memorable year that culminated with Fourth Dimension being named the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. Melander, who turned 26 in January, came to the U.S. from Sweden less than five years ago and worked for trainer Jimmy Takter before starting his own stable in late 2014. He is based in New Egypt, N.J., at a farm that was home previously to each the legendary Stanley Dancer and Continental Farms stables. Last year, Melander’s horses won 38 races and $1.31 million in purses, nearly tripling his earnings from the previous season. His victories in 2017 included the Valley Victory Stakes with Fourth Dimension, a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial with Long Tom, and an elimination of the Hambletonian Stakes with Enterprise, who later was fourth-placed-third in the final. Melander’s stable this year numbers 40 horses, with the majority being 2-year-olds. He recently took time to talk with Ken Weingartner, the U.S. Trotting Association’s media relations manager. KW: First of all, congratulations on Fourth Dimension receiving the Dan Patch Award. What does that mean to you, especially at such a young age? MM: That meant a lot. There are so many good horses and so many good trainers. To have the best one, it means a lot, especially in my third year as a trainer. Like you said, I’m young, and it’s not easy to get those awards. I’m very happy with it. KW: What’s it been like getting settled here in the States and how have you seen your stable change? MM: The first year when I was here, we only had about six babies (2-year-olds). We had a couple that were OK. But after that, I got a horse (Clifton Beach) from (owner) Courant. He was a 3-year-old gelding that made breaks, but I did good with him. After that, I got some more horses from them and we did well. That’s when I started to pick owners up. You need to have good owners to have good horses. I’m very thankful to all my owners. KW: What have you learned over the first couple years? MM: First of all, I learned a lot when I worked for Jimmy Takter my first year here. Then I went on my own. You’ve got to put horses in the right condition, you have to figure out travel, there is always stuff you look at and maybe change. Last year with Enterprise for the Goodtimes we went back and forth (to Canada) and he was no good in the final because he had a problem with ulcers. Maybe we should have stayed up there. You’re always learning things. I’m only 26. I’ve got a lot to learn still. But I’m feeling more comfortable every season. KW: Have you done anything different training wise? Changed your approach? MM: Maybe a little bit. Last year we had a really good year with both the 2- and 3-year-olds. But you always look to improve things. You think about things as you’re out there driving. KW: With the experience you gained last year does that help you going forward? MM: Oh yeah absolutely. With Long Tom and Enterprise, they started early very good and I think maybe I topped them a little too early. They raced great until the (Hambletonian) and after that they flattened out a little bit and we had some bad racing luck. That’s stuff you learn too. Maybe we won’t qualify as early. But it was a little different because Enterprise only made one start as a 2-year-old so you had to be going a little earlier. KW: How are your 2-year-olds coming along? MM: They’re good. I’m very happy with all of them. It’s a good group. I can’t pick anyone out right now, but I’m looking forward to seeing them race. KW: Are they all trotters? MM: I’ve got three pacers. I’ve got 25 trotters and three pacers. It’s fun. They’re really nice. I’ve got one Captaintreacherous colt (Sundown Showdown) and one Sweet Lou filly (Sweet Body) and a Roll With Joe colt (Quickcallblue Chip). They pace very good. I’m happy with them. We’ll see how they do. KW: Do you see much difference with the pacers? MM: No, like I said, I learned a lot the first year I was here working with Jimmy. We had a lot of pacers there. You maybe do some things differently, but it’s not much different. KW: Has it been an adjustment living in the States? MM: I’ve loved it here from the day I got here. This will be my fifth year here. I’m happy. My whole family is here and there are a lot of Swedes around, friends and stuff, so it’s good. KW: What do you most like about living here? MM: I like the racing here. In Sweden it’s very good too, but it’s a little bit different here. I just like it here. KW: What do you most enjoy about working with the horses? MM: We have really good horses this year. I’m looking forward to the season. Hopefully we can have a great year again. Hopefully everything goes well and we have a good year. KW: Do you feel more pressure because of last year? MM: Not really. It’s not pressure. I have good owners that stand behind me. I’m feeling confident in what I do and I think that’s the most important thing. You can’t feel nervous about it. You have to train the horses the way you want and if it doesn’t go well, maybe because of sickness or something else, then that is it. But you can’t go around and feel pressure. I feel more excited and looking forward to the racing season getting started. It will be fun. KW: This is the position you want to be in, with stakes horses. MM: Oh yeah, absolutely. Thirty-seven of 40 (horses) are 2- and 3-year-olds. That’s what we’re looking for, for sure. KW: What do you like to do when you’re not working? MM: I like to be on the farm. There is always work on a farm when you own it. I like to be on the farm. I never leave the farm much if I’m not going racing. Following is a look at 2- and 3-year-olds in the Melander Stable, courtesy of www.melanderstable.com: 2-Year-Olds Army Of Monkeys (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows) Demon Onthe Hill (Muscle Hill-Sabrina Hall) Dreamgirl Hall (Muscle Hill-Danica Hall) Fly Hawk Hanover (Explosive Matter-Free Spirit) Georgia Beach (Conway Hall-To The Question) Great Explorer (Muscle Mass-Mayflower Volo) Heather Deo (Trixton-Caylee Dream) Isolde (Cantab Hall-Tosca) Kesha Blue (Chapter Seven-Kendall Blue) Kredit Karma (Credit Winner-No Pain No Gain) Matter Of Fact (Explosive Matter-Chips N Caviar) Mimi'spearloflindy (Cantab Hall-Lindy’s Showgirl) Olympic Goal (Donato Hanover-Bewitching Beauty) Profit Prophet (Father Patrick-Jupiter) Quickcallblue Chip (Roll With Joe-Put On A Clinic) Reverie Deo (Trixton-Brigham Dream) Rifleman (Father Patrick-Designed To Be) Shee La (Cantab Hall-Victory Bouquet) Shocking Blue (Andover Hall-Angela Hall) Speed Titan (E L Titan-Show Your Lindys) Sundown Showdown (Captaintreacherous-Rideintothesunset) Sweet Body (Sweet Lou-Beach Body) Tangent (Cantab Hall-Fraction) Tuscaloosa (Father Patrick-Sweet Alabama) Whiteline Hanover (Andover Hall-Wishful Me) 3-Year-Olds Bay View (Yankee Glide-South Bay) Evaluate (Andover Hall-Blathin) Follet (Muscle Hill-Ruling Class) Fourth Dimension (Chapter Seven-Corazon Blue Chip) Fuel Her Flame (Cantab Hall-Graceful Touch) Muscle Playmate (Muscle Hill-Lima Playmate) Stonecoldassassin (Wishing Stone-Horseshowmom) Sweet On You (Kadabra-Dynamite Honey) Thrust Control (Cantab Hall-Ideal Harbor) Tokarev (Muscle Hill-Christiana Hanover) What A Knockout (Donato Hanover-Southwind Sofia) by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ --- Trace Tetrick will head to Orlando this weekend to receive harness racing’s Rising Star Award, and even if he stops off at a nearby theme park it will be difficult to top the ride he enjoyed in 2017. Tetrick, a 31-year-old driver who grew up in Illinois and now calls Indiana home, set career highs with 569 wins and $6.81 million in purses. He cracked North America’s top 10 in victories for the first time, finishing fourth, and was No. 11 in North America for earnings, another lifetime best. Interestingly, nine of the drivers ahead of him on the money list were former Rising Star Award winners, including his older brother, Tim. The award, presented by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, recognizes early career achievement for a driver or trainer age 35 or younger. Tetrick, who has won 4,443 races and $45 million in purses lifetime, will receive his trophy during Sunday’s Dan Patch Award banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. “It’s a great privilege to be honored in that category and to be invited to be a part of that event,” Tetrick said. “It was probably my best year overall. The highlight, I’d say, was the Breeders Crown. To be in the Breeders Crown again and get a couple wins was great.” Tetrick won Breeders Crown finals with Blazin Britches (3-Year-Old Filly Pace) and Fiftydallarbill (2-Year-Old Colt Trot). He also captured three Indiana Sire Stakes championships, two Kentucky Sire Stakes championships, and one Ohio Sire Stakes championship. In those eight victories, Tetrick drove the favorite only once. “I guess it was being in the right spots at the right time, being lucky,” Tetrick said. “Everybody is looking to beat the favorites. When you’re not the favorite, you can kind of run under the radar. But whether you’re the favorite or not, you’re just trying to put your horse in the best possible spot to make money. If things work out to where you get all of it, that’s even better.” Tetrick was the regular driver of Blazin Britches, who will receive the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old female pacer. The filly was trained by Brian Brown, who will receive the Trainer of the Year Award, and owned by Bruce Trogdon’s Emerald Highlands Farm, which will get the Owner of the Year trophy. Tetrick, Brown and Trogdon also won an Indiana Sire Stakes championship together last year with Always Bet De Grey and enjoyed success previously with Color’s A Virgin, who received the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old female pacer in 2014. “Brian and Bruce Trogdon have been very good to me and things have worked out,” Tetrick said. “It’s great to have the opportunity with those guys.” Another honoree at Sunday’s Dan Patch Awards banquet will be Hoosier Park, which will receive the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award. Hoosier Park, which is Tetrick’s home track, hosted the Breeders Crown last year to rave reviews from horsemen and fans. “I thought they did a great job,” said Tetrick, who has won six driving titles at Hoosier Park. “They put forth a lot of effort and they tried to put on a good show. That’s all you can ask. But I think that everyone that came for it had a great time. They loved it. We had a little bad weather the one day, but there’s nothing you can do about that. The racing was still good; the track was still fair. I thought they did a very good job and everyone was happy. “It also allowed so many people to see the event that never had the opportunity to go to the Breeders Crown; not only new people, but people from the Midwest that have been in the business for years. I think it was great for people to be able to come and see the Grand Circuit-type horses here.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager 

Come this Sunday night, February 25, the United States Harness Writers Association will host its annual Dan Patch Awards Night and part of the festivities will be the largest silent auction in the history of the event. Thanks especially, to all the donors who came forth with some super items. "Members from all corners of the harness racing community have really supported our silent auction with donations this year," said Tim Bojarski, president of the USHWA. "and as a result, we have a plethora of quality items for everyone to bid on. With a large live crowd expected and with the opportunity for anyone to bid in advance from home, this auction could prove to be one of the most profitable ever. "And all the proceeds will help fund worthy initiatives within the industry, spearheaded by the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and USHWA," Bojarski concluded. There are 26 unique items in the silent auction, great vacation and racing packages, superb artwork, special collectables, gift certificates, media services and even private handicapping lessons. Something for everyone. The items in the auction are listed below with the donor(s) for each item. For complete information, item descriptions, available photos and bidding instructions, please visit www.ushwa.org or call Steven Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Ellen Taylor at 317-908-0029.  Rosen Shingle Creek Package (Rosen Shingle Creek) 2018 Preakness Package (Maryland Jockey Club) Phillies/Mets Package (Nick Saponara) Batavia Downs Package (Batavia Downs) Red Mile Package (Red Mile Sponsorship Team) Always B Miki Print (Michelle Hogan) NY Yankees tickets vs Houston Astros plus food and beverages (Bob Boni/Northwood Bloodstock) Autographed baseball from C C Sabathia (Bob Boni/Northwood Bloodstock) Autographed baseball from NY Yankees Aaron Judge (Bob Boni/Northwood Bloodstock) Stained Glass Panel (Barbara Dresser & Callie Davies-Gooch) Cigar Label Collection (Barry Lefkowitz and Harness Racing Museum) Adios Print (Tom Charters) Macau Print (Leon Zimmerman) Cam Fella Print (The Farm Ventures, Off and Pacing, Ryan Clements, Lanon Mulhall) Wine Goblets (Suzanne D'Ambrose) Bow River Necklace (Bow River Jewelry) Ohio Sires Stakes Gift Basket (Ohio Sires Stakes) Hoosier Park Gift Basket (Hoosier Park) Canadian Horse Racing Gift Basket (Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Retromedia Publishing & Melissa Keith) Tim Hortons Gift Basket (Melissa Keith) Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Gift Bag (Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown) Campbell Collection (Gordon Waterstone, Moira Fanning) Meadowlands TV Night (New Meadowlands) PR Services (Mark McKelvie & Melissa Keith) Handicapping Session (Garnet Barnsdale) Off & Pacing Package (The Farm Ventures & Off and Pacing Team) Fennell's Gift Certificate (R E Fennell's Company) Red Mile Gift Shop Gift Certificate (Jeremy Wilson) Big Dee Gift Certificate (Big Dees Tack & Vet Supply) Submitted by National USHWA  

And the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Award as the 2017 Horse of the Year is .......... At approximately 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will fill in the blank at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. If you aren't among the attendees at the dinner you can still watch the big announcement -- as well as that of Trotter of the Year and Pacer of the Year -- as the entire awards ceremony, sponsored by Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Ron Burke, will be broadcast live on USHWA's Facebook page, which can be accessed here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association's YouTube page the following day, Monday, Feb. 26. Dinner tickets must be ordered by Tuesday, Feb. 20, by contacting Judy Wilson via email at zoe8874@aol.com or by phone at (302) 359-3630. You can also order the $175 dinner tickets on the USHWA website at www.ushwa.net. Dinner selections must be made at the time of ordering, with the choices either filet mignon, Caribbean spiced grouper or a vegetable plate. All meals are prepared gluten-free. Post time for the evening is 6 p.m. with a one-hour cocktail reception sponsored by the Downbytheseaside Syndicate getting things under way. A special guest will be Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair, considered by many to be the greatest professional wrestler of all-time. Flair is attending the Dan Patch Awards dinner as a guest of one of the honorees and will also be meeting and greeting attendees on the Dan Patch Red Carpet, sponsored by Hoosier Park. Also starring on USHWA's version of the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It's your guarantee to see who's wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale's Facebook page can be found here. Heather Wilder's Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/heather.k.wilder. Rooms at Rosen Shingle Creek are nearly sold out so if you plan to attend and still need to book, you can access USHWA's special portal by going to the website www.ushwa.net. Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ --- Carl Becker was barely a teenager when he provided play-by-play for a summer softball league in Altamont, Ill., but at that moment he knew he wanted a career behind a microphone. Becker’s election to harness racing’s Communicators Hall of Fame is the result of his ambitions fulfilled, although not exactly as he imagined during those early days. “I thought I was the next Cardinals baseball broadcaster; I had no doubt in my mind that’s what I was going to be,” Becker said with a laugh as he recalled his start. “Things took a little turn. It worked out the best for all of us, including the Cardinals fans probably.” Becker, who has spent more than five decades calling horse races, will be honored at the Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 25, with his official enshrinement in the Communicators Hall of Fame coming July 1 at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y. “It’s a tremendous honor when you think about the people that are in the Hall and the ones that are going in,” Becker said. “It’s something I didn’t expect and I really appreciate it.” Also elected to the Communicators Hall of Fame was writer Dave Briggs. Elected to the Hall of Fame were Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, two of the sport’s most successful breeders and owners. Becker’s introduction to harness racing came at the Effingham County Fair in Altamont. “I would watch the horse races and I loved them,” Becker said. “When I got to high school, my buddies and I would pick a number and play for a penny or a nickel. I couldn’t get away from it. I liked the excitement of it. I had a favorite horse named Trigger Colleen. When he raced at Altamont I was on edge the night before and couldn’t wait to see what happened the next day. It just kind of grew from there.” His path to the racetrack announcer’s booth was gradual, but his career picked up steam quickly once he headed that direction. Becker graduated from the University of Illinois, where he majored in agricultural education and minored in animal science, and spent five years as a teacher. He was 27 when he began calling races regularly at the fairs and soon found himself on some of the sport’s biggest stages. “The announcing part, I thought I could do that,” Becker said. “It all just fell into place. I just thoroughly enjoy watching horses race. We would have some very competitive races at the county fairs. “I did the Illinois State Fair, and that was a dream come true. Back then, the Grand Circuit went from Springfield to Indianapolis to Du Quoin, and The Red Mile was a few weeks later. I did the Illinois State Fair, and I did Indiana, and Du Quoin and The Red Mile. It was a six-week period and it was exciting. I saw all the great drivers, all the great horses. It just was a real trip.” Two of Becker’s many memorable days occurred in 1980. The first was Billy Haughton winning the final Hambletonian Stakes at Du Quoin with Burgomeister, a horse owned by his late son Peter, who had died in a car accident earlier that year. The second was Niatross’ 1:49.1 world record time trial at The Red Mile, which marked the first time a horse broke the 1:50 barrier. “I was very blessed,” Becker said. “Two of the greatest moments in harness racing I was fortunate to be part of. The Haughton win with Burgomeister, there were a lot of tears flowing. It was a very emotional time. “The Niatross time trial, to this day I haven’t seen anything like it. The emotion was unbelievable. When he hit the wire the crowd erupted. People were rushing onto the track wanting to touch the horse. (Trainer/driver) Clint Galbraith was so generous and so good; he spent a lot extra time on the track making sure people did get to touch Niatross.” Other top races for Becker included Workaholic’s win in the first Breeders Crown in 1984, the world-record 1:51.2 dead heat between Jaguar Spur and Laag in 1987, and Trim The Tree’s world-record 1:53.3 mile in the rain in 1982. All three were at The Red Mile. Becker’s career in harness racing has also involved owning and breeding horses as well as serving as a pedigree reader for numerous auctions. The 80-year-old remains active as a pedigree reader and still calls races at the fairs. “I do seven or eight fairs a year now,” Becker said. “I do as many as they ask me to do. It’s fun. My son Kurt does a few fairs when he’s home. Between us we do most of the fairs in the area.” Becker’s enthusiasm for harness racing has been a key to his success. “You have to be excited about what you’re doing,” Becker said. “If you’re not excited, it’s hard to call races. For two minutes, you have to put something into it. I believe it’s always come naturally because I’ve always felt that way. I’ve always been excited.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Harrisburg, PA --- The Dan Patch Awards Dinner is rapidly approaching and along with it, the annual silent auction held in conjunction with the evening's festivities on Feb. 25 in Orlando. Once again the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and USHWA's industry outreach will benefit from the sales. This year's auction features a wide variety of items so there is sure to be something of interest for everyone in attendance. Phone bidding is possible but must be arranged prior to February 24. Lots available include: 14K horsehead necklace with diamond and chain (donated by Bow River Jewelry); 2018 Preakness Stakes Package (donated by Maryland Jockey Club); The "Campbell Collection" of memorabilia including board game, posters, shirts, hats, programs and more - most autographed by the one and only John Campbell; Custom harness racing stained glass panel (donated by Barbara Dresser and Callie Davies Gooch); Signed and numbered Always B Miki mounted pen & ink print (donated by Michelle Hogan); "Night on the Meadowlands TV Set" experience; "Handicapping Session with Garnet Barnsdale"; Production of audio advertising piece by Retromedia; (PR services for audio production, script and voiceover: donated and provided by Mark McKelvie and Melissa Keith) Red Mile Package $1000 value Dinner and programs for 4 in The Red Mile Clubhouse (excluding alcohol) and Railbird Box Seats (for up to 6 people) - all during  2018 The Red Mile Grand Circuit meet! Exact location for box seats to be determined. (Donated by the Red Mile) Rosen Shingle Creek hotel vacation package (donated by same); Baseball package including tickets for Mets and Phillies games (donated by Nick Saponara); Collection of framed, vintage cigar box labels of Ashwood, Peter Manning, and Single Kay; Off & Pacing game package; Limited-edition Cam Fella print by equine artist Fred Stone: (donated by The Farm Ventures (Off and Pacing/Ryan Clements/Landon Mulhall) Set of 6 hand-painted goblets (donated by Suzanne D'Ambrose); Variety of gift baskets from Batavia Downs, Hoosier Park, Ohio Sires Stakes, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, and Hambletonian/Breeders Crown; (Canadian horse racing gift basket: items donated by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Retromedia Publishing, and Melissa Keith) Gift certificates from Fennell's, Big D's and The Red Mile Gift Shop; And perhaps a few late entries! Proceeds from the silent auction go to fund the Harness Horse Youth Foundation's Summer Programs as well as the U.S. Harness Writers Association's industry outreach initiative, which this past year made contributions to the Harness Racing Museum, Historic Track rebuilding fund, the Filion family and the Clyde Hirt Media Workshop during Hambletonian week. For complete information, item descriptions, available photos and bidding instructions, please visit www.ushwa.org or call Steven Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Ellen Taylor at 317-908-0029. by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA

Hightstown, NJ --- Bill Donovan has participated in harness racing at multiple levels, from working as a groom to owning a breeding farm, but he is perhaps best known because of his involvement in the sport as a horse owner. And Dan Patch Award winner Youaremycandygirl has become the most recent to provide Donovan with the sweet taste of success. Youaremycandygirl was voted the sport’s best 2-year-old female pacer in 2017 after winning nine of 11 races and earning $895,615. She became the fastest 2-year-old female pacer in history thanks to her 1:50 victory in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington’s Red Mile, a time that tied colt Hayden Hanover for the best of any 2-year-old pacer last season. She will be among the honorees at the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando. “She had a great year,” Donovan said. “When I think of all the great fillies over the years, for her to come out of the year with the world record and the earnings that she had, you realize just how blessed you are.” Prior to last year, Donovan’s best known horse was the Dan Patch Award-winning trotter Maven, who made $1.75 million in her career and competed in Europe as well as North America. She retired in 2014. “Maven will always be special,” Donovan said. “Maven racing in the Elitlopp was a highlight for me. It’s such a great race and there’s such enthusiasm there from the Swedish fans. That was special.” Youaremycandygirl is proving capable of special moments too. Donovan bought the filly, by American Ideal out of Sweet Lady Jane, as a yearling for $150,000 at the 2016 Standardbred Horse Sale. Her dam is a half-sister to standouts Sweet Lou and Bettor Sweet. “I went to Harrisburg intent on purchasing a top pacing filly,” Donovan said. “I had two that I was adamant I was going to buy one or the other. The first was Kissin In The Sand, and I was the underbidder on her. Candygirl sold the following day and I was going to take Candygirl home with me no matter what. “She had everything going for her. I love the family. I was happy to get her because I think that’s one of the hottest maternal families in the sport right now.” Youaremycandygirl’s career got off to a rough start when she made an interference break in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs. From there, though, she was nearly perfect as she captured the She’s A Great Lady Stakes, Breeders Crown, Matron, and Three Diamonds in addition to her division of the International Stallion. She finished the season on a seven-race win streak. Yannick Gingras drove her in six of those starts, with Louis Philippe-Roy at the lines in the She’s A Great Lady. “Her first start up at Vernon she got run into,” Donovan said. “That’s the way the sport is; you never know. She really only had one bad race, and that’s when she tied up at Yonkers (and finished fifth). She wasn’t at her best. But outside of those two races she was just outstanding. “She really had a great year, there’s no doubt about it. (Trainer Ron Burke) and his team did a great job in bringing her along. She can be a little headstrong. Yannick is the perfect driver for her. He gets along with horses like that better, I think, than some other drivers. He can rate her when he needs to, as much as he can. “It was good the season ended when it did because she raced hard. She enjoyed the time off. She needs to mature a little mentally over the winter, hopefully. We’re looking forward to next season.” Donovan was born and raised in Boston and developed his interest in harness racing by going to the races at the now defunct Foxboro Raceway. He worked as a groom during summers while in high school and college and was preparing to become a trainer before his father passed away and left Donovan needing to help with the family’s Mayflower moving agency. He eventually took over the company and also started a number of businesses involving trucking and logistics management. He has since sold all of the businesses except one logistics company. He also sold his breeding farm, which he started in 2010. “I got out of the breeding business several years ago,” Donovan said, adding with a laugh, “I found out I was a lot better bidder than I was a breeder.” Donovan currently owns 37 horses, with 21 being 2-year-olds. “When you put your heart and soul, and pocketbook, into the business, you hope for success,” Donovan said. “When you do achieve it, it’s most satisfying. Just having horses that are able to compete at the top level is rewarding.”   by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Charlie Williams, the stallion manager at harness racing's Southwind Farms in New Jersey, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Williams, 68, has worked at Southwind Farms for nearly three decades. Williams was born in Georgia and began working with horses as a young man in Florida. He spent the early part of his career with Thoroughbreds, as an exercise rider and caretaker, before a knee injury forced him to give up riding. While sidelined because of his injury, Williams answered an advertisement for a part-time job at Southwind Farms. His horsemanship and attention to detail eventually led him to his current position at the farm, where he has cared for some of the sport’s top stallions, beginning with Valley Victory and Artsplace right through to today with Muscle Hill. “This is something I’ll never forget,” Williams said of his Caretaker of the Year honor. “From picking cotton as a young kid to go on and take care of world champions, it’s been a dream come true. I started working at the bottom and worked my way to the top. I was very fortunate to luck out and work with horses. I’ve had the chance to take care of the best. “The sport has been really good to me and there are so many good people in the sport that have been really good to me. I love the sport, I love the horses, and I love the people.” All caretakers in North America are eligible for the Caretaker of the Year Award. A seven-member panel – all former caretakers – selected the winner after reviewing nomination letters detailing the skills and special qualities of each nominee. Williams will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, and two tickets to USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando, Fla., where he will be presented a trophy. He will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities. Williams received several nominations, with one writing, in part, “There are grooms and caretakers at all stages of a horse’s life and this man exemplifies the true embodiment of a caretaker and is truly worthy of Caretaker of the Year. This man puts his heart and soul into every stallion that is lucky enough to stand in a stall in his barn. “Please consider allowing this exceptional caretaker a moment to shine in an industry that sometimes forgets those of us who aren’t in winner’s circles but nevertheless are in a barn day in and day out, without vacation, wind, rain, and snow. You will not find a more true definition of an exceptional caretaker in our industry than Charlie Williams.” Williams is self-described “old school” when it comes to taking care of his horses. But the stallions are more than horses to Williams, they are friends. “I love everything about them,” Williams said. “They have personality. With Muscle Hill, he’s like my best friend out there. I know how he thinks and he knows how I think. It was the same thing with Artsplace. They’re like people. It’s unbelievable when you work in the barn with them. “I have a habit, I talk to them. I’m in the stallion barn, so I talk with all the horses like I’m talking to a human. And I never cut corners with them. I give them the love and attention and they give the love and attention to me. I’m 68 years old and I can’t wait to get up in the morning and come to work. When you walk in the barn, they know you and sound off. They’re happy to see you and you’re happy to see them.” For more information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet, visit www.ushwa.org. By Ken Weingartner, for the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

Hightstown, NJ --- Yannick Gingras’ focus is on winning races, not harness racing awards, but when you win races like he did in 2017 it’s no surprise when recognition follows. Gingras drove four horses last year that captured Dan Patch Award divisional honors, including the three horses ranked at the top of the season’s final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll: No. 1 Hannelore Hanover, No. 2 Ariana G, and No. 3 Manchego. The remaining Dan Patch winner, Youaremycandygirl, was ranked seventh. He led the sport in purses for the fourth consecutive year, with $12.9 million, and topped the driver standings on the Grand Circuit. His Grand Circuit victories included four Breeders Crown finals, the Hambletonian Oaks (for a record-extending fourth consecutive year), the Maple Leaf Trot, and Little Brown Jug. All totaled, Gingras won 33 races worth at least $100,000 last season and did it with 16 different horses. And when it was all said and done, Gingras received his second Driver of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers Association. His previous honor came in 2014. “It’s always nice, there’s no doubt,” Gingras said about the award. “Going into the year, it’s not what I’m looking to get. I’m trying to win the big races and stay healthy. But it’s nice recognition. It means you had a good year and the horses had a good year. “You go on the track and try to do your job,” he added. “I was lucky this year that the horses I drove stayed healthy. That’s the main thing.” There were numerous memorable moments for Gingras last year. In addition to winning his fourth Hambletonian Oaks, with Ariana G, he guided Hannelore Hanover to the fastest mile by a female trotter in history, 1:49.2 at Lexington’s Red Mile, and piloted Youaremycandygirl to the fastest mile ever by a 2-year-old female pacer, 1:50, also at the Red Mile. Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover, Youaremycandygirl, and Manchego all won their respective Breeders Crown finals, with Manchego becoming the first undefeated Breeders Crown 2-year-old female trotting champion in history. It was a rewarding weekend for Gingras, who said he never felt pressure with Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover, or Manchego other than at the Breeders Crown because he wanted to keep potential Horse of the Year honors alive for all three of the horses. “Going into the Breeders Crown I definitely did feel a little pressure on those three,” Gingras said. “I love all three of them in different ways and all three are special to me. You want all three of them to have the best shot at winning the Horse of the Year. You don’t want to come to a point where you win with two of them and one of them you mess up the drive. “It’s one thing if they get beat because they’re sick or some other horse is better and beats them. But it’s another thing to lose the race and maybe lose a chance for those owners to have a Horse of the Year because of my own mistake. Getting it done with all three of them was definitely very special. They got the job done. They did the work. But I put them in position to win and they all three did it.” As for which of the three should receive Horse of the Year, which will be announced at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando, Gingras had a simple solution. “Personally, I hope it’s a triple dead-heat,” he said. “I think all three are very special.” With the horsepower Gingras has returning this year, the 38-year-old Quebec native could be looking forward to another strong season. “I’m really happy with the way (2017) went,” said Gingras, who was the sport’s Rising Star Award winner in 2003 and has won 6,672 races and $157 million in purses lifetime. “Hopefully we have a couple more like that.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager 

Hightstown, NJ --- Barry Guariglia bought his first horse in 1987, owned Dan Patch Award-winner Stienam’s Place a decade later, and has enjoyed his share of successful harness racing horses in the years that followed. But none of it compared to what he experienced last year with Manchego. It was, in a word, perfect. Manchego was a perfect 12-for-12 in 2017 and became the first undefeated 2-year-old female trotter in Breeders Crown history as well as the first unbeaten 2-year-old female trotter to win a Dan Patch Award. She will be among the honorees at the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando. “I’d have to put her on top,” said Guariglia, whose Black Horse Racing shares ownership of Manchego with John Fielding and Herb Liverman. “Stienam’s Place was the last million-dollar horse I had, ironically 20 years ago, and in the middle we’ve had some nice horses, but nothing quite like this.” Guariglia, a financial advisor, has enjoyed harness racing for more than 40 years. He was at the Meadowlands Racetrack when it opened in 1976 and got into racehorse ownership at the age of 27. “I bought my first yearling then; I didn’t know anything,” Guariglia said. “It’s just kind of grown since then. I like going to the track, I like the whole process. It’s one of the pleasures I have, a good diversion from what I do here.” In addition to owning Stienam’s Place and Manchego, some of Guariglia’s other successes have included stakes-winners Emotional Rescue, Money On My Mind, Muscle Mass, My Starchip, and Take The Money. He bred millionaire Green Day, the 2007 Yonkers Trot winner. Manchego was a $120,000 yearling buy, under the name Whispering Hills, at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale. She is a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic whose family includes millionaire Possess The Magic. She had four wins under her belt when she captured her first stakes final, the Jim Doherty Memorial on Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands. Victories in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, Peaceful Way Stakes, Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes, and the Breeders Crown followed. She ended the year with $873,948 in purses. “Training down, I always heard good things,” Guariglia said about Manchego, who is trained by Jimmy Takter. “I saw her on a 15 degree day last February and I thought she was pretty mature for February. She looked all business. She’s not the biggest thing, but she always held her own. She was pretty nice. “When she won the Jim Doherty, I started to think she was a little special. Obviously, she just kind of rolled from there. I love her attitude. She pins those ears and she likes to be in front.” Guariglia was unaware Manchego could make history in the Breeders Crown until two days prior to the race. “I had no idea, which was probably better,” he said, laughing. Manchego won all but one of her races by at least 2-1/4 lengths and had an average margin of victory of nearly four lengths. “Hopefully she’s going to come back as good,” Guariglia said. “Of course, they always have to get a little better at 3. I always tell people that I never anticipate winning, because you never know what’s going to happen, but it’s kind of nice to have one that you feel has enough to handle anything you’re going against. “We’ll take it one race at a time. Something like this doesn’t come along too often.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

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