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Harrisburg, PA --- Nominations for the 2016 Caretaker of the Year must be received or postmarked by Monday (Jan. 9). The award, in its second year of sponsorship by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association, recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport -- the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. Any caretaker working for any stable in North America is eligible. All that is needed to nominate is a letter or e-mail, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. Initially titled Groom of the Year Award when first presented in 1982, the honor was instituted as a result of a suggestion made by Delvin Miller at the annual Harness Tracks of America meeting when he received HTA's Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award. Previously sponsored annually by HTA and Hanover Shoe Farms, the tradition lapsed in 2014 but was re-established in 2015 by HRRNP and USHWA. The HRRNP Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500, a trophy, and transportation costs to the USHWA Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Las Vegas, on Feb. 26, where he or she will be recognized for the achievement. The winner also will enjoy a two-night stay at the Planet Hollywood, host hotel for the USHWA activities, as well as two complimentary dinner tickets. "The United States Harness Writers Association is proud to join with Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in presenting this prestigious honor," said USHWA President Tim Bojarski. "The caretakers of our sport and the role they play in the success of our animals are many times sorely overlooked. This award gives everyone a way to honor those who work in your stable so they can be recognized by everyone else in our industry for what they do." The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker and Shawn Wiles. All nomination letters and e-mails must be received and/or postmarked by Jan. 9 and sent to Chair Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com or mailed to Tim Bojarski, 7523 Maple Road, Akron, NY 14001. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association/Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park

HARRISBURG PA -- Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, veteran harness racing breeders and racehorse owners who were responsible for the production of two of the top trotting fillies of 2016 - Ariana G and All The Time - were the unanimous choice for Breeders of the Year by the Breeders/Broodmares committee of USHWA. The committee was also undivided in naming the top broodmares of the year: for the trotters, Cantab It All - owned by Libfeld/Katz and the dam of Ariana G and All The Time, and for the pacers, Artstopper, the dam of Always B Miki, who lowered the sport's all-time speed record to 1:46.   The 25+ year partnership of Ontarians Katz and Libfeld certainly had one of its greatest seasons in 2016, owning both diamond gaited fillies and also sending out Breeders Crown champion Bar Hopping and the multiple-stakes winner Idyllic Beach, voted Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year. "Idyllic" was joined as divisional champion on the trotting side by Ariana G, who dominated the baby trotting misses through the major portion of the stakes calendar. Ariana G's older sister by a year, All The Time, made a remarkable recovery from emergency colic surgery after her Hambletonian Oaks victory to return to the races and win a Breeders Crown elimination.   The dam of these two talented trotting distaffs is Cantab It All, a White Birch Farm-bred daughter of Cantab Hall-Better Odds-Pine Chip, who herself took a mark of 1:53 and earned over $280,000 on the racetrack. Her first two foals, both by top racehorse turned top sire Muscle Hill, are All The Time and Ariana G, and one can only imagine the potential of, and interest in, the next foals in the Cantab It All "production line."   Artstopper, who was unraced, has certainly made up for lost time in the broodmare shed for the Roll The Dice Stable of Delaware's Joe Hurley. Before "Miki" came along, she had produced Yagonnakissmeornot, a $1.45M-winning daughter of The Panderosa who has raced the best of her class for several seasons - and has given Artstopper the rare distinction of having both a son and daughter who have beaten 1:50.   But 2016 was the year of Always B Miki, Harness Horse of the Year, reducer of record speed with a 1:46 mile at the famed Red Mile in Lexington on October 9. A son of Always A Virgin who like his sister Yagonnakissmeornot can trace their topline pedigree back to the hugely-influential Western Hanover, Always B Miki clashed with 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit in an epic series of duels in the free-for-all pacing ranks, with Miki winning four, including the season-ending Breeders Crown, and Wiggle winning three. (These two pacing giants brought extra attention to Indiana, where they were both sired, and to Hurley's Delaware, where they are both owned.)   Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, along with Cantab It All, Artstopper and their connections, will all be feted at the "Night Of Champions," the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday, February 26 at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas. Information about the banquet and the entire weekend, which will also contain the annual meetings of USHWA, can be found on the communicators' website, www.ushwa.org - including links for making hotel reservations at special rates at Planet Hollywood; banquet tickets; and congratulatory or acknowledgment ads in the keepsake Souvenir Banquet Journal, annually one of the best chronicles of a year in North American harness racing.   United States Harness Writers Association    

HARRISBURG PA -- The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing's largest and leading membership organization for industry communicators, is very pleased to announce that Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York (SOA/NY) are partnering with USHWA in sponsoring the Cocktail Party and Open Bar at its annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas. The sponsorship features a lavish cocktail party from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm., and then an open bar during the Dan Patch awards dinner until 10:00 pm. In addition, every guest attending the dinner will receive a special edition Yonkers-SOA/NY-USHWA commemorative wine glass. Yonkers Raceway "dates back" as a host of harness racing to 1899 and its origins as the Empire City Trotting Club; in 1950, William Cane recast the facility as a pari-mutuel harness racing track, and the Rooney family has operated the oval since 1972. For over three decades, Yonkers combined with Roosevelt as the undisputed "power center" of quality harness racing performance, uniquely hosting a leg of the Triple Crown at both gaits - the Cane Pace and the Yonkers Trot. Today the quality of racing at Yonkers is evidenced by the fact that they feature, by some margin, the most lucrative purse schedule in North American harness racing. The Standardbred Owners Association of New York, founded in 1954, tirelessly works for the horsemen racing at the New York City oval: meeting with management on purse negotiations, marketing, and backstretch and other matters (including the recent successful addition of simulcasting into the lucrative French market); providing insurance, health benefits, and scholarships to its members; and liaising with local and state politicians to ensure that the scope of harness racing's contribution to its community, in economic and other terms, is understood and appreciated. Tim Bojarski, president of the Harness Writers Association, noted that "USHWA is honored to have both Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York partner with us for the 2017 Dan Patch banquet presentation. They are institutions in our industry, one of harness racing's leading tracks through the pari-mutuel era and a horsemen's group tireless in their advocacy for the best of their membership. The fact that the two groups can combine in this sponsorship shows the 'win-win' attitude of both groups, so necessary in this competitive entertainment market, and we of USHWA are proud they have chosen to support us as we honor the best in our sport early next year." The Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park will be held during the same weekend when USHWA holds its annual business meetings. Further information about the Banquet and the weekend, including links for dinner tickets, Souvenir Journal advertising, and room reservations at special USHWA rates for Planet Hollywood, is available on the group's website, www.ushwa.org. From the United States Harness Writers Association

AARON MERRIMAN TAKES TOP DRIVING HONORS

HARRISBURG PA - Team Teague, a group of horsepeople based in Harrington DE who have been masterful in both their care and campaigning of the charismatic $3.9M-winning pacer Wiggle It Jiggleit over the last two years, has won the top honor that the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) solely votes on - the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award, "presented annually to those who have made outstanding contributions to harness racing." The team "captain' is of course owner/trainer George Teague Jr., "defending" Owner of the Year, through whom the major decisions are made, but George would be the first to credit the many many others who have been integral parts of the success of Wiggle It Jiggleit, 2015 Horse of the Year and second in this year's voting, and indeed all the way back to 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue and beyond. These folks would include George's sister Brenda, his "right-hand man" for many years and an outstanding horsewoman in her own right; his stable's owners, many of them from his home base of Delaware; and Jim Bernstein, a former horseman turned successful businessman, who helps keep Team Teague on sound financial footing. There is George's son Montrell, last year's Rising Star Award winner, who has shown both ability and "cool" in the sulky well beyond his 25 years, and who in his intelligence, horsemanship, and enthusiasm has become as public a standardbearer of Team Teague as anybody. There is the veteran Clyde Francis, who oversees the day-to-day care of "Wiggle," and "Big Mike" Taylor, honored as 2015's Caretaker of the Year, who has developed a rapport with his charge while also keeping his respect - many a chaotic winners circle, definitely NOT Wiggle's favorite place to go, has been avoided by Mike's patient yet firm handling of the horse just after the races. Add in other stable employees and front office workers, and you have a group of individuals who have all had a part in the success of a horse who has commanded a major portion of the harness spotlight for two full seasons now - Team Teague has indeed made "an outstanding contribution" to the sulky sport. GEORGE TEAGUE NAMED USHWA'S GOOD GUY Besides voting to put Team Teague on the final ballot for the prestigious Bergstein/Proximity Award (and then picking the Team to win the award), George Teague Jr. himself was selected by the chapters of USHWA for individual recognition as the organization's Good Guy Award winner, for outstanding cooperation with the media and in helping to showcase the sport. And George was voted the Good Guy Award winner as well - making him the first two-time winner of the Good Guy Award in the 53-year history of the honor (he also won in 2004, Rainbow Blue's "year.") One example given of George's desire to serve and better harness racing came when he was asked to bring Wiggle It Jiggleit, last year's Little Brown Jug winner, to the Delaware OH Fair to make an appearance this season - in the middle of a grueling racing campaign. But Teague oversaw the preparations to get the horse to central Ohio for Jug Day, and Wiggle led the post parade for the Triple Crown pacing event. (An irony here: Wiggle It Jiggleit won the 2015 Jug with a stirring stretch surge that edged out Lost For Words - who was trained by Brian Brown, the Delaware [OH]-based conditioner who finished second to Teague in this year's Good Guy voting!) Team Teague and George Teague Jr. will be honored at the "Night Of Champions," the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday, February 26 at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas. Information about the banquet, tickets and room reservations for the entire weekend, which will also contain the annual meetings of USHWA, can be found on the communicators' website, www.ushwa.org - including links for making hotel reservations at special rates at Planet Hollywood; banquet tickets; and congratulatory or acknowledgment ads in the keepsake Souvenir Banquet Journal, annually one of the best chronicles of a year in North American harness racing. From the United States Harness Writers Association

HARRISBURG PA - With the various racehorses, including Horse of the Year Always B Miki, now recognized for the achievements on the track during 2016, and the human and breeding award-winners for the year winding down to be announced over the next week and a half, the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) would like to direct those interested in attending the 2017 Dan Patch Night of Champions Presented by Hoosier Park, to be held Sunday, February 26 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, as well as those who might want to take a congratulatory ad for one or more of the various recipients, to the organization's website, www.ushwa.org, where there are large quantities of information concerning the gala awards dinner. (If you are viewing our mobile site, click the "full website" tab at the upper right for all the links to the banquet.) There is a link through which you can make reservations directly within the Planet Hollywood hotel system at special USHWA prices. For those who might want to extend their stay, a $69 hotel room rate is available the Thursday before, and the Sunday night of the dinner, and the Monday after. It is urged that you reserve rooms early, as there is a limited USHWA bloc - and we also mention that it would be wise to make air reservations as soon as possible as well. The website also contains a link towards buying tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park. In addition, there is a link to a form listing rates for advertising in the time-honored Banquet Souvenir Journal, where all connected with award-winners can extend their thanks and congratulations. Award-winners, friends of award-winners, vacationers, those attending the HHI and USTA meetings to be held in Vegas at about this time period, and also members of the Harness Writers Association - it would be good to start your plans in motion now for the weekend culminating on Sunday, February 26, using www.ushwa.org. And more award-winners will be in the pipeline within the next ten days - so keep an eye out for those as well, to be announced on the USHWA website and through the trade media. From the United States Harness Writers Association

The five-year-old stallion, Always B Miki, on Monday was named harness racing's Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association while 3-year-old colt Marion Marauder was named Trotter of the Year in the closest vote in the 46-year history of the award. Always B Miki, who on Friday was named the Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer, defeated 4-year-old gelding Wiggle It Jiggleit in the voting for Pacer of the Year, 109-37, and for Horse of the Year, 102-32. Wiggle It Jiggleit was the 2015 Horse of the Year. Marion Marauder, who this year became the ninth horse in history to win the Trotting Triple Crown, edged 4-year-old mare Hannelore Hanover in the voting for Trotter of the Year, 73-72. The previous closest finish for Trotter of the Year was in 1971 when Speedy Crown defeated Fresh Yankee, 71-68. Hannelore Hanover finished third in Horse of the Year balloting, with 10 votes, while Marion Marauder was tied with 3-year-old male pacer Betting Line with four votes apiece. Video highlights of Horse and Pacer of the Year Always B Miki are available by clicking here. Footage of Trotter of the Year Marion Marauder is available by clicking here. Always B Miki was trained by Jimmy Takter, who joins Stanley Dancer as the only trainers to condition at least three different Horse of the Year winners. Takter's previous Horse of the Year champions were trotters Moni Maker, who captured the award in 1998 and 1999, and Malabar Man in 1997. In addition, Takter is the fifth trainer to have both a pacer and trotter receive Horse of the Year honors. He joins Dancer, Blair Burgess, Billy Haughton, and Clint Hodgins in that group. Always B Miki, who was twice sidelined by injuries that forced him to miss the end of his 3-year-old season and the majority of his 4-year-old campaign, paced the fastest mile in harness racing history on Oct. 9 at Lexington's Red Mile when he won the Allerage Open Pace in 1:46. His time eclipsed Cambest's 1:46.1 mark, which was established in a time trial and stood as the record for 23 years, and lowered the race record, shared by multiple horses, by four-fifths of a second. In addition to becoming the fastest horse in history, Always B Miki shares the world record of 1:47 for the fastest mile by a horse on a five-eighths-mile track. Always B Miki paced 1:47 on a five-eighths oval on three occasions, an unprecedented feat. He also holds the record of 1:47.1 for the fastest mile ever paced in Canada. Always B Miki, driven by David Miller, won 12 of 18 races this year and finished worse than second only once. His victories included the Breeders Crown, Ben Franklin, William Haughton Memorial, and TVG Series championship for male pacers. "I think he's the greatest pacer to ever walk on this earth," Takter said earlier this year. "I really do. If everything would have been his way, could you imagine how much even better he could have been? He's a great, great horse." A son of Always A Virgin out of the mare Artstopper, Always B Miki was bred by Joe Hurley's Roll The Dice Stable, which owns the stallion with Bluewood Stable and Christina Takter. "If someone said I could win Powerball for some ridiculous amount of money or have Miki, it wouldn't even be a question. It would be Miki," Hurley said earlier this year. "This is like Powerball on steroids." Marion Marauder, who was named the sport's best 3-year-old male trotter last Thursday, was the first Trotting Triple Crown winner since 2006, sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity. In addition, he won the Goodtimes Stakes and a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on his way to $1.48 million in purses. His earnings led all trotters in North America. Marion Marauder won 10 of 15 starts and finished second three times this season for the wife-and-husband training team of Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling. Marion Marauder is owned by the couple's son, Devin Keeling, and Wellwood's mother, Marion Jean Wellwood. Scott Zeron was the colt's regular driver. A son of stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Spellbound Hanover, Marion Marauder was bred by William Mulligan. Hannelore Hanover, who was named the sport's best older female trotter, won 17 of 20 races and earned $1.11 million in purses, leading all female trotters in earnings. The remaining divisional champion trotters were Walner (2-year-old male), Ariana G (2-year-old female), Broadway Donna (3-year-old female), and Obrigado (older male). Other divisional champion pacers were Huntsville (2-year-old male), Idyllic Beach (2-year-old female), Betting Line (3-year-old male), Pure Country (3-year-old female), and Lady Shadow (older female). All winners will be honored at the Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by Hoosier Park on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas. Information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by Hoosier Park is available at www.ushwa.org. For complete voting totals for all awards, click here. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

History's fastest pacer, Always B Miki, and once-beaten Betting Line were among six pacers named Dan Patch Award winners Friday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Huntsville, Idyllic Beach, Lady Shadow, and Pure Country also were named divisional champs by the harness racing organization. A total of 155 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by USHWA's membership. All of the winners were named on at least 74 percent, with Lady Shadow's 93 percent leading the way. Pure Country, who received 89 percent of the vote among 3-year-old female pacers, is a repeat winner. She is one of three champions from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, who also conditioned Always B Miki and Idyllic Beach. Divisional trotting champions were announced Thursday. Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be announced at noon Monday in a live show streamed over the Facebook pages of USHWA, Hoosier Park, and the Harness Racing FanZone. The presentation will be hosted by Emily Gaskin, Hoosier Park's race marketing manager. Five-year-old Always B Miki, who paced the fastest mile in harness racing history on Oct. 9 at Lexington's Red Mile when he won the Allerage Open Pace in 1:46, was named the sport's best older male pacer. His time eclipsed Cambest's 1:46.1 mark, which was established in a time trial and stood as the record for 23 years, and lowered the race record, shared by multiple horses, by four-fifths of a second. In addition to becoming the fastest horse in history, Always B Miki shares the world record of 1:47 for the fastest mile by a horse on a five-eighths-mile track. Always B Miki paced 1:47 on a five-eighths oval on three occasions, an unprecedented feat. He also holds the record of 1:47.1 for the fastest mile ever paced in Canada. Always B Miki, driven by David Miller, won 12 of 18 races this year and finished worse than second only once. His victories included the Breeders Crown, Ben Franklin, William Haughton Memorial, and TVG Series championship for male pacers. A son of Always A Virgin out of the mare Artstopper, Always B Miki was bred by Roll The Dice Stable, which owns the stallion with Bluewood Stable and Christina Takter. Lady Shadow, a two-time O'Brien Award winner in Canada, was voted her first Dan Patch Award as best older female pacer. The 5-year-old mare won 12 of 20 races and earned $851,981 this year for trainer Ron Adams and owners David Kryway, Carl Atley, Ed Gold, and BFJ Stable. Her victories included the Breeders Crown Mare Pace, Roses Are Red, Milton, Lady Liberty, Golden Girls, and TVG Series championship for female pacers. She was driven most often by Yannick Gingras, but also scored a stakes triumph with James MacDonald. Lady Shadow, a daughter of Shadow Play out of the mare Lady Camella, was bred by Winbak Farm. After opening his campaign with a second-place finish against older horses, Betting Line never lost again, putting together a 14-race win streak on his way to being named best 3-year-old male pacer. His victories included the North America Cup, Little Brown Jug, Battle of the Brandywine, and Carl Milstein Memorial. His time of 1:47.2 in winning the Battle of the Brandywine at Pocono set the world record for a 3-year-old pacer on a five-eighths-mile track and his 1:49 mile in the Little Brown Jug at Delaware equaled the fastest time ever for a 3-year-old pacer on a half-mile oval. He earned $1.46 million. Betting Line was trained by Casie Coleman and driven by David Miller and Jonathan Drury. He is owned by West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun, and Mac Nichol. The colt, a son of Bettor's Delight out of Heather's Western, was bred by Fair Winds Farm. Pure Country is the third female pacer this century to receive Dan Patch Award honors at ages 2 and 3. The most recent, See You At Peelers in 2010-11, also was trained by Takter. The other was Worldly Beauty in 2001-02. Owned by Diamond Creek Racing, Pure Country is a homebred daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Western Montana. She won 10 of 21 races this year and hit the board a total of 17 times on her way to $1.08 million in purses. Her victories included the Fan Hanover Stakes, James Lynch Memorial, Simcoe, Matron, and Miss Pennsylvania. She finished second to Betting Line in the Milstein Memorial. Brett Miller drove her in all but one of her starts, when Yannick Gingras subbed and captured the Simcoe. Huntsville, who was named best 2-year-old male pacer, won seven of 11 races and never finished worse than second as he posted earnings of $689,814. He enjoyed a six-race win streak that included victories in the Breeders Crown, divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion Stakes, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. His 1:49 mile in the International Stallion equaled the world record for a 2-year-old pacer. Huntsville, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Wild West Show, was bred by trainer Ray Schnittker and Charlie Iannazzo. He is owned by Schnittker, Iannazzo, Ted Gewertz, and Steve Arnold. Tim Tetrick was his driver. Two-year-old female pacing champion Idyllic Beach won eight of 14 races and hit the board in every start. Her wins included the She's A Great Lady and Kentuckiana Stallion Management stakes in addition to a division of the International Stallion. Gingras drove Idyllic Beach for Takter and owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, Brixton Medical Inc., and Marvin Katz. A daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Idyllic, Idyllic Beach was bred by Steiner Stock Farm. All winners will be honored at the Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by Hoosier Park on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas. Information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by Hoosier Park is available at www.ushwa.org. 2-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER Huntsville (118 votes) Somebeachsomewhere---Wild West Show---Western Hanover Yearling Price: Homebred Breeders: Ray Schnittker, Charlie Iannazzo Owners: Ray Schnittker, Ted Gewertz, Charlie Iannazzo, Steve Arnold Trainer: Ray Schnittker Driver: Tim Tetrick Races: 11-7-4-0 Purses: $689,814 Mark: 1:49 at Red Mile (equals world record) Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final; $66,000 Bluegrass division; $65,500 International Stallion division 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER Idyllic Beach (120 votes) Somebeachsomewhere---Idyllic---American Ideal Yearling Price: $100,000 under name Lima Incredible at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: Steiner Stock Farm Owners: Christina Takter, John Fielding, Brixton Medical Inc., Marvin Katz Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Yannick Gingras Races: 14-8-4-2 Purses: $647,678 Mark: 1:50.3 at Mohawk Top wins: $328,790 She's A Great Lady; $246,000 Kentuckiana; $65,500 International Stallion division 3-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER Betting Line (123 votes) Bettor's Delight---Heather's Western---Western Hanover Yearling Price: $60,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Fair Winds Farm Owners: West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun, Mac Nichol Trainer: Casie Coleman Drivers: David Miller, Jonathan Drury Races: 15-14-1-0 Purses: $1.46 million Mark: 1:47.2 at Pocono (world record) Top wins: $780,000 North America Cup; $577,000 Little Brown Jug; $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER Pure Country (138 votes) Somebeachsomewhere---Western Montana---Western Hanover Yearling Price: Homebred Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm Owner: Diamond Creek Racing Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Brett Miller Races: 21-10-4-3 Purses: $1.08 million Mark: 1:48.2 at Red Mile Top wins: $341,640 Fan Hanover; $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania; $300,000 Lynch Memorial OLDER MALE PACER Always B Miki (115 votes) Always A Virgin---Artstopper---Artsplace Sale Price: Homebred Breeder: Roll The Dice Stable Owners: Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, Christina Takter Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: David Miller Races: 18-12-5-0 Purses: $1.48 million Mark: 1:46 at Red Mile (all-time fastest mile) Top wins: $500,000 Ben Franklin; $471,800 Haughton Memorial; $421,000 Breeders Crown; $400,000 TVG Series final OLDER FEMALE PACER Lady Shadow (145 votes) Shadow Play---Lady Camella---Camluck Yearling Price: $19,000 at Forest City Sale Breeder: Winbak Farm Owners: David Kryway, Carl Atley, Ed Gold, BFJ Stable Trainer: Ron Adams Drivers: Yannick Gingras, James MacDonald Races: 20-12-2-1 Purses: $851,981 Mark: 1:48.1 at Mohawk Top wins: $288,600 Roses Are Red, $250,000 Breeders Crown; $236,360 Milton ................................................................................. Exclusive video highlights from the USTA of the six Dan Patch Award winning pacers announced today by the U.S. Harness Writers Association are now available to watch or download on Dropbox. The winning pacer videos of Always B Miki, Betting Line, Huntsville, Idyllic Beach, Lady Shadow and Pure Country are available by clicking here. For the first time, the U.S. Trotting Association is providing assorted video highlights that can be downloaded for each of the Dan Patch Award divisional winners in conjunction with the announcement of those winners this week. The winning trotter videos for Marion Marauder, Broadway Donna, Hannelore Hanover, Obrigado, Walner and Ariana G are available by clicking here. The video features exclusive footage captured by the USTA of major races won, winner’s circle presentations and b-roll of each winner. Video courtesy for use of the footage should be -- U.S. Trotting Association. Some race replays are also included. The videos will remain available at the same links for the announcement of the Trotter, Pacer and Harness Horse of the Year Awards on Monday (Dec. 19) at noon. According to USHWA, Monday’s Trotter, Pacer and Harness Horse of the Year Awards announcements will be streamed live starting at noon on the Facebook pages of USHWA, Hoosier Park and the Harness Racing FanZone hosted by Emily Gaskin, Hoosier’s race marketing manager and the winner of USHWA’s 2014 Breakthrough Award. Ken Weingartner

Exclusive video highlights from the USTA of the six Dan Patch Award winning trotters announced today by the U.S. Harness Writers Association are now available to watch or download on Dropbox. The winning trotter videos for Marion Marauder, Broadway Donna, Hannelore Hanover, Obrigado, Walner and Ariana G are available by clicking here. For the first time, the U.S. Trotting Association is providing assorted video highlights that can be downloaded for each of the Dan Patch Award divisional winners in conjunction with the announcement of those winners this week. The video features exclusive footage captured by the USTA of major races won, winner's circle presentations and b-roll of each winner. Video courtesy for use of the footage should be -- U.S. Trotting Association. Some race replays are also included. Videos for the pacing award winners will be available on Friday (Dec. 16) at approximately 1 p.m. Links to the video files will be posted on www.ustrotting.com and sent out in a press release. The videos will remain available at the same links for the announcement of the Trotter, Pacer and Harness Horse of the Year awards on Monday (Dec. 19) at noon. According to USHWA, Monday's Trotter, Pacer and Harness Horse of the Year awards announcements will be streamed live starting at noon on the Facebook pages of USHWA, Hoosier Park and the Harness Racing FanZone hosted by Emily Gaskin, Hoosier's race marketing manager and the winner of USHWA's 2014 Breakthrough Award. Ken Weingartner

Top-earning female trotter Hannelore Hanover and Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder were among six trotters named Dan Patch Award winners Thursday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Ariana G, Broadway Donna, Obrigado, and Walner also were named divisional champs by the organization. A total of 155 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by USHWA's membership. Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover, Marion Marauder, and Walner all were selected on at least 94 percent. Broadway Donna, who received 83 percent of the vote among 3-year-old female trotters, is a repeat winner. The six champions came from six different training stables. Divisional honors for pacers will be announced Friday. Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be announced at noon Monday in a live show streamed over the Facebook pages of USHWA, Hoosier Park, and the Harness Racing FanZone. The presentation will be hosted by Emily Gaskin, Hoosier Park's race marketing manager. Marion Marauder was named the sport's best 3-year-old male trotter following a campaign that saw the colt become the ninth Trotting Triple Crown winner - and first since 2006 - by sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity. In addition, Marion Marauder won the Goodtimes Stakes and a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on his way to $1.48 million in purses. His earnings led all trotters in North America. Marion Marauder won 10 of 15 starts and finished second three times this season for the wife-and-husband training team of Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling. Marion Marauder is owned by the couple's son, Devin Keeling, and Wellwood's mother, Marion Jean Wellwood. Scott Zeron was the colt's regular driver. A son of stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Spellbound Hanover, Marion Marauder was bred by William Mulligan. For the second consecutive year, filly Broadway Donna was named a divisional champion and in the process joined her dam, Broadway Schooner, in receiving a Dan Patch Award at age 3. Broadway Schooner was honored in 2009. Broadway Donna, a daughter of stallion Donato Hanover, won seven of 12 starts and earned $664,708 in purses for breeder/owner Fashion Farms. Trained by Jim Campbell and driven by David Miller, her wins included the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old female trotters, Kentucky Filly Futurity, and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. Four-year-old mare Hannelore Hanover was named the sport's best older female trotter. She won 17 of 20 races and earned $1.11 million in purses, leading all female trotters in earnings. Her victories included the Breeders Crown Mare Trot and the Hambletonian Maturity, where she defeated male rivals. She also beat the boys in the Centaur Trotting Classic in addition to winning the Armbro Flight Stakes, TVG Series championship for female trotters, Fresh Yankee, Muscle Hill, and Miami Valley Distaff. Her mile time of 1:51 in winning the Armbro Flight equaled the world record for a 4-year-old trotting mare. Hannelore Hanover, trained by Ron Burke and driven by Yannick Gingras and Ricky Macomber Jr., is owned by Burke Racing, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables. A daughter of stallion Swan For All out of the mare High Sobriety, she was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms. Obrigado was named the best older male trotter. The 6-year-old gelding's wins included a world-record-equaling 1:53.2 performance around Northfield Park's half-mile oval in the Cleveland Trotting Classic and victories in the TVG Series championship for male trotters, Maxie Lee Memorial, Charlie Hill Memorial, Crawford Farms Open, and Dayton Trotting Derby. He won more than $800,000. The gelding, trained by Paul Kelley and driven by Mark MacDonald, is owned by the Paul Kelley Racing Stable, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, and Stable 45. Obrigado, bred by Mike Andrew, is a son of stallion Boy Band out of the mare Malimony. Walner won seven of eight races and finished the season with a five-race victory streak that included triumphs in the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters, Kindergarten Classic Series championship, and a division of the International Stallion Stakes in a world-record 1:51.3. Linda Toscano trained Walner for owner Ken Jacobs. Tim Tetrick handled the driving. The colt is a son of stallion Chapter Seven out of the mare Random Destiny. He was bred by Overseas Farms. Owners Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz finished second with All The Time in last year's voting for best 2-year-old female trotter, but captured the division this year with the aforementioned filly's sister, Ariana G. The homebred daughter of Muscle Hill out of Cantab It All won nine of 11 races and earned $743,967. Trained by Jimmy Takter and driven by Gingras, Ariana G's wins included the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old female trotters, Jim Doherty Memorial, Peaceful Way Stakes, and New Jersey Sire Stakes championship. 2-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Walner (151 votes) Chapter Seven---Random Destiny---Ken Warkentin Yearling Price: $90,000 at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: Overseas Farms Ltd. Owner: Ken Jacobs Trainer: Linda Toscano Driver: Tim Tetrick Races: 8-7-0-0 Purses: $484,037 Mark: 1:51.3 at Red Mile (world record) Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $200,600 Kindergarten Classic; $56,000 International Stallion Stakes division 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER Ariana G (152 votes) Muscle Hill---Cantab It All---Cantab Hall Yearling Price: Homebred Breeders: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld Owners: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Yannick Gingras Races: 11-9-1-0 Purses: $743,967 Mark: 1:51.4 at Red Mile Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $306,500 Doherty Memorial; $275,880 Peaceful Way 3-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Marion Marauder (146 votes) Muscle Hill---Spellbound Hanover---Donerail Yearling Price: $37,000 under name Marion Monopoly at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: William Mulligan Owners: Marion Jean Wellwood, Devin Keeling Trainers: Paula Wellwood, Mike Keeling Driver: Scott Zeron Races: 15-10-3-0 Purses: $1.48 million Mark: 1:51.3 at Meadowlands Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $500,000 Yonkers Trot; $431,000 Kentucky Futurity; $209,040 Goodtimes 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER Broadway Donna (129 votes) Donato Hanover---Broadway Schooner---Broadway Hall Yearling Price: Homebred Breeder: Fashion Farms Owner: Fashion Farms Trainer: Jim Campbell Driver: David Miller Races: 12-7-2-1 Purses: $664,708 Mark: 1:51.1 at Red Mile Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $312,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity; $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final OLDER MALE TROTTER Obrigado (88 votes) Boy Band---Malimony---Malabar Man Sale Price: $53,000 at 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale Breeder: Michael Andrew Owners: Paul Kelley Racing Stable, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, Stable 45 Trainer: Paul Kelley Driver: Mark MacDonald Races: 17-7-2-4 Purses: $808,320 Mark: 1:51.2 at Vernon Downs Top wins: $400,000 TVG Series final; $210,000 Hill Memorial; $200,000 Maxie Lee Memorial OLDER FEMALE TROTTER Hannelore Hanover (151 votes) Swan For All---High Sobriety---Dream Vacation Yearling Price: $32,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino, J&T Silva Stables Trainer: Ron Burke Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Ricky Macomber Jr. Races: 20-17-2-0 Purses: $1.11 million Mark: 1:51 at Mohawk (equals world record) Top wins: $471,200 Hambletonian Maturity; $250,000 Breeders Crown; $220,000 Centaur Trotting Classic by Ken Weingartner, for the US Harness Writers Association

For the first time, the U.S. Trotting Association will provide assorted video highlights that can be downloaded for each of the Dan Patch Award divisional winners in conjunction with the announcement of those winners by the U.S. Harness Writers Association this week. The video, which will be made available via Dropbox, will feature exclusive footage captured by the USTA of major races won, winner's circle presentations and b-roll of each winner. Video courtesy for use of the footage should be -- U.S. Trotting Association. Some race replays will also be included. As announced today by USHWA, the six winners in the various age/sex divisions for trotters will be announced shortly after noon (EST) on Thursday (Dec. 15) with the winning pacers following on Friday (Dec. 16) at the same time. The winning trotter videos will be available on Thursday at approximately 2 p.m. The videos for the pacing award winners will be available on Friday at approximately 2 p.m. Links to the video files will be posted on www.ustrotting.com and sent out in a press release. The videos will remain available at the same links for the announcement of the Trotter, Pacer and Harness Horse of the Year awards on Monday (Dec. 19) at noon. According to USHWA, Monday's Trotter, Pacer and Harness Horse of the Year awards announcements will be streamed live starting at noon on the Facebook pages of USHWA, Hoosier Park and the Harness Racing FanZone hosted by Emily Gaskin, Hoosier's Race Marketing Manager and the winner of USHWA's 2014 Breakthrough Award. Ken Weingartner

HARRISBURG, PA - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's largest organization for communicators of the Standardbred sport, presents the announcement schedule for the naming of the 2016 Harness Horse of the Year, the Trotter and Pacer of the Year, and the various divisional awardwinners. These announcements are made with the partnership of Hoosier Park, who is the title presenter of USHWA's Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas, and with the U. S. Trotting Association (USTA), who prepares the statistics mailed to eligible voters and then tallies the incoming voting. On Thursday, December 15, a press release will be coming from Harness Racing Communications (HRC), shortly after noon, listing the six winners in the various age/sex divisions for trotters. A similar release will be sent for pacers the next day, Friday, December 16, just after twelve noon. On Monday, December 19, at twelve noon, there will be an announcement of the Trotter and Pacer of the Year, followed by the naming of the 2016 Harness Horse of the Year. This will be a live announcement, streamed over the Facebook pages of USHWA, Hoosier Park, and the Harness Racing Fan Zone. The show will be hosted by Emily Gaskin, Hoosier's Race Marketing Manager and the winner of USHWA's 2014 Breakthrough Award for an up-and-coming person in industry management or communications. A full press release detailing the particulars of these announcements will be sent out by HRC immediately after the awards are announced on Monday. The winners of the "human" Dan Patch Awards (which do include the Broodmares of the Year) will be announced during the rest of the week after Monday's Horse of the Year announcement. From the United States Harness Writers Association  

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing's largest and leading membership organization for industry communicators, is very pleased to announce that the Indiana Standardbred Association (ISA), the organization which represents the interests of all the facets of harness racing in the Hoosier State, is partnering with USHWA in the presentation of its annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas NV. The Indiana Standardbred Association's sponsorship will consist of two important facets of the Banquet: 1) the video/audio presentations shown through the Banquet room after the announcement of every award winner, an annual Banquet highlight coordinated by the award-winning Heather Vitale; and 2) the "Red Carpet Photo Booth," where Banquet attendees can pose for a "remember-the-evening" picture of their group in their finery, a picture which is then e-mailed to them as a memento of the festive occasion. The Indiana Standardbred Association is the result of a merger in 1994 (not coincidentally, the year pari-mutuel racing came to Indiana) between the Indiana Trotting And Pacing Association and the Standardbred Owners and Breeders of Indiana, so that the state's industry could have maximum representation and exposure within Indiana through the combined efforts of one united group working for the greatest overall good. The non-profit organization has over 2500 active members, and is overseen by a board of 15 elected directors, one group seeking to further the Standardbred cause in the home state of Dan Patch (appropriately enough for this banquet). Jack Kieninger, president of the Indiana Standardbred Association, said, "We are thrilled to be a sponsor of the USHWA Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park. Indiana is at the forefront of Standardbred racing right now, and it's time we stepped up to the plate and got involved a little bit more nationally. We are honored to be able to participate this year." Tim Bojarski, president of the Harness Writers Association, noted that "USHWA is delighted that the Indiana Standardbred Association is partnering with us for the 2017 Dan Patch banquet presentation. Their presence, along with that of our presenting title sponsor Hoosier Park, shows the progressive thinking that has become associated with Indiana in our sport within the last several years, and further shows why Indiana and Hoosier Park will be hosting the Breeders Crown Championships in the fall of 2017." Further information about the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will be held the same weekend that USHWA holds its annual national meetings, is available on the group's website, www.ushwa.org, and will be updated in the next several weeks as awards are announced and final plans are set into place.  

Columbus, OH --- Great minds think alike and when they all concur, their wallets are bound not only to come out of their pockets, but Franklins tend to fly. That is most certainly the case after Rick Berks, Peter Blood and Steve Elliott conferred on where to place defending Dan Patch Award harness racing male pacing champion Boston Red Rocks. “I have been involved in this business for 50 years and Steve has for 40,” Blood said. “Rick has generously contributed to the sport for decades. When we talked, we all agreed to supplement him to this race (Progress Pace, eliminations on Nov. 21 and final on Nov. 28 at Dover Downs). I have always believed you build a foundation for a horse and then they show you what they want to do. After his race last week he deserves that chance.” Blood was referring to the lifetime mark of 1:49.3 the son of Rocknroll Hanover-McGibson accrued in a powerful performance in Thursday’s (Nov. 10) $160,200 Matron Stake at Dover Downs. Steered by regular pilot Tim Tetrick, Boston Red Rocks defeated rivals that dominated the headlines this season in Check Six and Racing Hill off a first-over journey by open lengths. That performance reinforced not only the act of producing a hefty check, but rewarded the faith the horse’s connections had that never waned. After a trip in the $25,000 second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 28 at The Meadowlands where Boston Red Rocks was fortunate merely to stay on his feet, he overcame being carried out nine-wide and interfered with to pace an explosive last quarter-mile in :25.2 to just miss the victory in finishing third. He returned the following week with another brutal foray in the NJSS to finish second to Katies Rocker by a neck in the $100,000 final. Since those two efforts, Boston Red Rocks was fourth in the $780,000 North America Cup final, third in the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial final, seventh in the $732,050 Meadowlands Pace final and seventh in his Breeders Crown elimination. The Progress Pace may very well be the forum for the colt to demonstrate why he was the top ranked 3-year-old pacer in preliminary rankings this spring. He definitely has already illustrated he belongs and is well worth the wager Berks and Blood have plunked down for this participation in the Progress Pace. by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

HARRISBURG PA - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing's largest and leading membership organization for industry communicators, is very pleased to announce that Hanover Shoe Farms, the southcentral Pennsylvania nursery which has been the leading breeder of Standardbred racehorses every year since records started being kept in 1949, is partnering with USHWA in the presentation of its annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas NV.   Hanover will be the sponsor of the gift bag that will be found at every banquet attendee's seat. So before the very first of the sport's best and brightest will be formally honored on February 26, everybody will be a winner and have a "prize" of special items to take home at night's end - one that will certainly be of greater quality with Hanover's participation. Hanover Shoe Farms continues to improve and grow to remain the world's largest nursery for Standardbred racehorses. They have led the list of leading breeders of racetrack earnings of offspring produced every year since those record were begun in 1949, setting a single-season record of $30,169,439 last year, and they are keeping up close to that pace with $23.7 million won by their produce as of the first week of November. They are the breeders of Hannelore Hanover, winner of the Breeders Crown older mares trot and a leading candidate for Trotter of the Year, and their sire Somebeachsomewhere fathered three of the four winners in the Breeders Crown pacing events for two- and three-year-olds. Tim Bojarski, president of the Harness Writers Association, noted that "USHWA is honored to have Hanover partner with us for the 2017 Dan Patch banquet presentation. They are an institution in our industry that continues to set the bar in all facets of their operation. Their willingness to promote harness racing is exemplary, and we of USHWA are proud they have chosen to support us as we honor the best in our sport early next year." Further information about the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will be held the same weekend that USHWA holds its annual national meetings, is available on the group's website, www.ushwa.org, and will be updated in the next several weeks as awards are announced and final plans are set into place.   by Tim Bojarski, President of USHWA

HARRISBURG PA - Brian Sears, a "youthful veteran" of the sport of harness racing who stands fifth on the all-time list of moneywinning drivers and has driven some of the sport's greatest horses of the last 15 years to victories in championship races, has been elected to the sport's highest honor, the Hall of Fame, in balloting conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the trade organization of harness journalists. In addition, Gordon Waterstone and Steve Wolf, two veteran harness publicists and writers whose careers share many similar highlights and awards though they never worked together directly, have been elected to the sport's Communicators Hall of Fame. Sears was named USHWA's Rising Star of the Year in 1991 and hasn't looked back. Sears, a 48-year-old native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who now resides in Secaucus, N.J., was at the top rungs of the driving colony of Vernon Downs, Pompano, Pocono, and The Meadows before moving eastward to the metro New York area a dozen years ago. He has continued to dominate on the toughest circuits in harness racing, winning multiple driving championships at the Meadowlands and also topping the charts at Yonkers Raceway. Sears entered Monday with 9,670 career wins, good for 14th place among all drivers in North American history. Among the horses that have helped boost his career driving earnings to $174 million all-time are three winners of the Horse of the Year title: Rocknroll Hanover in 2005, Muscle Hill in 2009, and Bee A Magician in 2013. Sears is the only driver to twice win the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks on the same day, accomplishing the feat with Muscle Hill and Broadway Schooner in 2009 and again with Royalty For Life and Bee A Magician in 2013. He also won the Hambletonian in 2015 with Pinkman in his only drive behind the horse that season. The sport's Driver of the Year in 2009, Sears has won 26 Breeders Crown titles, good for No. 4 on the all-time wins list in the series. Horses driven by Sears have earned more than $10 million in the series, which is among the top five in history. Waterstone was for many years the publicist for Hazel Park in Detroit, also working at other area racetracks, before becoming associate editor of The Horseman And Fair World, which was a magazine when Waterstone started and for whom he wrote two John Hervey Award-winning stories, before becoming a multimedia enterprise in recent years. Wolf was a publicist for several tracks in the immediate area of his native New Jersey (Freehold Raceway 13 years, Brandywine Raceway and Liberty Bell Park) and for the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey before "shipping south" to Pompano Park in Florida, rising through the ranks to become senior director of racing operations, until starting his own consulting agency. He also served on the Board, including as president, of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. The parallels in the careers of Wolf and Waterstone are striking. Both first entered the communications end of the industry in 1979. Both have been president of USHWA and both have won that organization's Member of the Year (Wolf twice, the first to earn that distinction); both currently serve as their USHWA chapter's president. Both have won the Harness Publicists Association's Allen J. Finkelson Golden Pen Award for outstanding lifetime achievement in promoting harness racing, and both have won the Clyde Hirt Media Award from Harness Horsemen's International. Both have chaired several important USHWA committees, and are teaming again for the 2017 USHWA annual convention and Dan Patch Award Banquet: Waterstone on the Location Committee and on-site planner/negotiator, and Wolf on the Dinner Committee, which he has chaired 15 times. That USHWA event, to be held at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas on February 25-26 of next year, will be the first introduction of Sears, Waterstone, and Wolf as the newest members of the Halls of Fame. The formal induction ceremony will be held at the Hall of Fame dinner at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., on Sunday, July 2, 2017. Hall of Fame voting is conducted among eligible USHWAns and members of the Hall of Fame; Communicators Hall of Famers are voted on by all members of the Harness Writers Association. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

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