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Goshen, NY - The Dan Patch Horse of the Year trophies will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Tickets for this gala event, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet--Night of Champions, are now available. In addition to equine divisional honors, a host of the industry's biggest and brightest will be feted at the annual awards ceremony, including this year's inductees to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, Joe Thomson; and Communicators Hall of Fame, Bob Marks and Kathy Parker. The U. S. Harness Writers list of human awards also includes the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award winner, Russell Williams, as well as the Owner, Trainer, Driver, and Breeder of the Year, Rising Star, Breakthrough, Good Guy and a host of others, which are listed below and available on the USHWA.org website. Adding to the festivities will be the popular souvenir red carpet photo shoot during the cocktail hour followed by a main course dinner of ______________. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet can be reserved via telephone or Email by contacting Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are now available can be reserved via telephone or Email by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson at 302-359-3630 or Email: zoe8874@aol.com Steve Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Email: stevenwolf1956@gmail.com Substantial savings on hotel rooms can be attained for this event, which is being held at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld. A special rate of $115 can be reserved by calling 407-352-1100 BEFORE January 25, 2015, and mentioning code: Dan Patch or clicking this link The deadline for the Dan Patch Awards journal is Monday, January 26. To advertise in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully by calling 845.807.7538 or Email: tullytrot@yahoo.com All of this information and applicable advertising forms can be accessed via internet link: USHWA.org Dan Patch Horse Awards - 2014 Champions Harness Horse of the Year: JK She'salady Trotter of the Year: Shake It Cerry Pacer of the Year: Sweet Lou 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt: Pinkman 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly: Mission Brief 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt: Artspeak 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly: JK She'salady 3-Year-Old Trotting Colt: Father Patrick 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly: Shake It Cerry 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly: Color's A Virgin 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt: McWicked Trotting Horse: Sebastian K Trotting Mare: Classic Martine Pacing Horse: Sweet Lou Pacing Mares* -- Anndrovette, Rocklamation (tie) United States Harness Writers Association - Awards and Honorees Harness Racing Hall of Fame: Joe Thomson Communicators Hall of Fame: Bob Marks & Kathy Parker Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award: Russell Williams Dan Patch Human Awards 2014 Owner of the Year: 3 Brothers Stables & John Fielding (tie) Trainer of the Year: Jimmy Takter Driver of the Year: Yannick Gingras Breeder of the Year: 3 Brothers Stables Breakthrough Award: Emily Gaskin Rising Star: Nancy Johansson President's Award: Carl Howard Good Guy: Jack Darling USHWAn of the Year: Gordon Waterstone Unsung Hero: Jack Darling Amateur Driver of the Year: Robert Krivelin Other Awards Trotting Broodmare of the Year: Solveig Pacing Broodmare of the Year: Presidential Lady Humanitarian Award: Robbie Siegelman Grand Circuit Awards: Owner, Burke Racing; Trainer, Ron Burke; Driver, Yannick Gingras USTA & USHWA Railbird Recognition Awards: Horse Person: Verlin Yoder; Racing Moment: Sebastian K Hervey & Smallsreed Awards TBA by Chris Tully, for the United States Harness Writers Association  

Goshen, NY -- Fazoli's President and CEO Carl Howard was named the 2014 President's Award honoree by United States Harness Writers Association chief Chris Tully. The award acknowledges Howard's passion for Harness Racing in general and his decision to have his firm take on the leadership role of presenting sponsor for the 69th edition of the $600,000 Little Brown Jug. Hall of Famer Sam McKee stated, "If not for Carl Howard and the Fazoli's title sponsorship of the 2014 Little Brown Jug, there's little doubt that our national television effort would never have gotten off the ground. Thanks to Carl's background as a fan and an owner, the industry was given the opportunity to make a presentation and show what we can offer and produce for a major sponsor." A Kettering, Ohio native, Carl Howard is no stranger to the spotlight. As CEO of Fazoli's, he was recently named the No. 1 restaurant executive by Fast Casual. Despite taking over the struggling restaurant brand in 2008, he and his 200-plus nationwide shops have since posted 13 consecutive positive growth quarters. A true restaurateur, Howard moved his way up through hard work and determination. He met his wife of 20 years, Rocchina, while waiting tables at the upscale Salvi's in Columbus, OH. "My father-in-law was the chef, and he taught me to always have high standards. I try to carry that philosophy with me every day--not only in my interactions with my Fazoli's team, but also with our customers," Howard stated. Having successfully engineered the dramatic turnaround, Howard also has his eyes on the resurgence of Harness Racing in the Buckeye State. With current ownership in over 30 Standardbreds, he intends to spearhead an effort to have a racehorse in every class in the state of Ohio during 2015. "I have about 20 horses in training with Virgil Morgan, Jr." noted the Ohio State graduate. "I plan to expand my efforts and take advantage of the increased rewards available. The risks are still high, but with a keen eye on individual ROI, we intend to capitalize on Ohio's growth potential." The 2014 racing season was profitable for Howard, but that has not always been the case. His first foray into racing united him with a pacer named JK Reunited. Ironically this mare was a product of Breeder of the Year and owner of the Horse of the Year, 3 Brothers Stables. "I claimed my first race horse at Pocono in 2010." Howard jokingly added, "Knowing what I know now, I would not have made that claim again because JK Reunited became a broodmare following her next start. Through many lessons learned, my selection process has changed dramatically in the past five years." The President's award, along with the Dan Patch Horse of the Year and additional human award trophies will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Tickets for this gala event, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet--Night of Champions, are now available and can be reserved via telephone or Email by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson at 302-359-3630 or Email: zoe8874@aol.com or Steve Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Email: stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. Substantial savings on hotel rooms can be attained for this event, which is being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld. A special rate of $115 can be reserved by calling 407-352-1100 BEFORE January 25, 2015, and mentioning code: Dan Patch or clicking this link The deadline for the Dan Patch Awards journal is Monday, January 26. To advertise in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully by calling 845.807.7538 or Email: tullytrot@yahoo.com All of this information and applicable advertising forms can be accessed via internet link: USHWA.org by the United States Harness Writers Association

Akron, NY---The Railbird Recognition voting for Racing Moment of the Year will conclude tonight (Wednesday, Dec. 31) at midnight, so this is your last opportunity to cast your ballot to express your opinion as to your choice for the most memorable racing moment of 2014. Voting takes place on the USTA homepage. With voting for the Horseperson of the Year having already concluded on Dec. 19, both categories will have now been completed. The results of the fan voting will be announced on Thursday (Jan. 8) and both awards will be presented to their respective winners during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday (Feb. 22). The Railbird Recognition Awards were created for the fans to have a way to express their opinions about who they think are the best the sport has to offer and are the only fan driven award in the industry. The voting is run by the United States Harness Writers Association in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association. By Tim Bojarski for USHWA

For their vision of giving back to life beyond the racetrack, the United States Harness Writers Association has voted Jack Darling two Dan Patch Awards - the Unsung Hero and Good Guy awards - and Robbie Siegelman has been selected to receive the January Davies Humanitarian Award. Darling was the driving force behind two major fundraising efforts in 2014 -- initiating a broad-based fundraising effort to support telecasts of the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug and establishing a fund for the family of his late friend and fellow horseman Mark Austin. When both projects became overwhelming successes, both the drive for television fund and the campaign to help Austin's family, centered around a "tribute night" to Keith and Ron Waples, raised more than $100,000 for their respective causes. Robbie Siegelman, a New York/New Jersey trainer, has been working with unsung heroes for years - human heroes, people with daunting life challenges, such as the effects of military service on veterans and their families, the underprivileged of large inner cities, kids battling the horrors of cancer. Siegelman's special tool is the use of one of the mostly universally-acclaimed means of therapy - the Standardbred horse. Both men have rung up very good training statistics since the USTA began compiling conditioner standings in 1991, with both individuals having guided the winners of more than $10 million in that period. Awards for Darling and Siegelman, along with the Dan Patch Horse of the Year and additional human awards, will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Tickets for this gala event, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet--Night of Champions, are now available. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are now available can be reserved via telephone or Email by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson at 302-359-3630 or Email: zoe8874@aol.com or Steve Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Email: stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. Substantial savings on hotel rooms can be attained for this event, which is being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld. A special rate of $115 can be reserved by calling 407-352-1100 BEFORE January 25, 2015, and mentioning code: Dan Patch or clicking this link. The deadline for the Dan Patch Awards journal is Monday, January 26. To advertise in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully by calling 845-807-k7538 or Email: tullytrot@yahoo.com. All of this information and applicable advertising forms can be accessed via Internet link: USHWA.org. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association    

HARRISBURG PA - As members of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) considered choices for the Dan Patch Owner of the Year, Breeder of the Year, Pacing Broodmare of the Year, and Trotting Broodmare of the Year awards, two names surfaced frequently - the 3 Brothers Stables and John Fielding. Fielding, a resident of Toronto who has graduated from riding the streetcar to the old Greenwood Raceway to serving on the Board of Directors of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, owned two seasonal million-dollar-winners in 3-year-old trotting colt Father Patrick and 3-year-old trotting filly Shake It Cerry while the 3 Brothers Stables of Alan, Ronald, and Steven Katz, who got their schooling on the New York City circuit, owned millionaire 3-year-old pacing colt JK Endofanera and 2-year-old pacing filly JK She'salady, the first freshman filly to be named harness racing's Horse of the Year. Both of the "JK" horses, with the prefix honoring the Katzes' late father and mentor Jack, are offspring of Art Major out of a Presidential Ball-Mardi's Crown mare named Presidential Lady, who was a "walkover" for Pacing Broodmare of the Year - USHWA's Breeder/Broodmare nominating committee thought no other candidate viable. They will be the last "JK"s for the Katzes out of Presidential Lady, who was sold last year to Melissa Orlando of Ohio - but this "1-2 punch" was thought so potent, with both horses at the very top level of their divisions all year, that the Katzes/3 Brothers Stables were named Breeders of the Year by USHWA. On the trotting broodmare side, Solveig got the most votes of any candidate in their category, two- or four-legged, with 100 out of 140 voters picking her for Trotting Broodmare of the Year. The winner is a daughter of Yankee Glide-Exquisite Amanda owned by, straightforwardly enough, Solveig's Breeders, of which Fielding is a member. Solveig, from matings with Donato Hanover, was represented in 2014 by Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry and by the 2-year-old trotting colt Uncle Lasse, who himself earned $351,297. Fielding is also among the owners of Uncle Lasse and no fewer than three Breeders Crown (and Dan Patch divisional) winners: Shake It Cerry, Father Patrick, and 2-year-old gelding trotter Pinkman. So with credentials such as these, the voters must have had a hard time deciding between 3 Brothers and Fielding for the honor of Owner of the Year, right? Right. Whom did they choose? Both - it was a dead heat, with each receiving 50 votes. And it's hard to argue with that result - because it's hard to argue with excellence, which both 3 Brothers and Fielding showed in spades during 2014. The Katzes and Fielding will be presented these awards and others, as will the rest of 2014's stars, both human and equine, on Sunday, February 22, 2015 in Orlando, Florida, at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet--Night of Champions. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are now available can be reserved via telephone or Email by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson at 302-359-3630 or Email: zoe8874@aol.com or Steve Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Email: stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. Substantial savings on hotel rooms can be attained for this event, which is being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld. A special rate of $115 can be reserved by calling 407-352-1100 BEFORE January 25, 2015, and mentioning code: Dan Patch, or by clicking this link. The deadline for the Dan Patch Awards journal is Monday, January 26. To advertise in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully by calling 845.807.7538 or Email: tullytrot@yahoo.com. All of this information and applicable advertising forms can be accessed via Internet link: USHWA.org. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

HARRISBURG PA - Russell Williams, who is an important part of many of harness racing's major entities - Hanover Shoe Farms Inc., the Standardbred Horse Sales Company, the U.S. Trotting Association, the Harness Racing Museum - and also serves as "Santa Claus" to horses after their racing/breeding careers are completed, has been named the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award winner by the United States Harness Writers Association, the media association of the industry. It is the highest award given by USHWA that is voted on solely by its membership of 220. Williams is the grandson of Hall of Famer Lawrence Sheppard, founder of Hanover Shoe Farms, the world's largest Standardbred nursery. But while always enjoying the horses, Russell carved his own path in life as a lawyer, serving as assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia and teaching law at the University of Richmond. Later, he returned to Hanover as a senior official, and to this day his contributions to Hanover and the sport are numerous and progressive. He serves the dual roles in the "Hanover family" as vice president of Hanover Shoe Farms, leading breeder within the industry since records started to be kept in 1949, and as chairman and vice president of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company, which each year conducts a weeklong sale of quality horseflesh in Harrisburg, just more than an hour from the Hanover Farm near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. Williams is also vice chairman of the U.S. Trotting Association, the sport's breed registry, statistical record-keeper, and overall input into national/international issues - his background as a lawyer is especially valuable in this role. He is a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum, and the former chairman of the American Horse Council, a multi-breed organization. Russell also campaigns a modest stable of horses and owns several broodmares, including Nicole Isabelle, a second-generation Williams mare whose first foal was the trotting star Nuncio, an Andover Hall colt who won the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity en route to earnings of $1.45 million in 2014. But the main equine beneficiaries of Williams' "ownership" are those horses whose careers as racehorses are finished, and elder broodmares retired from the breeding ranks. The latter group of Hanover mares are boarded at Hanover for life; the racehorses are literally given "the gift of life" by "Santa Claus" Williams, as he purchases them and helps find them suitable homes. Russell Williams, still agile and youthful of mind approaching 60, has spread his earned talents throughout the Standardbred world, to the benefit of every level, and thus is a worthy recipient of the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award. This award, along with the Dan Patch Horse of the Year and additional human award trophies will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Tickets for this gala event, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet--Night of Champions, are now available. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet can be reserved via telephone or email by contacting Steve Wolf at 954-654-3757 or email: stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. Substantial savings on hotel rooms can be attained for this event, which is being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld. A special rate of $115 can be reserved by calling 407-352-1100 BEFORE January 25, 2015, and mentioning code: Dan Patch or clicking this link. The deadline for the Dan Patch Awards journal is Monday, January 26. To advertise in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully by calling 845-807-7538 or email: tullytrot@yahoo.com. All of this information and applicable advertising forms can be accessed via Internet link: USHWA.org. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association     -30-  

For the fourth time in his Hall of Fame career, Jimmy Takter is the Trainer of the Year as voted upon by the members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Also voted a Dan Patch Award, as Driver of the Year, was Yannick Gingras, who led all drivers in purses this season with more than $17 million. Takter received 84 of 140 votes for Trainer of the Year, finishing ahead of Ron Burke, who got 56 votes. Gingras was the only driver nominated for Driver of the Year by USHWA's chapters. Despite starting horses only 729 times through Dec. 21, Takter's stable earned a career-best $13.35 million, for an average of more than $18,300 per start. Takter, 54, won this year's Hambletonian with Trixton, a horse he also drove to the victory, and the Hambletonian Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit. Takter became only the second trainer to win both races in the same year, joining Jan Johnson from 1988. The Hambletonian was the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown and Takter-trained Nuncio swept the remaining two legs, the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot. In addition, Takter won three Breeders Crown trophies, with 2-year-old male trotter Pinkman, 3-year-old male trotter Father Patrick, and 3-year-old female trotter Shake It Cerry. Shake It Cerry was named the Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year while Pinkman and Father Patrick received divisional honors. Takter dominated the 3-year-old trotting ranks, as he had the top three money-earning colts (Father Patrick, $1.69 million, Nuncio, $1.45 million and Trixton, $893,370) and the top two money-earning fillies (Shake It Cerry, $1.23 million and Lifetime Pursuit, $795,216). Father Patrick and Nuncio made Takter the first trainer in history to have two million-dollar trotters in the same division in the same year. Among Takter's top pacers were 3-year-old male stakes-winners Lyonssomewhere, who captured the Cane Pace, Somewhere In L A and Tellitlikeitis, along with 3-year-old filly stakes-winner Uffizi Hanover. Takter's previous Trainer of the Year honors came in 2010, 2000 and 1996. The 35-year-old Gingras has established career highs in purses, with $17.29 million, and wins, with 555. His earnings led all drivers in North America and were more than $5 million ahead of second place. Never in history has a driver finished at least $5 million in front of his nearest competitor. In addition, Gingras' purses were fourth highest in history for a driver. Gingras won four Breeders Crown titles, victories that were among 15 triumphs worth more than $300,000 this year. Those 15 lucrative wins came with nine different horses and included the Canadian Trotting Classic, Hambletonian Oaks, Little Brown Jug and Cane Pace. A native of Quebec, Gingras was USHWA's 2003 Rising Star Award winner. Takter and Gingras will receive their awards at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet, to be held Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Doubletree Hilton Orlando at Sea World. by Ken Weingartner, for the US Harness Writers Association    

East Rutherford, NJ --- The ‘Lady’ is the champ. JK She’salady, who was undefeated in 12 races for breeder/owner 3 Brothers Stables and trainer Nancy Johansson, became the first 2-year-old female pacer in harness racing history to be named Horse of the Year, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Thursday during a Dan Patch Awards presentation at Meadowlands Racetrack. The filly won by five votes, 57-52, over fellow pacer Sweet Lou in the tightest Horse of the Year finish since 7-year-old trotting gelding Savoir beat 3-year-old filly pacer Silk Stockings, 52-49, in 1975. Five-year-old Sweet Lou, however, was named Pacer of the Year after besting JK She’salady by one vote, 74-73, in that category. It is the first time a Pacer of the Year or Trotter of the Year – categories introduced in 1970 – failed to receive Horse of the Year. Voters, who are members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association and American Harness Racing Secretaries, must choose their Horse of the Year from either their Pacer of the Year or Trotter of the Year selection. A total of 157 ballots were returned. The anomaly occurred because a greater number of voters that selected JK She’salady for Pacer of the Year on their ballot also voted her their Horse of the Year. Only 16 people that voted JK She’salady as the best pacer gave their Horse of the Year vote to their Trotter of the Year selection, compared to 22 for Sweet Lou. Three-year-old filly Shake It Cerry was named Trotter of the Year, finishing 22 votes ahead of runner-up Sebastian K, 59-37. Shake It Cerry, owned by Solveig’s Racing Partners and trained by Jimmy Takter, received 14 votes for Horse of the Year. A total of nine horses received at least one vote for Horse of the Year. JK She’salady is the fourth 2-year-old to receive Horse of the Year, joining pacer Niatross (1979), trotter Nevele Pride (1967) and pacer Bret Hanover (1964). The three previous 2-year-old winners were colts. She is the first female pacer to be voted Horse of the Year since Rainbow Blue in 2004 and the fourth female pacer overall to receive the honor. The others were Bunny Lake in 2001 and Fan Hanover in 1981. “It’s unbelievable,” Johansson said. “I don’t know if it’s completely sunk in. The hard work paid off. She’s just such a special horse. “She’s as perfect as they come now, and I guess finishing off with Horse of the Year exemplifies how perfect she is.” JK She’salady, who on Wednesday was named the sport’s best 2-year-old filly pacer, won her final nine starts by a minimum of one length and closed her campaign with a stakes-record victory in the Breeders Crown. She equaled the world record of 1:50.1 for a 2-year-old female pacer in winning the She’s A Great Lady Stakes at Mohawk and also captured the Three Diamonds Stakes. For the year, the homebred filly earned $883,330. She was driven by Tim Tetrick in the Breeders Crown and by Yannick Gingras in her previous starts. It is the first Horse of the Year honor for the 33-year-old Johansson, who is Takter’s daughter and previously worked as a caretaker in her father’s stable. Takter has won three Horse of the Year awards, two with Moni Maker (1998-99) and one with Malabar Man (1997). Sweet Lou, who was driven by Ron Pierce and set a record with six consecutive wins in faster than 1:48, captured 11 of 19 races for the season and earned $1.36 million for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. He won the Ben Franklin Pace at Pocono Downs in 1:47, the fastest-ever mile on a five-eighths track, and won the Dan Patch Invitational in 1:47.2, the fastest-ever mile at Hoosier Park. Other victories for Sweet Lou included the TVG Free For All Series championship, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, and the Roll With Joe. Sweet Lou, who was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer in 2011 and added the award for best older male pacer this season, is Burke’s second Pacer of the Year winner. Burke also won with Foiled Again in 2011. “We got Pacer of the Year, I’m OK with that,” co-owner Collura said. “We’ll have some fun with that. “It was a little disappointing (not to receive Horse of the Year), but I’m still happy. Pacer of the Year is a great achievement for Lou. It’s a nice way to end the year regardless.” Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 races this year, earning $1.23 million for the Solveig’s Racing Partners ownership group and driver Pierce. Most of the members of the ownership group are also members of Solveig’s Breeders, which bred the filly. The Takter-trained filly, who on Tuesday was named the best 3-year-old filly trotter, finished her season by winning the Breeders Crown in a stakes-record 1:52.2. She also won the Matron Stakes in a stakes- and track-record 1:52.4 over a “good” surface at Dover Downs, the American-National in a stakes-record 1:52.2 and equaled the stakes record of 1:52.1 in capturing the Elegantimage. “This filly, she really deserved Trotter of the Year,” Takter said. “Besides the Hambletonian (Oaks), what a season she had, and she finished up in style. She’s just a fantastic horse.” Both of Shake It Cerry’s parents were Dan Patch Award winners. Donato Hanover was Horse of the Year at age 3 in 2007 and Solveig was voted best 2-year-old female trotter in 2004. Solveig also was trained by Takter, who named the filly in honor of his mother. It is Takter’s sixth Trotter of the Year Award. He won three with Moni Maker (1998-2000) as well as Malabar Man (1997) and Kadabra (2002). Complete vote totals for all Dan Patch Award categories can be found here. For the announcements of division honors, for pacers click here and for trotters click here. HORSE OF THE YEAR 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER OF THE YEAR JK SHE’SALADY Art Major – Presidential Lady – Presidential Ball Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeders: 3 Brothers Stables. Owners: 3 Brothers Stables. Trainer: Nancy Johansson. Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Tim Tetrick. Races: 12-12-0-0. Purses: $883,330. Mark: 1:50.1 at Mohawk (equals world record). Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $441,600 She’s A Great Lady; $377,360 Three Diamonds. PACER OF THE YEAR OLDER MALE PACER OF THE YEAR SWEET LOU Yankee Cruiser – Sweet Future – Falcons Future Yearling Price: $38,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale. Breeder: Birnam Wood Farms. Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, Phil Collura. Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 19-11-3-1. Purses: $1.36 million. Mark: 1:47 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $500,000 TVG Final; $500,000 Ben Franklin; $463,300 William Haughton Memorial. TROTTER OF THE YEAR 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER OF THE YEAR SHAKE IT CERRY Donato Hanover – Solveig – Yankee Glide Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeder: Solveig’s Breeders. Owner: Solveig’s Racing Partners. Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 17-15-0-1. Purses: $1.23 million. Mark: 1:51.2 at The Red Mile. Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $368,100 Elegantimage; $224,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity. From the United States Harness Writers Assoiation

Akron, NY---The Railbird Recognition voting for Horseperson of the Year will conclude Friday (Dec. 19) at midnight. The polls will then be reloaded and switched to take your input on the Racing Moment of the Year. The Railbird Awards were created for the fans to have a way to express their opinions about who they think are the best the sport has to offer and are the only fan driven award in the industry. The voting is run by the United States Harness Writers Association in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association and the actual voting is conducted on the USTA website. Voting for Horseperson of the Year ran from Monday (Dec. 8) and will end on Friday (Dec. 19) at midnight, while the balloting for the best Racing Moment of the Year will begin on Saturday (Dec. 20) and conclude on Wednesday (Dec. 31) at midnight. A list of nominees for each award has been compiled by members of USHWA, based on what they believe were the most impactful people and moments in the sport during 2014. Those have been placed on the ballots where the fans can then make their selections from. Fans can only vote once per category. The winners will be announced on Thursday (Jan. 8) and will be presented with their awards during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday (Feb. 22). By Tim Bojarski for USHWA

The much anticipated Harness Horse of the Year announcement will be made live at 1 pm today (Thursday). Don't miss out. Will it be JK She'salday,Sweet Lou or maybe even McWicked? Could Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry or Sebastian K steal top honors? The Dan Patch Awards for Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year will be announced at 1 p.m. (EST) Thursday at the Meadowlands Racetrack’s Victory Sports Bar. Thursday’s announcements will be streamed live on the racetrack’s website,www.playmeadowlands.com. From the United States Harness Writers Association

JK She’salady and Sweet Lou were landslide winners in Dan Patch Award voting announced Wednesday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, but one of the six pacing divisions resulted in a rare dead heat. Anndrovette and Rocklamation will share the Dan Patch Award for best older female pacer after each received 51 of 157 votes. The only previous tie for a Dan Patch Award came in 1965 when Cardigan Bay and Race Time finished in a dead heat for best older pacer. JK She’salady, who was undefeated in 12 starts, came within one vote of being the unanimous selection for best 2-year-old female pacer. Sweet Lou, who set a record with six consecutive wins in faster than 1:48, was three votes from being the undisputed top older male pacer. Completing the list of division champions were 2-year-old male pacer Artspeak, 3-year-old male pacer McWicked, and 3-year-old female pacer Color’s A Virgin. Artspeak received 90 percent of the vote in his group while McWicked had 82 percent and Color’s A Virgin had 68 percent. Seven-year-old Anndrovette and 5-year-old Sweet Lou are repeat winners. Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year will be announced at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Meadowlands Racetrack’s Victory Sports Bar. Thursday’s announcements will be streamed live on the racetrack’s website, www.playmeadowlands.com. Anndrovette now has received a record four Dan Patch honors in the pacing mare division, and is tied with Eternal Camnation for the most honors for any pacer in history.  Rocklamation’s trophy is the first in the division for trainer Ron Burke, who has conditioned the six most recent winners among older male pacers. This season, Anndrovette won six of 22 races and earned a division-leading $520,352 for driver Tim Tetrick, trainer P.J. Fraley, and owners Bamond Racing and Joe Davino. Her victories included the Roses Are Red Stakes and Betsy Ross Invitational. Rocklamation, a 6-year-old, won four of 18 races and banked $517,364. Her triumphs for driver Yannick Gingras and owners Our Horse Cents Stables, Stable 45, and J&T Silva Stables included the Golden Girls, Artiscape, and Lady Liberty. Artspeak won eight of 10 races and earned $742,185, with top wins coming in the Metro Pace and Governor’s Cup. He is owned by Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, and In The Gym Partners. He is trained by Tony Alagna, who also captured this division in 2012 with Captaintreacherous, and was driven by Scott Zeron. After losing her first three starts of the year, Color’s A Virgin rebounded to win all but one of her next 14 races, with her victories including the Jugette and Nadia Lobell. She finished the campaign with 13 wins in 18 starts and earnings of $532,622 for driver Trace Tetrick, trainer Brian Brown and owner Emerald Highlands Farm. JK She’salady won her final nine starts by a minimum of one length and closed her campaign with a stakes-record victory in the Breeders Crown. She equaled the world record of 1:50.1 for a 2-year-old female pacer in winning the She’s A Great Lady Stakes at Mohawk and also captured the Three Diamonds Stakes. Owned by 3 Brothers Stables, JK She’salady is trained by Nancy Johansson. The filly was driven by Tim Tetrick in the Breeders Crown and by Gingras in her previous starts. McWicked was the richest pacer of the year, with $1.47 million in purses for owner SSG Stables and trainer Casie Coleman. The colt won 12 of 23 races and hit the board a total of 21 times. He finished the season on a three-race win streak, which included the Breeders Crown and a stakes-record triumph in the Progress Pace. Other victories for McWicked included the Delvin Miller Adios and Max C. Hempt Memorial.  His time of 1:47.3 in the Hempt at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track. He was driven primarily by David Miller, with Brian Sears in the sulky for the Breeders Crown. A Dan Patch Award winner in 2011 at the age of 2, Sweet Lou added a second trophy this year for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. He won 11 of 19 races for the season and earned $1.36 million. Sweet Lou, driven by Ron Pierce, won the Ben Franklin Pace at Pocono Downs in 1:47, the fastest-ever mile on a five-eighths track, and won the Dan Patch Invitational in 1:47.2, the fastest-ever mile at Hoosier Park. Other victories for Sweet Lou included the TVG Free For All Series championship, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, and the Roll With Joe. Complete vote totals for all awards will be released Thursday with the Horse of the Year announcement. 2-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER Artspeak (141 of 157 votes) Western Ideal – The Art Museum – Artsplace Yearling Price: $100,000 at Lexington Selected Sale. Breeders: Brittany Farms, Melvin Hartman. Owners: Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, In The Gym Partners. Trainer: Tony Alagna. Driver: Scott Zeron. Races: 10-8-0-2. Purses: $742,185. Mark: 1:50.2 at Mohawk. Top wins: $613,640 Metro Pace; $502,850 Governor’s Cup. 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER JK She’salady (155 votes; one abstention) Art Major – Presidential Lady – Presidential Ball Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeders: 3 Brothers Stables. Owners: 3 Brothers Stables. Trainer: Nancy Johansson. Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Tim Tetrick. Races: 12-12-0-0. Purses: $883,330. Mark: 1:50.1 at Mohawk (equals world record). Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $441,600 She’s A Great Lady; $377,360 Three Diamonds. 3-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER McWicked (128 votes) McArdle – Western Sahara – Western Ideal Yearling Price: $35,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale. Breeder: Andray Farm. Owner: S S G Stables. Trainer: Casie Coleman. Drivers: David Miller, Brian Sears. Races: 23-12-5-4. Purses: $1.47 million. Mark: 1:47.3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $531,250 Breeders Crown; $500,000 Hempt Memorial; $400,000 Adios. 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER Color’s A Virgin (106 votes) Always A Virgin – Full Color – Allamerican Ingot Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeder: Emerald Highlands Farm. Owner: Emerald Highlands Farm. Trainer: Brian Brown. Driver: Trace Tetrick. Races: 18-13-2-0. Purses: $532,622. Mark: 1:51 at Meadowlands. Top wins: $298,100 Jugette; $176,500 Nadia Lobell. OLDER MALE PACER Sweet Lou (154 votes) Yankee Cruiser – Sweet Future – Falcons Future Yearling Price: $38,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale. Breeder: Birnam Wood Farms. Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, Phil Collura. Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 19-11-3-1. Purses: $1.36 million. Mark: 1:47 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $500,000 TVG Final; $500,000 Ben Franklin; $463,300 William Haughton Memorial. OLDER FEMALE PACER (tie) Anndrovette (51 votes) Riverboat King – Easy Miss – Big Towner Yearling Price: Private sale. Breeder: Golden Touch Stable. Owners: Bamond Racing, Joseph Davino. Trainer: P.J. Fraley. Driver: Tim Tetrick. Races: 22-6-4-4. Purses: $520,352. Mark: 1:49.1 at Mohawk. Top wins: $303,600 Roses Are Red; $250,000 Betsy Ross. Rocklamation (51 votes) Rocknroll Hanover – Art Sale – Artsplace Yearling Price: $50,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale. Breeder: Perretti Farms. Owners: Our Horse Cents Stables, Stable 45, J&T Silva Stables. Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Yannick Gingras. Races: 18-4-5-2. Purses: $517,364. Mark: 1:48.3 at Meadowlands. Top wins: $183,450 Golden Girls; $178,000 Artiscape; $177,750 Lady Liberty. From the United States Harness Writers Association

Tomorrows highly anticipated announcement of the Dan Patch Harness Horse of the Year honors will be an exciting event and is being video streamed live from the Meadowlands at playmeadowlands.com. Harnesslink columnist Joe Fitzgerald gives his views and covers prior years of voting. In recent years the Horse of the Year race has been singularly lacking in suspense and drama. Last year the undefeated trotting filly, Bee A Magician, won the award with 78% of the vote. In 2012 it was world record holder Chapter Seven with 64%. San Pail dominated with 85% in 2011, while Rock N Roll Heaven swept the vote in 2010. Muscle Hill received 97% in 2009 and the previous year SBSW crushed Dewey with 77% of the vote. Some years, and this was certainly the case back in the day when there were many more voters, the votes were cast in what one could call a splash pattern: the winner benefited from the fact that so many horses were deemed worthy of consideration. Geography played a pivotal role in the voting at that time.  In 1954 Stenographer was designated the eighth Horse of the Year and the first sophomore trotter to receive that honor. The filly established six world records and won 23 heats. Oddly enough, Scott Frost, the sport’s first two-minute two-year-old trotter, received one more first place vote, but lost the election on points. Adios Boy, Kimberly Kid, Red Sails, Katie Key, Philip Scott, Adios Harry, Pronto Don and Phantom Lady all received first place votes in 1954, and hence contributed to the win by Stenographer. In 1977 Bill Haughton’s oddly gaited Speedy Rodney trotter, Green Speed, took Horse of the Year honors with 50% of the vote. He had won 16 times and took the Hambletonian and the Yonkers Trot. The following year he was syndicated for $3.2 million, but Hambletonian winner Duenna was his only top tier issue. Governor Skipper, who set a world record in the Jug got 33%, while seven-year-old Rambling Willie received 12%. Nine others also collected votes that year. In 1984 we saw another example of the Horse of the Year—in this case, Fancy Crown—benefiting from the fierce competition for votes down below her. The Three-year-old Speedy Crown filly had won 13 of 21 starts, including the Kentucky Futurity, and she had trotted the fastest mile ever—1:53.4. She won her Horse of the Year crown with only 39% of the vote. Sophomore pacer On The Road Again had won 18 times and set a single season earnings record for the sport; he garnered 26% of the vote. And right behind him was two-year-old Nihilator, who won 12 of 13 and set a world record in the Wilson. Baltic Speed, Colt Fortysix, Dragon’s Lair and Davidia Hanover also got votes in 1984. This year the favorite is the freshman pacing filly, JK She’salady, The winner of all 12 starts, with a 1:50.1 world record taken at Mohawk to her credit. She may become the first in her class to capture Horse of the Year honors, thanks to splash voting. For much of the season it was assumed that Sebastian K, the world record holder thanks to a 1:49 mile at Pocono Downs, was a shoe-in for that title. But then Sebastian, the first to trot four winning miles in under 1:50.3, lost his last four starts. Some voters will stay with him. And Sweet Lou will also get votes. He set a world record of 1:47 on Sun Stakes Day at Pocono and at one point won ten in a row. Six of the ten consisted of consecutive sub-1:48 miles. It’s a foregone conclusion that Lou will win his division. He’ll be the first pacer to win his division at two and five. Sweet Lou earned $1.3 million this year. He’ll get votes. Three of Jimmy Takter’s trotters, Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry and Nuncio will also draw Horse of the Year votes. Patrick won more money than any other in 2014. He won 11 of 15 starts and set a world record of 1:50.2 at Pocono. Stablemate Nuncio won the Kentucky Futurity and the Yonkers Trot, and many thought he would take the division if he had taken the Breeders Crown. And Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 starts and more than $1.2 million. I believe all of the above will chew up votes allowing the freshman filly to emerge triumphant from a split vote. Regardless, a splash voting pattern will no doubt help determine the winner. by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

The fastest trotter of all time and the richest Standardbred of the year were among the six trotters to receive divisional honors in Dan Patch Award voting announced Tuesday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Divisional honors for pacers will be revealed Wednesday, followed by the live announcements of Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Meadowlands Racetrack's Victory Sports Bar. Thursday's announcements will be streamed live on the racetrack's website, www.playmeadowlands.com. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old who won in 1:49 in June to become the fastest trotter in history, was voted harness racing's best older male trotter of 2014. Father Patrick, who earned $1.69 million this season to lead all Standardbreds, was named the sport's best 3-year-old male trotter. Father Patrick is from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, who also conditioned Pinkman, the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, and Shake It Cerry, who was one vote shy of being the unanimous selection for best 3-year-old female trotter. Shake It Cerry and Father Patrick also were honored last year at age 2. Completing the list of this year's award winners were 2-year-old female trotter Mission Brief and older female trotter Classic Martine. A total of 157 ballots were returned. Mission Brief, Pinkman, and Sebastian K joined Shake It Cerry in exceeding 89 percent of the vote in their respective divisions. Father Patrick received 60 percent and Classic Martine garnered 58 percent. Yannick Gingras was the primary driver for three of the trotters to receive Dan Patch honors: Mission Brief, Pinkman, and Father Patrick. Classic Martine won nine of 18 races this year and hit the board a total of 16 times to lead all older female trotters in purses with $438,912. Her victories included the Armbro Flight Stakes, Miss Versatility Series championship and the Ima Lula Series final in a then-world-record-equaling performance. Trained by Chris Oakes and driven primarily by Tim Tetrick, Classic Martine is owned by Hauser Bros. Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, and Edwin Gold. No harness racing horse earned more money this year than Father Patrick, who banked $1.69 million for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group. His victories included the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters, Canadian Trotting Classic, Beal Memorial, Zweig Memorial, Stanley Dancer Memorial, American-National Stakes, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. His 1:50.2 win in the Beal Memorial on June 28 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is the fastest mile ever by any 3-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track. Father Patrick joins Lucky Chucky, Muscle Hill, Deweycheatumnhowe, and Donato Hanover as male trotters in the last 10 years to receive a Dan Patch Award at both ages 2 and 3. Mission Brief trotted the fastest mile ever by any 2-year-old, stopping the clock in 1:50.3 in winning her division of the International Stallion Stakes on Oct. 2 at The Red Mile. It was the third time Mission Brief either equaled or lowered the world record. She finished her campaign by winning the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old filly trotters in a stakes-record 1:51.4. For the year, Mission Brief won nine of 13 races - she went off stride in all four losses - and earned $591,070 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. She won eight of her starts by at least three lengths and had a combined margin of victory of 65-3/4 lengths - an average of more than seven lengths per triumph. In addition to the Breeders Crown, her wins included the Merrie Annabelle Stakes and New Jersey Sire Stakes championship. Pinkman, who was entered in November's Standardbred Horse Sale's Mixed Sale before Takter reconsidered, won six of eight races and earned $566,960 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman. Named after a character from the television series, "Breaking Bad," the gelding's victories included the Breeders Crown, in a stakes-record-equaling 1:53.2, and Valley Victory Stakes. Takter-trained horses have been named best 2-year-old male trotter three times in five years, with Pinkman following Father Patrick in 2013 and Pastor Stephen in 2010. Sebastian K arrived in the U.S. this season after a record-setting career in Europe. The Swedish-born stallion trotted a world-record-equaling 1:50.1 in his debut at the Meadowlands and capped a record streak of four consecutive victories in 1:50.3 or faster with his 1:49 triumph at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Owned by Knutsson Trotting Inc., Sebastian K was driven by trainer Ake Svanstedt and finished the year with eight wins in 13 races and $663,853 in purses. His victories included the Cashman Memorial, Crawford Farms Open Trot, and Cutler Memorial. Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 races this year, earning $1.23 million for the Solveig's Racing Partners ownership group and driver Ron Pierce. The Takter-trained filly finished her season by winning the Breeders Crown in a stakes-record 1:52.2. She also won the Matron Stakes in a stakes- and track-record 1:52.4 over a "good" surface at Dover Downs, the American-National in a stakes-record 1:52.2 and equaled the stakes record of 1:52.1 in capturing the Elegantimage. Both of Shake It Cerry's parents were Dan Patch Award winners. Donato Hanover was Horse of the Year at age 3 in 2007 and Solveig was voted best 2-year-old female trotter in 2004. Solveig also was trained by Takter, who named the filly in honor of his mother. Shake It Cerry joins Passionate Glide and Pampered Princess, both also trained by Takter, and Check Me Out as female trotters to receive Dan Patch Awards at ages 2 and 3. Complete vote totals for all awards will be released Thursday with the Horse of the Year announcement. 2-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER PINKMAN (144 of 157 votes) Explosive Matter - Margie Seelster - Angus Hall Yearling Price: $77,000 under name Traffic Jam at Lexington Selected Sale. Breeder: O Narutac Equine Nursery. Owners: Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, Herb Liverman. Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Yannick Gingras, Sylvain Filion. Races: 8-6-1-0. Purses: $566,960. Mark: 1:53.2 at Meadowlands. Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $463,690 Valley Victory. 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER MISSION BRIEF (150 votes) Muscle Hill - Southwind Serena - Varenne Yearling Price: $150,000 at Lexington Selected Sale. Breeders: Steve Stewart, Black Creek Farm, Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc. Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Yannick Gingras. Races: 13-9-0-0. Purses: $591,070. Mark: 1:50.3 at The Red Mile (world record). Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $352,050 Merrie Annabelle. 3-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER FATHER PATRICK (94 votes) Cantab Hall - Gala Dream - Enjoy Lavec Yearling Price: $105,000 under name Royal Press at Lexington Selected Sale. Breeder: Brittany Farms. Owner: Father Patrick Stable. Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Yannick Gingras. Races: 17-12-3-0. Purses: $1.69 million. Mark: 1:50.2 at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $613,800 Canadian Trotting Classic; $500,000 Breeders Crown; $500,000 Beal Memorial. 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER SHAKE IT CERRY (156 votes) Donato Hanover - Solveig - Yankee Glide Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeder: Solveig's Breeders. Owner: Solveig's Racing Partners. Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 17-15-0-1. Purses: $1.23 million. Mark: 1:51.2 at The Red Mile. Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $368,100 Elegantimage; $224,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity. OLDER MALE TROTTER SEBASTIAN K (141 votes) Korean - Gabriella K - Probe Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeder: Knutsson Trotting AB. Owner: Knutsson Trotting Inc. Trainer: Ake Svanstedt. Driver: Ake Svanstedt. Races: 13-8-2-0. Purses: $663,853. Mark: 1:49 at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $300,650 Cashman Memorial; $236,000 Crawford Farms Trot; $175,000 Cutler Memorial. OLDER FEMALE TROTTER CLASSIC MARTINE (91 votes) Classic Photo - Drinking Days - Andover Hall Yearling Price: None (sold privately at age 3). Breeders: Todd Schadel, Christine Schadel. Owners: Hauser Bros. Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, Edwin Gold. Trainer: Chris Oakes. Driver: Tim Tetrick. Races: 18-9-5-2. Purses: $438,912. Mark: 1:51.1 at Meadowlands. Top wins: $244,720 Armbro Flight; $121,500 Miss Versatility. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

The announcements of the 2014 Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be made in a special live webstream on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 18. The announcements will be made at Victory Sports Bar at the Meadowlands and streamed live on the racetrack's website www.playmeadowlands.com. Voting for the 2014 Dan Patch Awards, which honor the champion harness horses of the year as voted by members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) and the American Harness Racing Secretaries, will close on Tuesday morning, Dec. 16. The six trotting divisional Dan Patch winners will be announced via a press release at noon on Dec. 16, with the six pacing divisional Dan Patch winners announced at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 17. The final three awards will be announced at 1 p.m. at the press luncheon. USHWA will also announce in the coming weeks its human award winners, including the Proximity Award, which is second only to induction into the Hall of Fame. While Yannick Gingras has already been named the unanimous winner as the 2014 Driver of the Year, other awards still to be announced include Trainer of the Year, Owner of the Year, Breeder of the Year, Good Guy, Unsung Hero, Rising Star and Breakthrough. If attending the announcement luncheon, please RSVP to Jenn Bongiorno at Jbongiorno@playmeadowlands.com. If not, watch the live stream at www.playmeadowlands.com. All honorees will be recognized at USHWA's annual awards dinner scheduled for Sunday night, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Doubletree Hilton at Sea World in Orlando, Fla. For more information, including directions on making hotel reservations, please go to www.ushwa.org. by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA  

This year USHWA's National Amateur Driver of the Year Award goes to Bob "Rapid Rail" Krivelin and it could be said that Krivelin won the honor in a split decision. His name rose to the top over other prolific drivers and for the New York City wholesale food purveyor it marks the third time that he has received this prestigious award. When Krivelin was notified he was on vacation in Florida relaxing, swimming and playing golf. But when he answered his cell phone and found out the news, to say he was jubilant would have been an understatement. "I'm really happy and proud to be named the top amateur driver again this year, especially when the amateur driving colony is the best it's ever been. To be chosen over the talented others really makes me feel great," Krivelin said via cell phone. "I work hard at staying in shape and I feel that this was my best year yet, and I feel I'm driving better than I ever have. I drove with more confidence this year ,too." From 74 seasonal starts Krivelin has 15 wins, 10 seconds and 13 thirds for a very respectable .336 UDR. His seasonal victory total is second only to the 22 winners he reined during 2001 when he was named Amateur Driver of the Year for the first time. Two years ago Krivelin copped his second amateur driving title and although he rarely drives more than 75 times a year he thus has far reined 167 winners since he began his amateur career in 1996. Some of his triumphs this season include winning the $12,000 Billings Eastern Region Final with Permanent Joy in a time of 1:57 at Pocono Downs on November 12 and Krivelin won the $14,000 Final of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's spring trotting series with Current Crisis in a 1:59.3 clocking at Yonkers Raceway back in May. "I love amateur racing," he says. "In what other sport can a participant get a chance to compete side by side with their hero's? That's a big draw for the amateur movement in harness racing." And while he was on the subject Krivelin expounds how harness racing wouldn't be the same if it weren't for the amateurs. "Just look at how many invest in race horses and employ professional trainers and drivers.Take Doc (Scott) Woogen for instance; he must have 40 horses with various trainers and drivers many of which he drives himself when time allows. And me, I have 13 horses, three which I train and drive myself, and the rest with professional trainers and drivers. And like many other amateur guys I purchased a farm to house my stock." From a young age Krivelin, who hails from the Bronx, was bitten by the harness racing bug. "When I was a youngster I used to sneak into Yonkers Raceway with some friends after the seventh race when they opened the gates," Krivelin said unashamedly. "Those days, foolishly, youngsters weren't allowed in the grandstand. "It was from the excitement and fun of the races at Yonkers that I got hooked on harness racing. The crowds were tremendous, the racing top notch, so what wasn't there to like?" After becoming a successful businessman and then spending much of his leisure time around the Meadowlands he purchased a few horses and in 1996 "Kriv", as many of his friends call him, drove his first race. He finished fifth with Straight Talk at the Meadowlands in 1996 and it was behind that same trotter that year that he won his first race (2:04.2) at Rosecroft Raceway. Winning your first race is often like that first girlfriend who most men usually remember with reverence. But not Kriv. Although in 2003 he drove his own Rapid Rail to a Hambletonian Oaks elimination victory-thus his nickname-- and then finished second in the Final, still he claims his greatest thrill thus far was winning his first race against professional drivers at the Meadowlands in 2001. "I won with a trotter by the name of Heathen Hall who was by Incredible Abe and my dad's (first) name was Abe, "Krivelin said as he recalled the joy of that victory," Although I had won some amateur races at the Meadowlands before it was my first win against field of professionals and it came from the 10-hole. I not only beat the pros but the top drivers that night." But Krivelin is an amateur driver in the true sense of the word. Although he currently owns 13 horses and employs multiple trainers, his main profession is a wholesale food purveyor-or as he claims 'a distributor'-- and he and his partner supply 500 restaurants in New York City, including some of the very best. Much of the money he has earned from his vocation Krivelin has put into the racing game, and says, maybe with tongue in cheek --and maybe not---"It's great when you get hooked on harness racing.... but when you do it's all that you think of and it takes up your whole life." by John Manzi, for USHWA  

HARRISBURG PA— In harness racing, and often within its media organization the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), it’s usually impossible to get a unanimous verdict on anything, even whether the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. But in 2014, harness racing and USHWA are unanimously embracing one fact: Yannick Gingras is the Driver of the Year, based on his handling of the winners of over $16.5 million and a record-tying four triumphs in the recent Breeders Crown series. For the annual Dan Patch awards given to humans, the chapters of USHWA send in their variousnominees, and balloting is conducted among eligible voters of its 220 members, plus a select group of racing secretaries. This year, every chapter sending in a Driver nomination selected Gingras, and so no further balloting is needed. For the 35-year-old Gingras, a native of Quebec, 2014 saw him handle many of the sport’s stars, and perhaps most tellingly, he was the “first call” driver for the two barns who have dominated much of the stakes scene this year, those of Ron Burke and of Jimmy Takter. Of his four Breeders Crown wins, two were from Burke (Mission Brief and Sayitall BB), and two were for Takter (Pinkman and Father Patrick). 2014 also saw Gingras help the 10-year-old Foiled Again further his world record career earnings mark, which currently stands at $6,769,531. Yannick was the leading driver for the 2014 season at The Meadowlands, a track which features what many consider the best driving colony in the world. Another highlight for Gingras was returning to his native Quebec and winning the $200,000 Prix d’Ete at his “home track,” Hippodrome 3R (Trois-Rivieres), where his victory with the Takter-trained Sunfire Blue Chip in 1:50.3 – over two seconds faster than the previous mark – was cheered by many members of his family, a group which plays as important a part of Gingras’s life as harness racing does, according to him. Gingras will receive his Driver of the Year award at USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held Sunday, February 22, 2015 at the Doubletree Hilton Orlando (FL) at Sea World. Information on hotel reservations, tickets, and ads in the souvenir Journal will be distributed shortly. by Jerry Connors, for USHWA

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