Hambletonian-winning filly Atlanta led a distinguished group of trotters named division champions in Dan Patch Award voting released Wednesday (Dec. 19) by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Atlanta received 96.1 per cent of the votes for best three-year-old female trotter, the highest total among the six trotting honourees.
Also named division winners were two-year-old colt Gimpanzee, two-year-old filly Woodside Charm, three-year-old colt Six Pack, six-year-old gelding Homicide Hunter, and four-year-old mare Ariana G.
Ariana G, who received the nod for best older female trotter, was the only repeat winner. She collected her third trophy and joined CR Kay Suzie (1994-96) and Peace Corps (1988-90) as the only female trotters to receive a Dan Patch Award at ages two, three and four.
A total of 130 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s membership this year. Dan Patch Award winners will be honoured at the organization’s banquet on February 24, 2019 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., at which time the Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year will be announced.
Divisional pacing champions will be announced at noon Thursday (Dec. 20) during a live-stream broadcast on the Facebook pages of both the U.S. Harness Writers Association and U.S. Trotting Association.
Atlanta, who received 125 votes, became the first filly to win the Hambletonian since 1996 when she captured the $1 million final on August 4 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Trained by Rick Zeron and driven by his son Scott, Atlanta won eight of 14 races this year and earned a division-leading $1.01 million. Her victories also included the $320,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity and $238,613 Empire Breeders Classic. She finished second in the $500,000 Breeders Crown.
A daughter of Chapter Seven out of Hemi Blue Chip, Atlanta is owned by Rick Zeron, Michelle and Al Crawford’s Crawford Farms, William Holland’s Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor, and Brad Grant. She was bred by Order By Stable.
In the division for the three-year-old colts and geldings, Six Pack received 54.6 per cent of the vote in the closest balloting among trotters. He outdistanced runner-up Tactical Landing, 71-46.
Six Pack, a son of Muscle Mass out of Pleasing Lady, won 11 of 15 races this year and earned a division-best $1.15 million. His triumphs included the $620,000 Kentucky Futurity, $500,000 Yonkers Trot, $223,673 Empire Breeders Classic, $210,150 Matron Stakes, and a $181,000 division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. His winning time of 1:49.1 in the Kentucky Futurity final is the fastest mile ever by a three-year-old trotter.
Ake Svanstedt trained and drove Six Pack in addition to owning the colt with Jeff Gural’s Little E LLC, Tomas Olofsson’s Stall Kalmar FF, and Lars Berg. Six Pack was bred by Brittany Farms.
Ariana G added to her hardware collection by receiving 63.8 per cent of the vote for best older female trotter, as she finished 50 votes ahead of second-place Emoticon Hanover. Ariana G was trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, who retired at the end of the season, and posted victories with drivers Yannick Gingras, Brian Sears, and David Miller.
The homebred mare, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Cantab It All, won five of 14 races this year and earned a division-leading $597,802 for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. She beat male rivals in all her wins, including the $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity and $250,000 Graduate Series championship, which were for four-year-olds, as well as the $150,000 Dayton Trotting Derby and an elimination of the Maple Leaf Trot. She finished third in the Maple Leaf final.
Homicide Hunter, the fastest trotter in history thanks to his 1:48.4 winning mile in the Allerage Farms Open on October 6 at the Red Mile, received the Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter with 73.8 per cent of the vote. Marion Marauder, the division’s 2017 champion, was the only other vote-getter.
In addition to winning the Allerage, Homicide Hunter captured the $500,000 Breeders Crown, $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial, and $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series championship. George Napolitano Jr., Aaron Merriman, and Brian Sears each had a Grand Circuit victory with the Chris Oakes-trained gelding. Homicide Hunter, a son of Mr Cantab out of Evening Prayer, is owned by Michelle and Al Crawford’s Crawford Farms Racing and was bred by Patrick Graham.
Gimpanzee and Woodside Charm were undefeated, marking the first time both two-year-old trotting champions completed unblemished campaigns. They also were the two richest two-year-old trotters this season.
The Marcus Melander-trained Gimpanzee, who garnered 90 per cent of the vote, dominated the New York Sire Stakes circuit, as he won six preliminary rounds and the $225,000 championship, before finishing his season by winning his Breeders Crown elimination and the $600,000 final.
His nine-for-nine performance resulted in earnings of $591,358 for owners Anders Ström’s Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren’s SRF Stable. Brian Sears drove Gimpanzee, who became the first undefeated two-year-old male trotter to receive a Dan Patch Award since Wheeling N Dealin in 2012. Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven out of Steamy Windows, was bred by Order By Stable.
Woodside Charm, who received 93.8 per cent of the vote, won all seven of her starts for owner-trainer-driver Verlin Yoder. Her wins included the $600,000 Breeders Crown and $236,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes. She also won a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Saratoga in 1:53.4, the fastest mile ever by a two-year-old trotter on a half-mile track.
A daughter of Chapter Seven out of Fireworks Hanover, Woodside Charm was bred by AV & Son Bloodstock. She became only the second unbeaten two-year-old filly trotter to win a Dan Patch Award, following 2017 honouree Manchego.
To view the voting breakdown, click here.
TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER
Gimpanzee (117 votes/90 per cent)
Chapter Seven – Steamy Windows – Muscle Massive
Yearling price: $170,000 under the name Army Of Monkeys at Standardbred Horse Sale
Breeder: Order By Stable
Owners: Courant Inc., SRF Stable
Trainer: Marcus Melander Driver: Brian Sears
Races: 9-9-0-0 Purses: $591,358 Mark: 1:54.3 at Vernon Downs
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final
TWO-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER
Woodside Charm (122 votes/93.8 per cent)
Chapter Seven – Fireworks Hanover – Muscles Yankee
Yearling price: Private
Breeder: AV & Son Bloodstock LLC
Owner: Verlin Yoder
Trainer: Verlin Yoder Driver: Verlin Yoder
Races: 7-7-0-0 Purses: $521,658 Mark: 1:53 at Pocono
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $236,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes
THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER
Six Pack (71 votes/54.6 per cent)
Muscle Mass – Pleasing Lady – Cantab Hall
Yearling price: $30,000 at Lexington Selected Sale
Breeder: Brittany Farms
Owners: Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF, Lars Berg
Trainer: Ake Svanstedt Driver: Ake Svanstedt
Races: 15-11-2-1 Purses: $1.15 million Mark: 1:49.1 at Red Mile (world record)
Top wins: $620,000 Kentucky Futurity; $500,000 Yonkers Trot; $210,150 Matron Stakes
THREE-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER
Atlanta (125 votes/96.1 per cent)
Chapter Seven – Hemi Blue Chip – Cantab Hall
Yearling price: $60,000 under the name Django Unchained at Standardbred Horse Sale
Breeder: Order By Stable
Owners: Rick Zeron/Crawford Farms, Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor, Brad Grant
Trainer: Rick Zeron Driver: Scott Zeron
Races: 14-8-5-1 Purses: $1.01 million Mark: 1:50.3 at Vernon Downs
Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $320,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity
OLDER MALE TROTTER
Homicide Hunter (96 votes/73.8 per cent)
Mr Cantab – Evening Prayer – Like A Prayer
Yearling price: Homebred, sold privately at age 4
Breeder: Patrick Graham
Owner: Crawford Farms Racing
Trainer: Chris Oakes Drivers: George Napolitano Jr., Brian Sears, Aaron Merriman
Races: 16-9-0-2 Purses: $605,770 Mark: 1:48.4 at Red Mile (world record)
Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $200,000 Hill Memorial; $145,000 Allerage
OLDER FEMALE TROTTER
Ariana G (83 votes/63.8 per cent)
Muscle Hill – Cantab It All – Cantab Hall
Yearling price: Homebred
Breeders: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld
Owners: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Brian Sears, David Miller
Races: 14-5-1-1 Purses: $597,802 Mark: 1:50.2 at Meadowlands
Top wins: $405,850 Hambletonian Maturity; $250,000 Graduate; $150,000 Dayton Derby