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The 2020 Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award winner will be announced as part of the United States Harness Writers Association’s (USHWA) Dan Patch Virtual Awards Show on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 5-6 p.m. This Virtual Awards Show has been made possible in large part by Jason Settlemoir and The Meadowlands, Roberts Communications Network, and the United States Trotting Association (USTA). The winner of the Caretaker of the Year Award, sponsored by Art Zubrod and Leah Cheverie’s Fair Island Farm, will receive a cash prize of $500 and a plaque with a photo of the caretaker and a favorite horse. Sixteen names were submitted to the seven-member committee, all USHWAns who had been caretakers, that was tasked to select the winner. Here are those names, with the stable for which they work noted in parentheses:   Erin Bonno (George Ducharme) Margaret Gillon (Ron Burke) Bethany Graffam (Graffam Stable) Shelly Greico (Linda Toscano) Michelle Hallett (John Hallett) Kim Hines (Jason Robinson) Diane Lewis (Joe Holloway) Trish Nappi (Cory Deyermand) Lisa Palmiter (Chris Lakata) Katie Remmerswaal (Nancy Takter) Kelly Smith (Chuck Sylvester) Sierra Smith (Gerry Sarama) Anki Wernis (Jim Campbell) Dave Wisher (Joe MacDonald) Vicki Wright (Noel Daley) Cheyenne Yoder (James Yoder)   The Dan Patch Awards Show can be watched live on USHWA’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/USHarnessWriters), as well as through the Meadowlands simulcast signal, on the track’s website (www.playmeadowlands.com) and through the RTN broadcast network. The next day it will also be archived and available on USHWA’s website (www.usharnesswriters.com) and Facebook page as well as the USTA’s YouTube channel.   (USHWA)

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will host a special harness racing Dan Patch Virtual Awards Show, on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 5 to 6 p.m. This Virtual Awards Show has been made possible in large part by Jason Settlemoir and The Meadowlands, Roberts Communications Network, and the United States Trotting Association (USTA). The Dan Patch Awards Show can be watched live on USHWA's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/USHarnessWriters), as well as through the Meadowlands simulcast signal, on the track's website (www.playmeadowlands.com) and through the RTN broadcast network. The next day it will also be archived and available on USHWA's website (www.usharnesswriters.com) and Facebook page as well as the USTA's YouTube channel. To be announced on the Virtual Awards Show will be the 12 divisional winners in the racehorse categories, along with Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and the prestigious E.R. Harriman Harness Horse of the Year. Also to be announced are the Norman Woolworth Owner, Driver, and Breeder of the Year, the Trotting and Pacing Broodmares of the Year, and the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year. A unanimous selection by all the USHWA chapters, Nancy Takter has already been announced as the winner of the Glen Garnsey Trainer of the Year. Here are the finalists for the human awards and broodmares: Driver: Dexter Dunn, David Miller Owner: Caviart Farms, Crawford Farms, Pinske Stables Breeder: Brittany Farms, Order By Stable, Runthetable Stables Trotting Broodmare: Dunk The Donato, Nantab, Margarita Momma, Steamy Windows Pacing Broodmare: Beachy Girl, Great Memories, JK She'salady, Swinging Beauty   (USHWA)

HARRISBURG, PA - One came to prominence in the shadow of New York City; the other is a son of the Midwest. One is primarily a writer who also has done much television journalism; the other achieved principal fame as a photographer, but he also wrote often and well. What links them is their talent in communicating the abilities of the very best in harness racing, and thus Jay Bergman and Joe Kyle were voted in to the Communicators Hall of Fame by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading journalism organization. Bergman achieved his greatest impact during his 27 years of working at Sports Eye, a daily newspaper which primarily dealt with handicapping (Bergman was one of the key theorists behind the creation of a track "variant") but also offered opinions on the issues of the day - a position, especially after he became editor-in-chief in the 1980s, Bergman did frequently and forcefully, not afraid to offer criticism and call people and organizations to task. He won a 1984 Hervey Award in the "news and commentary" writing division. A frequent author for many of the sport's most respected publications, Bergman is currently a columnist for DRF Harness, the harness racing arm of Daily Racing Form. He has served on-camera as television commentator for The Meadowlands and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and also assisted television broadcasters behind the scenes of many of the sport's top races. Kyle is a native of Decatur IL, 40 miles from the mile Grand Circuit track in Springfield IL and not far up the road from DuQuoin IL, where the Hambletonian and then the World Trotting Derby were held. He covered the top Midwest racing for many years, and with his move to the staff of The Horseman And Fair World magazine in Lexington KY, Joe also wrote about and photographed the stars of the sulky game during the annual Grand Circuit visit to Lexington's Red Mile. His photography has been cited by USHWA, with its Smallsreed Award, and the World Trotting Council. Ironically, that particular winning photo was taken at a race in Bergman's "back yard," The Meadowlands, after Scarlet Knight won the 2001 Hambletonian for trainer-driver Stefan "Tarzan" Melander - a noted photographer in his native Sweden. Kyle attended many of the sport's major races wearing both photographic and reporter hats during his time at The Horseman. Jay Bergman and Joe Kyle will be honored at the 2022 Dan Patch Awards Banquet, as the 2021 Banquet has been cancelled due to health/travel considerations. That same year, they will be formally inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame at the Harness Racing Museum in Goshen NY. by Jerry Connors, for USHWA

HARRISBURG, PA - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the group of the industry's communicators who are the primary voters on Hall of Fame and year-end honors, is announcing a special Dan Patch Virtual Awards Show, to be held on Saturday, January 16, 2021 from 5 to 6 p.m.   The Dan Patch Awards Show can be watched live on USHWA's Facebook page (Log into Facebook), as well as through the Meadowlands simulcast signal, on the track's website (www.playmeadowlands.com) and through the RTN broadcast network. The next day it will be archived and available on the USTA's YouTube channel. The Dan Patch Awards would normally be given at the writers' annual Dan Patch Banquet in association with their national meetings, but there will be no banquet this year due to health/travel concerns, and the USHWA meetings will be held electronically. To be announced on this Virtual Awards Show will be the twelve divisional winners in the Racehorse categories, along with Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and the prestigious E.R. Harriman Harness Horse of the Year. Also to be announced are the Norman Woolworth Owner, Driver, and Breeder of the Year, along with the Trotting and Pacing Broodmares of the year. Nancy Takter, nominated as the Glen Garnsey Trainer of the Year by every chapter of USHWA and its At Large membership, was thus automatically declared the winner of that award. In addition, the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year will be featured. Media releases on all the winners, both human and equine, will be distributed as soon as possible after the Virtual Awards Show is completed. No winners in any of these categories will be released before the Awards Show. From USHWA

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) is formally announcing that due to travel concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Dan Patch Awards Banquet, scheduled to be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort on Feb. 21, 2021, has been cancelled. The 2020 divisional equine awards will be announced virtually, as will an abbreviated roster of human awards. In addition, USHWA will hold their Directors and General Membership meeting exclusively online. The determination was made through a unanimous vote of USHWA's Executive Board and President's Advisory Committee. "This has been an extremely challenging year for everyone and health was our priority in making the decision to cancel the 2021 Dan Patch Awards Banquet," said Kimberly Rinker, USHWA President. "USHWA's executive and presidential advisory teams have worked diligently to ensure that the Dan Patch Awards will continue in 2022 and beyond." As well, there will be no Dan Patch Awards Journal in 2021 and USHWA will not be soliciting advertising or sponsorships. "We are eternally grateful for the years of advertising and sponsorship support by so many in the harness racing industry," Rinker continued. "USHWA relies on these monies to put on a first-class event in the Dan Patch Awards Banquet. I think people are tired and frustrated by the events of the past year and they need a break. When things return to normal, I'm confident that those folks who have supported USHWA in the past will continue their support." USHWA's Executive Board and President's Advisory Committee will convene Sunday, Nov. 29 to determine the agenda and full schedule for the virtual 2021 Dan Patch Awards and USHWA's Meetings. That information will be disseminated once all the details have been finalized. From the United States Harness Writers Association

ORLANDO, FL - The annual meetings of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading media organization, were held this past weekend at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, with the weekend climaxing in Sunday's Dan Patch Awards Banquet honoring the top harness racing performers, equine and human, during the past 2019 season. Saturday's USHWA meeting gathered together the group's Board of Directors, while Sunday's session was an open event for all of USHWA's members. Positive numbers for USHWA were reported by several Officers and committee chairpeople. The Association reported a profit for the fourth straight year, with the prospects of a fifth straight growth period looking good, as USHWA's financial status is largely determined by the annual Dan Patch Banquet, and high-level performance in both sponsorship participation and ads taken in the popular Souvenir Banquet Journal were very promising. Also a good sign is that the membership of USHWA, declining a few members a year in a contracting industry in recent times, actually showed a small increase since last year's meetings. The annual By-Law and Rules & Regulations Change Proposals did not offer some of the controversy and heated exchanges of recent years, although both sides were argued well on a couple of contentious issues. One By-Law change that went into effect right away was the method by which the Directors established the two ballot candidates for this summer's Communicators Hall of Fame elections, and as reported earlier Jay Bergman and Joseph Kyle were selected from a talented field to take a place on the election ballot. Sunday's General Membership saw the 26 USHWA directors in attendance joined by a similar number of members from the Active membership ranks. The greater portion of the Sunday meeting was devoted to the Committee reports of some two dozen USHWA subdivisions which keep all aspects of the organization in working order throughout the year, from Hall of Fame candidate biography compilation, to traffic control during the Dan Patch Banquet, to oversight of various phases of social media usage. Kim Rinker, the Director of the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund, was elected President of the organization during the Sunday meeting. Rinker, who had been vice president, succeeds Shawn Wiles of Monticello Raceway, who by USHWA bylaw now becomes the Chairman of the Board. In a contested election for USHWA Vice-President, Barry Lefkowitz, the USHWA treasurer, narrowly defeated Derick Giwner of Daily Racing Form Harness. Lefkowitz said that he would retain his treasurer's duties as well during this term. Both Wiles and Lefkowitz were presented with Gold Lifetime Membership pins during the General Meeting: Wiles as an outgoing President, and Lefkowitz, for the required years of service on the Board as treasurer. Jerry Connors was again voted USHWA secretary. At the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, pacing mare Shartin N was announced as the 2019 Harness Horse of the Year, which was met with wild cheers from her many and vociferous backers in attendance. Shartin N becomes the first older pacing mare to win Horse of the Year honors, and also the first horse bred outside of North America to take this continent's highest award. "She's certainly been a life changer for us," noted trainer Jim King Jr. at the banquet. Greenshoe, the brilliant three-year-old colt, was named Trotter of the Year; Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year were the only awards being announced for the first time at the dinner. Greenshoe now goes off to a stud career at Hanover Shoe Farms, while Shartin N has already posted a winning qualifier in front of a 2020 campaign. The highest human award given by USHWA, the Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award, resulted in a voting dead-heat for the first time in its 69-year history. The members of the Association voted equal honors to the contributions made by Joe Faraldo, the President and CEO of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, an important member of the U.S. Trotting Association's Board of Directors, and a staunch advocate of horsemen's rights, and the Libfeld-Katz partnership of owners-breeders Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz, Ontarians who have ranked at the top levels of both of those fields of racing and also sponsored the Breeders Crown races when they came to their hometown Mohawk track this past year and held a successful charity tie-in. Also honored at the Dan Patch Banquet were newly-voted Hall of Famers Tom Charters, Jeff Gural, Bill Popfinger, and Tim Tetrick, along with Communicators Hall of Famers Phil Pikelny and Ken Weingartner. This group will be formally inducted into their respective Halls of Fame on Sunday, July 5 at the site of the sport's Hall, Goshen NY. From the United States Harness Writers Association    

The name of the 2019 Horse of the Year will be announced Sunday night (Feb. 23) at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards dinner at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. But even if you aren’t among the attendees you will be able to watch the announcement live via USHWA’s YouTube page. After a one-hour cocktail hour, the awards ceremony gets underway at 6:30 p.m.(12:30pm NZ time) and will be available via the U.S. Trotting Association’s YouTube page. At approximately 9:30 p.m (3:30pm NZ time), emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will announce the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Horse of the Year trophy, which follows the revealing of the names of the Pacer of the Year and Trotter of the Year. To access YouTube page, please click here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association’s YouTube page on Monday (Feb. 24). Post time for the evening is 5:30 p.m., with a one-hour Red Carpet cocktail reception sponsored by Shartin N. Also starring on the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It’s your guarantee to see who’s wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale’s Facebook page can be found here. Heather Wilder’s Facebook page can be found here. (USHWA)   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Want to walk the Red Carpet at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards dinner at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday night, Feb. 23? An expected crowd of more than 300 will have the chance, but so too do those who can't make the trip. For the third year in row, well-known harness racing personalities Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder will be walking the Red Carpet, sponsored by Shartin N, and broadcasting live on their Facebook pages. The Facebook Live shows will begin at 5:30 p.m. and continue until 6:30 p.m., when the awards dinner will commence. "If you can't make the banquet we are going to bring the party to you!" said Wilder. "And it's going to be some party!" Heather Vitale's Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/PacinHeather. Heather Wilder's Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/heather.k.wilder. Vitale has hosted two popular television shows: Post Time and PA Harness Week. In addition to her local weekly productions, the charismatic personality has covered the sport nationally on espn2, CBSSN and MAV-TV. Vitale loves communicating with Standardbred enthusiasts around the world via social media and her unconventional interviews with a "when in doubt, add glitter" attitude has brought a unique sparkle to the sport and grabbed the attention of new fans. She was the 2018 USHWA Member of the Year. Wilder is currently known for her handling talent management for the Delaware County Fair during the live TV broadcast of the Little Brown Jug. While working as public relations and marketing director for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association she became a pioneer of reporting on racing on Facebook Live and coordinated the promotion of countless on-track events. She was the 2013 recipient of USHWA's Lew Barasch Memorial Breakthrough Award. The entire awards dinner, hosted by Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir, will be broadcast live on the USHWA Facebook page and available on the U.S. Trotting Association's Youtube page the following day, Monday, Feb. 24. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

The name of the 2019 harness racing Horse of the Year will be announced Sunday night, Feb. 23, at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) Dan Patch Awards dinner at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. But even if you aren't among the attendees you will be able to watch the announcement live via USHWA's Facebook page. After a one-hour cocktail party, the awards ceremony will get underway at 6:30 p.m., and will be available via the Facebook page. At approximately 9:30 p.m., emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will announce the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Horse of the Year trophy, which follows the revealing of the names of the Pacer of the Year and Trotter of the Year. To access USHWA's Facebook page, please click here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association's YouTube page the following day, Monday, Feb. 24, by clicking here. Post time for the evening is 5:30 p.m., with a one-hour Red Carpet cocktail reception sponsored by Shartin N. Also starring on the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It's your guarantee to see who's wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale's Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/PacinHeather. Heather Wilder's Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/heather.k.wilder From the United States Harness Writers Association      

Jim Avritt Sr. bought his first Standardbred in 1963 when he was a senior at Xavier University and nearly 60 years later continues to enjoy the thrills of harness racing and breeding. On Feb. 23 in Orlando, Fla., Avritt's Precocious Beauty will be honored as the Pacing Broodmare of the Year at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Award banquet. Precocious Beauty is the dam of Tall Dark Stranger, who that same night will receive the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male pacer. Earlier this month, Tall Dark Stranger picked up the O'Brien Award in Canada. Avritt bred and raced Precocious Beauty, who in 2013 also captured O'Brien and Dan Patch awards. Tall Dark Stranger, a Bettor's Delight-sired colt who sold for $330,000 at the 2018 Lexington Selected Sale, was her second foal. Her first foal, an Avritt-owned filly by Somebeachsomewhere named Beautyonthebeach, was a two-time Kentucky Sire Stakes champion. She was retired following the 2019 season and will be bred to Bettor's Delight this week. "It's incredible, really incredible," the 79-year-old Avritt said. "I never thought when I started out that I'd reach this point, that's for sure. I never dreamed at that time I would have something like Precocious Beauty down the road, either as a race filly or a broodmare. Precocious Beauty "I can't wait (for the awards weekend). I'm going to hit some of the training centers on Saturday morning before heading to Orlando. I'm looking forward to it." Avritt traces his successes to the purchase of Dominique Semalu as a broodmare in 1995. Dominque Semalu is the dam of Precious Beauty, whose offspring in addition to Precocious Beauty include O'Brien and Dan Patch awards winner Sportswriter and Grand Circuit winner Prescient Beauty. The family also includes the grandam of Dan Patch Award winner Downbytheseaside. "I've said it before, if I hadn't been lucky enough to buy Dominique Semalu nobody would have ever heard of me," Avritt said. "I've sold some high-priced yearlings out of her. Although she didn't produce any really top stakes winners, she had good raceway horses that earned quite a bit of money, and every daughter she ever had turned out to be a tremendous producer." Avritt generally keeps fillies out of his broodmares and sells the colts. Precocious Beauty's third foal, a colt by Somebeachsomewhere named Beach Party, sold for $190,000 last fall at Lexington. Avritt has kept a yearling filly out of Precocious Beauty, by American Ideal, named Elegant Beauty. He also has a 2-year-old homebred filly out of Barefoot Beauty that he is training. She is by Shadow Play and named Barefoot'npregnant. "She is a really, really nice filly," Avritt said. "She's probably as nice as anything I've trained. If she's good enough, she'll go up to Gregg (McNair) when he goes north from Florida. Otherwise, she'll stay down here and I'll race her some at the fairs and see how much she can improve." Avritt still likes to drive in races, although he does not do it often. "Every now and then I drive," he said. "I really enjoy that part of it. There is no feeling in the world like going behind the gate." Even if he does not get on the track, the Kentucky resident still gets to enjoy watching his small broodmare band's offspring compete. "I'm hoping it's not over yet," Avritt said. "I just wish I was younger so I could enjoy it a lot longer." by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Harrisburg, PA---The Dan Patch Awards Dinner will be held on Sunday, February 23 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The annual silent auction will be held in conjunction with the evening's festivities. The Harness Horse Youth Foundation Summer Programs and U.S. Harness Writers Association industry outreach initiatives will benefit from the proceeds. This year's auction features more than 40 outstanding items, so there is sure to be something of interest for everyone! Framed artwork includes original oils and pen and ink drawings to collectible prints and iconic photographs. There are resort and race day packages, Yankees tickets, and on-line courses. There is signed sports memorabilia and a variety of themed gift baskets. For a complete listing of items and bidding instructions, please click on this link -- https://hhyf.org/auctions/. Additional questions may be directed to Ellen Taylor at HHYF: by email, ellen@hhyf.org or phone 317.908.0029. Phone bidding is possible but must be arranged prior to February 23; contact Ellen Taylor or Steven Wolf 954.654.3757 for more information. Many thanks to the generous donors who support this fundraiser. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA/BetAmerica, is excited to announce the line-up for Thursday morning (February 6th, 2019) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Derick Giwner and Melissa Keith. Giwner, the Chief Editor at DRF Harness, earned his first John Hervey Award for excellence in harness racing journalism for his column "Rolling the sport into the future", which was in the February 9th edition of DRF Harness Weekend. We'll talk to him about that article, and other top headlines in the sport of harness racing. Keith, Canadian Chapter Vice President of USHWA Canada, earned the award for her two-part story on the death of Ron Graham, which was in Harness Racing Update. The duo will also talk about opening weekend at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and much more. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA/BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m.via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN. From Post Time with Mike & Mike  

It is last call to make room reservations at the luxurious Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla., for the U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards banquet on Sunday, Feb. 23. If you are planning to attend the gala festivities that will honor the best equines and humans in the sport in 2019, room reservations must be made by Friday, Jan. 31. Rooms are nearly sold out so make sure you don't get shut out! The USHWA rate for a standard room at Rosen Shingle Creek is $199 (plus tax). For a direct link to the Rosen Shingle Creek special page to make USHWA room reservations, please click here. Depending on availability, rooms may still be available after Jan. 31, but can only be made by calling the hotel directly at (866) 996-6338 and asking for the "Dan Patch Awards rate." This is the third year Rosen Shingle Creek will host the Dan Patch Awards banquet. This year's banquet, which will be held in the Gaitlin B ballroom, gets underway with the Red Carpet at 5:30 p.m., with the awards ceremony starting promptly at 6:30 p.m. Be on hand when the Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year are announced. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured. Tickets can be ordered until Feb. 17 by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson at zoe8874@aol.com or (302) 359-3630. Remember, all attendees will receive a 10 percent discount at all of the hotel's restaurants, a 10 percent discount at the Spa at Shingle Creek, and a green fees discount at the Shingle Creek Golf Club. There is still limited space available in the USHWA journal. The deadline is Friday, Jan. 31. To take out a congratulatory ad please contact Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com or (708) 557-2790. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

Hightstown, NJ — Fast horses have put Marcus Melander’s career on a fast track. In late December, one year after being named the Rising Star Award winner by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, Melander was recognized as the sport’s Trainer of the Year by the same organization. The 27-year-old native of Sweden is the youngest person to ever receive the honor. The previous youngest was Mark Ford, who at the age of 30 in 2000 shared Trainer of the Year with Jimmy Takter. Marcus Melander’s stable posted 86 victories and $5.36 million in purses in 2019. USTA/Mark Hall photo. Melander’s first full season as a trainer was in 2015. He has seen his stable’s wins and purses increase every season since, reaching 86 victories and $5.36 million in 2019. His earnings last year ranked fourth among all trainers in North America despite having fewer starts (332) than any trainer in the top 17. “I’m very humbled,” Melander said. “It’s very exciting and a very big honor. It’s not that many years I’ve been a trainer, so it’s all been very fast. I have a lot of people to thank for that; the people that work for me, family, owners. “We were lucky; we had no sick horses or anything like that. We had a good year all along. We won big races, both 2- and 3-year-olds. The horses raced well all the time. They all performed.” Marcus Melander’s top horse in 2019 was Greenshoe, who received the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old male trotter. USTA/Mark Hall photo. Melander’s top horse in 2019 was Greenshoe, who received the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old male trotter. Greenshoe won 10 of 13 races, finished second in all three of his losses, and earned $1.27 million to top all trotters in North America. Gimpanzee finished second to Greenshoe in the Dan Patch voting. He won eight of 14 starts and $1.12 million. Melander became only the second trainer ever to have two million-dollar-earning trotters in the same division in the same season, joining Takter, who accomplished the feat in 2014 with Father Patrick and Nuncio. In addition, 3-year-old male trotter Green Manalishi S won six of 13 races and $646,838. That trio’s wins included the Kentucky Futurity and Zweig Memorial (Greenshoe), Breeders Crown and Yonkers Trot (Gimpanzee) and Canadian Trotting Classic (Green Manalishi S). Greenshoe was retired to stallion duty at the end of his season. Gimpanzee and Green Manalishi S will return in 2020, with Green Manalishi S expected to race in Europe after spending the winter in training with Melander. Marcus Melander with Gimpanzee, who was the Dan Patch Award winner at age 2, and has won 17 of 23 career races and $1.72 million. USTA/Mark Hall photo. Gimpanzee, who was the Dan Patch Award winner at age 2, has won 17 of 23 career races and $1.72 million. He finished last year with a fourth-place finish against older horses in the TVG Series championship at The Meadowlands. He was within 1-1/2 lengths of the top three: Six Pack, Manchego, and Guardian Angel AS. “I’m very excited he’s coming back,” Melander said. “We didn’t over-race him and I think he will be a very good older horse. In my opinion, he raced great in the TVG. With another year, he will be good. He has everything that a horse needs to be a good older horse. He’s always sound, he’s always happy, he always does his job. He never really had a bad race for us.” Among last season’s 2-year-old trotters, Hypnotic AM won the James Doherty Memorial while Capricornus, Back Of The Neck, Rome Pays Off, Hell Patrol, Expectations, Hellbent For AM S, and Hall of AM S all were Grand Circuit or state-restricted stakes winners. Hypnotic AM was her division’s New York Sire Stakes champion while Rome Pays Off was second in the Breeders Crown and Peter Haughton Memorial and Capricornus was runner-up in the Wellwood Memorial. Cruzado Dela Noche, a 7-year-old stallion trotter in 2019, won the Cutler Memorial for older trotters. He will perform stallion duty in Sweden, Melander said. Anders Ström’s Courant Inc. owned or co-owned a number of the top horses in Melander’s barn, including Greenshoe, Gimpanzee, Green Manalishi S, and Hypnotic AM. Courant Inc. was named the sport’s Owner of the Year by USHWA. “We have a really good relationship,” Melander said. “I train a lot of horses for him and I’m very happy for him as well.” Melander now must put 2019 in the rear view mirror and focus on the road ahead. His stable has 43 2-year-olds and a total of 66 horses for 2020. “I’m excited to start the new season,” Melander said. “Hopefully we can match those numbers from last year, but it’s going to be tough. But we have a good staff, good owners; we’re just going to keep what we’re doing. It will be an exciting year.” by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Sometime down the road when harness racing driver Bob McClure wants to reminisce about 2019, he knows what it will involve. "A lot of replays," McClure said. Get your popcorn ready. McClure enjoyed numerous highlights in 2019, topped by his win with Forbidden Trade in the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes final last August at The Meadowlands.   For the year, McClure won 229 races and a career-best $4.67 million in purses despite missing a month in the spring because of a broken pelvis. He ranked third on the money list among Canadian drivers and saw his earnings increase for the sixth consecutive year. He is a finalist, for the third time, for Canada's Driver of the Year. The winner will be announced Feb. 1 at the O'Brien Awards in Ontario. "Third time's a charm, hopefully," said McClure, who is up against defending champ Louis-Philippe Roy. Regardless of that result, McClure needs to clear space for a trophy. In December, the 29-year-old was named the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Rising Star. He will receive his award Feb. 23 at the Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. McClure is the first Canadian to receive the honor since Scott Zeron in 2012. "It was certainly a shock and I'm really grateful," McClure said of the honor. "It shows the significance of the Hambletonian, how much weight it carries with the voters. It's pretty neat to follow in the footsteps of other Canadians who have won that award." McClure drove three O'Brien Award finalists in 2019: Forbidden Trade, older female trotter Emoticon Hanover, and 2-year-old male trotter Port Perry. All three horses were trained by Luc Blais and owned by Determination stable. There was no question that Forbidden Trade's upset of Greenshoe in the Hambletonian, harness racing's premier race for 3-year-old trotters, led the list of memorable moments for McClure. "I'd say that's the highlight of anybody's career if you're lucky enough to win it," McClure said. In addition to winning the Hambletonian, Forbidden Trade and McClure captured the Ontario Sire Stakes championship and were second in the Yonkers Trot and Goodtimes Stakes. Emoticon Hanover, who retired at the conclusion of her 6-year-old season in 2019, went out a winner with McClure when she won a preferred trot at Woodbine Mohawk Park in December. Port Perry was a two-time winner on the Ontario Sire Stakes circuit and finished second in the series final. McClure also had multiple OSS victories with 3-year-old female pacer Powerful Chris, 2-year-old male trotter Threefiftytwo, and 2-year-old female pacer Off The Press. Other winners in the series with McClure were 3-year-old male pacer Best In Show, 2-year-old male pacer Examiner Hanover, and 2-year-old female pacer P L Notorious. "The OSS here is a really great program," McClure said. "I was the leading money-winner in it, so that shows you drove a lot of nice horses all the way across the whole Ontario circuit. I think that was the biggest part of the year for me. Between Forbidden Trade, Powerful Chris, a whole bunch of real nice (OSS) Gold horses I was lucky enough to drive, I think that's what made the summer so fun." Powerful Chris provided McClure with another memorable night, although not in a win. She finished third, beaten only a neck, in the Fan Hanover Stakes at odds of 54-1. The filly is owned in part by McClure's grandfather, John. "That was pretty special," McClure said. "He never had a horse in a race like that before, so to be that close with some of the top fillies in North America was a lot of fun. It was close to home." McClure, who led Canadian drivers in wins in 2016 and 2017, made the move from Canada's "B" tracks to the main stage of the Woodbine-Mohawk circuit in December 2017. "Things have happened a lot faster than I think anybody could have predicted," McClure said. "Obviously, it's beyond exceeded my expectations. I was lucky enough to pick up Determination, which was a huge boost. They have a lot of quality horses and every time they go to the track they're going with a shot. It really puts your name out there, puts you on the map. I would attribute a lot of it to that." So, what does McClure do in 2020 for an encore? "I just try to keep improving every year, year to year," he said. "That's my biggest goal. I think that will be tough to do this year, to top last year, but I'm excited." For information on the Dan Patch Awards banquet and accommodations at Rosen Shingle Creek, visit www.ushwa.net. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Courtney Polan, who works in the Norm Parker Stable based at The Meadows, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Polan, 27, has worked for Parker since October 2014, joining the stable after a two-year stint working for Tim Pinske. "This is amazing," said Polan, a Pennsylvania native who turned to harness racing after graduating with a degree in biology from Thiel College in Greenville, Pa. Polan, who owns a retired Standardbred and Quarter Horse, currently takes care of eight horses in the Parker Stable, including the 2019 Meadows Horse of the Year Wild Wild Western. Wild Wild Western is owned in part by Jacobs Creek Racing's Jeff Weaver, who nominated Polan for the Fair Island Caretaker of the Year Award. "I have observed just how special Courtney is at developing a unique relationship with all of her charges," wrote Weaver. "Each horse garners her attention as though she was all theirs. Each receives full care, unique and individual attention and even when called for, discipline." Polan said one word in the dictionary describes her strength as a caretaker: Caring. "I care. I care a lot," said Polan. "My biggest thing is that sometimes I care too much. I just love all of them. I don't have human kids yet, so they are my kids." All caretakers in North America were eligible for the award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the nominee. A seven-member panel -- all of whom were former caretakers themselves -- selected Polan as the winner. As winner of the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award, Polan will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, hotel accommodations and two tickets to USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet on Sunday, Feb. 23, at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla., where she will be presented a trophy. Polan, along with all the USHWA 2019 award winners, will be recognized during the Dan Patch Awards banquet. Information on accommodations at Rosen Shingle Creek and dinner tickets can be found at www.ushwa.net. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

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