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