Harrisburg, PA — Nancy Takter was named the 2020 Trainer of the Year by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) – and her year was so spectacular that the decision to have her receive the award did not even have to go to a vote.
How? There are 12 chapters in USHWA and an at-large gathering – and Nancy was nominated for top honors among trainers by all 13 of these groups. As such, the award was decided at the end of the nomination process as no other candidates were brought forth by the communicators.
With her trainees amassing over $8 million in purses, a 31 percent strike rate and a UTR of .442, Takter’s stable seemed to almost never miss in the big events. The leader of the barn was Tall Dark Stranger, a 3-year-old pacing colt who is a prime candidate for Horse of the Year honors off of a year where he won 11 of 13 starts — including the Meadowlands Pace, Cane Pace, Pepsi North America Cup and two Grand Circuit events at the Red Mile — and earned $1,302,681, tops among all North American harness horses.
Takter also trained the great trotting mare Manchego, whose 1:49.3 victory at Plainridge, a five-eighths-mile track, was not only the sole sub-1:50 trot of the year, but probably the most impressive trotting mile of all. There was also Kissin In The Sand, who capped her year with seven straight wins against the top older pacing mares, including in the Breeders Crown.
When informed of her selection, Takter was pleased, but was quick to spread the credit around:
“It’s a very big honor, and I think it’s almost more of a Stable of the Year award, really, because I am nothing without my team. They executed the work, adjusted to the COVID circumstances, and never lost their focus.
“I knew coming into the year that we had good horses coming back, which makes my job easier, but then there were all of the adjustments we had to make. It wasn’t always easy, but we never lost our sense of purpose. That was huge.”