USHWA announces Dan Patch Award-winning horses

East Rutherford, NJ — Harness racing’s two top-ranked horses in the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, No. 1 Confederate and No. 2 Sylvia Hanover, led the way when divisional Dan Patch Award honors for pacers and trotters were announced during a live presentation prior to Saturday’s (Dec. 30) card at the Meadowlands.

Three-year-old male pacer Confederate became only the second unanimous selection for divisional recognition in the past six years when he was named on all 129 ballots returned in voting conducted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Sylvia Hanover, also a 3-year-old, was this year’s only repeat winner and became only the fifth female pacer since 1991 to garner a trophy at ages 2 and 3.

Confederate was the unanimous choice as the Dan Patch Award winner among 3-year-old male pacers. Amanda Stephens photo.

The remaining pacers to receive divisional honors were 2-year-old male Captain Albano, 2-year-old female Geocentric, older male Bythemissal and older female Grace Hill.

Division-winning trotters were 2-year-old male Karl, 2-year-old female Soiree Hanover, 3-year-old male Tactical Approach, 3-year-old female Bond, older male It’s Academic and older female Jiggy Jog S.

The 12 division champions will be honored during the Dan Patch Awards banquet, presented by Caesars Entertainment, at Rosen Centre in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 25. Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year will be announced at the banquet.

Three trainers had two division winners each: Ron Burke, with Bythemissal and It’s Academic; Åke Svanstedt, with Bond and Jiggy Jog S; and Nancy Takter, with Karl and Tactical Approach.

Confederate, trained by Brett Pelling, was this season’s richest horse, with $1.63 million. He was one of four millionaires to receive divisional honors, along with Tactical Approach, Karl and Jiggy Jog S. Bythemissal missed earning $1 million by fewer than $16,000.

In addition to leading the sport in purses, Confederate became the fastest 3-year-old pacer in history thanks to his 1:46.1 score in September at Lexington’s Red Mile. The colt won 13 of 15 starts this season, including the Meadowlands Pace, Breeders Crown, Cane Pace, Max C. Hempt Memorial, and Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series final. He joined Bulldog Hanover as the only unanimous division champs since 2017.

Sylvia Hanover, trained by the father-son team of Mark and Shawn Steacy, won 10 of 13 races, including the Breeders Crown, Fan Hanover, and Mistletoe Shalee. She joined Warrawee Ubeaut, Pure Country, See You At Peelers and Worldly Beauty as female pacers with division honors at ages 2 and 3 in the last 32 years.

Three-year-old pacing filly Sylvia Hanover became a two-time Dan Patch honoree. Amanda Stephens photo.

Bythemissal and Grace Hill were the leading money-earners in their respective divisions.

A 4-year-old gelding, Bythemissal won 11 of 16 starts, including the Breeders Crown, Aria Invitational, Allerage Open, and a division of the Sam McKee Memorial. Grace Hill, a 5-year-old mare trained by Virgil Morgan Jr., won 10 of 15 races on her way to $573,526 in purses. Her victories included the Dayton Distaff Derby, Roses Are Red and Milton.

Captain Albano, the season’s fastest 2-year-old male pacer, with a mark of 1:49.2, won seven of nine races for trainer Noel Daley. The colt was a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion in addition to winning Bluegrass and International Stallion divisions. Geocentric, trained by Brian Brown, won nine of 10 races and was a sire stakes champion in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

On the trotting side, Tactical Approach, Jiggy Jog S and Bond followed Confederate as the top vote-getters, with each named on more than 93 percent of the ballots. Karl captured the closest contest, topping T C I, 77-48.

Tactical Approach was the season’s richest trotter, with $1.50 million in purses. The colt hit the board in 17 of 19 races, winning 10, with his triumphs including the Hambletonian, Breeders Crown and Kentucky Futurity.

Hambletonian winner Tactical Approach‘s triumph in the Breeders Crown (above) gave him Dan Patch Award honors among 3-year-old male trotters. Dean GIllette Photography.

Jiggy Jog S, a 4-year-old mare who earned $1.03 million in 2023, was no worse than second in any of her 11 races, winning eight. Her victories included the Breeders Crown, Dayton Oaks and Graduate Series final, where she defeated male rivals. She was second in the MGM Yonkers International.

Bond was the leading money-earner among 3-year-old female trotters, with $847,071. She won eight of 13 races, including the Breeders Crown, Elegantimage and Delmonica Hanover, and was second in the Hambletonian Oaks.

Karl was the season’s fastest 2-year-old trotter, with a mark of 1:51.2, and earned $1.04 million. He was a nose from being undefeated in 10 starts, with his wins including the Breeders Crown, Valley Victory, Kindergarten Classic Series final and a Kentucky Sire Stakes title.

It’s Academic and Soiree Hanover both topped their respective divisions in purses, with 6-year-old stallion It’s Academic banking $951,911 and 2-year-old filly Soiree Hanover earning $607,955. It’s Academic hit the board in 16 of 18 races, with his eight victories topped by the John Cashman Memorial. The Lucas Wallin-trained Soiree Hanover was top three in nine of 10 races and counted the Jim Doherty Memorial among her six triumphs.

Room reservations at Rosen Centre for the star-studded Dan Patch Awards weekend can be made here or at the USHWA website at Tickets for the banquet can be procured from ticket chairman Judy Davis-Wilson at or Liz Cheesman at

Sponsorship opportunities for the event can be procured from sponsorship chairman Shawn Wiles at Advertisements in the souvenir journal can be arranged with journal chairman Kim Rinker at

Following is a look at the 12 divisional Dan Patch Award recipients:

KARL, colt
Tactical Landing – Avalicious – RC Royalty
Breeder: Crawford Farms.
Owners: Christina and Nancy Takter, Black Horse Racing, Crawford Farms Racing, Bender Sweden Inc.
Trainer: Nancy Takter. Driver: Yannick Gingras.
Races: 10-9-1-0. Purses: $1.04 million. Mark: 1:51.2 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $700,000 Breeders Crown; $423,000 Valley Victory; $400,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series final; $267,500 Kindergarten Classic Series final.

Walner – Spring Gala – Self Possessed
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms.
Owner: Snogarps Gard Inc.
Trainer: Lucas Wallin. Driver: Tim Tetrick.
Races: 10-6-1-2. Purses: $607,955. Mark: 1:53.1 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $400,000 Jim Doherty; $275,000 New Jersey Classic.

Tactical Landing – Sarcy – Donato Hanover
Breeders: Steve Stewart, Oakwood Farms.
Owners: Robert LeBlanc, John Fielding, Joe Sbrocco & JAF Racing.
Trainer: Nancy Takter. Driver: Scott Zeron.
Races: 19-10-3-4. Purses: $1.50 million. Mark: 1:50.1 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $672,000 Breeders Crown; $450,000 Kentucky Futurity; $205,000 Carl Erskine.

Southwind Frank – Boccone Dolce – Donato Hanover
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm.
Owners: Åke Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, L Berg Inc.
Trainer: Åke Svanstedt. Driver: Åke Svanstedt.
Races: 13-8-2-1. Purses: $847,071. Mark: 1:51.2 at Hoosier Park.
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $281,940 Elegantimage; $250,000 Delmonica Hanover.

IT’S ACADEMIC, 6-year-old stallion
Uncle Peter – Annapolis – Muscle Hill
Breeder: GBW Breeding Farms.
Owner: Brad Grant.
Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: David Miller.
Races: 18-8-3-5. Purses: $951,911. Mark: 1:50.2 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $278,000 John Cashman; $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts; $222,500 Caesars Trotting Classic; $155,140 Crawford Farms.

JIGGY JOG S, 4-year-old mare
Walner – Hot Mess Hanover – Cantab Hall
Breeder: Vestmarka AB.
Owner: Jorgen Sparredal Inc.
Trainer: Åke Svanstedt. Drivers: Dexter Dunn, Åke Svanstedt.
Races: 11-8-3-0. Purses: $1.03 million. Mark: 1:50.3 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Top wins: $400,000 Breeders Crown; $250,000 Dayton Oaks; $230,000 Graduate Series final; $175,000 FanDuel Championship.

Captaintreacherous – Angelou – American Ideal
Breeder: Frederick Hertrich III.
Owners: Patricia Stable, LA Express & Sjoblom Inc., Michael Dolan.
Trainer: Noel Daley. Driver: Todd McCarthy.
Races: 9-7-2-0. Purses: $445,680. Mark: 1:49.2 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final; $87,000 Bluegrass division; $72,000 International Stallion division.

Sweet Lou – Geometry – Somebeachsomewhere
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm.
Owners: Milton Leeman, Alan Keith, James Stambaugh, Joe Sbrocco.
Trainer: Brian Brown. Driver: Tim Tetrick.
Races: 10-9-0-0. Purses: $556,251. Mark: 1:49.3 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $400,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series final; $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final; $84,500 International Stallion division.

Sweet Lou – Geothermal – A Rocknroll Dance
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm.
Owner: Diamond Creek Racing.
Trainer: Brett Pelling. Driver: Tim Tetrick.
Races: 15-13-1-0. Purses: $1.63 million. Mark: 1:46.1 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $668,000 Meadowlands Pace; $600,000 Breeders Crown; $400,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series final; $315,700 Cane Pace; $300,000 Max C. Hempt; $236,000 Tattersalls division; $170,850 Matron.

Always B Miki – Shyaway – Artiscape
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms.
Owner: Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc.
Trainers: Mark Steacy, Shawn Steacy. Driver: Bob McClure.
Races: 13-10-2-0. Purses: $767,959. Mark: 1:48.1 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $319,200 Fan Hanover; $169,000 Mistletoe Shalee; $115,000 Glen Garnsey division.

BYTHEMISSAL, 4-year-old gelding
Downbytheseaside – Dismissal – Western Terror
Breeder: Stephen Dey III.
Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Eric Good, Rich Lombardo Racing, Weaver Bruscemi.
Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Yannick Gingras.
Races: 16-11-2-1. Purses: $984,666. Mark: 1:47.1 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $250,000 Aria Invitational; $138,500 Allerage; $130,000 Sam McKee division.

GRACE HILL, 5-year-old mare
Always B Miki – Western Silk – Western Terror
Breeder: White Birch Farm.
Owner: Tom Hill.
Trainer: Virgil Morgan Jr. Drivers: Doug McNair, Tony Hall.
Races: 15-10-2-1. Purses: $573,526. Mark: 1:47.4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Top wins: $250,000 Dayton Distaff; $231,800 Roses Are Red; $162,800 Milton.

Click here for a complete voting summary.

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