Trainers, drivers, grooms, horses – you name it — the last five years has been the greatest five-year stretch for females in the history of harness racing. Here’s the sweet 16:
1. Casie Coleman and Betting Line. He’s won 10 straight, the richest race (the NA Cup), set records along the way and is going to be a strong Horse of the Year candidate this year. If he does with the HOY title, it would be the third time in five years that a lady has taken down that honor — Linda Toscano won in 2012 with Chapter Seven and Nancy Johansson in 2014 with J K She’salady. Remember, too, the amazing and unprecedented streak Coleman has had of a $750,000-winning sophomore colt or gelding for an astounding five years in a row: 2010 Sportswriter, 2011 Betterthancheddar, 2012 Michaels Power, 2013 Vegas Vacation and 2014 McWicked. And don’t forget back to back Little Brown Jugs in 2012 and 2013.
2. Nancy Johansson going undefeated with her prized filly JK She’salady in 2014. She edged out both Sweet Lou and Shake It Cerry for top year-end honors.
3. Linda Toscano going 1-2 on the 2012 Horse Of The Year ballot with Chapter Seven winning over Market Share. Not bad having the Hambletonian winner in your barn and the Horse of the Year, too. The last time any trainer had gone 1-2 in the HOY balloting was in 1972 when Stanley Dancer had Albatross and Super Bowl. Linda also is the only female trainer — and one of only three ever — to have a $2 million winner follow that season up with a $1 million season. Market Share did that in 2012 and 2013.
4. Jeff Bamond having a stranglehold over the older pacing mare division and the older mare pacer Breeders Crown, highlighted by the never-say-die Anndrovette, who is edging ever so close to Eternal Camnation’s all time female earnings record of $3.7 million plus; a record that has stood for 12 years.
5. Hannah Miller’s last couple of seasons and the incredible good work she’s done bringing the amateur racing program into much clearer focus. She was voted their 2015 driver of the year and just recently went to Budapest and missed by a scant point of winning the World Cup.
6. Paula Wellwood winning the first two legs of the trotting Triple Crown with Marion Marauder.
7. Mission Brief. What a fabulous filly. Her 1:50.3 freshman blitz in 2014 has to be one of the most awesome efforts of the last quarter century. At two and three, she was the fastest both years, regardless of sex, and the last filly to do that was C R Kay Suzie in 1994-1995.
8. Hannelore Hanover, who has a record of 13-1-0 in 14 starts and $662,000 as of Sept. 7. Beating the boys, supplementing, setting world records at different distances. Can she be the one that ends the 69-year drought of four-year-old trotting mares being named Horse of the Year?
9. Hannelore Hanover gets on this list twice. Is it possible that another Indiana-bred can be Horse of the Year? Her dominant year has put her in position to do what Wiggle It Jiggleit did last year for the Hoosier State? Again? Hey, it was 31 years ago that Robert Gangloff’s Nihilator was named Horse Of The Year to give Indiana their first HOY in 1985.
10. Shelly Grieco, caretaker supreme, was in the winner’s circle twice in the Hambletonian in the last year — first in 2012 with Market Share and this year paddocking Marion Marauder for Wellwood.
11. Lady Shadow, has gone from good to great this summer, and her blitz at a mile and an eighth — hitting the mile marker in 1:47 flat with a :26.1 quarter to get there — is the stuff of legends, or legends to be.
12. The 2014 Trotter Of The Year was Shake It Cerry. Past $2.5 million lifetime, remember she was, and is, the only female to also be race-timed in sub 1:50 as she was narrowing in fast on JL Cruze a year back during his 1:49.4 trotting mile at the Meadowlands, the fastest trotting mile in the history of the Big M. Shake It Cerry also made things very interesting for the odds-on fave Hannelore Hanover on Hambletonian Day, finishing second best.
13. JoAnn Looney winning the richest pacing event of 2015 — the North America Cup — with Wakisashi Hanover over the HOY to be Wiggle It Jiggleit.
14. Shebestingin’s 1:47 flat Red Mile world record. Dave Miller drove. The three-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight shaved three-fifths-of-a-second off Put On A Show’s 2012 mark of 1:47.3 set on Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands.
15. Pure Country being undefeated in 2015 and an easy choice for freshman pacing filly of the year. What has she done lately? How about a record of 13 7-2-2 and earnings of $796,752 Diamond Creek and trainer Jimmy Takter.
16. So many other ladies have been prominent in this five years-starting with three-month-old Trysta Tetrick being placed in the 2012 Hambletonian Bowl, to the two “Heathers” (Wilder and Vitale) co-hosting the Dan Patch Awards Dinner, to Ellen Harvey and HRC, Moira Fanning at the Hambletonian Society and Breeders Crown, to Ellen Taylor and her Harness Horse Youth Foundation. The list is too long to mention, but you get the idea, females are fabulous, most especially in racing the past five years.