It was a banner year for Driver of the Year Yannick Gingras (left) and Ron Burke, trainer of Horse of the Year and Trotter of the Year Hannelore Hanover | Dave Landry

Hannelore Hanover dominant in Horse of the Year race

February 26, 2018

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The older trotting mare and world record holder received three Dan Patch Awards Sunday night in Orlando — Horse of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Older Female Trotter of the Year. Downbytheseaside was voted Pacer of the Year.

story by Ken Weingartner (USTA media relations manager) | quotes by Dave Briggs

The connections of Hannelore Hanover need to make room for several more trophies.

Hannelore Hanover, who last year at age 5 produced the fastest mile in history by a female trotter and defeated male rivals in both the Breeders Crown and Maple Leaf Trot, received three Dan Patch Awards on Sunday, including the night’s grand prize, Horse of the Year.

In addition to being named Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, Hannelore Hanover got trophies for Trotter of the Year and best older female trotter during the Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, FL.

Hannelore Hanover was named Horse of the Year on 95 ballots, outdistancing 3-year-old filly trotter Ariana G, with 15 votes, and 2-year-old filly trotter Manchego, with 12. Downbytheseaside, a 3-year-old colt who was named Pacer of the Year, had eight votes for Horse of the Year.

In balloting for Trotter of the Year, Hannelore Hanover had 100 votes, while Ariana G had 16 and Manchego 15.

Earlier this month, Hannelore Hanover received the O’Brien Award for Canada’s Horse of the Year in addition to getting her second consecutive award as best trotting mare.

Hannelore Hanover is the first trotting mare to be named the Dan Patch Award Horse of the Year since Moni Maker in 1999. She is the first Horse of the Year Award winner for trainer Ron Burke.

“It’s huge, we’ve never got that award before,” said Mickey Burke, Jr. “We do a lot, we’re fortunate, there’s no question about that, but it’s still nice to get the recognition.”

Burke, Jr. called Hannelore Hanover “amazing,” but he still wasn’t sure she could win the Horse of the Year award over Manchego, Ariana G and Downbytheseaside.

“(Hannelore Hanover) had a hell of a year, but you had an undefeated trotting filly (Manchego), you had Ariana G who was coming back again… and it’s a vote! You never know what can go with that and what people were thinking,” Mickey Burke, Jr. said. “Did I think she had it? Yeah, but in the meantime, you’re sitting there thinking that anything can happen in this sport.

“Every time she went out last year, she beat some of the best male trotters. You’re going back to Moni Maker since we’ve seen a horse been doing what she’s been doing. Now, she’s trotted faster than Moni Maker, so she’s special. I keep saying it, but I don’t know what other word to use. It’s so amazing to be involved with a horse like that.”

Hannelore Hanover, a daughter of Swan For All out of the mare High Sobriety, won 10 of 17 races last season and earned $1.04 million. She became the fastest female trotter in history when she won the Allerage Farms Open Trot in 1:49.2 at Lexington’s Red Mile and was the first mare to beat the boys in the Breeders Crown Open Trot since Moni Maker in 1998.

Other wins included the Maple Leaf Trot and Armbro Flight Stakes. She is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables. Yannick Gingras was her regular driver.

Downbytheseaside was named Pacer of the Year with 93 votes. Youaremycandygirl, a filly who was a 2-year-old last year, finished second with 23 votes while 3-year-old colt Fear The Dragon was third with seven. A total of eight pacers received at least one vote.

Retired to stallion duty at the end of last season, Downbytheseaside finished his 3-year-old campaign with a four-race win streak on his way to leading the sport with $1.60 million in purses. The colt’s victories included the Messenger Stakes, Progress Pace, Carl Milstein Memorial, and Art Rooney Pace.

He was trained by Brian Brown and owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and Diamond Creek Racing. Chris Page, Brian Sears, and David Miller all guided the horse to stakes wins.

“Just to win his division and then to turn around and win Pacer of the Year too, it’s pretty special,” Brown said.

“It’s so special for those owners. They aren’t just the owners, they are friends. When we went through all the adversity, there was never one of them that ever questioned anything. I would tell them what we found out, what we’re going to do to fix it and we went on from there. There was never any downside to this horse. We’d be disappointed when he didn’t race well, but we all worked to fix it and we all enjoyed him when he was going well.

“Early in the year, he wasn’t 100 per cent, but we think it was more him not focused. Then, he got pretty good. Then, he had a couple of bumps, mainly in September. His feet were killing him, he had a liver infection. When we got all of that in order, he was actually better his last four starts than any other part of the year.

“I have to compliment all my drivers. David Miller started him out. He went with who he thought was best. We were fine with it. Brian Sears, he got this horse to relax to where you could make a racehorse out of him. Then Chris Page came along, and horse was in fantastic shape, and Chris put him in all the right spots. It worked out great for all of us.”

Other honorees Sunday included Brown, for Trainer of the Year and Good Guy Award winner; Gingras for Driver of the Year; Bruce Trogdon’s Emerald Highlands Farm for Owner of the Year; and Hanover Shoe Farms for Breeder of the Year.

“To me, the trainer award should be the stable award, because it’s all of us. It’s not me, it’s all of us,” Brown said, adding he was touched by the response from the people in the room at the Dan Patch banquet.

“To me, it’s the respect that you gain from all of these people in the room, including the writers. You know, I received an award in Ohio similar to this and got a standing ovation. When I went up tonight, I had to stand there and wait for everybody to quit applauding so I could speak. That is what touches you,” Brown said. “The people that have written me letters… in this day and age with cellphones, you text or Facebook, these people actually took the time to write me a letter congratulating me on my year. That’s what is the special part. Then, I have all this family that gets to join in on all of this. So, it’s kind of a whole experience – the good horse, the people, the family, and all the other horsemen here.”

Horses recognized in addition to Hannelore Hanover and Downbytheseaside were divisional champions Manchego, 2-year-old female trotter; Fourth Dimension, 2-year-old male trotter; Ariana G, 3-year-old female trotter; What The Hill, 3-year-old male trotter; Marion Marauder, older male trotter; Youaremycandygirl, 2-year-old female pacer; Lost In Time, 2-year-old male pacer; Blazin Britches, 3-year-old female pacer; Pure Country, older female pacer; and Keystone Velocity, older male pacer.

Additional information about the divisional champions.

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