02/13/2012 12:56PM

2011 Dan Patch USHWA Awards winners announced

Conrad Photo
2010 Horse of the Year Rock N Roll Heaven winning the Little Brown Jug

The United States Harness Writers Dan Patch Awards Banquet will take place on Sunday night February 12 in Orlando, Fla. The ceremony honors the top performers in the Harness industry from the previous year.

The connections of each divisional age and gait winner were announced in December and will be on hand to accept their hardware. Top honors for Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year remain a secret until Sunday Evening.

Below you will find a brief bio of all the previously announced winners.

2YO trotting colt – Possess The Will

Possess The Will was the leading money-winner in his division at $550,789. With 7 wins in 12 starts, including the $410,000 Valley Victory at Harrah’s Chester, he was the fastest rookie colt trotter with a 1:54 mark.

2YO trotting filly – Check Me Out

Check Me Out was far and away the best 2-year-old trotter in 2011 and is widely regarded as the leader on the trail to the $1.5 million Hambletonian. She banked $900,619 in her first year of racing, posted the fastest mile by a 2-year-old trotter (1:53.2 – Dover Downs), and picked up a Breeders Crown trophy along the way.

2YO pacing colt – Sweet Lou

The battle for 2-year-old pacing colt was neck and neck between 10 for 12 lifetime Sweet Lou and leading money winner A Rocknroll Dance. Sweet Lou edged out his rival in the Breeders Crown in a world record 1:49 clocking at Woodbine Racetrack and garnered the voters’ attention.

2YO pacing filly – Economy Terror

Economy Terror posted a stellar 11-8-3-0 record in 2011 and was the leading rookie earner across all divisions at $926,520. She captured the $600,000 Breeders Crown and $380,000 Three Diamonds at Harrah’s Chester.

3YO trotting colt – Broad Bahn

Broad Bahn was not the fastest and his win total paled in comparison to his divisional counterparts, but he won when it mattered most. The son of Broadway Hall won the sport’s marque event – the Hambletonian. That win helped him dominate the earnings category by more than $240,000, finishing with a spectacular $1,324,561 total.

3YO trotting filly – Cedar Dove

A late season stakes surge helped Cedar Dove take home divisional odds. She won the $291,000 Kentucky Futurity and $500,000 Breeders Crown in October to vault herself to the high honor. The filly racked up seven wins in 2011 and earned $543,316.

3YO pacing colt – Roll With Joe

No standardbred ruled the earnings category in their class like Roll With Joe. The Cams Card Shark-sired colt out of the prolific broodmare Classic Wish grossed $1,649,725, a half-million more than category runner-up Up The Credit. Roll With Joe took home the $1,000,000 Meadowlands Pace and the $401,000 Messenger stakes at Yonkers. He is a leading contender for Pacer of the Year.

3YO pacing filly – See You At Peelers

See You At Peelers had the harness community abuzz by winning the first 22 races of her career. Although her season ended on a sour note due to heart inflammation, she still earned $916,611 and won 9 of her 12 starts in 2011. She also posted the fastest 2011 times in her division on a half-mile (1:52.2 – Yonkers) and five-eighths (1:49.2 – Tioga Downs; equaled World Record) tracks.

Older trotting horse – San Pail

San Pail won 14 of 16 starts in 2011 and was widely considered the best horse in North America. He led all older trotters with $1,289,000 on his card, while defeating his rivals in the $600,000 Breeders Crown, $766,500 Maple Leaf at Mohawk, and $300,000 Nat Ray at the Meadowlands. The San Pellegrino-Village Beauty product is the heavy favorite for Horse of the Year honors.

Older trotting mare – Action-Broadway

Action-Broadway won 10 races in 2011 and earned $538,944, easily leading her division in that category. Her accomplishments include a victory in the $366,450 Armbro Flight at Mohawk, $164,000 Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs, and a second-place finish in the $300,000 Breeders Crown.

Older pacing horse – Foiled Again

Foiled Again continues to pull off the nearly impossible task of increasing his yearly earnings every year. The now 8-year-old Ron Burke trainee set a new seasonal mark of $1,405,747 by posting 14 victories in 28 starts during 2011. Foiled Again kept his form from May ($306,000 Molson Pace winner at Western Fair) to November ($175,000 American-National at Balmoral Park), while racking up quite a few stakes wins in between. He is the leading candidate for Pacer of the Year honors.

Older pacing mare – Anndrovette

Anndrovette won four of the ten $100,000-plus races in her division including the $300,000 Breeders Crown in 2011. The 5-year-old won her division on the strength of 11 wins and $747,112 in earnings.

Pacer of the Year – Foiled Again

Trotter of the Year – San Pail

Horse of the Year – San Pail

These three winner were announced Sunday at the USHWA Dan Patch Awards dinner at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla.

Garnsey Trainer of the Year – Ron Burke

Few horsemen in history have dominated the sport like trainer Ron Burke did in 2011. The 42-year-old native of Washington, Pa. sent out 797 winners from 3,786 starters, a 21 percent win rate. Burke’s win total eclipsed his closest competitor by 284 victories.

The earnings column provided a similar landslide total for Burke. Horses under his care banked $18,538,873, a new record for single-season earnings, eclipsing the mark he set in 2010 and dwarfing the runner-up in the standings, Lou Pena, who earned $7,120,984.

As you can imagine, with hundreds of horse in the Burke stable, Ron trains everything from $4,000 claimers to top stakes horses. His standout performers in 2011 included Foiled Again, the best older horse in the country and leading candidate for Pacer of the Year, and Sweet Lou, who won the Breeders Crown for rookie colts and set a world record with a 1:49 mile in the process.

Since taking over fulltime training duties from his dad Mickey Burke back in 2008, Ron has seen his barn earn over $52 million and win over 2,500 races.

USHWA and HTA Driver of the Year – George Brennan

George Brennan, known as the “Minister of Speed”, continued his ascent to the top of the drivers’ standings in 2011. He ranked second in wins (754) behind Dan Noble (773) and was a close runner-up in the earnings category with $14,534,522, just behind Tim Tetrick at $15,850,537. However, Brennan defeated Tetrick in earnings per start $5,333 to $4,714, and tied Noble in win percentage at 27 percent.

The numbers only tell part of the story, however. Brennan scored the rare $1.5 million Hambletonian / $750,000 Oaks double at the Meadowlands with Broad Bahn and Bold And Fresh, respectively. He also overcame the brief absence of his top client when trainer Lou Pena was asked to take a leave of absence from Brennan’s regular stomping grounds, Yonkers Raceway.

Brennan, a 44-year-old native of Monticello, NY, has over 7,150 career wins and horses under his guidance have accumulated nearly $120 million in earnings. He won the driving title at Yonkers in 2011 and was top dog at the Meadowlands the previous year.