U.S. Awards To Dunn, McDuffee, Norman

Published: December 16, 2021 10:52 am EST

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) has selected David McDuffee as the Norman Woolworth Owner of the Year, Richard “Nifty” Norman as the Glen Garnsey Trainer of the Year and Dexter Dunn as the Driver of the Year in its year-end Dan Patch Awards balloting.

All three of the award winners intersect at Bella Bellini, the three-year-old trotting filly who was the richest trotter of 2021 with $1,111,500 USD, and the winner of the Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown.

For McDuffee, this confluence at Bella Bellini must be especially pleasing, as he bred Bella Bellini out of his champion racehorse Bella Dolce; her dam Pizza Dolce, another quality distaff, was co-owned by McDuffee. That’s three straight generations of trotting filly power for the veteran of over 50 years of owning and breeding.

McDuffee is also part-owner of another million-dollar-winning trotting filly, Venerable, whose two-year-old campaign including a triumph against the boys in the Mohawk Million. Swingforthefences and Chin Chin Hall were also among McDuffee’s top winners of more than $3.8 million USD from only 19 horses he owned outright or in partnership.

Nifty Norman was the trainer of both Bella Bellini and Venerable, which is a nice way to add $2.1 million USD in earnings to your best-ever seasonal total, which may still reach $6 million in the closing days of 2021. His stable also clicked at a 21 per cent win rate during the campaign, giving him a third straight season with a UTR over .340.

Besides these two star fillies, Norman also conditioned a pair of top-quality three-year-old pacing fillies, last year’s champion Fire Start Hanover and Grace Hill, who each enjoyed $500,000-winning seasons despite having to go against both each other and one of the best sophomore sidewheeler crops in recent memory. In all, Norman-trained horses won 15 races of $100,000 of more, with Bella Bellini, Venerable and Grace Hill winning their respective Sire Stakes championships.

The third member of this trio, Dexter Dunn, was voted top driver for the third successive year. This statement is even more impressive when considering that Dunn has driven in North America fulltime for only the last three years after establishing himself as a world-class driving star in his native New Zealand.

Dunn has driven the winners of almost $36 million USD the last three seasons, including being No. 1 this year with a personal best $12.7 million USD figure. Like McDuffee and Norman, he gained much of his success in 2021 behind females -- in addition to Bella Bellini, Dunn was the regular pilot for Niki Hill, a standout two-year-old pacing filly who won more than $900,000, and the trotting mare star Manchego, who lifted her career bankroll over $3 million and who was the dominant free-for-all trotter of either sex for the first half of the year and beyond.

In all, Dunn won $100,000 races with 15 different horses, who combined charged home first in no fewer than 26 six-figure events.

David McDuffee, Richard “Nifty” Norman, and Dexter Dunn will be honoured at USHWA’s Dan Patch Night of Champions Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida

(USHWA / Photos of Dunn & Norman by New Image Media / Photo of McDuffee by USTA)

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