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Gingras Voted US Driver Of The Year

Published: December 28, 2017 3:10 pm ET

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The United States Harness Writers Association has announced that Yannick Gingras has been voted the 2017 United States Driver of the Year. The organization has also announced that High Sobriety has been named Trotting Broodmare of the Year and that Hanover Shoe Farms has been named Breeder of the Year in the US.

In 2017, Gingras drove the horses that ranked ‘1-2-3’ in the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. He also made a sweep of the female trotting divisional honours, and steered his mounts to $12.9 million US in seasonal purse earnings.

One of the female trotters that Gingras drove to multiple wins in 2017 was the star older trotting mare Hannelore Hanover, whose dam, High Sobriety, earned honours as Trotting Broodmare of the Year south of the border. The mother-daughter connection certainly factored into Hanover Shoe Farms being selected as Breeder of the Year in the US.

Hanover Shoe Farms bred Hannelore Hanover, but, perhaps just as importantly, it set a single-season record for the earnings of the produce of one nursery, with $31.3 million registered into the last days of the season.

Gingras has earned the respect of the leading horsemen of this era, to the extent that he is principal catch-driver for most of the top stakes performers trained by both Ron Burke and Jimmy Takter, the ‘friendly rivals’ that are almost always battling for the No. 1 bragging rights in the sport.

For Burke, Gingras guided the above-mentioned Hannelore Hanover, and for Takter, he steered three-year-old Ariana G (a repeat divisional champion) and the undefeated two-year-old Manchego. The group won fifteen $100,000-plus stakes among themselves, and each won her respective Breeders Crown, with the three ‘Crowns’ for Gingras, thus putting him at the top of the 2017 table.

But it wasn’t all just ‘going out there with the best horse and winning as expected’ for Gingras in 2017. He drove Filibuster Hanover, who going into the Little Brown Jug final was 2-for-13 on the season, and they combined to upset the ‘hometown favourite’ 1-2 punch of Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon.

In total, Gingras won 33 stakes races worth $100,000 or more in 2017.

Before Hannelore Hanover made the spotlight, if someone had told you that High Sobriety would be in contention for the Trotting Broodmare of the Year award, you might have good reason to question that person’s sobriety. She had won once in a two-year racing career, and her first three foals had earned a combined total of $65,000. But then along came Hannelore Hanover, who added 10 wins, more than $1 million in earnings, and the second-fastest trotting mile in history – a 1:49.2 win at Lexington – to her already sizable accomplishments, and the glory of her campaign, where she defeated the boys on several occasions, brought honours to High Sobriety.

Hanover Shoe Farms is usually among the top names considered for Breeder of the Year honours, and that only makes sense, for it has led the list of money-winning graduates for each of the 69 years that the USTA has been keeping that record. Along the way, there, of course, have been many, many champions bred by Hanover, with Hannelore Hanover joining the very highest of those ranks this year.

But the signal accomplishment of Hanover’s 2017 was the $31 million-plus intake by graduates of the farm. This broke the old record of $30.4 million, which Hanover set in 2015, with that one breaking the old record set by Hanover in 2014.

Hanover aggressively replenishes and adds to its breeding stock year after year, and the results speak for themselves.

Gingras and Hanover Shoe Farms (as Breeder of the Year and as owner of the Trotting Broodmare of the Year, High Sobriety) will be honoured at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards banquet, which will be held on Sunday, February 25 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla.

(With files from USHWA)

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