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Honours For Courant, Melander, Dunn

Published: December 30, 2019 10:26 am ET

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The partnership of Courant Inc., which encompasses principal owner Anders Ström and individual partners on several horses, teamed exceptionally well with trainer Marcus Melander during 2019, campaigning the “Three G’s” – Greenshoe, Gimpanzee, and Green Manalishi S – who dominated the three-year-old trotting colt ranks while earning over $3 million among them this year alone. They also raced freshman trotting filly Hypnotic AM and other quality performers, with the result that Courant and Melander were voted Owner of the Year and Trainer of the Year, respectively, by the United States Harness Writers' Association.

In addition, New Zealander Dexter Dunn, who had a sensational first full year campaigning in the United States and Canada, was voted as the Driver of the Year by USHWA.

Ström, who with his outright-owned horses campaigns in red-and-gold colours worn by the driver, saw Greenshoe and Gimpanzee each earn over $1 million while winning the majority of the sport’s major stakes for their group: Greenshoe a Dancer division, the Zweig, a Bluegrass division, the Kentucky Futurity and the Sire Stakes crowns in New Jersey and Kentucky; Gimpanzee the Yonkers Trot, the Breeders Crown, the Matron and the New York Sire Stakes championship. Green Manalishi S added a Tompkins division, the Simcoe and the Canadian Trotting Classic, while Hypnotic AM won her New York Sire Stakes final and the Doherty Memorial.

Despite sending only 16 starters, Courant and partners saw their horses earn over $3.9 million, putting them in the North American Top Ten. Courant also has powerful divisions of the stable in Sweden and in France, and Ström put himself in position for future success by spending over $1.6 million at the major yearling sales in Lexington and Harrisburg.

Melander, still only 27 years of age and coming off winning USHWA’s Rising Star Award, continued his rapid ascent to harness racing’s top circles, with his horses earning almost $5.4 million during 2019, fourth among all North American trainers. The “Three G’s” who dominated the sophomore trotting ranks of course were the primary contributors to that amount, but along with Hypnotic AM, Melander also sent out Cutler Memorial winner Cruzado Dela Noche, who also won the Yonkers International Trot in 2018.

In addition, there were a host of young, bright prospects who showed talent in limited campaigns and could come on like gangbusters in 2020 (remember, Greenshoe only started four times at two). With the firm support of his family and staff (who frequently overlap), Melander certainly didn’t have the “sophomore jinx” in 2019.

Another North American “import,” Kiwi-born Dexter Dunn, came from Down Under with sterling credentials, having won multiple New Zealand driving titles and even the 2015 World Driving Championship. But his first full season of driving in the United States and Canada produced success in quantity and quality that few would have predicted.

Horses handled by Dunn won over $11 million during 2019, putting him third behind the perennial top pairing of Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras. The fact that he won 457 races, also putting him in the North American Top Ten, was also impressive — but not that surprising since he had won ten New Zealand sulky dash titles before he reached his current age of 30, but his seamless assimilation into the rarefied circles of top stakes competition was the exclamation point on his year.

Dunn was the driver for sophomore colt pacer Bettors Wish, who was the leading money winner of 2019 with over $1.6 million in earnings and a 19-13-6-0 record primarily completing in the “glamour division.” Amigo Volo and Manchego benefitted from his expertise in winning Breeders Crown events. He won championships in state programs with Bettors Wish in Kentucky, Millies Possesion in Pennsylvania, and Fortune Starlet in New Jersey. In his first full year of driving at Harrah’s Philadelphia, Dunn finished third in the driving standings behind Tim Tetrick and George Napolitano Jr. – who between them have won the last 13 victory belts at the oval.

And just as Melander had some “family” behind him, so did Dunn – Chris Ryder was the first to regularly use Dunn upon coming over, and a disproportionate share of Australian and New Zealand expatriate conditions quickly, and soon unhesitatingly, gave him regular work.


The remainder of the human and broodmare Dan Patch award winners are being announced today and tomorrow; the 12 racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday (Jan. 3) at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands pre-race show, with media releases following (availability to view that announcement will be released shortly).

The above individuals will be honoured at USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honouring the champions of 2019 will be held on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla., the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet.

Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured. “Post times” on Feb. 23 are cocktails at 5:30 p.m. with dinner to follow. Tickets and other banquet-related information can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson at [email protected] or 302.359.3630.

Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA’s website, www.ushwa.net; a link to the hotel’s reservation system is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for award winners in the Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at [email protected].

(USHWA)


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