Dan Patch Divisional Awards Announced

2023 Dan Patch Award winners
Published: December 30, 2023 06:38 pm EST

Harness racing’s two top-ranked horses in the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, No. 1 Confederate and No. 2 Sylvia Hanover, led the way when divisional Dan Patch Award honours for pacers and trotters were announced during a live presentation on Saturday, Dec. 30 prior to the card at The Meadowlands.

Three-year-old male pacer Confederate became only the second unanimous selection for divisional recognition in the past six years when he was named on all 129 ballots returned in voting conducted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Sylvia Hanover, also a three-year-old, was this year’s only repeat winner and became only the fifth female pacer since 1991 to garner a trophy at ages two and three.

The remaining pacers to receive divisional honours were two-year-old male Captain Albano, two-year-old female Geocentric, older male Bythemissal, and older female Grace Hill.

Division-winning trotters were two-year-old male Karl, two-year-old female Soiree Hanover, three-year-old male Tactical Approach, three-year-old female Bond, older male Its Academic, and older female Jiggy Jog S.

The 12 division champions will be honoured during the Dan Patch Awards banquet, presented by Caesars Entertainment, at Rosen Centre in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 25. U.S. Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be announced at the banquet.

Three trainers had two division winners each: Ron Burke, with Bythemissal and Its Academic; Ake Svanstedt, with Bond and Jiggy Jog S; and Nancy Takter, with Karl and Tactical Approach.

Confederate, trained by Brett Pelling, was this season’s richest horse, with $1.69 million. He was one of five millionaires to receive divisional honours, along with Bythemissal, Tactical Approach, Karl, and Jiggy Jog S.  

In addition to leading the sport in purses, Confederate became the fastest three-year-old pacer in history thanks to his 1:46.1 score in September at Lexington’s Red Mile. The colt won 13 of 15 starts this season, including the Meadowlands Pace, Breeders Crown, Cane Pace, Max C. Hempt Memorial, and Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series final. He joined Bulldog Hanover as the only unanimous division champs since 2017.

Sylvia Hanover, trained by the father-son team of Mark and Shawn Steacy, won 10 of 13 races, including the Breeders Crown, Fan Hanover, and Mistletoe Shalee. She joined Warrawee Ubeaut, Pure Country, See You At Peelers, and Worldly Beauty as female pacers with stateside division honours at ages two and three in the last 32 years.

Bythemissal and Grace Hill were the leading money-earners in their respective divisions.

A four-year-old gelding, Bythemissal won 11 of 16 starts, including the Breeders Crown, Aria Invitational, Allerage Open, and a division of the Sam McKee Memorial. Grace Hill, a five-year-old mare trained by Virgil Morgan Jr., won 10 of 15 races on her way to $643,276 in purses. Her victories included the Dayton Distaff Derby, Roses Are Red, and Milton.

Captain Albano, the season’s fastest two-year-old male pacer, with a mark of 1:49.2, won seven of nine races for trainer Noel Daley. The colt was a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion in addition to winning Bluegrass and International Stallion divisions. Geocentric, trained by Brian Brown, won nine of 10 races and was a sire stakes champion in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

On the trotting side, Tactical Approach, Jiggy Jog S, and Bond followed Confederate as the top vote-getters, with each named on more than 93 per cent of the ballots. Karl captured the closest contest, topping T C I, 77-48.

Tactical Approach was the season’s richest trotter, with $1.50 million in purses. The colt hit the board in 17 of 19 races, winning 10, with his triumphs including the Hambletonian, Breeders Crown, and Kentucky Futurity.

Jiggy Jog S, a four-year-old mare who earned $1.05 million in 2023, was no worse than second in any of her 11 races, winning eight. Her victories included the Breeders Crown, Dayton Oaks, and Graduate Series final, where she defeated male rivals. She was second in the MGM Yonkers International.

Bond was the leading money-earner among three-year-old female trotters, with $901,151. She won eight of 13 races, including the Breeders Crown, Elegantimage, and Delmonica Hanover, and was second in the Hambletonian Oaks.

Karl was the season’s fastest two-year-old trotter, with a mark of 1:51.2, and earned $1.04 million. He was a nose from being undefeated in 10 starts, with his wins including the Breeders Crown, Valley Victory, Kindergarten Classic Series final, and a Kentucky Sire Stakes title.

Its Academic and Soiree Hanover both topped their respective divisions in purses, with six-year-old stallion Its Academic banking $984,294 and two-year-old filly Soiree Hanover earning $607,955. Its Academic hit the board in 16 of 18 races, with his eight victories topped by the John Cashman Memorial. The Lucas Wallin-trained Soiree Hanover was top three in nine of 10 races and counted the Jim Doherty Memorial among her six triumphs.

Room reservations at Rosen Centre for the star-studded Dan Patch Awards weekend can be made here or at the USHWA website at usharnesswriters.com. Tickets for the banquet can be procured from ticket chairman Judy Davis-Wilson at [email protected] or Liz Cheesman at Elizabeth.Cheesman@winbakfarm.com.

Sponsorship opportunities for the event can be procured from sponsorship chairman Shawn Wiles at [email protected]. Advertisements in the souvenir journal can be arranged with journal chairman Kim Rinker at [email protected].

Following is a look at the 12 divisional Dan Patch Award recipients:

, colt
Tactical Landing – Avalicious – RC Royalty
Breeder: Crawford Farms.
Owners: Christina and Nancy Takter, Black Horse Racing, Crawford Farms Racing, Bender Sweden Inc.
Trainer: Nancy Takter. Driver: Yannick Gingras.
Races: 10-9-1-0. Purses: $1.04 million. Mark: 1:51.2 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $700,000 Breeders Crown; $423,000 Valley Victory; $400,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series final; $267,500 Kindergarten Classic Series final.


Walner – Spring Gala – Self Possessed
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms.
Owner: Snogarps Gard Inc.
Trainer: Lucas Wallin. Driver: Tim Tetrick.
Races: 10-6-1-2. Purses: $607,955. Mark: 1:53.1 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $400,000 Jim Doherty; $275,000 New Jersey Classic.

, colt
Tactical Landing – Sarcy – Donato Hanover
Breeders: Steve Stewart, Oakwood Farms.
Owners: Robert LeBlanc, John Fielding, Joe Sbrocco & JAF Racing.
Trainer: Nancy Takter. Driver: Scott Zeron.
Races: 19-10-3-4. Purses: $1.50 million. Mark: 1:50.1 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $672,000 Breeders Crown; $450,000 Kentucky Futurity; $205,000 Carl Erskine.


Southwind Frank – Boccone Dolce – Donato Hanover
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm.
Owners: Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, L Berg Inc.
Trainer: Ake Svanstedt. Driver: Ake Svanstedt.
Races: 13-8-2-1. Purses: $901,151. Mark: 1:51.2 at Hoosier Park.
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $381,000 Elegantimage; $250,000 Delmonica Hanover.

, six-year-old stallion
Uncle Peter – Annapolis – Muscle Hill
Breeder: GBW Breeding Farms.
Owner: Brad Grant.
Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: David Miller.
Races: 18-8-3-5. Purses: $984,294. Mark: 1:50.2 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $278,000 John Cashman; $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts; $222,500 Caesars Trotting Classic; $155,140 Crawford Farms.

, four-year-old mare
Walner – Hot Mess Hanover – Cantab Hall
Breeder: Vestmarka AB.
Owner: Jorgen Sparredal Inc.
Trainer: Ake Svanstedt. Drivers: Dexter Dunn, Ake Svanstedt.
Races: 11-8-3-0. Purses: $1.05 million. Mark: 1:50.3 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Top wins: $400,000 Breeders Crown; $250,000 Dayton Oaks; $230,000 Graduate Series final; $175,000 FanDuel Championship.

, colt
Captaintreacherous – Angelou – American Ideal
Breeder: Frederick Hertrich III.
Owners: Patricia Stable, LA Express & Sjoblom Inc., Michael Dolan.
Trainer: Noel Daley. Driver: Todd McCarthy.
Races: 9-7-2-0. Purses: $445,680. Mark: 1:49.2 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final; $87,000 Bluegrass division; $72,000 International Stallion division.


Sweet Lou – Geometry – Somebeachsomewhere
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm.
Owners: Milton Leeman, Alan Keith, James Stambaugh, Joe Sbrocco.
Trainer: Brian Brown. Driver: Tim Tetrick.
Races: 10-9-0-0. Purses: $556,251. Mark: 1:49.3 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $400,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series final; $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final; $84,500 International Stallion division.

, colt
Sweet Lou – Geothermal – A Rocknroll Dance
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm.
Owner: Diamond Creek Racing.
Trainer: Brett Pelling. Driver: Tim Tetrick.
Races: 15-13-1-0. Purses: $1.69 million. Mark: 1:46.1 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $668,000 Meadowlands Pace; $600,000 Breeders Crown; $400,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series final; $315,700 Cane Pace; $300,000 Max C. Hempt; $236,000 Tattersalls division; $170,850 Matron.


Always B Miki – Shyaway – Artiscape
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms.
Owner: Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc.
Trainers: Mark Steacy, Shawn Steacy. Driver: Bob McClure.
Races: 13-10-2-0. Purses: $767,959. Mark: 1:48.1 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $420,000 Fan Hanover; $169,000 Mistletoe Shalee; $115,000 Glen Garnsey division.

, four-year-old gelding
Downbytheseaside – Dismissal – Western Terror
Breeder: Stephen Dey III.
Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Eric Good, Rich Lombardo Racing, Weaver Bruscemi.
Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Yannick Gingras.
Races: 16-11-2-1. Purses: $1.03 million. Mark: 1:47.1 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $250,000 Aria Invitational; $138,500 Allerage; $130,000 Sam McKee division.

, five-year-old mare
Always B Miki – Western Silk – Western Terror
Breeder: White Birch Farm.
Owner: Tom Hill.
Trainer: Virgil Morgan Jr. Drivers: Doug McNair, Tony Hall.
Races: 15-10-2-1. Purses: $573,526. Mark: 1:47.4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Top wins: $250,000 Dayton Distaff; $305,000 Roses Are Red; $220,000 Milton.

The Dan Patch Award winners were revealed during the Meadowlands Racetrack pre-game show on Saturday, Dec. 30.

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), founded in 1947, is an international organization made up of those who cover and report on harness racing. USHWA nominates and votes – along with North American race secretaries for equine awards – for the Dan Patch Awards and all of its year-end equine and human awards in harness racing.

The full breakdown of votes is available here.

(with files from USHWA)

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