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Dan Patch Awards Presented

Published: February 22, 2015 11:49 pm ET

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“She’s as perfect as they come, and I guess finishing off with Horse of the Year exemplifies how perfect she is.”

As she travelled from New Jersey to Florida for Sunday night’s Dan Patch Awards tribute, trainer Nancy Johansson passed time on her flight by reading a Hoof Beats magazine story about her Horse of the Year winner JK Shesalady.

JK Shesalady, bred and owned by 3 Brothers Stables, was undefeated in 12 races last season and became the first two-year-old female pacer in harness racing history to be named Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. She was honoured Sunday at USHWA’s Dan Patch Awards Night of Champions Banquet at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel at SeaWorld.

“When I was reading that story it really sunk in more, like, wow, this is what we’re coming all the way to Florida for,” Johansson said. “It’s very exciting. It’s something that I think everybody works for, and it’s nice to be able to accomplish that. It’s really sunk in more now.”

JK Shesalady is the fourth two-year-old to receive Horse of the Year, joining pacer Niatross (1979), trotter Nevele Pride (1967) and pacer Bret Hanover (1964). The three previous two-year-old winners were colts.

She is the first female pacer to be voted Horse of the Year since Rainbow Blue in 2004 and the fourth female pacer overall to receive the honour. The others were Bunny Lake in 2001 and Fan Hanover in 1981.

“It’s unbelievable,” Johansson said at the time of the Horse of the Year announcement in December. “The hard work paid off. She’s just such a special horse."

In addition to joining the connections of JK Shesalady in picking up the Horse of the Year trophy, the 33-year-old Johansson received the Rising Star Award from USHWA.

“It’s nice that somebody appreciates your ability and your hard work,” Johansson said. “Not everyone might admit it, but I think all people like to be recognized. It’s very gratifying.”

The trip to Orlando was gratifying for reasons other than picking up awards. Johansson and her husband, trainer/driver Marcus Johansson, got to enjoy some vacation time with children Ella and Marcus Jr.

“Marcus is a huge part of everything that goes on,” Johansson said. “He’s just as qualified to be Rising Star as I am. It’s a lot of fun [to be together]. It’s great that it happened to be in Orlando this year and we got to have a couple of days away [from work] and my kids got to have a little fun. They sacrifice a lot because we work crazy hours and we’re always running around.”

Trotting filly Shake It Cerry, trained by Johansson’s father, Jimmy Takter, received the Trotter of the Year award for her three-year-old season and older male pacer Sweet Lou, trained by Ron Burke, received the Pacer of the Year trophy. Takter received the Trainer of the Year honour.

In addition to owning JK Shesalady, 3 Brothers Stables – Alan, Ronald and Steven Katz – was named Breeder of the Year and shared Owner of the Year with John Fielding.

Other honourees included Hall of Fame inductee Joe Thomson, Communicators Hall of Fame inductees Bob Marks and Kathy Parker, Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award winner Russell Williams, Breakthrough Award winner Emily Gaskin and Driver of the Year winner Yannick Gingras.

Horses receiving awards for division honours -- in addition to JK Shesalady, Shake It Cerry and Sweet Lou -- were two-year-old male trotter Pinkman, two-year-old female trotter Mission Brief, three-year-old male trotter Father Patrick, older male trotter Sebastian K, older female trotter Classic Martine, two-year-old male pacer Artspeak, three-year-old male pacer McWicked, three-year-old female pacer Colors A Virgin, and older female pacers Anndrovette and Rocklamation (tie).

For a complete list of honourees, click here or view the embedded PDF below.

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

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