Canadian Winners At Dan Patch Awards

Published: February 25, 2018 11:07 pm EST

Canadians were well represented at the United States Harness Writers Association's 2017 Dan Patch Awards banquet on Sunday evening (February 25) at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Florida.

Ariana G and Marion Marauder were repeat Dan Patch Award winners while Manchego and Keystone Velocity also collected trophies for their Canadian owners.

O'Brien Award winner Ariana G was also named Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year in the U.S. after earning victories in 12 of 15 races in 2017 and banking more than $1.1 million for owners and breeders Marvin Katz of Toronto and Al Libfeld of Pickering, Ont. Driven by Yannick Gingras and trained by Jimmy Takter, the Muscle Hill miss counted wins in the Hambletonian Oaks, Breeders Crown and Elegantimage Stakes among her accomplishments.

"It's a big honour to be here again, especially with this great filly coming back from her two-year-old season and having another fantastic three-year-old season," said Takter at the banquet. "Thank you very much."

Marion Marauder was honoured as Older Male Trotter of the Year for owners Marion Jean Wellwood of Stratford, Ont., and her grandson Devin Keeling of Cambridge, Ont. Driven by Scott Zeron, Marion Marauder’s victories included the Hambletonian Maturity and Graduate Series Championship, and he finished second in the International Trot. The son of Muscle Hill, who won three of 10 races and earned just over $770,000 in his four-year-old campaign, was trained by the husband and wife team of Mike Keeling and Paula Wellwood.

"First of all, we'd like to thank USHWA for a second year of a great honour," said Mike Keeling. "Marion Marauder has been a special horse. You know, we treat him right and he treats us even better. We have a wonderful group. Scott [Zeron] takes care of him. When we're home, Roger Mayotte does a wonderful job. They all have his best interest at heart. It's been a wonderful ride and we really hope to continue it."

Manchego became the first undefeated two-year-old female trotter to win a Dan Patch trophy since the category for fillies was created in 1978. Manchego was a perfect 12-for-12 in her freshman campaign and earned more than $910,000 for her ownership group consisting of Toronto's John Fielding, Montreal native Herb Liverman and the New Jersey-based Black Horse Racing. Trained by Takter and driven by Gingras, the Muscle Hill filly's wins included the Breeders Crown, Jim Doherty Memorial and Peaceful Way Stakes.

"It's truly an honour, I'm totally impressed," said Black Horse Racing's Barry Guarigliai, speaking on behalf of the ownership group. "I mean, this filly has been incredible. First off, thanks to Christina and Jim Takter, Yannick, who drove her just impeccable, and Perry for helping us pick her out.

"It's been an incredible ride as an owner. When you get those staking sheets about now and you start picking out your races, you just kind of hope she's going to be a Sires Stakes horse, but obviously this horse has just been incredible so it's been a great ride. Thank you, really appreciate it."

The Older Pacing Horse of the Year title was awarded to Keystone Velocity, who won eight of 22 races and earned more than $788,000 as a nine-year-old for owners Allard Racing of Saint-Esprit, Que., Earl Hill Jr. of Ohsweken, Ont., as well as Kapildeo Singh of New York and the New Jersey-based VIP Internet Stable. His victories included the Ben Franklin and Levy Memorial Series Championship. Keystone Velocity was trained by Rene Allard and driven by Dan Dube and Simon Allard.

"I want to thank everybody who made this night happen; it's great to honour our sport and all our horses," said Rene Allard. "And I want to thank all the partners that are here tonight. I think it's awesome that all four of them made it here tonight.

"This horse has been a great horse for us and I want to thank the horse and everybody that worked around him -- everybody that works for my stable -- they work hard. I love the game, I love the sport, I love the horses. That's all I think about 24-7. I'm very happy to be here. I want to thank my father, who shared his passion for horses with me and my brother Simon. My mother is here tonight and she is the hardest working person I've ever met in my life. She keeps everything going. I hear about the 'Burke Brigade' and they talk about their mother and how great she is, well my mom is just the same. She's a machine. People ask me all the time, 'How do you do it?' A hundred and thirty horses, how do you keep it together? Well, with people like my mother, my great team and my brother."

Dave Briggs was feted as a Communicators Hall of Fame inductee and extended his record for John Hervey Awards to 11 with accolades in two media categories.

Briggs swept the writing categories, earning Hervey honours in the feature division for his story on John Campbell’s retirement, ‘End of an Era,’ which appeared in the October issue of Hoof Beats, and the news/commentary division for his story, ‘What the heck happened in the Hambletonian,’ which appeared in the August 12 issue of Harness Racing Update.

"Thank you both to Harness Racing Update, and everyone there, and to Hoof Beats," said Briggs, who went on to acknowledge John Campbell's contribution to the sport of harness racing while accepting his media awards. "John Campbell has meant an awful lot to my family. I have pictures going back to when my daughters and son were very small meeting him and it's gone right up until this last summer when he retired at Clinton Raceway. He is not only an exceptional horseman as we all know in this room, but just a model of a great human being."

Jacob Cohen took home a George Smallsreed Award for excellence in harness racing photography in the feature category for his sunset photograph of a horse on the track at Woodbine Racetrack that appeared on the Woodbine Facebook page on October 19.

For more coverage of the Dan Patch Awards, click here. For a complete list of divisional Dan Patch Award winners, click here.

(Photos from Dan Patch Awards: USHWA/Chris Gooden; inset photo; clockwise from top left: Marvin Katz - Iron Horse Photo; Marion Marauder - Lisa Photo; Dave Briggs - Iron Horse Photo; Keystone Velocity - New Image Media)

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