The members of the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association have announced they have unanimously named three-year-old trotting star Archangel as its Horse of the Year for 2012.
The award will be presented to his connections in the winner’s circle during the 'Night of Distinction' at Batavia Downs on Saturday, December 8, the final night of their meet.
The colt that made a lot of heads turn on the Grand Circuit this year also left a trail of victories throughout the Empire State. Besides winning five legs of the New York Sire Stakes, he set a stakes and track record of 1:53.4 in the Empire Breeders Classic elimination at Vernon Downs; another stakes and track record of 1:53.1 in the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs the following week; a world record for three-year-olds on a half-mile track; a track record and the fastest Yonkers Trot ever conducted in 1:54.1; a stakes record of 1:54.3 in the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs , and then broke a 19-year-old track record at Batavia by cruising there in 1:54.3. He may have also set a new track record in his victory at Buffalo Raceway, but toured that oval with a flat tire that occurred just before the start of the race.
If that body of work was not impressive enough, Archangel and trainer Peter Arrigenna then took on the best in the Hambletonian where he finished second in his elimination and fourth in the final, trotting back to back starts timed in 1:52.4. He then went on to win an elimination of the Kentucky Futurity in 1:53.1.
From his base of operation in Piffard, New York (which is about midway between Batavia Downs and Tioga Downs) Archangel won 11 races in 18 starts and deposited $771,386 in the bank accounts of his owners Alan Hainsworth, Clare Semer and Peter Arrigenna.
The chapter also announced the pacer and trotter of the meet for Batavia Downs.
JML Stables and Mike Torcello’s What The Sheik was named pacer of the meet. When trainer Gerry Sarama decided to make the $12,500 claim on his first start at Batavia on August 18, the road to the top was nothing but smooth sailing.
After winning a mid-level condition race in 1:54 by eight lengths, What The Sheik proceeded to take top honours in five Open paces and posted an outstanding seasonal mark of 1:53.1. In 11 Batavia starts he won seven, placed twice and showed one time. In those starts he bankrolled $34,326. That brought his lifetime earnings up to $289,849.
On the diagonally-gaited side, Curran Racing and Adam Michael’s Big Baller was named trotter of the meet.
After coming down from Canada, trainer Bobbi Martin and Big Baller made a steady diet of Open-class trotters, winning five and hitting the board on five other occasions. In 13 starts he was able to amass $33,980 in purses and a seasonal mark of 1:57.1. He now has $172,183 in lifetime earnings.
First-race post time for Saturday night's Batavia Downs card is 6:25 p.m., and the awards will be presented throughout the evening.