On Sunday, February 26 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Canadians played a major role at the 2016 U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards dinner, presented by Hoosier Park.
Triple Crown champion Marion Marauder was named U.S. Trotter of the Year in the closest vote in the 46-year history of the award (he edged out older mare Hannelore Hanover 73-72 in the voting). The colt is owned by Devin Keeling (of Cambridge, Ont.) along with his grandmother, Marion Jean Wellwood (Stratford, Ont.). The ownership duo was also voted Owners of the Year. The bay won 10 of his 15 seasonal starts in 2016 and was the first performer to capture the Trotting Triple Crown since Glidemaster in 2006. Marion Marauder is trained by Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling (both of Cambridge, Ont.) and is driven by Ontario native Scott Zeron. "What an honour to win this award, something I never expected in my racing career," Jean Wellwood said. "Devin and I are so happy." Keeling added that the experience has been "the ride of a lifetime," and that Marion Marauder earned the Dan Patch and the connections appreciate it.
Adding to the O’Brien Award that they won just weeks before, Al Libfeld (Pickering, Ont.) and Marvin Katz (Toronto, Ont.) took home the Dan Patch Award for Breeders of the Year. The duo has been a force in the upper echelon of the breeding ranks for years now. One of their homebreds, Ariana G, helped their cause, as the bay won nine of her 11 juvenile starts in 2016 en route to being named the Dan Patch Award winner in the two-year-old trotting filly division.
After a masterful 2016 campaign which saw him win 14 of 15 races and all of his stakes tests, Betting Line took home his hardware as the Dan Patch Award recipient in the three-year-old pacing colt division. The Ontario Sired son of Bettors Delight was conditioned by his Cambridge, Ont.-based trainer, Casie Coleman, for her co-owners that include Mac Nichol (Burlington, Ont.), Christine Calhoun (Chatham, Ont.) and Ross Warriner (Burlington, Ont.). Betting Line was the dominant force in the Ontario Sires Stakes program last year, as he won all of his races, including his OSS Super Final division. He was also a dominant winner in the Little Brown Jug, as well as multiple other high end stakes south of the border.
Ontario Sired bay Lady Shadow was honoured as the 2016 older female pacer of the year south of the border on Sunday. The six-year-old daughter of Shadow Play is trained by Ron Adams of Lasalle, Ont. and is co-owned by David Kryway of Amherstburg, Ont. She played host to numerous drivers throughout the 2016 campaign, including Guelph, Ont. residents James MacDonald and Doug McNair, and Quebec native Yannick Gingras. Lady Shadow was a dynamo in 2016, as she won 12 of her 20 starts and banked $945,000 in purse earnings.
Although Idyllic Beach, the 2016 Dan Patch two-year-old pacing filly of the year, may not have Canadian breeding or training connections, she certainly has Canadian ownership connections, as the bay filly is co-owned by John Fielding (Toronto, Ont.) and Marvin Katz (Toronto, Ont) among others. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere won eight of 14 races last season, hit the board in every one of her starts, and banked over $729,000.
On the media side of things, the tandem of Melissa Keith and Keith McCalmont, writing for TROT Magazine, and Dave Briggs, writing for ‘Harness Racing Update,’ were winners of John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness writing journalism.
Keith accepted the Hervey on behalf of co-winner McCalmont for their story entitled ‘Remembering those lost,’ which appeared in the February issue of TROT and presented memories of horses lost in the Classy Lane fire from horsemen and horsewomen affected by the tragedy.
"It was very generous of Ben Wallace and Dan Legace (and everyone) for speaking to us," she said. "Thank you to everyone at Classy Lane for their courage, and the people at TROT Magazine, including Darryl Kaplan, Sue Longley, and everyone else."
In addition, Clive Cohen and Mark Hall are winners of the Smallsreed Award for excellence in harness racing photography.