by Frank Carulli
December 26, 2017
Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover and Marion Marauder have been named Dan Patch Award winners for the second consecutive year, it was announced last week. They are among six champion trotters selected by the U.S. Harness Writers Association and will be honored at a banquet February 25 in Orlando, Fla.
Ariana G won the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Filly Trot during a 12-for-15 season for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld and trainer Jimmy Takter. She won the Breeders Crown by 5-1/4 lengths in 1:54.3 to become the first trotter since Shake It Cerry in 2002 to capture division honors at ages 2 and 3. She earned $1 million plus both years.
Hannelore Hanover became the first mare this decade to defeat the boys in the $526,250 Breeders Crown Open Trot, shortly after she became the fastest female trotter of all-time with a win in 1:49.2 in the Allerage Farms Open Trot at the Red Mile. She won 10 of 17 starts ane earned $1 million for co-owners Burke Racing Stable, the Weaver-Bruscemi partnership, Frank Baldachino and J&T Silva Stables.
Not to be outdone, Marion Maruader, the 2017 Trotting Triple Crown winner, continued strong at age 4, winning the Hambletonian Maturity and finishing second in the Yonkers International Trot while accumulating a $769,182 bankroll for co-owners Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling and the husband-wife training team of Mike Keeling and Paula Wellwood. Marion Marauder received 53.4 percent of the vote from 131 ballots cast, the lowest percentage from among the six trotting champions.
The repeat winners had nothing on Manchego, who won all 12 of her starts to become the first undefeated Dan Patch winner ever in the 2-year-old female trotting division. Owned by Black Horse Racing, John Fielding and Herb Liverman, Manchego won the $600,000 Breeders Crown, $338,800 Jim Doherty Memorial and $307,500 Peaceful Way en route to receiving all but one first-place vote.
In the 2-Year-Old Male Trotter division, Courant Inc.'s Fourth Dimension took home top honors. He won 8 of 11 races, including the $464,650 Valley Victory, for trainer Marcus Melander.
Ron Burke, the winningest trainer in North America, not only handled Hannelore Hanover but also Dan Patch winner What The Hill in the 3-Year-Old Male Trotter division. What The Hill won two half-million dollar races -- the Breeders Crown and Canadian Trotting Classic -- for co-owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Deo Volente Farms.He capped a $948,000 campaign with a win against older horses in the TVG Series championship.