by Frank Carulli
January 8, 2019
Southwind Amazon paid a big price for success in 2018. The 8-year-old pacer was often assigned outside posts while competing primarily against open company at half-mile Northfield Park.
But none of it mattered in the end. Southwind Amazon won 22 times in 38 starts to become North America’s winningest horse. He is owned by Ameer Najor, trained by Paul Holtzman and Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was his regular driver.
He won on the day after Christmas to hold off three 20-race winners –Sock It Away, Spicey Victor and Windsong Leo – for year-end honors.
McWicked, a top contender for Horse of the Year honors, earned $1.575 million to lead all Standardbreds. His 1:46.2 mile was the fastest, but six others – American History, Courtly Choice, Donttellmeagain, Double A. Mint, Western Joe and Kissin In The Sand – paced sub-1:48 miles to enter the record books, too.
The 3-year-old trotting class produced four millionaires – Hambletonian winner Atlanta, Crystal Fashion, Met’s Hall and Six Pack.
Shartin N became the first female pacer to earn $1 million in a season, and multiple stakes-winner Dorsoduro Hanover rounded out the list of seven-figure earners.
BURKE ADDS MORE CHAPTERS TO RECORD BOOK
Ron Burke rewrote his own record book last year. He became North America’s leading trainer for the 10th consecutive year and his stable earned more than $20 million for the sixth straight season. He also trained iron horse Foiled Again, who was forced into retirement at age 14 with 109 wins and the biggest bankroll ($7.6 million) in harness racing history.
Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter, 58, announced his retirement at the end of 2018. His stable topped $8 million in earnings for the sixth year in a row. Manchego kept alive Takter’s streak of five Hambletonian Oaks victories and Tactical Landing romped in the 3-year-old Colt Pace to give Takter his record 34th Breeders’ Crown win.
Rene Allard, the leading trainer at Pocono Downs and Yonkers, ranked second nationally with 365 wins and third with $6.3 million in earnings.
Richard Moreau, Scott DiDomenico and Erv Miller ranked in the Top 10 in both categories.
John Macdonald compiled a 590/151-108-75 record to become the only trainer with a .400 UTRS rating with at least 500 starters.
Julie Miller enjoyed a big year with Top 15 finishes in wins (15th, 150), earnings (4th, $4.5 million) and UTRS (3rd, .375).