by Frank Carulli
February 19, 2020
Harness racing’s 2019 Horse of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Trotter of the Year will be announced at the annual Dan Patch Awards banquet this Saturday in Orlando, FL. But the top Standardbreds weren’t the only ones recognized in the voting by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, as the following list of individual Dan Patch Award winners will attest:
· Stanley F. Bergstein Proximity Award – For the first time in 68 years, there was a dead heat for the winner of the sport’s most prestigious award. Joe Faraldo, an owner, amateur driver and president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, shares center stage with the Ontario-based owner-breeder partnership of Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz.
· Owner of the Year – Anders Strom’s Courant Inc., which campaigned 3-year-old trotting millionaires Greenshoe and Gimpanzee.
· Driver of the Year – Dexter Dunn, who won 460 races for $12 million in earnings and guided Breeders Crown champions Manchego and Amigo Volo in his first full year of driving in North America.
· Top Dash Driver – Aaron Merriman, who made history with 1,000 wins for the third consecutive year.
· Trainer of the Year – Marcus Melander, upstaging his selection as the 2018 Rising Star recipient.
· Hall of Famers – Tom Charters, the first executive director of the Breeders Crown; Jeff Gural, who owns and operates the Meadowlands, the most recognized track in North America; Tim Tetrick, still adding to all-time Top 10 driving statistics in wins and earnings; and Bill Popfinger, a successful Grand Circuit driver-trainer for five decades.
· Communication Hall of Famers – Ken Weingartner, media relations manager of the U.S. Trotting Association and Phil Pikelny, an author and publicist for the USTA and Scioto Downs racetrack.
· Rising Star Award – Driver Bob McClure, who guided Forbidden Trade to an upset victory in the Hambletonian.
· Breakthrough Award – Dawnelle Mock, director of marketing at the The Meadows in Pennsylvania.
· Pooler Unsung Hero Award – Wanda Polisseni, owner of Purple Haze Stable and advocate for the after-track life of racehorses.
· William Haughton Good Guy Award – Jim King Jr., trainer of 2019 Horse of the Year candidate Shartin N.
· Breeder of the Year – Brittany Farms, LLC, breeders of 2019 millionaires Bettor’s Wish, Manchego, Six Pack and American History.
· Caretaker of the Year – Courtney Polan, who takes care of eight horses in the stable of Meadows-based trainer Norm Parker.
· Prince Ushwan Award – Derick Giwner for “going above and beyond the call of membership.”
· President’s Award -- Don Marean, vice chariman of the USTA and president of the Maine SOA; and Adriano Sorella, a savvy marketing executive and owner of millionaire pacer Jimmy Freight.
· Service To Youth Award – Robert Lasky for his work in the horse transportation field that kept the Harness Horse Youth Foundation’s summer program running smoothly.
· Amateur Driver of the Year -- Jazmin Arnold posted a remarkable 59/23-10-5 record in the Billings Series to become the second woman ever to win the award.
· John Hervey Award – Melissa Keith for feature writing and Derick Giwner for news/commentary writing.
· George Smallsreed Award – Chris Gooden for action photography and Mark Hall for feature photography.