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Harness Highlights: Pacing Trio Repeats As Champions

by Frank Carulli

January 7, 2020

McWicked, Shartin N and Warrawee Ubeaut repeated as Dan Patch Award divisional champions when the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced the 2019 winners earlier this month.

Bettor’s Wish, Tall Dark Stranger and Lyons Sentinel also will be honored as champion pacers at the awards banquet February 23 in Orlando, FL. The 2019 champion trotters will be featured in next week’s column.

McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year, survived the closest vote to win his third divisional crown in his final season of racing at age 8. He won the Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs, Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial at Saratoga Raceway and Dan Rooney Invitational at Yonkers en route to a record third $1 million season for owner S S G Stables, trainer Casie Coleman and Hall of Fame driver Brian Sears. McWicked received three more votes than Lather Up, 73-70, who won the $760,000 North America Cup and paced a world-record time of 1:46 in the Graduate Series at the Meadowlands. McWicked heads into retirement with 40 wins and as the all-time leading pacing stallion with $4.9 million in earnings.

Shartin N, who in 2018 became the first pacing filly ever to earn $1 million in a year, almost duplicated that fete in 2019. She won 15 of 19 races, bankrolled $982,177 and received 145 of 147 votes despite finishing second to long-time rival Caviart Ally in the Breeders Crown final. With Tim Tetrick driving for co-owners Jo Ann Looney-King and Richard Poillucci, Shartin N won stakes races throughout North America and set a world record for pacing fillies with a 1:46 victory in the Lady Liberty at the Meadowlands. She was ranked No. 1 in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll for most of the year and is a major player for pending Horse of the Year honors.

Shartin N now has championship company in the barn of trainer Jim King Jr. Her name is Lyons Sentinel, who won 9 of 14 races last year and led all 2-year-olds with $801,809 in earnings for Threelyonsracing. Lyons Sentinel won the $405,000 She’s A Great Lady, $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes title and $176,400 Matron Stakes to lock up freshman pacing filly honors.

Warrawee Ubeaut equaled Shartin N with 145 votes to run away with 3-year-old pacing filly honors. She won the $500,000 Breeders Crown final in 1:50.2 amidst an eight-race winning streak and finished a 12-for-19 season just short of millionaire status with $950,610. Yannick Gingras drove Warrawee Ubeaut for North America’s leading trainer, Ron Burke, and co-owners Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.

If consistency was the best sign of the pacing champions, Bettor’s Wish surely earned his piece of hardware as the top 3-year-old colt. He finished first or second in all 19 starts and led all Standardbreds with $1.64 million in earnings. Bettor’s Wish won the Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park, Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers, the Matron at Dover Downs and the Kentucky Sire Stakes final at the Red Mile. Dexter Dunn, the 2019 Driver of the Year, handled Bettor’s Wish for trainer Chris Ryder and owners Bettors Wish Partners, Fair Island Farm Inc. and Bella Racing Ltd.

Tall Dark Stranger brought an undefeated record in the U.S. north of the border in the second half of 2019. He returned home with victories in the $562,500 Metro Pace and $600,000 Breeders Crown at Woodbine-Mohawk Park to earn the Dan Patch Award for freshman colts. Nancy Takter trained Tall Dark Stranger for Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms, and Howard Taylor and Yannick Gingras was his driver.