Six-year-old mare Manchego won the third Dan Patch Award of her career on Tuesday (Dec. 21) as the six 2021 division champions for trotters were announced by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
She was the only repeat winner in the group and joined Ariana G and Buck I St Pat as female trotters with three division crowns in the past 20 years.
The other trotters to receive division honours this year were two-year-old colt King Of The North, two-year-old filly Venerable, three-year-old colt Jujubee, three-year-old filly Bella Bellini and five-year-old stallion Forbidden Trade. All five of those winners were named on at least 70 per cent of the 146 returned ballots. Manchego edged Atlanta by five votes, with When Dovescry another four votes back, in the remaining contest.
Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed at the Dan Patch Awards banquet on February 20 at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida. Complete results and vote totals will be included with the announcement of Pacer, Trotter, and Horse of the Year following the banquet.
Division winners for pacers were announced Monday.
Manchego, who was retired in October, won six of nine races and $422,085. She defeated male rivals in the John Cashman Memorial, becoming the first mare to capture the event since Moni Maker in 2000, as well as the Spirit of Massachusetts, Arthur J. Cutler Memorial and Maxie Lee Memorial.
Her 1:49.4 victory at The Meadowlands in a preliminary round of the Miss Versatility Series made her the first trotter in history to win with a sub-1:50 mile in three different years.
Manchego, by Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic, is owned by Black Horse Racing and was bred by Brittany Farms. She was trained by Nancy Takter and driven by 2021 Driver of the Year Dexter Dunn. In addition to capturing honours in consecutive years in the trotting mare division, Manchego was a Dan Patch Award winner at age two in 2017.
Bella Bellini and Venerable, both from the stable of 2021 Trainer of the Year Richard “Nifty” Norman, were the only trotters to surpass $1 million in purses this year. Bella Bellini hit the board in 18 of 19 starts, winning 11, to lead the way with $1,133,235.
Among Bella Bellini’s wins were the Breeders Crown for three-year-old filly trotters, Hambletonian Oaks, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final and Matron Stakes. She finished second by a nose in the Kentucky Filly Futurity and ended her campaign with a third-place finish behind older rivals When Dovescry and Atlanta in the TVG Series Mare Trot final.
Bella Bellini, by Bar Hopping out of Bella Dolce, is owned by breeder David McDuffee. She was driven by Dunn.
McDuffee, the 2021 Owner of the Year, also shares ownership of Venerable. The filly won nine of 11 races and $1,189,276 for McDuffee, Melvin Hartman, Paul Bordogna and Steven Arnold.
Her triumphs included the Mohawk Million, where she defeated a field that included six male foes, the Jim Doherty Memorial, Peaceful Way, New Jersey Sire Stakes final and Matron Stakes.
Venerable, by Walner out of Jolene Jolene, was bred by Maumee River Stables, Black Creek Farm, Martin Schmucker and Steve Stewart.
Jujubee was the top money-earning male trotter this year, with $948,791. He finished no worse than second in 17 of 18 races, winning 14. His victories included the Breeders Crown for three-year-old male trotters, Kentucky Futurity, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final and Phil Langley Memorial.
The colt captured the Futurity in 1:49.3 and the Muscle Hill Trot in 1:49.4 to become the first three-year-old male trotter with two sub-1:50 winning miles.
Jujubee was trained by Greg Wright Jr. and driven by Andrew McCarthy and Tony Hall. The son of Creatine out of La Cantera is owned by breeder Jon Erdner.
Forbidden Trade led all older trotters in purses, with $631,302. He won five of 14 races overall and closed his campaign with six top-three finishes in seven starts. His victories during that span included the TVG Series Open Trot final and Caesars Trotting Classic. Earlier in the season, he won the Crawford Farms Open Trot.
By Kadabra out of Pure Ivory, Forbidden Trade was trained by Luc Blais and driven by Bob McClure and Dan Dube. The stallion, who was Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2019, is owned by Determination and was bred by Steve Stewart.
King Of The North led all two-year-old male trotters in earnings, with $657,140. He won six of 10 starts for trainer Ray Schnittker and driver Mark MacDonald. His triumphs included the William Wellwood Memorial, Peter Haughton Memorial and New Jersey Sire Stakes final.
The colt is owned by Schnittker Ward, Arden Homestead Stable, Nolamaura Racing and Steven Arnold. He is by Walner out of former Schnittker star Check Me Out and was bred by Schnittker and Steve Jones.
TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER
KING OF THE NORTH, colt
Walner – Check Me Out – Donato Hanover
Breeders: Steve Jones, Ray Schnittker.
Owners: Schnittker Ward, Arden Homestead Stable, Nolamaura Racing, Steven Arnold.
Trainer: Ray Schnittker. Driver: Mark MacDonald.
Races: 10-6-1-1. Purses: $657,140. Mark: 1:52.4 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $640,000 William Wellwood Memorial; $293,450 Peter Haughton Memorial; $200,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final.
TWO-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER
Walner – Jolene Jolene – Muscle Hill
Breeders: Maumee River Stables, Black Creek Farm, Martin Schmucker, Steve Stewart.
Owners: David McDuffee, Melvin Hartman, Paul Bordogna, Steven Arnold.
Trainer: Richard “Nifty” Norman. Driver: David Miller.
Races: 11-9-1-0. Purses: $1,189,276. Mark: 1:52 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $1 million Mohawk Million; $326,850 Jim Doherty Memorial; $392,000 Peaceful Way; $200,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final.
THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER
Creatine – La Cantera – Cantab Hall
Breeder: Jon Erdner.
Owner: Jon Erdner.
Trainer: Greg Wright Jr. Drivers: Andrew McCarthy, Tony Hall.
Races: 18-14-3-0. Purses: $948,791. Mark: 1:49.3 at Red Mile.
Top wins: $650,000 Breeders Crown; $561,000 Kentucky Futurity; $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final.
THREE-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER
Bar Hopping – Bella Dolce – Kadabra
Breeder: David McDuffee.
Owner: David McDuffee.
Trainer: Richard “Nifty” Norman. Driver: Dexter Dunn.
Races: 19-11-6-1. Purses: $1,133,235. Mark: 1:52.1 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $650,000 Breeders Crown; $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks; $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final.
OLDER MALE TROTTER
FORBIDDEN TRADE, five-year-old stallion
Kadabra – Pure Ivory – Striking Sahbra
Breeder: Steve Stewart.
Trainer: Luc Blais. Drivers: Bob McClure, Dan Dube.
Races: 14-5-2-2. Purses: $631,302. Mark: 1:51.1 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $350,000 TVG Series Open Trot; $210,000 Caesars Trotting Classic; $135,000 Crawford Farms Open.
OLDER FEMALE TROTTER
Muscle Hill – Secret Magic – Cantab Hall
Breeder: Brittany Farms.
Owner: Black Horse Racing.
Trainer: Nancy Takter. Driver: Dexter Dunn.
Races: 9-6-0-1. Purses: $422,085. Mark: 1:49.4 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $269,750 John Cashman Memorial; $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts; $141,250 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial.
(With files from USHWA)