By Ken Weingartner, for U.S. Harness Writers Association — Bulldog Hanover became the first unanimous selection for divisional Dan Patch Award honors in five years when the six 2022 pacing champions were announced Wednesday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. The most recent previous picks to receive the full backing of voters were trotters Ariana G and Hannelore Hanover in 2017.
“The Bulldog,” a 4-year-old stallion who became harness racing’s fastest all-time performer with his 1:45.4 victory in the William R. Haughton Memorial at The Meadowlands on July 16, was named on all 136 returned ballots to take the trophy for top older male pacer.
The remaining pacers to receive division honors this year were 2-year-old colt Stockade Seelster, 2-year-old filly Sylvia Hanover, 3-year-old colt Pebble Beach, 3-year-old filly Treacherous Dragon, and 4-year-old mare Test Of Faith.
Test Of Faith, the 2021 Horse of the Year as a 3-year-old, was the only repeat winner. She is only the second female pacer this century to receive divisional honors at ages 3 and 4, joining Pure Country.
Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be announced at the Dan Patch Awards, presented by Caesars Entertainment, on Feb. 19 at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.
Division winners for trotters were announced Tuesday.
Bulldog Hanover dazzled the racing world this year with his speed, power, and personality. The son of Shadow Play-BJ’s Squall paced four of the nine fastest race miles in history among a record six victories in under 1:47.
In addition to setting the world record with his 1:45.4 score in the Haughton at The Meadowlands, Bulldog Hanover won a division of the Roll With Joe Stakes in 1:46 and the Graduate Series final in 1:46.1 at The Big M. He captured the Harrah’s Hoosier Park Pacing Derby in 1:46.3, bettering the previous track record by nearly a second.
Completing his six sub-1:47 miles were two Canadian-record-equaling 1:46.4 victories at Woodbine Mohawk Park, the first in the Canadian Pacing Derby and the second in the Breeders Crown.
Other triumphs for Bulldog Hanover included the Dayton Pacing Derby and a stakes-record performance in the TVG Series final for male pacers to cap his career.
Bulldog Hanover, who earlier this month became only the third horse to be named the recipient of USHWA’s Stan Bergstein Proximity Award, won 14 of 16 races this year on his way to leading the sport in purses with $1.64 million.
He is owned by trainer Jack Darling, who put the horse in the care of conditioner Noel Daley when he raced at The Meadowlands during the summer, and Brad Grant. Dexter Dunn drove Bulldog Hanover in his final 12 starts, with Jody Jamieson also notching a Grand Circuit win with the stallion earlier in the campaign in Canada.
Test Of Faith topped all female pacers in earnings in 2022, banking $820,043. The mare was no worse than second in 17 of 19 races, winning 11, for trainer Brett Pelling and driver David Miller. Her victories included a world-record performance in the Dorothy Haughton Memorial, the Dayton Distaff Derby, Roses Are Red, Milton, Graduate Series final, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace.
A daughter of Art Major-Cannae Cammie, Test Of Faith was bred by Frederick Hertrich III and owned by Melvin Segal, Kentuckiana Racing Stable, and Eddie Gran.
Pebble Beach won the closest divisional race among the pacers, besting rival Beach Glass by 21 votes. Pebble Beach was the second-richest horse in the sport, with $1.35 million, and finished no worse than second in 16 of 18 starts, winning 10.
The colt’s triumphs included the North America Cup, Breeders Crown, Tattersalls Pace, and Matron Stakes. He was trained by Noel Daley and driven by Todd McCarthy for owners Patricia Stable, Joe Sbrocco, Country Club Acres, and Laexpressfoderadeovolente. The son of Downbytheseaside-Santa Rosa was bred by Brittany Farms.
Treacherous Dragon led all 3-year-old female pacers in purses this year with $717,835. She began the season with trainer Brett Pelling, during which time she won the Fan Hanover Stakes, before moving to the stable of Nancy Takter, where the filly’s victories included the Breeders Crown and Jugette.
She had a different driver in each of her top triumphs, with Tim Tetrick in the sulky for the Fan Hanover, Dexter Dunn in the Jugette, and Scott Zeron in the Breeders Crown.
The daughter of Captaintreacherous-My Little Dragon was bred by White Birch Farm and owned by Hot Lead Farm.
Two-year-old honorees Stockade Seelster and Sylvia Hanover shared two similarities — both were the top money-earners in their respective divisions, and both raced exclusively at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Stockade Seelster won eight of 11 races on his way to leading all 2-year-old pacers in purses with $686,268. The colt counted the Metro Pace and Ontario Sire Stakes Super Final among his victories for trainer Ian Moore and driver Jody Jamieson.
Bred by Seelster Farms, the son of State Treasurer-Soiree Seelster is owned by Sally MacDonald and Paul MacDonald.
Sylvia Hanover, who topped all 2-year-old female pacers with $675,565 in purses, posted eight wins and a second in nine races. Her victories included the Breeders Crown, She’s A Great Lady, and a stakes-record score in the Champlain.
The filly was trained by Shawn Steacy and driven by Bob McClure for owner Hudson Standardbred. The daughter of Always B Miki-Shyaway was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms.