Edited U.S. Harness Writers Association Release — Test Of Faith on Sunday became the fourth 3-year-old female pacer in history to be named Horse of the Year, receiving harness racing’s top honor for 2021 to conclude the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek resort.
The Brett Pelling-trained filly joined Rainbow Blue (2004), Bunny Lake (2001), and Fan Hanover (1981) as 3-year-old female pacers to be named Horse of the Year.
Test Of Faith, who also received Pacer of the Year on Sunday, was named Horse of the Year on 85 of the 146 returned ballots.
Two-year-old female pacer Niki Hill was second with 19 votes, followed by 3-year-old female trotter Bella Bellini with 10 and, with nine apiece, 3-year-old male trotter Jujubee and 3-year-old male pacer Perfect Sting. A total of 13 horses received at least one vote for Horse of the Year.
Jujubee was named Trotter of the Year, receiving 61 votes to Bella Bellini’s 47 in the category. Two-year-old female trotter Venerable also reached double figures with 14. A total of eight horses received at least one vote for Trotter of the Year.
In balloting for Pacer of the Year, Test Of Faith led with 97 votes, followed by Niki Hill with 24 and Perfect Sting with 15. A total of eight horses received at least one vote for Pacer of the Year.
Test Of Faith won 14 of 16 starts last year and finished second in her two remaining races. She banked $1.06 million to join Perfect Sting as the only seven-figure earners among pacers.
Her victories for trainer Pelling and driver David Miller included the Breeders Crown, Empire Breeders Classic, Glen Garnsey Memorial, New York Sire Stakes final, Park MGM Pace, Bluegrass, Matron, and Courageous Lady.
She is owned by Melvin Segal, Kentuckiana Racing Stable, and Eddie Gran. The filly, by Art Major out of Cannae Cammie, was bred by Frederick Hertrich III.
“It’s incredible,” said Kentuckiana Racing Stable’s Ken Jackson, who has seen Test Of Faith win 22 of 25 career races and finish second in her three defeats. “The last two years have been such a fun run for the farm and our friendships.
“She shows up every time. It doesn’t matter the trip, what the conditions are, what the track is. It seems like every single race she tries, and when she comes out of the race, she’s incredibly healthy. She just has an attitude that she loves to win. For us, it’s been really special to know that every week you’re in the game.”
Pelling now has trained two Horse of the Year winners, with Test Of Faith joining Rocknroll Hanover in 2005. Miller was the regular driver of two previous Horse of the Year honorees, Always B Miki in 2016 and No Pan Intended in 2003.
Jujubee was the top money-earning male trotter last year, with $948,791. He finished no worse than second in 17 of 18 races, winning 14. His victories included the Breeders Crown, 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 3-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.
“This means a lot,” Wright said. “He never disappointed the whole year, and we’re not disappointed now. He’s been a great horse. There was a lot of good competition (for Trotter of the Year) but for what he did on the racetrack and how he went about it, I thought it was well deserved.
“We’re looking forward to his 4-year-old season and to keep the ball rolling. He’s doing awesome. He’s glad to be back training now and he’s anxious to hit the racetrack.”
Previously announced Dan Patch Award divisional champions also were honored Sunday at the banquet.
Division-winning pacers were 2-year-old colt Monte Miki, Niki Hill, Perfect Sting, 4-year-old gelding Allywag Hanover, and 4-year-old mare Lyons Sentinel. Division-winning trotters were 2-year-old colt King Of The North, Venerable, Bella Bellini, 5-year-old stallion Forbidden Trade, and 6-year-old mare Manchego.
Other honorees included Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award winner Lindy Farms, Driver of the Year Dexter Dunn, Trainer of the Year Richard “Nifty” Norman, Owner of the Year David McDuffee, Breeder of the Year Hanover Shoe Farms, and Rising Star Todd McCarthy.
Also recognized Sunday at the banquet were the members of the 2022 Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted in July in Goshen, N.Y.: Chris Boring, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, and George Teague Jr.