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Read below for the latest on Winbak Achievements and graduates. Stories are from the leading industry news sources.

Canada Front And Centre At Dan Patch Awards

Tuesday, February 25, 2020  By: Standardbred Canada




Adriano Sorella

The U.S. Harness Writers Association’s 2019 Dan Patch Awards Banquet took place on Sunday (Feb. 23) at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Florida. Canada’s harness racing industry was well represented during the evening, as Canadians were connected to nine of the Standardbreds that took home coveted hardware.

In addition, Canadians were also honoured with another five awards outside of the divisional categories. 

It had been previously announced that Greenshoe had been voted Three-Year-Old Male Trotter of the Year, but it was unveiled during the banquet that the son of Father Patrick was also voted Trotter of the Year. Greenshoe, who was trained by Marcus Melander and driven by Brian Sears, won 10 of 13 starts and banked $1.27 million in purse earnings (he finished second in the three races that he didn’t win, and he was the victim of interference in two of those races). Among Greenshoe’s notable victories were the Kentucky Futurity, the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial, a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, and sire stakes championships in Kentucky and New Jersey. He took his mark of 1:49.4 in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at the Red Mile. Greenshoe was bred by Al Libfeld (of Pickering, Ont.) and Marvin Katz (Toronto, Ont.).

As the Libfeld-Katz Partnership, Al and Marvin were also honoured as 2019 recipients of the Stanley F. Bergstein Proximity Award, which is the highest honour given by USHWA besides a Hall of Fame induction. The award is presented annually to those who have made outstanding contributions to harness racing. Joe Faraldo was also honoured with a Proximity Award during the evening.

Libfeld and Katz both attended the banquet, and each took some time to discuss the road they have taken to get to this point.


“I loved [Standardbred racing] as a punter,” said Libfeld. “After moving to Toronto, I put gambling aside and focused on making money for my growing family. Along comes Marvin, who knows I should be in this game. From racing we migrated to breeding and racing, achieving some success and a lot of failures as proven the formula of this business.”

Libfeld later went on to say, “I’d like to thank the writers for bestowing this on us — it’s very special to receive acknowledgement of something that you do with the unbridled passion that Marvin and I have for the sport and the animals.”

“This is a profound honour,” said Katz. “I want to thank the United States Harness Writers Association and congratulate my fellow recipients Joe Faraldo and Al Libfeld. Some of the most iconic and legendary participants in the history of this sport have previously been similarly recognized. I am deeply grateful and very humbled to join in their company.”

Katz later went on to say, “This is a great sport, whose future I firmly believe can be as bright as we want to make it. As we love to say at Libfeld-Katz: the best is yet to come. Thank you for this great honour.”

In addition to Greenshoe, Katz was also connected to the United States’ 2019 Two-Year-Old Male Pacer of the Year, Tall Dark Stranger , whom he is a co-owner of. Tall Dark Stranger, a Bettors Delight colt out of U.S. Pacing Broodmare of the Year Precocious Beauty , recorded eight wins and a second from nine starts in 2019 to go along with $717,514 in purse earnings. Tall Dark Stranger’s wins for trainer Nancy Takter and driver Yannick Gingras included the Breeders Crown, Metro Pace, and a division of the International Stallion Stakes.

The 2019 Dan Patch Rising Star Award was bestowed upon Rockwood, Ontario’s Bob McClure . Attention came to the 29-year-old reinsman in a big way during the 2019 campaign, most notably when he won the most prestigious harness race in North America, the Hambletonian, with the Canadian-connected Forbidden Trade. The victory was the culmination of a decade of continuous growth for the graduate of smaller raceways to the Grand River-Georgian Downs-Western Fair circuit and then right to Ontario’s ‘A’ class, Woodbine Mohawk Park, where he ranks among the colony’s top pilots. McClure earned over $5 million in purses for the first time in 2019, despite having suffered a broken pelvis on April 25.

“First of all, I just want to say thank you,” said McClure. “Thank you to the voters and everyone. It was a big honour, but also a great surprise. There’s a lot of very talented young participants across this country, so this is very nice.

“I have a really strong team behind me on the track and I have a really strong team behind me off the track. I’m lucky I get to go home to them every night and this is as much for them as it is for me.” 

The Two-Year-Old Female Pacer of the Year, Lyons Sentinel, also has strong ties back to Canada, as she is owned by the ‘Threelyonsracing’ stable of Brantford, Ontario. Lyons Sentinel, by Captaintreacherous and out of Tutu Hanover, raced for trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick and earned $801,809 to top all other juveniles of either gait or sex. She won nine of her 14 races and tallied high-end victories in the Shes A Great Lady, her Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship and the Matron Stakes.


Another of the Canadian-connected Standardbreds at the 2019 Dan Patch Awards was the Three-Year-Old Male Pacer of the Year, Bettors Wish. The son of Bettors Delight was trained by Chantal Mitchell while in Canada in 2019. Bettors Wish raced to 13 wins and six seconds from 19 starts. In 2019, he achieved the top earnings honour of all North American Standardbreds of $1.64 million. His victories included the Carl Milstein Memorial, Art Rooney Pace, a division of the Tattersalls Pace, the Matron and his Kentucky Sire Stakes championship.

Rockwood, Ontario was represented during the awards, as the Warrawee Farm-bred Warrawee Ubeaut collected the hardware for Three-Year-Old Female Pacer of the Year. The daughter of Sweet Lou put together an eight-race win streak in the prime of the 2019 season, which included her Breeders Crown final, the Glen Garnsey Memorial, the Jugette, and her Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. For the year, she won 12 of her 19 starts, finished off the board only twice, and earned $950,610.

McWicked was back collecting a Dan Patch Award on Sunday, as the iron-tough son of McArdle took home the hardware as Older Male Pacer of the Year. Trained by Casie Coleman of Cambridge, Ontario, McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year, won his third divisional crown. For the second year in a row (and record-equalling third time in his career), McWicked posted a million-dollar season in 2019. He won six of his 17 races and banked $1.03 million. His victories included the Jim Ewart Memorial, Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial and Dan Rooney Invitational.

Quebec had ties to the 2019 Dan Patch Awards, as When Dovescry, who is co-owned by Yves Sarrazin of La Presentation, took home the Three-Year-Old Female Trotter of the Year hardware. The daughter of Muscle Hill-Cedar Dove first made noise in the three-year-old trotting filly division by winning her Hambletonian Oaks elimination, then came back the next week to win the final of the prestigious event. Further triumphs came in the Matron and divisions of the Simcoe and Bluegrass stakes. She banked $644,380 in purses over the course of her season. When Dovescry was campaigned by the brother team of trainer Rene Allard and driver Simon Allard, both of whom are natives of Quebec.

Milton, Ontario’s Brad Grant was also represented at the banquet, as a pair of female trotters that he owns pieces of were honoured. Superstar Atlanta took home the trophy as Older Female Trotter of the Year. The daughter of Chapter Seven won eight of her 15 races last season, hit the board a total of 13 times, and earned a division-best $769,950 in purses. Atlanta won the Charlie Hill Memorial and two legs and the final of the Graduate Series in mixed company, along with the Armbro Flight and Miami Valley Distaff. Ramona Hill, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Lock Down Lindy, was honoured as the United States’ Two-Year-Old Female Trotter of the Year. The bay ensured her selection among juvenile trotting fillies by rocketing to the lead from the outside Post 10 in her Breeders Crown final. She surrendered the lead in that clash, but then came back on to win by four lengths. In terms of 2019 overall, Ramona Hill won six of her seven races and banked $405,400 in purses.


Adriano Sorella, of Guelph, Ontario, accepted his hardware as the 2019 Dan Patch President’s Award recipient. Sorella is a marketing executive who has enjoyed success at the uppermost levels of North American harness racing. His high-end stakes success started with 2013 Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation. Sorella’s most recent success has been Jimmy Freight, who is currently standing his first year at stud after having won $1.45 million on the track. The O’Brien Award winner was a major factor in the Ontario Sires Stakes and was also highly competitiveness against the fastest pacers in the sport.


“I fell in love with the sport probably 20 years ago when my parents begged me not to go to a racetrack and I actually did and started gambling,” said Sorella. “I knew at that point that there was something about the horses, the animals, that I absolutely loved and knew that I had to be a part of this.

“I’ve taken advantage of the fact that I have an advertising company that can promote the things that we love about the sport. I’m pretty sure many of you are sick and tired of hearing about Jimmy Freight, but it’s not going to stop, I’m going to tell you right now. So, thank you everybody for this award. I appreciate it. Thank you.”


The Dan Patch’s 2019 Sam McKee Broadcasters Award was won by Woodbine Entertainment. Woodbine’s broadcast department was honoured for its story on French trotter Bold Eagle’s appearance in the Breeders Crown, which aired on October 26 on the TSN television network. The producer was Phil McSween, director of photography was Gage Fletcher and David Syrie, and the editor was Jason Vanderzee. The win marked Woodbine Entertainment’s fourth award in the broadcast division.


“On behalf of our broadcast team at Woodbine Entertainment, we are of course very honoured to receive this award once again,” said Woodbine’s Mark McKelvie, who is the manager of communications and content for Woodbine Mohawk Park. “Sam McKee was part of the soundtrack of my life growing up, so (for Woodbine) to win this award and to see his memory live on is absolutely fantastic. Our broadcast team annually turns out incredible work. We’re very fortunate to have such amazing individuals working for us.”


The 2019 John Hervey Award (for Feature Writing) was won by racing scribe Melissa Keith, of Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. Keith won in the feature writing category for her two-part story on the death of horseman Ron Graham that appeared in ‘Harness Racing Update.’


“It’s an emotional story,” said Keith. “There are a lot of people to thank, especially (Harness Racing Update editor) Dave Briggs. Anyone who edits me on a regular basis, I love you all. People who read and advertise and subscribe to harness racing publications — I think it’s important for a sport to have a healthy sports media.”


Keith’s most recent win marked her third-ever Hervey Award and was the second in the feature-writing category.

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