The Eagerly Anticipated Dan Patch Awards
In the world of harness racing, the Dan Patch Awards are held in high esteem. Every year, the U.S. Harness Writers Association members cast their votes, with only the names of the three front runners in each division being revealed. The nominees just have to wait patiently to find out on the awards evening if they have succeeded in divisions such as the Horse of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Pacer of the Year. The Dan Patch Awards are only given to the most noteworthy and deserving contributors to the sport of harness racing, be it the horses that win the races, members of the industry, or associate organizations to the harness racing fraternity – they are all noticed and recognised for their efforts.
The Dan Patch Awards was created in honor of one of the most legendary and best harness horses in the industry. Dan Patch was a magnificent pacer during this racing career, which lasted until into the 1900s. He was so well loved and respected that he received a letter from Harry Truman, an official visit from Dwight Eisenhower and even lured Lillie Lantry, a successful actress, to come and visit. It was therefore only fitting that the highest awards in harness racing be named after one of the most honored horses.
The most sought after award in North America is the Dan Patch Horse of the Year Award, and voting is no laughing matter. It is a strenuous process and voters need to be objective and fair to avoid a backlash. Voters receive almost three hundred ballots to work through every December and this year is no different. Voters all have their individual reasons for voting for a certain horse, but the veteran voters always look at more than just earnings. To them, earnings are last on the list of requirements. They tend to look at a horse’s racing over the year, if they have won a major stakes races and how they perform in general. Some voters rely on racing times and others on wins. With so many factors having such an influence, predicting the outcome of the voting is near impossible. With major names for the 2007 season, such as Deweycheatumnhowe, Snow White, Southwind Lynx, Tell All and Always a Virgin, it is going to be a very tight competition.
On 27 January 2008, the entire racing world of the North American harness racing industry will gather at Dover Downs to hear the final outcome of the votes. It will be an evening of disappointment for some and elation for others, but most of all, encouragement and determination to perform better and achieve more in the coming racing season.