Three of the twelve winners of the United States Harness Writers' Association 2009 Dan Patch Awards, announced on December 28, 2009, have Pennsylvania connections. The three, Broadway Schooner, Lucky Jim and Buck I St Pat, will be honored at the organization's annual awards dinner, to be held February 28 at Yonkers Raceway in New York.
Broadway Schooner, the 3 Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year, earned $869,341 with a 2009 slate of 16-7-5-1. The daughter of Broadway Hall and Pine Schooner was bred and is owned by Arlene and Jules Siegal of New Hope, PA. Conditioned by Jim Campbell of Jackson, NJ, Broadway Schooner captured the $783,042 Hambletonian Oaks and the $600,000 Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Filly Trot and was the first homebred for the Siegals, who were the 2009 Dan Patch Owners of the Year, to win a Breeders Crown race.
The filly's freshman campaign consisted of seven pari-mutual miles with one triumph, a second place finish and earnings of more than $16,000. Campbell never really had to do much in training her as she was endowed with a nice gait and speed. It was her head, however, that needed to catch up with her heels.
"We always knew she had speed, but she had trouble staying consistent and keeping it all together," Campbell explained. "I think she really needed that time from two to three to grow mentally and mature."
Broadway Schooner commenced her sophomore campaign with a 10th place finish in $11,000 non-winners of two contests at the Meadowlands on May 27, 2009. On June 11, the filly finished second in another non-winner's race at the Meadowlands before winning the $41,485 Meadow Bright, a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Event, at The Meadows on June 24.
She was third in the $45,366 Coaching Club Oaks Trot, and 10th in the $165,000 Delvin Miller Memorial, before taking her Hambletonian Oaks elimination in a lifetime best 1.53.3m on August 1.
In the Hambletonian Oaks on August 8, Broadway Schooner nosed out second betting choice Raising Rachel in 1.54m to give top driver Brian Sears, who is the only driver in history to win the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks on the same day, his first Oaks victory.
The filly returned to the races at The Red Mile's fall meet, where she finished second to Southwind Wasabi in the $228,500 Moni Maker Final and a division of the $259,200 Bluegrass Series, before checking in behind top choice Elusive Desire in a $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination at Woodbine Raceway on October 17.
On October 24, Broadway Schooner turned back all rivals in 1.57 the $600,000 Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Filly Trot Final in what would the final start and victory of her career.
"She's going to be a broodmare now and I think she is being bred to Muscle Hill (2008, 2-Year-Old Colt Trotter of Year, 2009 3-Year-Colt Trotter of the Year,)" Campbell said.
Like Broadway Schooner, 2009 was Lucky Jim's break-out season. The 4-year old Ohio-bred son of SJ's Photo and Hawaiian Sierra, owned by brothers David and John Prushnok of Punxsutawney, PA, and William Gregg of Indiana, PA, managed only two victories in 20 starts as a 2 and 3-year-old, but lost only one time in 18 starts while earning more than $1 million in purse money.
The champion Older Trotter of the Year, who is conditioned by Iowa native Julie Miller, was the United States Trotting Association's Horse of the month in March and May, reeled off 15 consecutive victories from January to June and equaled the world record of 1.50.1m shared by Donato Hanover, Giant Diablo and Muscle Hill.
"He is amazing and is the best horse I have ever trained," Miller said.
During his two-year-old season, Lucky Jim was conditioned by Charles Stillings, who is based at The Meadows, before transitioning to top Swedish trainer Trond Smedshammer's barn. He took up residence in Miller's shedrow in November of 2008, several months after his owners decided to geld him.
"I don't know what he was like before he was gelded, but he's always had a great attitude with me," Miller said.
Lucky Jim began his season in a $17,000 non-winners of three race and then captured the Horse and Groom Series, the Foley Series, The A.J. Cutler Memorial, the $250,000 Maxie Lee Final, in a world-record and personal best time of 1.51.3m, the $203,000 Titan Cup, and his Maple Leaf Trot elimination before finishing third in the $662,860 final. The gelding returned to the winner's circle on August 8 in the $300,000 Nat Ray Invitational with an all-age world record mile in 1.50.1m and closed out his season with a victory in the $600,000 Breeders Crown Final on August 22nd.
During his 2009 season, the gelding defeated world champions Enough Talk, Corleone Kosmos and Vivid Photo, as well as tough competitors Arch Madness, In Focus and Lanson and ranked second behind the undefeated Muscle Hill in harness racing's Top 10 poll.
After a three month vacation, Lucky Jim returned to training in early December and is preparing to qualify in March to compete in the Su Mac Lad Series at the Meadowlands. If all goes well, his connections might travel to Sweden for the Elitlopp in May.
""I'm not pointing him toward anything except getting ready," Miller told Ken Weingartner in December. "If he turns out to be what we think he's going to be again, we'll certainly head over there (to Sweden). If not, we'll stay here.
"I don't want to put the cart before the horse. I'm not going to pressure him; he's been too nice a horse. He'll tell me what he wants to do, like he did (this) year."
Buck I St Pat
Buck I St Pat, the sport's 2009 champion older trotting mare.
Buck I St Pat, the sport's 2009 champion older trotting mare, had already established her talent prior to 2009. The Ohio-bred daughter of Jailhouse Jesse and Name It Something, who is owned by Howard Taylor of Penn Valley, PA, Edwin Gold of Wayne, PA, Abraham Basen of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Dr. Ron Fuller of Newark, Ohio, was Ohio's 2006 champion 3-year-old filly trotter and the Dan Patch winner as older female trotter in 2007 and 2008.
Conditioned by Ron Burke, who was North America's leading trainer in 2009 and also trains 2009 champion older pacer Won the West, Buck I St Pat added $400,000 to her career bankroll of $1.4 million, had nine victories from 17 starts and lowered her lifetime mark to 1.52 with a win the Breeders Crown on August 22 after recovering from a tendon sheath injury.
"She might not look the part, but she is the best I've ever had," Taylor said.
Buck I St Pat captured the $250,000 Breeders Crown Final, the $139,000 Conway Hall, the $111,000 Ms Versatility and finished second behind Lolique in the $40,000 against males on October 18 to end her season.
"I really think that this year (2010) will be Buck I St Pat's last year -- her last hurrah," Burke told the United States Trotting Association in December. "There will be no trips to Sweden. She's going to stay home and try to finally put together one good year where nothing goes wrong and everything stays good.
"She has the greatest attitude. She has the best attitude of any mare I've ever had; she's very efficiently gaited, but it's her attitude that makes her as good as she is and that's why she will continue to race well."