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2012 Awards Wrap Up

3/3/2013 7:44:06 AM

                      Mymomsablizzard Named Saratoga’s Horse of the Year                                                              

Mymomsablizzard became the second consecutive trotter to win Horse of the Year at Saratoga Casino and Raceway and the fourth in the last five years. The winners were announced at the annual holiday banquet/awards ceremony that took place at the Saratoga City Center on Sunday night. Mymomsablizzard is not stabled at Saratoga but after the season she had at the Spa, there is no doubt that this is her home. Chris Marino trains the mare who became the queen of the Open trot throughout the season behind eleven local victories in the $21,000 Friday night feature. Leading driver Billy Dobson was the mare’s regular driver, piloting her to almost all of her local scores.
Mymomsablizzard won the awards for Aged Trotter of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year at Sunday’s awards ceremony. Mymomsablizzard takes the crown from Lorenzo Dream, who swept top honors in 2011.

                                                Don't Blame Her & Connections

Don’t Blame Her finished second in the Horse of the Year race but she took home plenty of her own hardware. The Conor Flynn trained mare had a sensational season in her first year competing at Saratoga. The nine year old distaffer won the awards for not only Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year but also for Pacer of the Year. Ordinarily, the Pacer of the Year comes from the “boys” category of Aged Pacer but not this year. For the first time in ten years, a mare won Pacer of the Year and it wasn’t even close. Owners Bob and Barbara Bongiorno enjoyed a monster year with Don’t Blame Her who had some success while racing at Yonkers this year but was simply dominant in her tries at the Spa. Her victory in the final Fillies and Mares Open of the year on December 9th was her ninth local score of the season. In fifteen starts at the Spa, Don’t Blame Her had nine wins and four seconds en route to over $110,000 in earnings. A clear Pacer of the Year resume for the mare. She was driven in each of her local starts by Joe Bongiorno. Don’t Blame Her became the first mare to win Pacer of the Year since Hickory Rockette did it in 2001.

While Don’t Blame Her won for Pacer of the Year, the Aged Pacer division was won by Silent Swing. Trainer Mark Ford once again finished in the top five in the local trainer standings and Silent Swing was a big reason why. Ford’s has brought a host of Open pacers to town this season but none better than the classy Silent Swing. The ten year old veteran has more than $1.85 million in career earnings and won nine local Opens this season, by far the most of any of the male pacer in the regular Saturday feature. Silent Swing did all this in just fourteen starts at the Spa. Dobson was the regular driver for Silent Swing in his local tries.

                                                  Billy Dobson & Family

Dobson not only was named the Driver of the Year again behind another dominant performance in the sulky this season but the 28 year old reinsman also won the Horseman of the Year award.

                                               Melissa Beckwith & Family

Leading trainer Melissa Beckwith top home honors for Trainer of the Year for the second straight season and Horsewoman of the Year, an award she won for the third consecutive time.

                                            Joe Bongiorno & Conor Flynn

The Johnny Page Award which recognizes the top up-and-coming driver was won in a landslide by young driving star Joe Bongiorno, who was nothing shy of sensational in his first full season in the bike. The nineteen year old finished eighth in the driver standings and teamed up with conditioner Conor Flynn for a majority of his victories. Flynn took home the award for up-and-coming trainer, adding his name to the list of Peerless McGrath winners. Flynn finished third in the trainer standings in his first complete season competing at the Spa. Both Bongiorno and Flynn won their awards in runaways.

                                                        Silver Delivery

The races for claiming trotters also weren’t close as Alpine Dauntless dominated the lower level claimers and Silver Delivery won for top flight claimers with ease.

                                           Legal Litigator & Mystical Terror

Trainer Andy Sardella had two of the claiming pacers of the year with mare Mystical Terror winning for the $5,000-$6,000 level and Legal Litigator taking home honors for claimers at the $15,000-$25,000 level. Fly High and April Fool took home awards for claiming pacers as well while Funny Lena completed her terrific year with top honors amongst claiming mares from the $7,500-$15,000 level.

                                                             Funny Lena

           Imwideawake & Andrew Byler                  Catman Dude & John Stark, Jr.

                                                          Ideal Fame

Two year olds Ronny Bugatti (pacer) and Imwideawake (trotter) won the awards for freshman while sophomores Ideal Fame (pacer) and Catman Dude (trotter) scored top honors for three year olds. Both Ideal Fame (Beckwith) and Catman Dude (John Stark Jr) secured victories in Battle of Saratoga series’ this fall and accrued enough money to win the awards. Another year in the books and what a year it was! Congratulations to the horses and horsepersons who were honored on Sunday night and to all of those who helped make this season a success at the Spa. Join us in March when the 72nd season of live racing at Saratoga Raceway kicks off. Until then, I’m Mike Sardella wishing everyone a terrific and healthy holiday season and we’ll see YOU next year at the finish line!    

Mike Sardella
Photo: Dave Oxford

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