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