The Ohio Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has selected its 2020 award winners.
The Ohio Chapter will honor Louise and Jay Weller as the recipients of the Winner’s Circle Award for the Ohioan who has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the past year; Chris Presley as the Peter Haughton Memorial Award winner as the young Ohioan who is an “up-and-coming” star among harness horsemen; Jim Dailey into the Immortal Hall of Fame; Dancin Yankee into the Standardbred Hall of Fame; and Kurt Sugg as the winner of the Rambling Willie Award for the Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades.
The Weller’s were the owners of Designer Specs, the two-year-old filly trotter who completed her freshman season a perfect 14-for-14 and was the winningest two-year-old in all of North America. The daughter of Full Count concluded her season with a gutsy victory in the $40,000 Ohio Fair Championship at MGM Northfield Park in a lifetime best 1:57.4.
Presley is a 25-year-old native of Michigan and resident of Heath, Ohio. He is enjoying a great year with 76 driving wins and seasonal earnings approaching $600 thousand million in purse money. Presley currently sits just outside the top 10 in the Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway driver’s standings.
As a driver, James “Bill” Dailey made 2,301 trips into the winner's circle. He trained multiple Ohio Triple Crown winners and numerous Ohio and Indiana Sire Stake champions. He conditioned at least 1,200 winners and in excess of $12.3 million in earnings. He was awarded the Jerry Kaltenbach Memorial Award as the OSS’s top trainer on three occasions. Dailey passed away suddenly in 2018 at the age of 57.
Dancin Yankee is a double World Champion and a three-time Ohio ‘Older Pacer of the Year.’ The son of Yankee Cruiser recorded 80 career wins and over $2 million in earnings. Dancin Yankee had several ownership groups and is currently owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Melissa Patterson and Larry Karr. Next spring Dancin Yankee will stand his first season at stud at Cool Winds Farm.
Driver/trainer Kurt Sugg was born into a harness racing family – the son of Hall of Fame trainer Ivan Sugg and Patty Sugg. A veteran of 34 years, Sugg has won more than 4,600 events as a driver and has over 1,000 victories as a conditioner. His career earnings are more than $26 million. He has been supportive of all levels of Ohio racing. Sugg will finish 2020 with more than 375 driving wins and $2.9 million, both are career highs, despite missing a significant amount of time due to the COVID shutdown.
The award winners will be honored at the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association’s virtual banquet on Saturday, January 16.