The Ohio Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association will hand out its annual awards at the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association banquet on Saturday, January 14 at the Polaris Hilton Hotel in Columbus.
The Ohio Chapter will honor the connections of Downbytheseaside as the recipient of the Winner’s Circle Award for outstanding achievement during the past year; Austin Hanners as the Peter Haughton Memorial Award winner for being the young Ohioan who is an “up-and-coming” star among harness horsemen; Jeff Cox into the Immortal Hall of Fame; Yankee Cruiser into the Standardbred Hall of Fame; and Doug Ballinger as the winner of the Rambling Willie Award for the Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades.
With just two crops of racing foals, Downbytheseaside is turning heads in Ohio and across North America. He is the sire of the 2022 North America Cup and Breeders Crown champion Pebble Beach ($1,359,625 in 2022), the Little Brown Jug Champ Bythemissal ($1,165,925) and the Jugette runner-up, Sea Silk ($477,062). The excitement carried over into the yearling sales’ rings where nine of his offspring were purchased for more than $100,000 each.
Austin Hanners is a 23-year-old resident of Washington Court House, Ohio. He enjoyed a terrific 2022 season with 98 wins and over $1.4 million in purse earnings while competing against the best reinsmen in the state.
Jeff Cox was a well-respected trainer of more than 45 years. Cox conditioned eight Ohio Sire Stakes champions, including the three-time champ Crisp Sahbra ($879,937), Money Battle ($342,419), Ro Julie and Sweet Traditions. He also trained the open trotter Independent Blaze ($473,894) and Cambest Prince ($826,546), the four-time Battle of Lake Erie participant. Cox died unexpectantly on died May 23, 2021 at the age of 66.
The stallion Yankee Cruiser will soon be standing his 20th season and his 14th in the state of Ohio. The son of Artiscape and A Yankee Classic won the 2003 North America Cup and retired from the track with an additional 13 wins and $1,150,123. As a stallion, Yankee Cruiser produced Sweet Lou (1:47f – $3,478,894), Dancin Yankee (1:47.2f – $1,512,700) and Jugette champion Darena Hanover (1:50.2f – $665,207).
Track announcer Doug Ballinger started calling races in 1970 and this season will celebrate his 50th year at the Champaign County Fair (Urbana) and the Darke County Fair (Greenville). He currently calls the action at 16 county fairs and matinees in Ohio and Indiana.