When it comes to winning races and winning awards, Chapter Seven has broken the bank.
The 4-year-old male trotter, who won eight of 10 starts and equaled the world record of 1:50.1 on a mile racetrack, was named Horse of the Year on Thursday in Dan Patch Awards voting by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
Chapter Seven's 10 starts were the fewest for a Horse of the Year winner in harness racing history.
On Tuesday, Chapter Seven was named Trotter of the Year, defeating stablemate Market Share by 39 votes for the honor. Market Share also finished second in the Horse of the Year voting, with Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous finishing third.
Chapter Seven received 84 of 146 votes for Horse of the Year, followed by Market Share with 41 and Captaintreacherous with six. Ten horses received at least one vote.
Both Chapter Seven and Market Share are owned by Richard Gutnick of Blue Bell, were trained by Linda Toscano and driven by Tim Tetrick. Gutnick shares ownership of Chapter Seven with Southwind Farm and J&T Silva Stables; he shares ownership of Market Share with TLP Stable and William Augustine.
"I'm happy I'm not a voter," Gutnick said. "I'd have split my vote. I really believe both deserve it; both accomplished so much. In any other year, I think Market Share would have been Horse of the Year with what he did. They're both just great horses. The edge would have to go to Chapter Seven off his win in the Breeders Crown."
Chapter Seven, who earned $1.02 million in purses, defeated Canada's Mister Herbie and European star Commander Crowe in the Breeders Crown on Oct. 27 at Woodbine Racetrack despite racing on the outside every step of the mile.
He equaled history's fastest mile on a mile racetrack by winning the Nat Ray Invitational in 1:50.1 at the Meadowlands and also won the Titan Cup, American-National Stakes, Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational and Allerage Open Trot.
His 1:52.1 victory in the Maxie Lee, at Harrah's Philadelphia, set the stakes record and missed equaling the world record for 4-year-old trotters on a five-eighths-mile track by one-fifth of a second.
Chapter Seven's losses came in the Maple Leaf Trot at Ontario's Mohawk Racetrack, where he was defeated by three-quarters of a length by Mister Herbie in the fastest mile ever trotted in Canada (1:50.4), and in the Credit Winner at Vernon Downs, where he was edged by a head by Hot Shot Blue Chip in a time (1:51.2) that missed the track's fastest-ever trotting mile by one-fifth of a second.
"When he was a 2-year-old, during his second baby race, I saw two horses (go off stride) in front of him and he had to come to almost a stop and then went onto win the baby race," Gutnick said. "That race has always been implanted in my mind. That's when I thought he had the makings of a top horse. I'm not saying a great horse, but a top horse at that point in time.
"He's just an amazing horse. He always gave a hundred percent. He had that desire to win. I keep pinching myself."
Market Share won 10 of 20 races and finished worse than third only twice while accumulating $2 million in purses. His triumphs included the Hambletonian, making Toscano the first woman to win the prestigious trotting event, and the Canadian Trotting Classic.
He became the fourth trotter in history to earn at least $2 million in a year - joining Muscle Hill, Donato Hanover and Deweycheatumnhowe - and the first not to receive Trotter of the Year. He is only the third horse to earn $2 million and not be named Horse of the Year.
Following is the complete voting for Horse of the Year: Chapter Seven (84), Market Share (41), Captaintreacherous (6), Michael's Power (3), Check Me Out and Heston Blue Chip (2), American Jewel, Betterthancheddar, Foiled Again, To Dream On (1).
All Dan Patch Award winners will be honored Sunday, March 3, at the Westin Beach Resort and Spa in Fort Lauderdale.
HORSE OF THE YEAR
Windsong's Legacy - La Riviera Lindy - Dream Vacation
Breeder: Richard Banca, Franklin Lakes, N.J.
Owners: Richard Gutnick, Blue Bell, Pa.; Southwind Farm, Pennington, N.J.; J&T Silva Stables, Long Beach, N.Y.
Trainer: Linda Toscano. Driver: Tim Tetrick.
Races: 10-8-2-0. Purses: $1.02 million. Mark: 1:50.1 at Meadowlands (equals world record).