Shartin wins US Horse of the Year

By Michael Guerin

 

New Zealand pacing mare Shartin is on top world after a history-making win at the United States harness racing Horse of the Year awards.

 The Canterbury-bred mare has become the first pacing mare to win the US Horse of the Year title as well as the first horse bred outside North America to win the top award.

 Shartin, who was bred and educated to trials level here by Grant Crabbe before being sold, finished second in the Horse of the Year voting last season but streeted her opposition at yesterday’s ceremony, securing 83 votes with her nearest rival recording 42.

Her win comes after a remarkable season during which she won 15 of 19 races and US$982,177 in stakes as a six-year-old.

 But her greatest achievement was pacing the fastest mile by a mare in harness racing history when she won in 1:46.8 at The Meadowlands last August.

 The win is another feather in the cap of a New Zealand breeding industry that is going through a golden era. Not only has Shartin become one of the greatest mares in harness racing history, Lazarus proved to be one of the best pacers in the world during a brief North American career.

 And continued group one success in Australia has increased demand for New Zealand bred stock to the point that nine yearlings topped $200,000 at the sales last week.

 Shartin’s breeder and former owner-trainer Grant Crabbe was outside working at his day job as a mechanic yesterday when the award was announced.

 “My daughter was watching the live stream of the awards and told me and I thought that was pretty marvellous,” said Crabbe.

 “Some people think I am mad breeding horses then selling them after they trial but I find it too hard to win a race training.

 “And I get a real thrill out of her success.”

 Crabbe hasn’t seen Shartin since she was initially sold to Australian trainer Dean Braun, with whom she had good success before being on-sold to US owners.

 “But maybe one day I will go see her. Maybe have a holiday and head up there because it would be nice to see her again.”

 Shartin wasn’t the only Kiwi success as the US Harness Writers Award dinner with champion driver Dexter Dunn winning the Dan Patch award as driver of the year after his breakout season in North America.

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