Unbeaten Muscle Hill is harness Horse of the Year
Muscle Hill overpowered the competition and ran away with harness racing's Horse of the Year honors.
A perfect 12-0 record last year earned the 3-year-old trotter 164 of 173 votes from the U.S. Harness Writers Association, easily defeating fellow-trotter Lucky Jim and pacer Well Said for the sport's top award.
Well Said was voted Pacer of the Year and Muscle Hill also earned Trotter of the Year honors in voting released Sunday.
Muscle Hill's big wins came in the Hambletonian, Breeders Crown, Kentucky Futurity, Canadian Trotting Classic and World Trotting Derby. He set a harness racing record for earnings in a season with $2.45 million.
Lucky Jim won 17 of 18 races. Well Said won 10 of 14 races, including the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug.
The Dan Patch Award winners were honored Sunday night at Yonkers Raceway.
In winning the Hambletonian, Muscle Hill equaled the all-age world record of 1:50.1 for trotting on a mile track. He was trained by Greg Peck and driven in all but one start by Brian Sears. Peck was chosen Trainer of the Year and Sears was Driver of the Year.
``Somewhere along the line we expected somebody to challenge him, and they really didn't,'' Peck said. ``And then we started to say, well, maybe the crop (of 3-year-old trotters) wasn't that good. No, I think he made them that way. I think they were actually a very good crop.''
Muscle Hill won 20 of 21 lifetime races and finished his career with a 20-race win streak. His average margin of victory was four lengths and no horse was closer than a length at the finish of any of his 20 wins.
Lucky Jim also equaled the world record of 1:50.1 when he won the Nat Ray Invitational at the Meadowlands on the same day Muscle Hill captured the Hambletonian.
Division winners were announced in December. Among them were 2-year-old male trotter Lucky Chucky, 2-year-old male pacer Sportswriter, 2-year-old filly trotter Poof She's Gone and 2-year-old filly pacer Fancy Filly.