Let’s see how that could be.
The Mary Lib Miller Award, named after the wife of Hall of Famer Delvin Miller and herself an integral part of Delvin's many success stories, is the highest award the Chapter gives annually, for overall outstanding contributions to Pennsylvania racing. This year, two members of the Bedford (PA) Sports Hall of Fame, Sam Beegle and Roger Hammer, were the nominees, and there were three choices for the voters: Beegle individually, Hammer individually, or Beegle and Hammer jointly.
The PA Horse of the Year, restricted to horses who made more than 50 percent of their starts at a Keystone state oval and thus usually earned by a top-flight overnight horse, resulted in a tie between two Invitational pacers who both earned in the neighborhood of $120,000 just during their fine campaigns at The Meadows: the stallion Unlocked and the mare Medusa. This result also was not a shocker for both Unlocked and Medusa had also tied for top honors when the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association gave their 2016 prizes.
For PA Breeder of the Year, the Keystone voters cast an equal number of ballots for Bill Mulligan, breeder of Trotting Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder, and the legendary Hanover Shoe Farms, who bred $1 million-plus winning mare Hannelore Hanover, thus figuring the two even closer than the 2016 Trotter of the Year contest, where Marion Marauder edged Hannelore Hanover by a single vote.
Other award winners voted by the state communicators include:
Double honors for North America’s leading trainer Ron Burke, who won Pennsylvania Trainer of the Year for the eighth straight year, and also garnered Owner of the Year honors through his Burke Racing Stable (a partnership with his mother Sylvia), who were picked for honors alongside their solid partners, the Weaver Bruscemi of Mike Bruscemi and Mark Weaver.
PA Driver of the Year laurels went to Aaron Merriman, who has parlayed consistently high finishes in the driving ranks at The Meadows with consistent 1-2 rankings in the horseman’s colony of Northfield Park to become the two-time defending North American dashwinning king among all drivers.
PA Sire Stakes Horse of the Year is Broadway Donna, a 3-year-old trotting filly who was national champion at both two and three and the only sophomore to repeat from freshman form as the 2016 Sire Stakes champion. She earned $429,106 at 2 and 3 in PA Sire Stakes competition alone.
And a special award from Chapter President Kevin Decker to Pastor Joe DiDonato, one of the most popular figures on the Meadows backstretch for many years, a man who brings calm, aid and comfort on several levels to the people to whom he ministers.
Each of the honorees will soon be feted at their home racetrack -- unless it is decided to honor Beegle and Hammer together at the Bedford Fair in late July.