It appears that it’ll come down to Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit for Horse of the Year. Either way, it’ll mark the third straight season that a homebred has captured the year-end honor — JK She’salady in 2014 and Wiggle It Jiggleit in 2015 — in the same year that six of the 12 Breeders Crowns went to homebreds, too.
All-time leading money-winning pacer Foiled Again ($7.46 million) has more or less put this stat out of reach, but, in 1983 and 1985, three different horses were actually the all-time leader at some point in the season as pacing’s leading earner ever.
1983: Niatross (the first ever double million-dollar winning pacer) started on top, was passed by Rambling Willie ($2.038 million) and then Cam Fella, in December, took over at $2.041 million
1985: Cam Fella held that until mid-1985 when On The Road Again vaulted by at $2.8 million. But, Nihilator passed them both at $3.2 million at season’s end.
Did you know that Billy Haughton went into the Hall Of Fame in 1968 without having had a Horse of the Year and without a Hambletonian winner? And, it took him six years before he remedied the situation. He won the Hambletonian an incredible five times in nine years between 1974 and 1982. In 1977, Green Speed added the Horse of the Year title to Haughton’s bio, followed by Nihilator in 1985.
Frank Ervin did it first, winning three straight Horse of the Year titles with a pacer — 1964-1966 with Brett Hanover. Stanley Dancer then followed with three straight HOY titles with a trotter — 1967-1969 with Nevele Pride. Jimmy Takter then followed that in 1997-1998 with three straight HOY titles with two different trotters — Malabar Man and then Moni Maker, twice.
2016 marked the first time a father-son each paced in under 1:47 — Somebeachsomewhere scored in 1:46.4 in 2008 and his son, Shamballa was timed in 1:46.1 while finishing second to Always B Miki in the latter’s 1:46 world record mile at Red Mile.
If Always B Miki does win the HOY title, Jimmy Takter will join Stanley Dancer as the only two conditioners to have had three HOYs over the age of three. Dancer had Su Mac Lad (eight in 1962), Nevele Pride (four in 1969) and Albatross (four in 1972). So far, Takter has had Moni Maker, a two-time HOY who won at age five and six.
A fifth in Canada
Since 1998, when Badlands Hanover became the sport’s first freshman 1:50 winner at Colonial in the Breeders Crown, five times the record has been lowered, each time by a fifth-of-a-second and each time in Canada.
- 1:49.4 in 2004 by Rocknroll Hanover in the Metro Pace.
- 1:49.3 in 2007 by Somebeachsomewhere in the Metro.
- 1:49.2 in 2009 by Sportswriter in the Metro.
- 1:49.1 in 2010 by Big Jim in the Governor’s Cup.
- 1:49 in 2011 by Sweet Lou in the Breeders Crown.
Did you know the last time the all-time speed record in harness racing was not either held or co-held by a horse that set the mark in a time trial was before the Kennedy administration?
In 1960, Adios Harry equaled Billy Direct’s 1:55 mile set in 1938. Since then, until now, time trailers have ruled:
- 1:54.3 – Adios Butler 1960 TT
- 1:53.3 – Bret Hanover 1966 TT
- 1:52 – Steady Star 1971 TT
- 1:49.1 – Niatross 1980 TT
- 1:48.2 – Matts Scooter 1988 TT (tied in a race by Staying Together in 1993)
- 1:46.1 – Cambest 1993 TT
- Now, 1:46 by a horse in a race – Always B Miki.