The sport’s first female Horse of the Year came in 1950 when Proximity — an eight-year-old Protector—Agnes Worthy trotting mare bred by Walnut Hall — won the coveted title.
That year there were 31 horses named on the writers’ ballots and Proximity earned 512 points (a record total) to defeat Scottish Pence (232) and the 1949 Horse of the Year Good Time (218 points in 1950). Other notables in the top 10 that year were Stars Pride (sixth) and Tar Heel (seventh).
Proximity set an all-time money record in 1950 of $87,175 while winning 18 of 24 starts for trainer/driver Clint Hodgins. Proximity, owned by R & G Verhurst of Victor, NY, won the $50,000 Golden West Trot at Santa Anita.
The trotting mare also went on to earn $247,379 lifetime, breaking a 73-year-old lifetime earnings record set by Goldsmith Maid.
The year of the Keystone combo
It was 40 years ago that a couple of Keystone horse finished 1-2 in the 1976 Horse of the Year race with Keystone Ore edging Keystone Pioneer.
It was Stanley Dancer’s seventh and final HOY trophy.
Billy Haughton — who had yet to have one of his horses win Horse of the Year — was second and third in the balloting. He was second with Keystone Pioneer and third with Steve Lobell.
Jade Prince was fifth in the balloting with 10 votes on the heels of his all-time world race record of 1:54.1, which was the last time a two-year-old has held the world title.
Windshield Wiper, another Haughton trainee, was seventh in the balloting and it was he who denied Keystone Ore the Triple Crown with a Messenger victory.
Four females got votes: Keystone Pioneer (31), Handle With Care (2), Meadow Blue Chip (1) and the runnerup from 1975 by the narrowest of margins (52-49) Silk Stockings, also with a single vote.
Fastest usually far from richest
Always B Miki was the fastest horse of 2016 and the third richest pacer, but usually the fastest is not among the top five earners:
In 2015, State Treasurer (1:47) was 10th on the earnings list with $865,807. In 2014, He’s Watching (1:46.4) was 11th ($824,728). In 2013, Warrawee Needy (1:46.4) was not in the top 40. In 2012, Panther Hanover (1:47.2) was also not in the top 40.
Four for Hill
Muscle Hill sired the four richest trotters of 2016:
#1 Marion Marauder — $1,484,532
#2 Bar Hopping — $1,191,195
#3 Resolve — $1,184,780
#4 Southwind Frank — $1,164,468
Triple Crown notes then and now
Marion Marauder has brought the Triple Crown back into the dialogue after being the first winner in a decade thanks to his narrow scores in 2016 in the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot and the Kentucky Futurity.
In 1968, Nevele Pride made only 18 per cent of his career bankroll in the Triple Crown ($161,794).
In 2006, Glidemaster made 70 per cent of his career bankroll in his three Triple Crown wins ($1,372,200).
Marion Marauder is 28 11-8-3 lifetime, the only trotting Triple Crown winner lifetime who does not have over a 50 per cent lifetime win percentage. Two pacers — Western Dreamer at 28-for-85 and Rum Customer at 52-for-141 — also share that distinction.
Marion Marauder’s trainer, Paula Wellwood, is the lone female trainer to send out a Triple Crown winner. MM’s driver Scott Zeron is the youngest to record a Triple Crown season.
Marion Marauder will race at age four. Here are some of the records of Triple Crown winners who came back the following season — thoroughbred and standardbred:
1956 — Scott Frost 21 18-3-0 $85,851 HOY 1960 — Adios Butler 17 12-3-0 $173,114 HOY 1969 — Nevele Pride 14 10-2-1 $222,875 HOY
1966 — Bret Hanover 20 17-2-1 $407,534
1920 — Sir Barton 12 5-2-3 $24,494
1936 — Omaha 4 2-2-0 $8,660
1938 — War Admiral 11 9-1-0 $90,800
1942 — Whirlaway 22 12-8-2 $211,250
1947 — Assault 7 5-1-1 $181,925
1949 — Citation did not race at four, but he did race at five and six in order to become the first ever racehorse to eclipse $1 million.
1978 — Seattle Slew 7 5-2-0 $473,006
1979 — Affirmed 9 7-1-1 $1,148,800. He is the only horse of either breed to make more money at four than he did in his Triple Crown season — $901,000.