Hollywood’s Hits: Memories of Beat The Wheel

Watching Hannelore Hanover last year and knowing that Mission Brief is back and training well, reminded me of Beat The Wheel and the night she beat Pine Chip on July 8, 1994 and set a 1:51.4 world record in the process for trainer Ron Gurfein.

Even more amazing is what Beat The Wheel’s driver Cat Manzi had to say after the race. “She threw a shoe at the quarter pole. It hit her and cut her a bit on the stifle. It’s amazing she stayed trotting. I never even thought about beating Pine Chip,” Manzi said.

When the Crown was king

Before all the big races offered to the sophomores nowadays, the pacing Triple Crown offered the three biggest pots for three-year-olds. In 1965, Bret Hanover won the $151,242 Messenger, the $125,236 Cane and the Jug for $71,447. The next highest purse that year for three-year-olds was the $50,639 offered to the fillies in the Lady Maud.

Remembering Peter Haughton

Wednesday (Jan. 25) marked the 37th anniversary of the sport losing Peter Haughton, just 25 and with a world of promise.

He had already done plenty in his career, which included driving divisional champion Armbro Omaha in 1974 at age 19-20, winning the Roosevelt International the last two years he was it in (1978-1979), and becoming the first driver to ever win with a female horse in a sub-1:55 mile (he won with Handle With Care in 1:54.4 at Hollywood Park beating the boys — Sir Dalrae and Armbro Nesbit were in the field). Peter had just turned 20 when he did that. His godfather, Stanley Dancer, was the only other driver ever who recorded a faster race mile (1:54.3 with Albatross).

The Mach Three – Most Happy Fella link

Mach Three’s passing is indeed a sad one. He was a very underrated racehorse whose legacy shall forever be linked to his prized son Somebeachsomewhere. It evoked memories of the sport losing Most Happy Fella the second week of December of 1983 at the age of 16. Ironically, it was at the same time his most prized son Cam Fella, retired as the richest ever pacer with $2.041 million. Mach Three was a couple of years older at 18, but both suffered paddock injuries that necessitated their being put down.

Muscle Beach

Speaking of Somebeachsomewhere, are the average-earnings-per-start records of he and Muscle Hill unbreakable?

SBSW in 2007-2008 earned $153,395 per start.

Muscle Hill in 2008-2009 earned $155,875 per outing

Both were 20-for-21 lifetime, both were named Horse of the Year at three and this past November at Harrisburg they sold nine of the top 10 yearlings on Opening Day.

Far out, Farrington

Bob Farrington will forever be known as the man behind Rambling Willie, the horse with 128 wins, over 300 starts and a book written about him, “The Horse That God Loved.” But did you know that Farrington previously had a horse that started more often than Willie? Dusty H Forbes went to the post 365 times and was retired in 1972.

Another great from Chuck and John

When you think Chuck Sylvester and John Campbell, you’re talking Mack Lobell and Pine Chip, then maybe Britelite Lobell, Armbro Keepsake and Lucky Chucky. But in 2000-2001 Chuck and John had a talented trotter, one who would set a world record of 1:52 from post 10 on June 22, 2001 at odds of 27-1. Later, he was second to Varenne in the $1 million Breeders Crown in that epic 1:51.1 world record mile. He was a son of Pine Chip named Dream Vacation.

“(Dream Vacation) had a limited three-year-old season,” Sylvester said. “He broke his knee for the second time-and we’re sure he did it in the stall. He was like that. Anything that happened was self-inflicted. He had a lot of talent, and he never hurt himself on the racetrack.”

Sylvester is currently training nine horses: seven two-year-olds, a three-year-old and a four-year-old. This year marks the 20th anniversary year of his Hall Of Fame induction.

Another un-breakable record?

When talking to anyone about un-breakable records, be sure to include John Campbell’s streak that spilled into four different decades. Campbell had 24 straight years of being first, second or third in North America in earnings and 23 of those years he was first or second. Campbell scored 16 national titles from 1979-2002.

Not so much of Terror at first

Did you know that impact stallion Western Terror won just three of his first 18 races lifetime?

Waco’s legacy

The Waco Hanover feature recently seen on TV about the 40-year-old horse hit home. He was foaled May 4, 1977, five weeks after Niatross, and was born on the same May 4 as Billy O’Donnell, who remembers driving Waco Hanover.

It USED to be commonplace…

… to lead North America in earnings back-to-back years.

Bye Bye Byrd did it in 1959 and 1960 with $199,933 and $187,512, respectively. Three years later, Speedy Scot followed in 1963-1964 with $244,403 and $235,710. That was immediately followed by Bret Hanover in 1965-1966 leading with $341,784 and $407,534, respectively. Then, five years later, Albatross led in 1971 and 1972 with $558,009 and $459,921, respectively.

Now, 43 years later, Wiggle It Jiggleit has done it back to back with a realistic chance of becoming the only three-peater ever in this category.

Respect for Jaguar Spur

Jaguar Spur was a very talented horse whose name you hardly hear mentioned any more. He won $1,806,473 and was history’s first ever winner of $500,000 three straight years — at three, four and five. But he never really fancied the home cooking in East Rutherford. Check out his record at the Meadowlands as opposed to all other venues:
Lifetime slate: 78 49-8-8 $1,806,473
Meadowlands ONLY record: 20 5-2-1 $338,400
Everywhere else: 58 44-6-7 $1,468,073

Half-dozen defeats and still HOY

2016 — Always B Miki 12-for-18
2006 — Glidemaster 8-for-15
2005 — Rocknroll Hanover 12-for-18
2000 — Gallo Blue Chip 19-for-29
1999 — Moni Maker 14-for-21
1989 — Matts Scooter 23-for-30
1984 — Fancy Crown 13-for-21
1983 — Cam Fella 30-for-36

I’ll say it was a depression

How in the world could Greyhound have a career slate of 82 71-5-2 and make just $38,952? And that includes the 1935 Hambletonian for $33,321. No competition forcing exhibitions and it was smack in the middle of the Great Depression. For those doing the math at home, that is $475 a start for a horse some consider the greatest ever.

By the way, Greyhound outlived his driver/trainer Sep Palin, his owner, Colonel Baker, and his breeder, Henry J Knight.

Presidential trivia

Finally, since there is no Presidential Series anymore, how about some Presidential trivia?

Did you know that George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump were all born in 1946?

Did you also know that, for the first time, four consecutive presidents lived into their 90s? Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.