Hollywood’s Hits: The sport’s busiest driver didn’t start out that way

April 28, 2017

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by Bob Heyden

Cat Manzi, the only man in history who drove in more than 90,000 races, had a methodical start to his career in 1968 — the year he turned 18 —and for the next couple of seasons. You could almost say, then anyway, he was just another Manzi in the bike. (Oops, that was meant for John Manzi).

Here’s Cat’s first five years in the game:

1968 — 6 0-1-1 $362
1969 — 45 2-11-8 $5,084
1970 — 60 10-8-5 $11,066
1971 — 186 22-23-30 $29,2021
1972 — 329 63-45-52 $82,243

By 1973 he was the leading drive at the Mighty M, Monticello Raceway. By 1976, he made his way to the Meadowlands and by 2002 he made it to the Hall Of Fame.

Down Under record setters

Paul Jessop was the first trainer to have a sub-1:50 sophomore gelding (1996 — Gee Gee Digger, 1:49.4)
Brett Pelling was the first trainer to win the North America Cup and the Meadowlands Pace in the same year, with the same horse and both wins under 1:50 (1999 — The Panderosa.) Pelling was also the first trainer to send out a sub-1:50 winning freshman (2004 — Rocknroll Hanover, Metro 1:49.4) and the first trainer to send out a sub-1:50 winning three-year-old pacing filly (June 27, 1998 — Armbro Romance in the Ladyship Stakes, 1:49.4).

Nifty Norman was the first trainer to have an undefeated trotter be named Horse of the Year with as many as 17 starts (2013 — Bee A Magician, 17-for-17).

Kelvin Harrison was the first trainer to win in sub-1:49 with a pacing mare (2002 — Frightening P, 1:48.4)

Chris Ryder set the filly combined money record at two and three (2012-2013 — I Luv The Nitelife, $1,943,287) breaking the record of his other outstanding pacing filly Put ON A Show.

Mark Harder won the Meadowlands Pace in 2004 with Holborn Hanover at 58-1, the highest price in that race in 41 editions.

Charlie Hunter was the first trainer in Meadowlands history to win a race in 1:55 (Sept. 25, 1976 — Young Quinn, 1:55 with Joe Marsh, Jr. driving).

The two in the $2 million two-time club

Driver Brian Sears is the only driver to have a $2.2 million single season with both a trotter and a pacer: 2005 — Rocknroll Hanover ($2,223,257) and then in 2009 with trotter Muscle Hill ($2,456,041).

Driver Tim Tetrick is the only driver to do this back-to-back with a $2 million single-season earner: 2012 — Market Share ($2,001,403) and 2013 — Captaintreacherous ($2,005,053).

Before-during-after

This exclusive club of five horsemen made history by capturing a milestone race for the sport and all made the Hall Of Fame. Note that one was already in, one went in that year, and another waited 48 years.

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