by Bob Heyden
All about the number 51:
Ron Pierce was 51 in 2007 when he campaigned Donato Hanover to his 19th straight win and a Horse of the Year title. He also set his lifetime mark — and a world record — in the second heat of the Kentucky Futurity with a 1:50.1 scorcher, which was the second time that day he posted a lifetime best. (1:51.1 winning the first heat).
John Campbell was 51 in 2006 when he drove Horse of the Year Glidemaster to a record 1:51.1 from post eight in the Hambletonian — a record sixth for John — and a stirring Kentucky Futurity win also. Only an injury on Breeders Crown elimination night kept Campbell from completing the Triple Crown at Yonkers in November (George Brennan subbed).
David Miller was 51 during every one of Always B Miki’s wins in 2016, whose record-setting HOY season was highlighted by the 1:46 Red Mile world race record.
Ray Schnittker was in his 51st year on this earth with out-of-this-world colt named Deweycheatumnhowe in 2008. Not only was he the Trotter of The Year, he is the only trotter to enter and leave the Hambletonian undefeated and is the only trotter to ever win a million-dollar race from post 10 — the 2008 Canadian Trotting Classic.
Chuck Sylvester was just turning 51 in the fall of 1991 when he bought the high ticket yearling-Winkys Goal for $210,000. She won the Breeders Crown at two and became the first highest-priced yearling to win over $1 million lifetime.
Cat Manzi was 51 when inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2001. Manzi didn’t retired for over a decade and is the only driver to go to the post 90,000 plus times.
Buddy Gilmour was 51 and about to turn 52 when he won the 1984 Meadowlands Pace with On The Road Again — $1,293,000 representing the richest edition of the Pace in 40 editions.
Billy Haughton was in his 51st year in 1974 when he broke his Hambletonian schneid and scored with Christopher T. Haughton would go on to win it four more times in the next eight editions.
Mike Lachance didn’t slow up a lot while in his 50s — if at all. In his 51st year, Lachance drove Mach Three to victory in the richest edition of the Metro, noteworthy because this became the first colt to win a million-dollar race at both two and three with two different drivers (John Campbell — 2002 Meadowlands Pace).
Stanley Dancer was 51 when he campaigned the outstanding Mistletoe Shalee — the outstanding daughter of Most Happy Fella, his own Triple Crown winner from 1970. Mistletoe Shalee was named for Stanley’s daughter Shaldonna.
Jimmy Takter was 51 in the summer of 2012 when he sent out two with a good shot at Hambletonian glory — Uncle Peter the favorite who set the quick pace and Guccio, the runnerup-who fell a neck shy of Market Share in the three-across-the-track finish. The next summer Jimmy went into the Hall Of Fame.