by Bob Heyden
Consider these facts about trainer/driver Ray Schnittker:
He was the driver for Gallo Blue Chip in his first ever start (1999) — for Chris Oakes — before the pacer was sold.
Schnittker won the Presidential at the Meadowlands in 1991 from post 10 — and returned $118 — no one had ever paid that much or won it from post 10 prior.
He was on the board in his first three Hambletonian drives — 1997 third with Armbro Plato; 2000 third with Armbro Trick and 2008 first with Deweycheatumnhowe.
Schnittker is the only trainer/driver to win the Hambletonian in the $1.5 million era — and also train the third-place finisher while driving the winner. In 2008, Deweycheatumnhowe and Make It Happen (Dan Dube) accounted for $900,000 of the purse that day, the most by any trainer in any race ever on the trot.
Schnittker sent out the only horse to defeat Muscle Hill — Homer Jay — in a $39,750 NJSS event in 2008, edging out the superhorse by a neck with David Miller driving.
Schnittker also defeated another HOY Rock N Roll Heaven, edging past him on the wire in world record time with One More Laugh in the 2010 Meadowlands Pace (1:47.4, a world record for a three-year-old gelded pacer).
Could this be true?
Tommy Haughton at 60 is the same age his father Billy was when he trained the winner of the richest race ever — Nihilator in the $2,161,000 Wilson at the Meadowlands in 1984.
If, in the 1989 dead heat Hambletonian, the first heat also was nearly a dead heat, as well as the final. Probe was just a head in front of Park Avenue Joe a couple of hours before they would tie in the most famous raceoff of all. Double dead heats would have been the most unbreakable record of all.
McIntosh topped himself
On June 19,1993 Staying Together won in 1:48.2 and lowered, by a full second, the world standard set a year earlier by another Bob McIntosh trainee — Artsplace. McIntosh is thus the last horseman to lower his own world record with a different horse.
One more note on the Artsplace 1:49.2 set on June 20, 1992. Cat Manzi drove for the one and only time, the mile was at the Meadowlands, and finishing three lengths behind was Dorunrun Bluegrass with Cambest third. That’s right, Cambest, who in 14 months would set the all-time time trail speed standard (1:46.1) that would not be broken until Always B Miki did it in 2016 (1:46).
40 years ago…
Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary (June 26, 1977) of another all-time record — the 1:53.1 set four decades ago by Warm Breeze at Sacramento. Richard Farrington drove-and he won by 18-and-a-quarter lengths in a $15,000 free for all event. The fractions were :27.4, :54.4, 1:23.2 and 1:53.1. $2.60 was the win price. He improved to four-for-six on the season.