Hollywood’s Hits: A closer look at the Yonkers International Trot

by Bob Heyden

This afternoon in the Yonkers International Trot, Resolve will try and become the first horse to ever win the same million-dollar race twice.

The Breeders Crown open trot went for $1 Million in 2000, 2001 and 2002, but it was won by: Magician in 2000, Varenne in 2001 and Fools Goal in 2002.

Magician and Nikki Cole Cole in 2000-2001 are the first trotters to appear in the same million-dollar event twice. In 2000, Magician was the winner and Nikki Cole Cole was fourth. In 2001, Magician was fourth and Nikki Cole Cole was eighth.

If Resolve wins this afternoon, he will surpass $3 million. Career earnings at that level was common to those that competed in the $1 million Breeders Crown open trots. Magician had career earnings of $3,579,103, Moni Maker earned $5,589,256 in her career, Varenne earned $5,636,255 lifetime and Victory Tilly made $4,187,402.

Also, if Resolve wins today it will mark the first time a driver/trainer has swept the year’s million-dollar events. Ake Svanstedt already has won the $1 million Hambletonian with Perfect Spirit. Previously, the only driver to win an entire season’s worth of million-dollar races was John Campbell in 1995 when he won the Hambletonian with Taglaibue and both the Meadowlands Pace and North America Cup with Davids Pass.

If either Marion Marauder or Resolve wins today that horse will become the first trotter to win a million-dollar race in back-to-back years (Marion Marauder won the $1 million Hambletonian in 2016). Twice this has been done by a pacer — Nihilator in the 1984 Woodrow Wilson and 1985 Meadowlands Pace and Mach Three in the 2001 Metro and 2002 Meadowlands Pace.

Note that Sportswriter, Somebeachsomewhere and Rocknroll Hanover all won the Metro at two and at least one million-dollar event at three, but the currency conversion rate on the Metro in those years takes it to slightly less than a million.

Half-mile millions

Yonkers Raceway is the only half-mile track to play host to a million-dollar trot and pace. In 2007, the Art Rooney (won by Southwind Lynx) went for $1 million.

American millions

No USA-born trainer has won a million-dollar event (in U.S. funds) since George Ducharme did it in 2013 in the Hambletonian with Royalty For Life. In the 2014 Hambletonian, Trixton won for Swedish native Jimmy Takter. Takter won the Hambletonian again in 2015, this time with Pinkman the same year Norway’s Jan Waaler won the Yonkers International Trot with Papagoyo. In 2016, the Hambletonian was won by the Canadian team of Paula Wellwood and her husband Mike Keeling, while Swedish native Ake Svanstedt won the International with Resolve. This year, Svanstedt also won the $1 million with Perfect Spirit.

Just like dad?

Ron Burke and George Brennan are in the toughest spot with In Secret from post 8. But, In Secret’s sire Deweycheatumnhowe won the 2008 Canadian Trotting Classic from post 10. It was the richest race ever won by a trotter from that spot. The race went for $1 million (Cdn), but the conversion rate put it slightly below that in U.S. dollars.

Million-dollar trots in history

There have been 35 Hambletonians — every one since 1983 topping out at $1,520,333 in 2009, fittingly, for Muscle Hill — that have been contested at $1 million or more.

Two times the Peter Haughton also went for $1 million — in 1984 won by Another Miracle and in 1985 won by Express Ride.

As mentioned, three time the Breeders Crown open trot went for six figures.

Also, the Canadian Trotting Classic exceeded $1 million (after conversion to U.S. dollars) three times — in 2001 when S Js Caviar won, in 2011 when Daylon Magician won and in 2012 when Market Share won.

In 2015 and 2016, the Yonkers International Trot — won by Papagoyo and Resolve, respectively — went for $1 million.
That makes 45 times a trotting event has carried a purse of at least six figures.