by Bob Heyden
Fear The Dragon has more money than all the rest entering the Breeders Crown. He has a fancy 12-for-15 record in the toughest division (sophomore pacing colts) to click at 80 per cent and is currently the slight favourite to win Horse of the Year.
Should Fear The Dragon win it, David Miller would become the first driver to have back-to-back pacers named Horse Of The Year. Trainer Brian Brown is possibly looking at his first HOY. As is Fear The Dragon’s late sire, Dragon Again.
$$ = HOY
The leading money-winning pacer at year’s end has been a good gauge in the HOY conversation of late:
In 2015, Wiggle It Jiggleit earned $2.1 million. In 2010, Rock N Roll Heaven earned $2,156,192. In 2008, Somebeachsomewhere earned $2,448,003. In 2005, Rocknroll Hanover earned $2,223,257. In 2004, Rainbow Blue earned $1.2 million. All were voted Horse Of The Year.
Q. Who is the only male horse this century to be named Horse Of The Year who was sired by a Horse Of The Year?
A. Rock N Roll Heaven in 2010 sired by 2005 winner Rocknroll Hanover. (Bunny Lake did it on the female side in 2001. She was sired by 1991 HOY Precious Bunny).
Horse of the Year has gone to a pacer 39 times and a trotter 31 times. Who will it be in 2017?
“Father” Patrick, indeed
Father Patrick’s first crop sells this year, even though he raced in year 2014 and into 2015. But how about a Horse of the Year having a foal the same year he wins the award? It happened on Nov. 20, 1988 when a chestnut filly was born that was sired by Mack Lobell. (He would defend his 1987 HOY title and remains the last male trotter to go back to back in the HOY balloting). The dam was an 18-year-old Morgan mare named Equis Parkette — a trail rider who had won endurance contests of 25 and 50 miles.
Difference a year makes
Pinkman started winning stakes in October of 2014. He was then withdrawn from the Harrisburg catalog for their November sale 2014. Nine months later, he won the Hambletonian and became the single-season all-time winning Jimmy Takter trainee at $1.9 million.
Hoosier daddy? How about Rockin Image?
Rockin Image was the leading sire of pacers on Oct. 13 at Hoosier Park on their Indiana Sires Stakes finals night. Get this, in two of the 10 horse finals — the sophomore pacing filly division and the test for two-year-old pacing colts — Rockin Image landed six finalists. His most famous son of course is Freaky Feet Pete.
Q. Which horse won thee Breeders Crown in back to back years at two different tracks in the same state?
A. Sugarcane Hanover in 1986 at Garden State Park and in 1987 at the Meadowlands.
The five horsemen
In the 2013 Breeders Crown, the top five drivers in North America — Tim Tetrick, Yannick Gingras, Brian Sears, Dave Miller and Ron Pierce won all 12 Breeders Crown events.
“Layoff, will ya?”
Muscle Hill laughed off two extended layoffs in his freshman year of 2008 — 45 and then 49 days, but won out as a freshman and concluded it with a Breeders Crown score.
High-Low? (Breeders Crown edition)
Paul MacDonell made his Breeders Crown debut in 1990 with a $140.60 winner in Bays Fella and then won in 2008 with the strong public choice Somebeachsomewhere.
Tim Tetrick drove the highest-priced winner in Breeders Crown history in 2008 when he scored in the 3 Year Old Filly Trot with Kadealia at 75-1. Last year, Tetrick won three straight Breeders Crowns and all three were odds-on favorites — Bar Hopping Huntsville and Walner.
Could this be?
Was it really 38 years in between Trotting Horses Of The Year that also won the Triple Crown? Yes it was — in 1968 it was Nevele Pride and in 2006 it was Glidemaster.
In 1996, Valley Victory sired eight of the top nine ticket yearlings for the season. In 1999, Artsplace sired 12 of the top 19 ticket yearlings. Both stood at Southwind Farms, the current home of Muscle Hill.
From 1981-2012, not a single time was there a driver whose last name was Miller that hit the board in the Hambletonian. (Del Miller in 1980 with Devil Hanover (3rd) was the last to do so).
But, in the last five editions, four times a “Miller” has hit the board — and some at boxcar prices.
In 2013, Corky was third for David Miller at 8-1.
In 2015, Uncle Lasse was third for David Miller at 39-1.
In 2016, Sutton was a fast-closing third at 48-1 for Andy Miller.
In 2017, Devious Man was the 2-1 favorite for Andy Miller and was placed second.
Did you know?
That it has been 45 years since an American-born trainer has won a Trotting Triple Crown? In 1972, Stanley Dancer grabbed his second on the trot, following Nevele Pride from 1968. Since then, it has been Norwegian native Trond Smedshammer in 2004 with Windsongs Legacy, Canadian Blair Burgess in 2006 with Glidemaster and Canadians Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling in 2016 with Marion Marauder.
32 years… really?
In 1985, Prakas and Nihilator won the Hambletonian and the Meadowlands Pace, and then both won their Breeders Crown finals, as well. Guess what? No horses have duplicated this since.