by Bob Heyden
The Horse of the Year race is going to be a lot of fun this year. Cases can made for the top 3 in any order you wish — all trotting ladies of distinction. And they hail from familiar connections — Ariana G and Manchego from five-time HOY trainer Jimmy Takter and Hannelore Hanover from the sport’s all time leading dash and money-winning conditioner Ron Burke. Should either of the Takter fillies win it, it’ll mark the 32nd time that a trotter has won the award, but the very first time that the winning sire himself was also a Horse of the Year — Muscle Hill in 2009.
Hannelore heaven, Donato dominance
Hannelore Hanover is not only the fastest of the 43 female trotters with a sub-1:52 record, she’s 4/5ths in front of the runner-up from a decade ago — Giant Diablo. Diablo took her 1:50.1 record also at the Red Mile the same day Donato Hanover posted his lifetime mark – twice! That’s right, the 2007 Horse of the Year, in the midst of a 19-race winning streak, won in 1:51.1 in the first heat of the Kentucky Futurity, then poured it on for a world record 1:50.1 in the finale to lock down the HOY title right there.
Top sires of all time
Twenty-one stallions have sired the winners of more than $100 million.
Albatross and Super Bowl and Speedy Crown all debuted with their first crops in 1976, which coincided with the Meadowlands opening. Albatross has had more foals than any other sire ever (2,578, with No Nukes second at 2,494).
Speedy Crown remains atop the trotting sires’ list at $102 million — about $750,000 in front of Balanced Image.
Camluck has had the most sons and daughters get their picture taken. It has happened 23,589 times.
Ten of the richest pacing sires ever are past $125 million.
Father and son sure did well for themselves. Artsplace’s offspring earned $168,326,010 collectively and his sire, Abercrombie, produced the winners of $156,245,876.
Can Muscles do it?
Muscles Yankee progeny have earned $94 million, combined. He is the only modern day sire to have three straight Hambletonian winners — 2008-2010 in Deweycheatumnhowe, Muscle Hill and Muscle Massive.
That $94 million leaves him a little more than $8 million away from Speedy Crown on top of the all-time list and $7 million and change from #2 Balanced Image. They are the only two trotting sires ever past $100 million.
Canada and the Triple Crown
They seem to go hand in hand. Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling and the connections of Marion Marauder last year — including driver Scott Zeron the youngest to win a Triple Crown at 27 — all are from Canada. These other Triple Crown winners also have Canadian connections:
1955 — Joe O’Brien (Alberton, PEI) was the trainer and driver of the first Triple Crown winner Scott Frost.
1959 — Ontario native Clint Hodgins was the man behind Adios Butler the first pacing Triple Crown winner.
1980 — Clint Galbraith from Tara, Ontario dominated with Niatross
1983 — Stew Firlotte and Ron Waples from Canada teamed up with Ralph Hanover to take the Cane, Messenger and Jug.
1997 — Bill Robinson’s Western Dreamer won the Triple Crown for Canadian ownership.
1999 — Ben Wallace-trained Blissfull Hall swept the Crown for Quebec owner Daniel Plouffe.
2006 — Blair Burgess-trained Glidemaster won trotting’s Triple Crown for Canadian owners — and had to do so with the Hambletonian in August and the Yonkers Trot in the second half of November — over 110 days apart!.
It’s been 45 years (1972) since a U.S.-born trainer won trotting’s Triple Crown. That honor went to Stanley Dancer and Super Bowl.
Even EC isn’t halfway there
Eternal Camnation, the richest female pacer of all time with $3,748,574 banked, isn’t even halfway to the earnings of the top male pacer of all time. Foiled Again, the all-time leader, has earned $7,497,148.
That’s the grand total between father and son Rocknroll Hanover and Rock N Roll Heaven, who both won the Horse of the Year award in their respective 3-year-old seasons.
Both won the 3 YO Breeders Crown to solidify their HOY status, both won better than $2 million at 3 and both paced under 1:50 as freshman — RNR Hanover the first winner under 1:50 ever.
RNR Hanover earned $2,754,038
RNR Heaven earned $2,748,818
Cat Manzi is the only driver past 90 thousand career drives (95,690), Herve Filion the only other past 80 thousand (81,000+) and Dave Magee the only one past 70 thousand (70,919). But they are about to be joined by a couple of Hall Of Famers named Dave — Miller and Palone — who are both well past 69,000.
What’s In A Name?
John Campbell is the most successful driver in the sport’s history. But in the world of Major League Baseball, only once has a “John” Campbell appeared. In 1933, St Louis Browns pitcher John Campbell pitched one inning, allowed one hit a walk and a run. Of the 19,180 who have played in a MLB game, three Campbells were named “Jim”, one “Paul” and even one was named “Soup.”