by Bob Heyden
Before Hannelore Hanover there was Delmonica Hanover, the 1974 Horse of the Year and Prix d’Amerique winner. She was just five-for-17, but good enough for the writers to vote her HOY with earnings of $252,165.
A $5,000 yearling, she posted a career record of 80 41-18-8, was a year-end award winner each year and was second twice in the 1972 Hambletonian won by Super Bowl.
Aaron and Tim
Aaron Merriman — 3.5 years older than Tim Tetrick — now is second in wins and starts for a single season to Tetrick — 1,189-1,096 and 4,728 to 4,692.
Ron Pierce’s best drive
“Most people would say Art Official in the 2008 Meadowlands Pace,” Ron Pierce once said. “But I would say it was 1991, the year I won my first Breeders Crown at Pompano with Giant Victory. That was one tough horse to drive that night. He was ‘dog’ trotting while warming up-and many times in the race he tried to tip over. I had my hands full with him. I remember at the top of the stretch, I had to go 4-5 deep, keep the bit in his mouth, drive on and keep him trotting. I was kinda proud of myself after that one. Holding him together took every bit of skill a driver has.”
Pierce had the Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry and Pacer of the Year Sweet Lou in 2014 and then, three months later, he was done driving for good.
“I’ll bet if you look it up, you’ll never find a driver who was retired the year after having both,” said Pierce who is currently in Northern California, then heading to Montana, then ultimately to Alaska the second week or so of May.
Muscle Hill 2017 total progeny earnings — $12,144,971
Somebeachsomewhere — $23,835,039
Three former Hambletonian champs
Three former Hambletonian champions were on the track in 2017. Market Share (2012) Pinkman (2015) and Marion Marauder (2016). Market Share was – and is — the only $2 million single season trotter to come back and post a $1 million season the next time out. Pinkman is the richest single-season horse ever trained by Jimmy Takter ($1.9 million-2015) and Marion Marauder was voted year-end hardware despite not winning after the July 15 Hambletonian Maturity and is the first Triple Crown winner in 48 years to win a year-end award the year after taking down the Triple Crown (Nevele Pride-1968 Triple Crown 1969 HOY).
Most out of two starts
Walner stepped onto the track twice in 2017, but both were wins and they turned out to be the two fastest miles by a sophomore trotter all year— 1:50.3, 1:50.2.
The 50th anniversary of the foalings of Albatross and Speedy Crown is in 2018.
Albatross, a $7,000 yearling, set earnings records at two, three and four and upon his retirement he was the richest and fastest (1:54.3) horse of all time among pacers.
Speedy Crown ranked just 24th out of 25 on Stan Bergsteins’s Experimentals of 1971, won the Hambletonian and came back to race at age 4, meaning that the trotting world had both Super Bowl and Speedy Crown entering the stallion ranks together in 1973. Speedy Crown, with over $102 million, remains the leading trotting stallion of all time (Balanced Image #2), while Albatross had a long reign at the top of the stallion credit list, as well.
Can it be 42 years…
… since the last two-year-old held the all-age world record? Yes, it can. The 1:54.1 mark was set by Jade Prince on Oct. 5, 1976 at The Red Mile that came in a second heat after a first-heat victory of 1:55.1 for Jack Kopas.
The best part of this would come the following summer when the mark was lowered by B Gs Bunny to 1:54 in his Meadowlands Pace elimination. Care to guess who was second in that epic 1:54 mile? You got it — Jade Prince
Note — Team Kopas was favored three times on Pace Night in 1977 without winning:
Nat Lobell 5-2 was fourth; Jade Prince 7-2 was second and Nat Lobell (in the final) 8-5 was second.
Recalling history’s first $100,000 race
The 1953 Hambletonian was the sport’s first race with a purse of $100,000 or more (it was actually $117,117).
Helicopter won it for Harry Harvey, who was then working with Del Miller’s stable. Eighty-three horses were eligible for the race that was held on a Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 12).
Q. Who was the only U.S.-born trainer to appear in either the 2008 or 2009 Hambletonian Oaks? A. Julie Miller.
Same day Sears
Brian Sears is about to hit the Big 5-0 this month. But he has a couple of records that won’t be equaled-or broken-for some time. How about these:
On Hambletonian Day in 2009, he won both the Hambletonian and the Oaks.
Muscle Hill won the $1,520,333 Hambletonian and Broadway Schooner won the $783,042 Hambletonian Oaks.
In addition, Sears is the only driver to have two Horses of the Year go undefeated — Bee A Magician in 2013 (17-for-17) and Muscle Hill in 2009 (12-for-12).
Bee A Magician’s $1,547,304 is the high water mark for a female trotter in any season.
Muscle Hill’s $2,456,045 campaign remains the top single season for any horse — trotter or pacer.