by Bob Heyden
Sebastian K was 8 years old in 2014 when he set the still existing world race record for trotters of 1:49 at Pocono on June 28.
Bill O’Donnell drove Mack Lobell for his first eight starts in 1986, then yielded to John Campbell who went on to back-to-back Horse of the Year titles with him in 1987-1988, the last male trotter to do so.
O’Donnell did not drive Nihilator in his first eight career starts in 1984 — trainer Billy Haughton and son Tommy did — but in start number nine, O’Donnell took over starting with the richest race ever contested, the $2,161,000 Woodrow Wilson, and never looked back winning the 1985 HOY title and retiring as the fastest (1:49.3) and richest horse ($3.2 million).
Campbell, the all-time leading winner of Triple Crown races, won eight Messenger stakes, the most of any one driver in any of the six Triple Crown events. (1986-1987-1990-1994-1995-1998-2000-2004).
Campbell won eight races on a single card at Freehold in October of 1986. Thirty-two years later, that still stands as the high water mark.
Mike Lachance won eight Meadowlands races on July 13, 1995, the most ever on once card at the Meadowlands. Oddly, he was not in two races that night on the 15-race card.
Stephane Bouchard won the first eight races at Yonkers on March 3, 2003. It was a record for consecutive winning drives at the Hilltop oval. Combine the fact that he won the last three at Freehold that afternoon and his 11 straight victorious drives was and is the industry standard still today.
Jimmy Takter has eight Hambletonian Oaks to his credit and can make it five straight in 2018 if Manchego opts to go versus the girls.
Stars Pride sired eight Hambletonian winners from 1958 (Emilys Pride) to 1972 (Super Bowl) —the record for a sire in the sports most prestigious race.
In 2006, Glidemaster won the Hambletonian for Campbell and continued on to capture the Triple Crown. That day, Glidemaster, trained by Blair Burgess, started from post eight in the day’s eighth race — and you got it— he was the eighth trotter to win the Triple Crown. Oh yeah, he was named Horse Of The Year, too, on the strength of eight wins and seven seconds in 15 starts.
The year 1988 was the last time a driver won the Hambletonian back to back. John Campbell with Armbro Goal the year after he won it with Mack Lobell. It has not been done in the 30 years since, representing the second longest gap in Hambletonian history without a repeat Hambletonian-winning driver.
Years ending in 8
2008 Somebeachsomewhere and Art Official in that epic Meadowlands Pace duel.
1998 Moni Maker winning the first of two straight HOY titles, which has not been done since. Plus, with much of her two HOY seasons spent overseas, it is interesting to note that not a single HOY in the 21st century has taken a single step overseas.
1988 Mack Lobell becomes the last male trotter to double up as HOY and he takes on the world winning the Elitlopp as well, at age four!
1978 Abercrombie goes 22-for-33 and is named HOY. He also set the world race record of 1:53 in 1979 and sired Artsplace, who also sets the world race record (1:49.2) in 1992.
1968 Nevele Pride dominates and intimidates the trotting world as he becomes the only trotter to ever compete in a career that only had HOY seasons! (Pacers Niatross 1979-1980 and Bret Hanover 1964-65-66 are the only other two who did this).