by Bob Heyden
Hall of Famer Howard Beissinger, who died Feb. 6 at age 94, gave John Campbell his first Hambletonian drive and first heat win in 1983 aboard Joie De Vie. With $1.007 million at year’s end, Joie De Vie became history’s first trotter to surpass $1 million in single-season earnings.
Beissinger’s Speedy Somolli was the first 1:55 trotter in Hambletonian history in 1978. Speedy Somolli was a son of Speedy Crown, as was Prakas, who in 1985 became the first sub-1:55 Hambletonian winner.
Speedy Crown was bred, broke, raised, trained and driven by Beissinger and became the sport’s all-time leading sire at over $102 million — which still stands today.
Three Hambletonian winners and the richest ever female (Moni Maker) are all Speedy Crowns.
Beissinger drove in the Hambletonian from age 46-66, winning with two of his first three assignments.
He was second in the first Hambletonian in New Jersey in 1981 with Super Juan.
Some Ray Schnittker tidbits
Ray Schnittker’s Deweycheatumnhowe is the only undefeated winner of the Hambletonian. That victory made Dewey 15-for-15. Dewey also won the Canadian Trotting Classic from post 10 and is the lone winner of a million-dollar trotting event from that spot.
Schnittker’s One More Laugh won the 2010 Meadowlands Pace over eventual Horse of the Year Rock N Roll Heaven. One More Laugh also won the Cane Pace in then record time of 1:50.3.
Schnittker is the only man to win the Presidential final at over 50-1. In 1991, Covert Action paid $118.
Schnittker’s first two Hambletonian drives looked a lot alike:
In 1997, he was third with Armbro Plato. In 2000, he was third with Armbro Trick. Both were 3.70-1 in their elimination. Both finished fourth in their elimination and third in the final. Both went off at over 40-1.
Schnittker is the only trainer to make as much as $930,000 in a single trotting race — the 2008 Hambletonian — when he was first and third with Dewey and Make It Happen ($750,000 for first and $180,000 for third).
Schnittker’s Huntsville was the co-world record setting freshman of 2016 (1:49) and was bred and owned by Schnittker.
First and Foremost
Jim Morrill, Jr.’s first Breeders Crown winner was also the fastest in the 33-year history of the Crown. He won in 2009 in 1:47 with Won The West.
Q. In either harness racing or thoroughbred racing, who is the only Triple Crown winner to sire a Triple Crown winner?
A. It happened in thoroughbred racing in 1930 and 1935 when 1930 Crown winner Gallant Fox sired 1935 winner Omaha. Had the nose gone the other way in the 1992 Little Brown Jug, there would have been a standardbred Triple Crown winner that sired a Triple Crow winner, as well. Had Western Hanover nosed out Fake Left in the raceoff that year, he would have won the Triple Crown. Western Hanover went on to sire 1997 Triple Crown winner Western Dreamer.
With Jennifer Lappe and Stacy Chiodo winning the daily double at the Meadowlands last Friday night, it marked a Meadowlands first. The $192 payout wasn’t bad either. The first — and only other — time two female drivers won the daily double in New Jersey it happened at Freehold way back in June 1972 when June Weller and Jacqueline Ingrassia did it first.
Other lady firsts at the Meadowlands include:
Susan Looney winning at 16 in 1984 with One For All.
Ingrassia with the first sub-1:55 winner on July 25, 1986 with Followme Holly (1:54.4) and later winning the richest race won by a female driver taking the $204,000 Goldsmith Maid with Aeronautess.
JoAnn Looney drove on Sept. 3, 1976 to be the first woman to compete in a race at the East Rutherford, NJ plant.
The unusual case of Newport Dream
You don’t see this often, if ever — a Hambletonian winner that was 20-for-22 as a freshman but won just two races as a sophomore. In 1954, Newport Dream’s only two wins came on Hambletonian Day. He was 6 2-0-0 for the season.
The next two years looked dull also. In his 4-year-old season, he was 19 1-2-4, $13,082. The next year he was 14 2-0-1, $10,421.
For his career he was 61 25-2-5, but was just 3-for-33 after his Hambletonian-winning year.
Did Joe O’Brien really get Scott Frost for $8,200 as a yearling in 1953? Yes he did.
Did You Know….?
… That 175 stallions were nominated to the inaugural Breeders Crown year of 1984, including nine Triple Crown winners?
20th Century stats
David Miller 5,318 wins, Dave Palone 7,392 wins = Combined: 13,310 wins.
Herve Filion won 14,783 races alone in the 20th century. Sometimes we forget how dominant this man was for what seems like an eternity.