by Bob Heyden
Did you know…
… that John Campbell is the only driver to finish on the board in both the richest pacing and trotting race ever? He was third in both the 1984 Woodrow Wilson for pacers (driving Supreme Dynasty, purse of $2,161,000) and the 2009 Hambletonian that carried a purse of $1,520,333 (driving Calchips Brute).
… that the two leaders in the sport of harness and thoroughbred racing are “Johns” who never had a Triple Crown-winning horse? John Velazquez will try and end that this year, while John Campbell gave it a good go at the end, being the driver of Marion Marauder early at 2 and the winner of two legs of the Triple Crown with Glidemaster in 2006 before missing the Yonkers Trot due to injury.
… that this April 14 was the 25th anniversary of Rich N Elegant’s only Meadowlands win (1:56.4 – her lifetime best)? The broodmare for the ages was a 2012 Hall Of Fame inductee.
… that two of the last three Hambletonian winners had post 10 in their elimination heats? In 2015, it was Pinkman and in 2017 it was Perfect Spirit. This had not happened – at all – in the first 35 editions of the Hambletonian held in East Rutherford. A closer look at some who won it overcoming other posts include:
1983 — both Duenna and Joe De Vie won their heats from post 12.
1982 — Jazz Kosmos scored from post 11 and then was edged out by Speed Bowl in the final.
1984 — Gentle Stroke won his heat from the second tier, post 11.
1984 — Delvin G Hanover did win his elimination heat from post 10, but did not win in the eventual raceoff finishing second to Historic Freight.
1986 — Nuclear Kosmos scored first from post 9 1991— Giant Victory also won his first of two heats from post position 9
1995 — Abundance lit up the board from post 9 but was not up to defeating Tagliabue in that year’s final.
2005 — Classic Photo, the favorite in the final, overcame post 9 to start off the day.
… that Burning Point is the only female to twice win a Meadowlands Breeders Crown? She won in 2003 and 2006. The $2,853,289-winning daughter of Camluck had a race in her honor last night at the Meadowlands.
… that Ron Burke’s father Mickey was the 2006 Glen Garnsey winner as that year’s top trainer?
… it’s the 30th anniversary of Dragons Lair winning the 1988 Levy final? He then sired Dragon Again — who never had the chance to race in the Levy, which was discontinued the last five years of the 20th century and the first five of the 21st — but his son Foiled Again sure did. Foiled Again won the Levy in 2009 and 2010 and continues to race in this, his 14th year, as the sport’s richest ever performer.
… the fastest middle half in Meadowlands history was cut out by a horse who did not win it? Hurricane King Cole went :26.3, :52.2, 1:18.2 before Panther Hanover went by to win by a head in 1:47.2 in the 2012 NJ Classic. That time stood up as the year’s fastest — and the :51.4 middle half on the teletimer remains the quickest middle half.
… that Nihilator was not only undefeated (12-for-12) at the Meadowlands, but he made over $2.5 million in New Jersey alone! That’s right, in 1984-1985, Nihilator, from the first crop of Niatross, banked $2,575,662 racing 19 times in the Garden State. His only loss came in the Pilgrim at Garden State Park for a $770,000 pot to Armbro Dallas (second beaten a neck). This came the week before he wound up his career in the Breeders Crown at GSP. He averaged $135,556 per start in New Jersey alone.