by Dave Briggs
Communicators Hall of Famer and HRU columnist Dean Hoffman said the horse that changed his life came along at a formative time.
“When I was a kid growing up in Cincinnati, we were good friends with a man named Samuel Huttenbauer that had a training track about three miles from our house. He had a private stable and raced colts on the Grand Circuit,” Hoffman said.
“In 1965, he went to the Tattersalls Sale and bought Best Of All, a yearling colt, who was a brother to Coffee Break, a really good horse. Best of All had run through a fence, tore his mane up and looked like hell, but the trainer saw potential in him.
“As it turned out, in 1966 Best Of All was the champion 2-year-old and paced more 2:00 miles, which was a big deal back then, than anyone in history.”
Best Of All’s sophomore season wasn’t as easy, but on the most important day on the Ohio racing calendar, he was, well… the best of all, winning the 1967 Little Brown Jug at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in front of more than 29,000 people — for a record purse of $84,778.46. Best Of All was the favorite for local trainer/driver Jim Hackett.
“It made such a big difference to me because I was just in high school and this horse that I had seen as a yearling and as a 2-year-old went on to win the Jug, which was like a fantasy,” Hoffman said. “It seemed like a business where dreams really do come true and, as long as I live, that will be my favorite horse.”
Best Of All will also be the horse that launched Hoffman’s long, successful career in harness racing.