by Bob Heyden
It’s hard to believe that Cat Manzi and Mike Lachance will both turn 70 this year on June 27 and Dec. 16, respectively.
The rarest of the rare
Only two drivers have won any Triple Crown race three straight times.
John Campbell won the Kentucky Futurity in 1992 (Armbro Keepsake), 1993 (Pine Chip) and 1994 (Bullville Victory).
Billy Haughton won the Messenger in 1974 (Armbro Omaha), 1975 (Brets Champ) and 1976 (Windshield Wiper).
As far as horses go, consider these three-peaters:
Androvette won the Roses Are Red in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Magician won the Su Mac Lad in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Sir Dalrae won the U S Pacing Championship (legs included) in 1973, 1974 and 1975.
Mack Lobell won the Breeders Crown in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
Jennas Beach Boy won the Breeders Crown in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
Moni Maker shocker
Moni Maker is the last horse to be voted Horse of the Year in back-to-back seasons (1998 and 1999), yet she was never voted Horse of the Month in her entire illustrious career.
Chuck Sylvester’s most important Hambletonian
What was the most important Hambletonian for four-time winner Chuck Sylvester?
Mack Lobell in 1987 you say? How about Muscles Yankee in 1998 or 1989 when his Park Avenue Joe dead-heated with Probe? Was it 2002 when he pulled off the upset with Chip Chip Hooray?
Actually, none of the above. It was 1982. Here’s why:
Sylvester was unknown in 1982 when he started his first colt— a $6,000 mistake purchase named Diamond Exchange — in the Hambletonian at age 41. Diamond Exchange made a break and finished last, but the following year, he became the very first Meadowlands 1:55 winning trotter, doing so on July 4, 1983 with Robert Williams in the bike.
What else happened that year? Two favorites broke on the lead and failed to advance in the Hambletonian won by Speed Bowl. Mystic Park was 2-5 when he jumped it off and finished 9th. Arndon was 6-5 when he broke and wound up 8th.
Those two just happened to be the sire of two of the best trotters of the last half century, Sylvester trainees Mack Lobell and Pine Chip. Mack Lobell is from the first crop of Mystic Park and was only $17,000 as a yearling. Pine Chip also sold low, and his sire Arndon was one of the fastest ever when he stayed trotting.
Even though all three broke stride, the 1982 Hambletonian figured prominently, at least to a young Chuck Sylvester, in his Hall Of Fame career.
One more Sylvester-related note, this one going back to that dead heat Hambletonian: There are 63,360 inches in a mile and we couldn’t even get one inch to separate Park Avenue Joe and Probe.
A half-length that would have altered history
In the 2008 Hambletonian, Deweycheatumnhowe (Ray Schnittker) defeated Crazed (Tim Tetrick) by a half-length. That was the year that Tetrick won the driver money title at $19.752 million. He was some $248,000 shy of becoming the only driver ever to hit $20 million. No one has come close since. Though it was and is a new record, it would have been $20 Million-plus if Crazed had another half-length in him. ($750,000 for first, $375,000 for second).
Spousal Daily Double
On Dec. 9, 1984 at Freehold Raceway, Jacqueline and Frank Ingrassia each won an end of the Daily Double, marking a rare wife and husband combo that hasn’t been equalled since.
Jacqueline won the opener with Easter Miracle in 2:05.3, then husband Frank took the second with Barbra Jill in 2:05.1. The payoff was $14.
Naming the race for a previous winner?
It happened. In 1953, the one-time “Yonkers Derby” changed its name to the “Good Time Pace” in honor of the 1950 winner.
Even before Cam Fella…
… his sire Most Happy Fella set the single season earnings record for a stallion at $8,588,636 in 1980.
Some famous non-eligibles
2001 Hambletonian — S Js Caviar
2002 Hambletonian — Kadabra
1991 Breeders Crown — Precious Bunny
1982 Jug — Cam Fella
Where do you see this anymore?
Jeremys Gambit, the 1996 Woodrow Wilson winner and Breeders Crown runner-up in 1997, earned $1,152,247 in his career, but all 10 of his victories came in New Jersey. He never won a race outside of the Garden State.