Remembering the most dominant 10-year stretch in harness racing history

Remembering the most dominant 10-year stretch in harness racing history

May 10, 2020

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by Bob Heyden

Two men thoroughly dominated harness racing in the 10-year stretch from 1967 to 1976.

Together, Billy Haughton and Stanley Dancer won more than half of the 60 Triple Crown races (31 of 60). If you add Vernon Dancer (2) and Peter Haughton (1), the names “Dancer-Haughton” won 34 of 60.

Here are the Triple Crowns by race:

Messenger (9 of 10)

1967 — Romulus Hanover (Haughton)
1968 — Rum Customer (Haughton)
1969 — Bye Bye Sam (Dancer)
1970 — Most Happy Fella (Dancer)
1971 — Albatross (Dancer)
1972 — Silent Majority (Haughton)
1974 — Armbro Omaha (Haughton)
1975 — Brets Champ (Haughton)
1976 Windshield Wiper (Haughton – denying Dancer a Triple Crown with Keystone Ore)

Jug (5 of 10)

1968 — Rum Customer (Haughton)
1969 — Laverne Hanover (Haughton)
1970 — Most Happy Fella (Dancer)
1974 — Armbro Omaha (Haughton)
1976 — Keystone Ore (Dancer)

Cane (6 of 10)

1967 — Meadow Paige (Haughton)
1968 — Rum Customer (Haughton)
1970 — Most Happy Fella (Dancer)
1971 — Albatross (Dancer)
1973 — Smog (VERNON Dancer)|
1976 — Keystone Ore (Dancer)

Hambletonian (5 of 10)

1968 — Nevele Pride (Dancer)
1972 — Super Bowl (Dancer)
1974 — Christopher T (Haughton)
1975 — Bonefish (Dancer)
1976 — Steve Lobell (Haughton)

Kentucky Futurity (3 of 10)

1968 — Nevele Pride (Dancer)
1972 — Super Bowl (Dancer)
1976 — Quick Pay (PETER Haughton)

Yonkers Trot (6 of 10)

1968 — Nevele Pride (Dancer)
1970 — Victory Star (VERNON Dancer)
1971 — Quick Pride (Dancer)
1972 — Super Bowl (Dancer)
1975 — Surefire Hanover (Dancer)
1976 — Steve Lobell (Haughton)

The FACTS:

1. Haughton won the Triple Crown with different trotters in 1976 — Steve Lobell (Yonkers Trot and Hambletonian) and Quick Pay (KY Futurity).
2. Haughton and Dancer are the only two trainers to have a Triple Crown winner the SAME YEAR. In 1968, Dancer won the Trotting Crown with Nevele Pride and Haughton took the Pacing Crown with Rum Customer.
3. Dancer’s three Triple Crowns (1968,1970 and 1972) are two more than any other trainer in standardbred history.
4. Peter Haughton was just 22 when he won the 1976 Kentucky Futurity.
5. Entering 1976, Dancer and Haughton were the two leading money-winning drivers of all time.
6. Haughton did not win a Hambletonian as a trainer or driver until after his 50th birthday.
7. Both men were Hall Of Fame bound during this stretch — 1968 for Billy and 1969 for Dancer, who was four years younger.

Even more dominance

Dancer, alone, posted the most dominant six-year stretch in the sport’s history from 1967-1972.

1. He had the Horse of the Year five of those six years.

2. The year he did not have the HOY he had the Triple Crown winner Most Happy Fella in 1970 (the HOY runnerup to Fresh Yankee).

3. He finished 1-2 in the 1972 HOY balloting with Albatross over Super Bowl.

4. Dancer’s UDRS. from 1967-1972:

1967: .488
1968: .511
1969: .430
1970: .415
1971: .436
1972: .448

5. Five of the six years of 1967-1972 he had multiple horses get HOY votes EACH YEAR!

6. In 1971, the Trotter Of The Year was the Hambletonian winner Speedy Crown for Howard Beissinger. Care to guess which 3-year old trotter out-earned him that year? Quick Pride trained and driven by Stanley Dancer ($231,210 for Quick Pride, Savoir was second with $194,131 with Speedy Crown third at $189,342).

7. Remember that Dancer became the first driver to win a Triple Crown race three straight times: 1969 Bye Bye Same 1970 Most Happy Fella and 1971 Albatross.

8. From 1967-1972, there were 1,200 votes cast for Horse Of The Year, 799 went to a horse trained/driven by Stanley Dancer (66.7 per cent).

9. For 13 straight years from 1960 to 1972, Dancer got Horse of the Year votes. It is the longest streak in harness racing history.

10. Nevele Pride was the first 2-year-old trotter voted HOY (1967) and is the only trotter to win it three straight years.

11. In 1968, Danver became the first driver/trainer to hit the $1 Million plateau (with Cardigan Bay, who then immediately retired back to the land Down Under.

12. Dancer became the first driver to win in sub-1:55 in back-to-back years (Albatross) and the first driver to win $1 million combined in two straight seasons (1971 and 1972). Albatross was the all-time leading pacing earner upon retirement at $1,201,470.

13. He had Nevele Pride indeed. He won the Horseman Futurity three straight years:

1967 Nevele Pride 2:04.4 stakes mark
1968 Nevele Major 2:06.1 third fastest
1969 Nevele Rascal 2:05.3 second fastest to that point.

14. Dancer was in the top five in driver earnings all six of these seasons, despite driving far less than others.

15. He went into the Hall Of Fame in 1969 having the HOY the very same year (Nevele Pride). He was the first trainer to pull off this double.

16. Nevele Pride set the speed standards of 1:56.4 on the half-miler and 1:54.4 on the miler that would stand the test of time. Same with Albatross’ 1:54.4 and 1:54.3.

17. In 1971 on the Grand Circuit only, Dancer’s earnings were $462,694 Second best? Billy Haughton at $191,590 and Joe O’Brien third at $191,519.

18.Frank Ervin had five HOY titles in his glorious career. Dancer had five with two horses — Nevele Pride and Albatross (just like Ervin with Good Time (2) and Bret Hanover (3)) but Stanley added two more Su Mac Lad and Keystone Ore for a career total of 7).

19. Dancer’s greatness continued OFF the track, with his trainees establishing themselves as all-time great sires. Albatross-Most Happy Fella-Super Bowl and others have made more money in the breeding shed than stallions produced by any other trainer ever, with Gene Riegle and Glen Garnsey rounding out the top three.

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