9 rare sightings

by Bob Heyden

Nine things you never — or almost never — see in harness racing:

1. The Jug celebrates its 75th edition this year. In the first quarter century — from 1946-1970 — only one driver won the Little Brown Jug and also drove another horse in the Jug that same day.

John Simpson, Sr. won it in 1957 with Torpid, the eventual Horse of the Year (HOY) and also raced Nyland Hanover, who finished sixth.

2. How does a 2-year-old trotting filly win her division by a vote of 210-4-yet lose 70 per cent of her races? Timing my friend. GREAT timing. Dream Of Joy did this in 1999. She wound up the year 10 3-2-2 $826,601 for Per Eriksson and Jim Meittinis. But, she picked a great time to turn on the jets. Her three wins were the Big Three — the $652,092 Breeders Crown, the $484,400 Merrie Annabelle (now the Jim Doherty Memorial) and the $392,400 Goldsmith Maid.

3. The 1995 Hambletonian featured three different odds-on sophomores in the same day. ODDS-ON

10 cents on the dollar C R Kay Suzie broke, finished sixth and did not qualify for the final.

40 cents on the dollar King Pine finished third in his elimination.

80 cents on the dollar Tagliabue won the Hambletonian final.

4. Can anyone duplicate Bill O’Donnell’s first seven years driving in the Little Brown Jug? Take A look:

1982 — FIRST and then 4th with Temujin
1983 — SECOND twice with Skirt Lifter
1984 — FIRST and third with Troublemaker, SECOND with Present Laughter.
1985 — WON The Jug with Nihilator (first twice).
1986 — WON The Jug with Barberry Spur (first twice).
1987 — FIRST and fourth with Z Twenty Eight, fourth with Simcoe Hanover
1988 — FIRST and then fifth in the final with Camtastic

Summary: 19 drives (heats and final) 8-3-2 and NEVER missed a check!

5. Meadow Skipper entered the 1963 Jug with 50 career starts (finished second that day). Bret Hanover was 42-for-45 entering the 1965 Jug (which he won). Those days appear to be gone forever.

6. How can a trotting colt be August’s Horse Of The Month without racing in the Hambletonian? Lord Stormont did it in August, 1997, defeating the Horse of the Year Malabar Man in the World Trotting Derby.

7. Three straight HOY titles and zero Horse of the Month titles. Malabar Man (1997) and Moni Maker (1998, 1999) won three straight HOY titles, yet not even once did either win a Horse of the Month designation. Jimmy Takter remains the only trainer to have three straight HOY titles with two different horses.

8. How could this be? A colt goes off at 192-1 in the Kentucky Futurity, makes a break and finishes last as the longest shot in the field. Nothing so unusual about that right? Well, that colt in 1989 was the division winner Esquire Spur. He finished out the year 19 8-1-1 and got 82.5 votes to 82 for Park Avenue Joe. Valley Victory had 61.5 despite not racing after mid-July.

9. Total dominance. In 2014, sophomore trotters trained by Jimmy Takter — fillies and colts combined — got all by one year-end vote:

Father Patrick 94
Nuncio 57
Trixton 5
Datsyuk 1 (Charlie Norris trainee)


Shake It Cerry 156
Lifetime Pursuit 1

156 out of 157 votes with the colts and 157 out of 157 votes with the fillies — 313 out of a possible 314 combined.