Fifteen unexpected Breeders Crown moments through the years

by Bob Heyden

1. If someone told you a horse had 28 wins in a career in which he also broke stride 27 times, you probably never would have guessed that horse is the single richest Breeders Crown performer ever. Fools Goal earned $900,000 in Crown competition.

2. In 1991, nine horses over 30-1 hit the board in Breeders Crown finals:

Lou Macs Review — second in the Mare Trot at 41-1.
L Dees Trish — second in the Mare Pace at 33-1.
Ultra Jet — third in the Older Pace at 31-1.
Herschel Walker — third in the 2-year-old male trot at 38-1.
Bertha Lobell — second in the freshman female trot at 67-1.
Wee Caitlin — third in the 2yoft at 72-1.
Twelve Speed — first in the sophomore female trot at 65-1.
A Treat — second in the 3yoft at 49-1.
Gift Box — third in the sophomore male trot at 53-1.

3. Bettors Delight and Muscle Hill — sires of this year’s Meadowlands Pace, North America Cup, Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks winners — both are Breeders Crown winners themselves, as well as top sires, of course, Yet, neither has produced a Horse of the Year, yet.

4. Paul MacDonnell debuted in the Breeders Crown with a bang in 1990 winning with Bays Fella, paying $140.60. Dan Dube debuted in the Crown in 1999 with Shore By Five winning and returning a healthy $108.20. Dans’ second Crown drive resulted in a fifth-place check at 74-1 that year. Why would that have any significance? The horse’s name was Western Ideal.

5. Talk about out-racing your odds. In 2000, the sport’s winningest driver, Dave Palone, had four Breeders Crown drives and posted the following results:

Panything Goes was fifth in the3YOFP at odds of 70.15-1
No Pain No Gain was third in the 2YOFT at odds of 54.15-1
Ameripan Gigolo was last in the 2YOCP at odds of 57.55-1
On Line Service was third in the 3YOCT at odds of 49.25-1


6. Blazin Britches won the 2017 Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park. She was the only Crown final winner not to get any money in his/her elimination, finishing seventh. She also started just once at 2 with no money there, either. Party Girl Hill will attempt to become the first Horse of the Year who did not race at 2.

7. Since 1985, take a look at this odd quirk — the one that works very well in the favor of Tall Dark Stranger concerning the Breeders Crown and HOY:

1985 — Nihilator —Breeders Crown winner 3YOCP, HOY
1990 — Beach Towel —Breeders Crown winner 3YOCP, HOY
1995 — Jennas Beach Boy — Breeders Crown winner 3YOCP, HOY runner-up
2000 — Gallo Blue Chip — Breeders Crown winner 3YOCP, HOY
2005 — Rocknroll Hanover — Breeders Crown winner 3YOCP, HOY
2010 — Rock Ns Roll Heaven —Breeders Crown winner 3 YOCP, HOY
2015 — Wiggle It Jiggleit — NOT ELIGIBLE to the Breeders Crown, HOY
2020 — Tall Dark Stranger???????

8. Six of 36 Hambletonian winners have won the Breeders Crown at 3 also (16 per cent). That’s a touch lower now that Ramona Hill has withdrawn.

9. Seven of 12 Crowns in 2015 went to a driver OVER 50 — John Campbell 60, Jimmy Takter 55, David Miller 50, who won five.

In 2019, seven of 12 drivers who won a Breeders Crown were 33 or younger: Andrew McCarthy 33 won four, Dexter Dunn 30 won two and Joe Bongiorno 26 won one.

10. This really was Miller Time!

Four different drivers named Miller won the 2YOFP Breeders Crown in a five-year span:

2012 — Andy Miller — Somewhereovrarainbow
2013 — David Miller — Uffizi Hanover
2015 — Brett Miller — Pure Country
2016 — Marcus Miller — Someomensomewhere

11. In 1998, Walter Case, Jr. and David Miller combined for 1,810 wins as the top two dash-winning drivers in the country. Neither had a single Breeders Crown drive that year.

12. Brian Sears finished third with Midori Hanover for trainer Dave Smith in the 1998 Breeders Crown in his Crown debut, but then did not drive until 2003 in the series — five years!

13. Thirty-nine different drivers drove in the 2001 Breeders Crown series. None were named Trevor Ritchie, who won three Breeders Crowns in 2000.

14. David Miller, Brian Sears and Ron Pierce were all 35 when they won their very first Breeders Crown.

15. Genuine Comfort finishing second at 46-1 was Jimmy Takter’s first time on the board in a Breeders Crown final in the 1980s. Gleam in 1993 his first winner as a driver.