Numbers that stood out most in 2020

by Bob Heyden

Zero – Never has a year ended and the top two finishers in the Horse of the Year ballot both been sophomore pacers. It could very well happen in 2020 with Tall Dark Stranger and Party Girl Hill.

Two – Andy McCarthy made history in 2020 by winning both of the sport’s million-dollar races — the Hambletonian (with Ramona Hill) and the Mohawk Million (with Venerate).

McCarthy is the first Down Under-born driver to win all of the sport’s million-dollar races in a season and he is the first driver in eight years to sweep the sport’s seven-figure events. Tim Tetrick last turned the trick in 2012 when he won the Metro with Captaintreacherous and both the Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic with Market Share.

John Campbell is the only other driver to do so. He did it first in 1995 with Tagliabue in the Hambletonian and Davis Pass in the North America Cup and the Meadowlands Pace.

Two – Jim Campbell recorded his first Breeders Crown training double in 2020.

Three – On TVG night three females were the three leading earners on the entire Meadowlands card. Atlanta, Manchego and Shartin N were each over $2.5 million lifetime. In the 2014 Breeders Crown Open Trot at the Meadowlands, three finalists were each over $3.5 million — Commander Crowe, the winner, was at $4,849,590 lifetime, followed by Arch Madness ($4,263,981) and Market Share ($3,5558,960) for total earnings among those three of $12,672,531.

Six – Dexter Dunn has won six Breeders Crowns in just his first two years of Crown competition. He won two in 2019 then four this year. Between he and Andy McCarthy, 10 of the last 24 Breeders Crowns have gone to these two Down Under standouts.

Six – Six years ago was the last time both elimination winners for a Breeders Crown final were scratched. In the 3YOCP, Always B Miki broke a bone (possibly kicking his stall as he was prone to do) and was scratched as the morning line favorite. Limelight Beach was also scratched, and he was the other elim winner. The winner, McWicked was 6-1 on the morning line from post 3-meaning the rare occurrence of two eventual Horses Of The Year were programmed to line up side by side (Miki the #4).

Eleven – It has been 11 years since a sophomore trotter (Muscle Hill in 2009) has won the Hambletonian and the Breeders Crown in the same year. It was also 11 years prior to that when his sire, Muscles Yankee, did it last before him in 1998.

Fourteen – Kikikatie and Party Girl Hill both entered the Breeders Crown Final in their very first year of racing 14-for-14. Party Girl at 3 and Kikikatie at 2 in 2003. Both would dominate their division, with Kikikatie taking the 2YOFP in 2003 189 votes to 4 over Glowing Report. Yet, both suffered their first ever loss in the Breeders Crown final. Pans Culottes edged Kikikatie in 2003 and Peaky Sneaky and Lyons Sentinel decisioned Party Girl Hill at the end of the 1,140 foot Hoosier stretch this year. Hopefully, Party Girl Hill’s second career can turn out as well as Kikikatie’s did. She is the dam of an amazing group headlined by Rockin Amadeus — who defeated Captaintreacherous in the 2012 2YOCP Breeders Crown in Canada — as well as Indiana sires Time To Roll, Tellitlikeitis and Rockin Image.

Fifteen – Ramona Hill became the 15th filly to win the Hambletonian. She beat the boys in the 2020 edition.

Seventeen – It’s been 17 years since No Pan Intended won the last pacing Triple Crown in 2003. Since there was no Triple Crown on either gait in 2020, have we seen the end of the Triple Crowns as we have known them since 1955/1956?

Eighteen – The number of times the Horse of the Year has come out of the sophomore pacing colt division in 74 years. It’s a strong bet Tall Dark Stranger will increase that to 19 times.

Twenty-eight – The number of Breeders Crown victories by female trainers since 2002. Linda Toscano was the first female conditioner to win a Breeders Crown in 2002 with Molly Can Do It in the Open Mares Pace. This year, Nancy Takter recorded the first three-bagger by a female trainer.

Fifty – Party Gill Hill won the Tattersalls in the 50th edition of the race. No female before her had ever won it.

$409.80, $186.00 – The Breeders Crown mutuels for Sandybetweenmytoes and Continualou, respectively, in the Breeders Crown final and elim. Both were all-time Crown records.

$200 million – Driver Brian Sears hit $200 million in career earnings on Hambletonian Day this year. Sears is the fifth driver to eclipse that plateau

$250 million – Driver David Miller and trainer Ron Burke each surpassed $250 million in career earnings on TVG Night. Miller did it 13 years after John Campbell first surpassed $250 million. Burke stands alone atop all the North American trainers in the sport.