It’s never too early to talk about the Hambletonian

It’s never too early to talk about the Hambletonian

February 21, 2021

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by Bob Heyden

Eight drivers earned Hambletonian money both at Du Quoin and the Meadowlands.

Stanley Dancer earned $288,109 at Du Quoin with three driving wins, and $607,980 at the Big M.

Howard Beissinger earned $296,593 winning three times at Du Quoin in a 10-year stretch, and more than double that ($607,790) at the Meadowlands without winning a final.

Mike Zeller earned $12,841 at Du Quoin on the strength of his fourth-place finish with Stock Split in 1974, and then he had the favorite in his heat in the initial Meadowlands Hambletonian in 1981 with Banker Barker, who was fifth in summary at day’s end good for $43,900.

Tommy Haughton made $73,392 finishing second to stablemate Burgomeister in 1980 at Du Quoin with Final Score, who was the division winner. Haughton then won it in 1982 with Speed Bowl at The Meadowlands. Overall, Haughton’s Meadowlands take was $491,500.

Doug Ackerman made $14,678 at Du Quoin and $70,000 at the Meadowlands. (Son DR drove to the second-place finish in 2006 with Chocolatier).

Dick Richardson, Jr. $19,261 at Du Quoin came from Golden Sovereign finishing third in summary in 1974. At the Meadowlands, he banked $147,964. Richardson was fifth in 1987 and 1991 with Cotton Hanover and Crystas Best, respectively.

George Sholty won the 1979 Du Quoin Hambletonian with Legend Hanover and the horseman earned $240,342 at Du Quoin. Sholty earned $304,750 at the Big M.

Carl Allen banked $15,000 at Du Quoin and $175,800 at the Meadowlands.

From fifth to tops

Who finished fifth in the Hambletonian and yet was voted Horse of the Year despite not getting the most first-place votes? Stenographer in 1954. She was not at her best of Hambletonian Day, and Scott Frost-then edged her 24-23 in first-place ballots, but Stenographer she won on points.

Bridesmaids

Twenty-seven times a driver has finished second in the Hambletonian and never won it — nine of those have occurred at the Meadowlands:

Luc Ouellette, Cat Manzi, Yannick Gingras (3), Berndt Lindstedt, D R Ackerman, Jim Meittinis, Sonny Patterson (2), Andy Miller (2) and Randy Waples.

The other 18 drivers are: James Allen, Bill Herman, Vernon Dancer, Walter Ross, Sonny Dancer, Eddie Wheeler, Harry Pownall (twice), Dana Cameron, James Wingfield, Fay Fitzpatrick, Harry Whitney, Lee Smith, Harry Short, Vic Fleming, Spec Erskine, Daryl Parshall, Lyman Brusie and Townsend Ackerman.

Hambletonian in six decades

Delvin Miller is the only driver or trainer to appear in the Hambletonian in six different decades. He started with Don Scott in 1946 and he trained Tarport Mark in 1992 who was 11-1 in his elimination heat and finished fifth with Tom Sells driving.

Two-for-three

Howard Beissinger won twice in his first three Hambletonian assignments — 1969 debuting with Lindys Pride and then in 1971 with Speedy Crown. Nobody has done this since — and Beissinger was no spring chicken. He debuted in the Hambletonian at age 46. Scotty Zeron came the closest in 2018 with Atlanta winning the driver his second Hambletonian in just four attempts.

Hammer time

Roger Hammer turned 75 on Feb. 18. He is the oldest driver to debut in the Meadowlands Hambletonian and is the oldest driver to win it — 2005 with Vivid Photo. Hammer was about a half-year older than J P Dubois, who also debuted at age 59.

Post 10 in the Hambletonian…

… may not be as bad as you think.

Ten of the 21 Hambletonians contested in the 21st century have seen post 10 get money in the final, including this past year, when divisional champion Amigo Volo was fourth with terrible racing luck.
2000 — Fast Photo was fourth from post 10 at 10-1.
2002 — Like A Prayer was second from post 10 at 22-1.
2003 — Incredible Hulk fourth from post 10 at 50-1.
2004 — Coventry was fourth from post 10 at 51-1.
2006 — Chocolatier was second from post 10 at 4-1.
2008 — Make It Happen was third from post 10 at 46-1 while stablemate Deweycheatumnhowe won it.
2011 — Pastor Stephen was fifth from post 10 at 11-1.
2017 — Bills Man was fourth from post 10 at 25-1.
2019 — Soul Strong was fourth from post 10 at 18-1.
2020 — Amigo Volo was fourth from post 10 at 6-1.

Who is going to hold these titles the longest?

Who is going to hold these titles the longest: Herve Filion, who was the winningest driver in North America for 40.5 years (from 1972 until Dave Palone passed him in 2012) or John Campbell, who has led all drivers in career earnings for 33.5 years and counting?

Campbell actually replaced Filion atop the career money list at the end of July in 1987. He still holds top spot at $299 million, with David Miller second ($250 million) and Tim Tetrick third ($228 million).

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