Updates on three Hall Of Famers: Chuck Sylvester, David Miller and Rocknroll Hanover

Updates on three Hall Of Famers: Chuck Sylvester, David Miller and Rocknroll Hanover

March 27, 2021

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by Bob Heyden

Is Chuck Sylvester trainee Arnold N Dickey a real Hambletonian horse this year?

“If he is what I think he is, yes he will be in the Hambletonian,” Sylvester said. “So far so good at 3. Last fall, he never showed lameness, but had a big chip in his right hind ankle. Dr. Patty Hogan took it out and wondered how he ever raced as well as he did with it.”

Sylvester said Arnold N Dickey has trained in 2:10, so far and his first scheduled start is May 15 at The Meadows in a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes.

“Three Sires Stakes and then the Yonkers Trot and then the Hambletonian. That is the plan,” Sylvester said.

Interestingly, Arnold N Dickey was a $17,000 yearling. That price sound familiar.

“Yes. Mack Lobell and Pine Chip were both $17,000 yearlings,” Sylvester said.

Both Mack Lobell and Pine Chip were two-time Trotters of the Year, back-to-back. Mack Lobell did so in 1987 and 1988 and Pine Chip in 1993 and 1994.

Sylvester’s Lucky Chucky was a $10,000 yearling and was also Trotter of the Year (2010).

The trainer’s first Hambletonian starter was a bargain, too.

“In 1982, Diamond Exchange (broke in his heat) cost $6,000. But don’t forget, I won a Hambo with a $200,000 yearling, too, Muscle Yankee in 1998.”

That’s right and if I remember correctly he was the 17th highest priced yearling of 1996 and eight of the top nine sold that year were all Valley Victorys.

Why did Sylvester not start in the Hambletonian until age 41?

“Before that, I was at Toledo Raceway. The owner pulled me aside one day and wanted to know if I planned on making a living at this. I told him, ‘Yes, I guess so.’ He told me to leave. I couldn’t do it there. So I set out and went to New Jersey, and after a while I started getting better-bred horses. People easily forget that I won the Meadowlands Pace (Laughs 1986) and Sweetheart (So Cozy 1987). They forget I trained top pacers, too.”

This year, if Sylvester makes it to the Hambletonian, he will be 80 years and 11 months old, making him the oldest to start in the Hambletonian since 2009 when Doug Ackerman, at 81 Years 10 months, sent out Judge Joe. (finishing off the board).

Sylvester can make some real history if he gets to the Hambletonian this year and finishes either first or second.

That would make him the lone trainer to be either 1-2 in a Hambletonian in five straight decades.

In the 1980s, Park Avenue Joe (private purchase) won in the dead heat year of 1989 and Mack Lobell won easily in 1987. In the 1990s, Pine Chip was second in 1993 and Sylvester went 1-2 in 1998 with Muscles Yankee and David Raymond. He won it in 2002 with Chip Chip Hooray and was second with favored Lucky Chucky in 2010.

If Sylvester makes it to the Hambletonian final, that will be 39 years from first start to his most recent, 19 years, potentially, between wins and 35 years between hitting the board in the Hambletonian (he was third in 1986 with 5-1 Britelite Lobell, the first of two fillies Sylvester has sent to the Hambletonian (Armbro Keepsake was fourth as the 2-1 public choice in 1992).

David Miller

Hall of Famer David Miller said Tuesday (March 30) is going to be his last night of driving at Pompano.

“I am going to spend about five days with my daughters and grandson — he’s a year-and-a-half now. Then I’ll be back up north and probably driving April 7. I’m excited about getting back. Looking forward to it a lot.”

Miller is now 56 but said he is currently, “driving as well as I ever have.” He said he hopes to drive for about four or five more years.

Eleven of the last 24 Breeders Crowns have gone to drivers not yet 35 (Joey Bongiorno 1, Dexter Dunn 6, Andrew McCarthy 4). But Miller didn’t win his first Breeders Crown until he was at 35. Why is that?

“The opportunities weren’t there at that time. I was driving a lot in Ohio,” he said.

Rocknroll Hanover

Okay, hold on to your hats. Ever seen this before?

A sire winning a million-dollar race seven years and 51 weeks after his passing?

King Of Swing, a 6-year-old from Down Under, won his second straight $1 million Miracle Mile for driver Luke McCarthy, whose wife, Belinda, trains the son of Rocknroll Hanover.

The 2005 Horse Of The Year and HOY sire sadly passed away on March 14, 2013. The Miracle Mile was the first week of March, making it a week shy of 8 years since we lost the great stallion Rocknroll Hanover at age 11.

King Of Swing is at $2,295,096 lifetime. He won his seven-figure battle in 1:49.1 controlling the race and coming home in :25.4. He became the seventh horse to win the Australian Miracle Mile back to back. He paid $4.70 to win.

The dam is Twist And Twirl, a New Zealand bred.
The furthest out prior to this for a stallion’s progeny to win a million-dollar race after the stallion died?

Artsplace died in the fall of 2006. His son, Sportswriter, won the $1,455,000 North America Cup in 2010, more than 3.5 years after Artsplace’s death.

Western Hanover died on August 27, 2007. His son Well Said dominated both the North America Cup and the Meadowlands Pace, both million-dollar tests in 2009, a little less than two years since Western Hanover died.

Although Speedy Crown died in 1998, his daughter Moni Maker was that year and the next year’s Horse of the Year — the last repeat winner.

Albatross died the year before his prized son Niatross won the first-ever $1 million race, the 1980 Meadowlands Pace.
PS: Arch Madness went on to a $4.2 million career from 2007-2014 but did not win a million-dollar race. His sire, Balanced Image, died in 2004.

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