And yet, they were still named Horse of the Year….

And yet, they were still named Horse of the Year….

December 19, 2021

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by Bob Heyden

The 75th ballot for Horse of the Year is about to become official. This is a look at some oddities, interesting numbers or just plain strange occurrences that took place for horses that still managed to be voted Horse of the Year:

  1. Artsplace in 1992 had two seasons prior to his 4-year-old campaign where he made more money than he did at 4 ($932G). He also had a stretch where he had five straight races with five different drivers: John Campbell, Bill Gale, Dave Magee, Bill O’Donnell and Cat Manzi. But he was a force that couldn’t be contained in 1992 — and he was undefeated and an easy choice for HOY.
  2. Abercrombie, from May 1978 into June was beaten four straight races by four different horses, yet still went 22-for-33 and easily took down the year-end hardware.
  3. Despite having three seasons where he made more than he did in 1962, Su Mac Lad was named HOY (the first of seven taken home by Stanley Dancer). Perhaps the award was a little bit of a make-up call since Adios Butler gave no one else a chance the prior two seasons.
  4. Despite losing 12-of-17 starts in 1974, Delmonica Hanover was named HOY on the strength of two major wins — the Prix D’Amerique and the Roosevelt International. Going 5-for-17 is not normally HOY material, but it was for the Del Miller trainee that season.
  5. Even though Rocknroll Hanover lost twice on Jug Day in 2005, he was a no-doubter in the balloting come late in the season with an authoritative Breeders Crown score sealing the deal.
  6. Malabar Man actually lost twice — in the same day, too — to Lord Stormont in the 1997 World Trotting Derby. Still, Malabar Man’s overpowering season ruled out in the end.
  7. Even though she was not Pacer of the Year in 2014 — Sweet Lou was — JK She’salady was HOY. She ran the table and that proved to be just enough in the final tally.
  8. Even though Fan Hanover lost six times (17-for-23) in 1981, her Jug victory and 16 more proved to be more than enough. She won the HOY race 130-20 over Royce (the first John Campbell-driven horse to get HOY consideration).
  9. Fourth you say in the Meadowlands Pace and still HOY? Wow. No Pan Intended did just that in 2003. Of course, winning the Triple Crown and Breeders Crown sure helped his cause.
  1. Six years after selling for just $900 as a yearling, Fresh Yankee was voted HOY in 1970.
  2. Adios Butler actually won the Triple Crown in 1959 before he gathered a pair of HOY titles in 1960 and 1961.
  3. Speedy Crown went 14 years (1998) since his Fancy Crown was named HOY in 1984. He was also 30 years old, but the grand old man wasn’t done, yet. His Moni Maker won it back to back in 1998-1999-and nobody has repeated since.
  4. The following were defeated on Hambletonian Day, but still were named HOY: 2010 — Rock N Roll Heaven, 2004 Rainbow Blue, 2005 Rocknroll Hanover, 2016 Always B Miki, 2017 Hannelore Hanover, 1995 C R Kay Suzie.

Outstanding achievements that did not result in HOY honors

  1. Davids Pass winning both million-dollar pacing events (Meadowlands Pace and NA Cup) in 1995 and an industry-best that year $1,452,362. Not only did he not get a HOY nod, he didn’t win his division. That went to Jennas Beach Boy (196-to-26 in the 3YOCP division). C R Kay Suzie was the HOY.
  2. Peace Corps became the sport’s very first single-season filly to bank over $1 million in 1989, but this was not enough to derail the Matts Scooter HOY express.
  3. Windsongs Legacy won $1,713,806 in 2004 in just 12 starts and was the trotting Triple Crown winner. His only three losses came in eliminations for finals he won. But, he was runner-up to Rainbow Blue in HOY balloting 119-to-98. Very likely the choice to skip the Breeders Crown cost him the title.
  4. Redskin won $1,407,263 in 1986 — a 2-year-old mark that still stands 35 years later. But he was trounced in the HOY and divisional balloting. Forrest Skipper and Jate Lobell were both undefeated and finished 1-2 in the ballot. This is the only time the top pair were both unblemished.
  5. Nifty Norman has the leading money-winning 2YOT and 3YOT of 2021 and both are fillies and stablemates. Yet, will it be enough for either Venerable or Bella Bellini to be HOY?
  6. Fortune Teller did something extremely rare in 1982 when he captured his division averaging $145,702 per start. He won the Sheppard and the third richest race ever contested (the Woodrow Wilson for a tick under $2 million). But, that was the dawning of the Cam Fella era and for those 24 months, nobody was unseating “The Pacing Machine.”
  7. Most Happy Fella won the Triple Crown in 1970 from the first 3-year-old crop of Meadow Skipper. He was second in the final tally to the 7-year-old trotting standout Fresh Yankee. Just think, had he been voted in that would have been six straight Horse of the Year titles for Stanley Dancer. He won it the three years prior with Nevele Pride and the two years after with Albatross. No one else has won six HOY titles in their career. Frank Ervin won five.
  8. Gallo Blue Chip in 2001, the year after he set the earnings record at $2.4 million plus, became the first to ever have a million-dollar season after a $2 million season. But, Bunny Lake was busy winning everything in sight and ladies went 1-2 with Bunny besting the 12-for-12 Syrinx Hanover.
  9. Proximity raced for seven years from 1944-1950-and waited until the last one to be named HOY at age 8. That’s still the oldest to be named HOY, even though Foiled Again threw his name into the HOY hat a bunch of times at a similar career point and older.
  10. In 1951, Pronto Don, age 6, was named HOY on the strength of a 26 16-4-2, $80,850 season. Only he and Su Mac Lad can say that they were HOY with three or more seasons before they won it on the racetrack and three or more seasons after they won it. Pronto Don raced from 1947-1955 and banked $332,363.
  11. Andover Hall was the high-ticket yearling at $480,000 in 2000. He had a strong career, but was the beaten favorite in both the 2-year-old Breeders Crown and the Hambletonian. Then he got loose on the highway prior to the 3-year-old Breeders Crown which ended that possibility. Fair to say the nobody was thinking HOY sire from his first crop as he was dodging cars on the freeway? Yet that is what he did with Donato Hanover in 2007.
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