by Bob Heyden
Thoroughbred racing has 446 of them-and it won’t be until the 2039 Belmont Stakes that they reach 500 Triple Crown races in total (146 editions of the Preakness-, 147 of the Kentucky Derby and 153 of the Belmont). But this year, the fifth Triple Crown race held will mark 500 for the sport of standardbred racing.
125 Kentucky Futurities (missed four from 1942-1945)
67 Cane Pace editions
66 Yonkers Trots
Some notes on the Triple Crown through the years include:
- It’s now 16 years since the last Horse of the Year won a Crown — 2006 Glidemaster.
- The longest length of time from a driver’s first to a driver’s last Triple Crown race win is 32 years — John Campbell, who won the 1982 Jug with Merger and then the 2014 Kentucky Futurity with Nuncio.
- Billy Haughton won the Jug 30 years apart with Quick Chief (driving and training) in 1955 and Nihilator (training) in 1985.
- In thoroughbred racing, Woody Stephens won the 1952 Preakness and the 1986 Belmont — 34 years from first to last; Blue Man to Danzig Connection.
- Fillies have had a great history in the standardbred Triple Crown — almost exclusively on the trotting side. Twenty-five of the first 49 Kentucky Futurity winners were fillies (36 of 125 overall good for 29 per cent). Only two fillies won the Yonkers Trot (2-for-66), but both were named Horse of the Year and they did it back to back — 1995 C R Kay Suzie and 1996 Continentalvictory.
- Trainers and drivers today are all but extinct in the pacing Triple Crown events. The following is the last time it has happened: 1990 Jug — Ray Remmen and Beach Towel; 1988 Messenger — Yves Filion and Runnymede Lobell; 1982 Cane Pace — Pat Crowe and Cam Fella.
Bruce Nickells will be 94 on July 5, the oldest living Hall of Famer. On any list of dominance you will see Nickells’ name. Consider that the first three pacing females to surpass $1.5 million lifetime were all trained by Nickells — Follow My Star, Miss Easy and Immortality.
In 75 years of HOY balloting, only once have the top two come from the very same division — 102-32 in the final tally in 2016 when Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit did this in the incredibly deep Older Pacer category.
Think the $300 and change was tight between Tim Tetrick and Dexter Dunn at year’s end in 2021? It sure was. It was reminiscent of 1981 when Eddie Davis had 404 wins to Herve Filion’s 403 — and in the money dept in 1979, John Campbell won the first of his record 16 titles-barely, with $3,308,984 to Filion’s $3,304,876.
Important birthdays in 2022
Dave Palone turns 60 on Feb. 13 starting the year less than 200 wins from 20,000.
Mark O’Mara is 65 on Jan. 26.
Tommy Haughton will be 65 on Feb. 27.
Steve Condren will be 65 on July 6.
Jan Nordin will be 75 on Sept. 25.
July 23 would have been Buddy Gilmour’s’ 90th.
May 23 would have been Howard Beissinger’s 99th.
Clint Galbraith’s 85th on July 22.
Jeff Fout turns 70 on Aug. 14, three days after Bob McIntosh has the very same birthday.
Jan. 28 is 40 years since the sport lost maybe its most influential sire ever Meadow Skipper.
Mike Wilder is 50 on April 10.
In May we will mark the 60th anniversary of the foaling of Bret Hanover.
Ray Remmen will be 75 on May 28.
Trond Smedshammer will be 55 on March 22.
And finally, 30 years ago, Dave Miller was 27 and entered the 1992 season with $2,351,496 lifetime as a driver. Fast forward to 2022 and he enters the season at $261,150,126-making him the winningest driver of the past three decades coming off yet another huge season.