Top 20 all-time horses not named Horse of the Year

Top 20 all-time horses not named Horse of the Year

February 18, 2022

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by Bob Heyden

My opinion. In descending order.

  1. Red Bow Tie. The richest horse ever to race in both the Meadowlands Pace and the North America Cup, not get a dime-and still make $2.8 million. A fabulous older pacer, he won the Driscoll (then changed to the William Haughton), dominating the best older pacers in the world.
  2. Darlins Delight. Banked $2.9 million and somehow never won a Breeders Crown. Just everything else. Grew up at White Birch Farm with her partner in crime My Little Dragon, who won three of those Crowns.
  3. Mister Big. The world’s first $4 million pacing stallion. He was a star early on but not yet a superstar. That came under the tutelage of Virgil Morgan, Jr. as he reached his prime and maintained it later in his career.
  4. Magician. The winner of the first $1 million Breeders Crown race in 2000, banked $3.5 million in his fabulous career, nearly all of it after 3. He was an enigma on the New York Sires Stakes scene, simply not consistent as a youngster. Once he matured, Earl Cruise then campaigned the best trotter in the world for a couple of years, winning the illustrious Su Mac Lad 3 straight times from 2000-2002.
  5. Fools Goal. Well over $3 million lifetime. You could make a case — and a good one — that this back-to-back Breeders Crown winner — the richest ever Breeders Crown performer at $800,000 — was the best trotter of his time. That is when he stayed trotting. Twenty-eight career wins, 27 career breaks. Oh my.
  6. Varenne. I know I know, he raced here just twice in 2001. That year he was third to Bunny Lake and Syrinx Hanover in the HOY balloting. But his first ever start here might just be the best trotting mile of the century — a 1:51.1 world record in the 2001 Breeders Crown. By open lengths as he pleased against a strong group of the very best in all of North America. New track record at the Meadowlands. Maybe the most significant stat on him is this: he beat 623 horses in his career.
  7. Adios Harry. The 1955-1956 HOY runner-up to Scott Frost both times. Nobody remembers the name much these days, but Luther Lyons made the cover of Sports Illustrated with Adios Harry in July, 1956. The very first of four times the sport was so celebrated.
  8. Windsongs Legacy. The 2004 Triple Crown winner who passed on racing in the Breeders Crown, thus costing him a very real shot at HOY. As it turned out, he was second to Rainbow Blue 119 votes to 98. He also sired Chapter Seven, who sired Walner, who sired both divisional winners in his first crop in 2021.
  9. Entry of Tarport Hap/Silk Stockings. They were born the same year (1972) from the first crop of Most Happy Fella. They dominated the NYSS in tandem and didn’t miss a step after that. They finished with $5G of each other in lifetime earnings (just under $700,000 each) Silk Stockings lost HOY to Savoir in the closest ever ballot in 1975: 52-49. Tarport Hap was on her way in 1977 to a season for the ages, then fate stepped in and she died on the track on March 12 after eight wins against male competition. She remains the only division winner ever not to take a single step onto the track in the spring-summer or fall of their award winning season (1977).
  10. Overcall in 1969 was a perfect 21-for-21 at age 6. A beyond belief free-for-all season for Del Insko. But that same year, Nevele Pride was lowering two treasured records — the half-mile trotting mark and the all-time one: 1:56.4 and 1:54.4. So, Overcall had to settle for second to the great Nevele Pride in the final tally. There was even one voter-obviously trying to call attention to him/herself who did not vote for Overcall as Older Pacer Of The Year. The votes were 204-1 with W W Smith getting that lone vote.
  11. Lucky Jim in 2009 had a million-dollar season in the Andy/Julie Miller barn. As a 4-year-old he was 17-for-18 on the year, third in one race in Canada where he was all but wiped out of contention early. But, Muscle Hill was running the table that season and nobody was derailing him in the HOY tally.
  12. Cardigan Bay, the first Down Under horse to be in the top five in the balloting. He won his division in a tie with Race Time in 1965 (Older Pacer) and then won it outright the year he became the first $1 million standardbred in 1968. In totality, from coming here from New Zealand in 1964, he made a huge impression but never was able to tell the two-headed monster known as Bret Hanover/Nevele Pride to move aside.
  13. Rambling Willie, “The Horse That God Loved” was never HOY but always in the hunt. He is the only $2 million winner lifetime without ever having a $400,000 or better single year ($397,000 his best). Twice he was the all-time leader — Niatross in between — and was as good a story as the sport has ever seen coming from the most humble of beginnings.
  14. Western Hanover was likely shorted of between $500-750G on the track due to bad luck. Most notably his being wiped out in 1992 in the $1 million Meadowlands Pace and then losing a nostril — and the Triple Crown — in the Jug that year (to Fake Left). Somehow, despite perennially leading North America in earnings, he never did sire a HOY, either.
  15. Jennas Beach Boy. The only pacer to win three Breeders Crowns in a row. The only pacer to be named 3YOCP of the year without taking a single step onto the track the summer of his award-winning season (1995). From the first crop of HOY Beach Towel, the 1990 winner. Jenna bumped into Cams Card Shark in 1994 and then a couple of standout sophomore trotting ladies C R Kay Suzie (1995 HOY) and then Continentalvictory (1996 HOY).
  16. Presidential Ball — $3 million plus. The only member of the $3 million pacing club to hit the board in each Triple Crown race. But sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are if there are a couple of bearcats in your graduation class such as Riyadh and Life Sign. They were all sophomores in 1993.
  17. Art Major. You will hear his name on HOY night as he is the sire of this year’s winner Test Of Faith. His second HOY in seven years (J K She’salady in 2014). On the racetrack, a bonafide star. A stablemate to McArdle early on from Aug. 1, 2002 to the end of 2003 he was the richest horse in the sport and the horse to beat each and every time out. In 2002, Real Desire got the nod and in 2003, Art Major bumped into the very last pacer to win a Triple Crown who then parlayed that into year-end honors — No Pan Intended.
  18. Eternal Camnation. An all-star from day one. She won her division at age 2, 4, 5 and 6. She remains the richest pacing female ever. From the final crop of Cam Fella, his richest performer and that is saying plenty. Circumstances denied her any HOY trophy.
  19. Foiled Again. A shame this warrior supreme couldn’t get that honor. At 2-3 remember he was just ordinary — 7-for-27 good for $57,000. He then blossomed like no other from early summer at 4 (with Ron Burke) for the remainder of his career amassing a mind-boggling $7.6 million. Far, far ahead of anyone else.
  20. Peace Corps. OMG. Five years on the track, five division titles 1988-1992. That includes just a single North American race in 1992, when she captured her fourth Breeders Crown. That has not been equaled in the three decades since.
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