Go fourth young man

by Bob Heyden

Let’s take a look at 20 famous fourth-place finishes in harness racing history (with a thoroughbred or two thrown in):

  1. ART MAJORwas fourth in the 2002 Jug final. But Mach Three (second in the North America Cup and winner of the Meadowlands Pace) was last in here. Million Dollar Cam won it. Art Major had no problem winning this division though — in both 2002 and as a 4-year-old in 2003.
  2. AMIGO VOLOwas fourth in the 2020 Hambletonian from post 10. He had terrible bad luck at the 3/4 pole when he got trapped behind a gapper. He still went on to win the Kentucky Futurity and the Breeders Crown and wrapped up divisional honors.
  3. CRYSTAL FASHIONwas fourth in the 2018 Hambletonian as the favorite. That was the year Atlanta won. Crystal Fashion set the elimination all-time Hambletonian mark with a 1:50.1 score the same day en route to a million-dollar season for Jim Campbell.
  4. DOUBLEMINTwas fourth in the 1978 Hambletonian in the year Speedy Somolli won. Doublemint was trying to give Team Haughton a three-peat, which still has never happened for one barn in the Hambletonian. He went on to Roosevelt International glory taking it at age 4 in 1979.
  5. ARMBRO KEEPSAKEwas fourth in the 1992 Hambletonian as the 2.20-1 favorite for John Campbell and Chuck Sylvester. It was the first time a female was favored in East Rutherford in the Hambletonian. That was year Alf Palema won.
  6. LAUGHS was fourth in the 1986 Meadowlands Pace elims, then won the final. He was the first 10-1 to win the Pace. Buddy Gilmour drove and it was his second Pace score in three years coming after On The Road Again won the richest ever edition in 1984 for $1,293,000.
  7. SEATTLE SLEWwas fourth in the race after he won the Triple Crown in 1977. He was fourth beaten nine lengths in his very next start — in California to J O Tobin. It was the only time Seattle Slew was ever off the board.
  8. KRAMER BOYwas fourth in the 1996 Hambletonian. Continentalvictory won it over Lindy Lane. Jimmy Takter trained Kramer Boy, who a year later was the Horse Of The Year in Sweden, making Takter the only trainer to have the HOY on two continents in one year. Malabar Man won the title in the U.S.
  9. ARTISCAPEwas fourth in the 1998 Jug. Mike Lachance had chosen off eventual winner Shady Character for Artiscape. Artiscape would win the Breeders Crown in 1998 as a repeater and later would sire the 2004 HOY Rainbow Blue.
  10. STRONG YANKEEwas fourth in the 2005 Hambletonian-he bounced back quickly, though. Taking the Kentucky Futurity in an epic three-horse duel and also the Breeders Crown right back at the Meadowlands. His brother Yankee Slide had won in the year before.
  11. SUPERGILL was fourth in the 1988 Hambletonian. He was easily the most expensive yearling in the field selling for a record $500,000 in 1986. His dam Winkys Gill was a fast-closing second in the 1983 Hambletonian won by Duenna making girls 1-2 on the biggest stage— not repeated since.
  12. JOIE DE VIEwas fourth in the 1983 Hambletonian final in John Campbell’s Hambletonian debut.
  13. STEADY STARwas fourth in the 1970 Jug at 110.20-1. That’s not a misprint, over 100-1. He would time trial in 1:54 at 3 and then 1:52 the next year at 4, the latter the standard that Niatross lowered in 1980 to 1:49.1.
  14. ADIOS VICwas fourth in the 1965 Jug-won by Bret Hanover. The only horse to beat Bret more than once? Adios Vic.
  15. NO PAN INTENDED missed the board once in 2003 in his HOY season, when he finished fourth in the Meadowlands Pace won by Allamerican Theory.
  16. FOREGO finished fourth in the 1973 Kentucky Derby. The gigantic, yet still inexperienced youngster, would make a lot more noise at 4, 5 and 6 in 1974, 1975 and 1976 when he was named Horse of the Year all three seasons. Since Secretariat was the 1972-1973 HOY, that meant the 1973 Derby had the most HOY titles ever in that one field.
  17. MATTS SCOOTERwas fourth in the 1988 Meadowlands Pace elims and then turned around and won the final in his 1:48.2 TT season. He was the 23-for-30 the next year, when he won the Horse of the Year.
  18. SECRETARIATwas a bumpy fourth with Ben Feliciano, Jr., in his July 1972 debut, but six months later was named HOY at age 2.
  19. CHAPTER SEVEN was fourth in the 2011 Hambletonian. He had a late start that year and was behind the 8-ball on the first Saturday in August. He went off at 2.20-1, but was a non-threatening fourth. From that point on, he was a terror and added two Breeders Crowns — a 1:50.1 mark and a HOY title.
  20. NIATROSSwas fourth in the 1980 Meadowlands Pace elimination, making a brief break to which he quickly recovered. Clint Galbraith said this was his best race ever to even qualify for the Pace final after all this adversity.