The world record holder proves why racing stars past the age of 3 is critical to harness racing’s survival.
by Michael Antoniades
I walked into the OTB the other day and the comparisons to thoroughbred Flightline continue. Bulldog Hanover is the talk of the thoroughbred crowd, too.
Bulldog’s trainer, Jack Darling, stated the TVG is on his schedule after the Breeders Crown in late October.
Meanwhile, the public frenzy begins for another world record attempt at Lexington on Oct. 9.
Bulldog Hanover has reached the pantheon of popularity, in my opinion.
But, let’s take a moment to remember the great Cam Fella’s 4-year-old season in 1983. This from Wikipedia:
After a slow start to 1983, Cam Fella won two of three legs of the World Cup series at The Meadowlands, including a two-length win in the final in 1.55 on a wet track. Once Cam Fella began winning in 1983, he continued winning until the end of his career at season’s end by going on a 28-race unbeaten streak.
During the streak he won the Graduate and Driscoll Finals at The Meadowlands, the Canadian Pacing Derby, American National, Stewart Fraser Memorial, Frank Ryan Memorial, Blue Bonnets Challenge, Gold Cup and all three legs of the US Pacing Championship.
In the Summer Championship at The Meadowlands in July, It’s Fritz was given a strong chance of beating Cam Fella by bettors; however, Cam Fella won in 1.54.2, ending a five-race winning sequence for his opponent. His wins in the US Pacing Championship leg and American National both broke the Sportsman’s Park track record, and his win in the US Pacing Championship leg at Roosevelt Raceway set a track record of 1.56.2. By the end of 1983, Cam Fella had won 30 of 36 starts for the year and was voted Harness Horse of the Year for a second time. His final start came at Greenwood Raceway, Toronto, in December. It was his 28th consecutive win.
When Cam Fella was feted after 28 straight wins in his 4-year-old season, the late Canadian Sportsman publisher Bruce Johnston said, “They had the faith and courage to race this horse as a 4-year-old, when I’m sure they heard it a hundred times from all the experts in the industry, what have you got left to prove?”
Well, Bulldog Hanover did have a lot left to prove, and he’s turned the whole industry around. I don’t think another great racehorse will ever be able to retire to be a stallion without racing past his third year, and be as great as Cam Fella.
Can you remotely imagine what 2022 would have been like if Flightline and Bulldog Hanover were retired after their 3-year-old campaigns ? This is why horse racing desperately needs the stars on the track past their sophomore season.
THE BULLDOG HANOVER 4-YEAR-OLD EFFECT
Hoosier Pacing Derby handle
2020 $12,904 (Pick 5)