Twenty-four Breeders Crown oddities through the years

Notable history as we prepare for the 2023 Crown at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.

by Bob Heyden

Thirty-nine years of Breeders Crowns means you are bound to cause and create a few head-scratchers. Let’s count down a couple dozen of them.

24. Never won a Breeders Crown: Atlanta, On The Road Again, Presidential Ball, Riyadh and Western Hanover.

23. Both Breeders Crown all-time marks fell in 2022. King Of The North (1:50.3) and Bulldog Hanover (1:46.4) lowering a 13-year mark set by current Kentucky Horse Park resident Won The West at 1:47.

22. Trace Tetrick is “all or nothing” in the Crown. He’s 12 3-0-0 entering 2023 where he won his second and third Breeders Crowns in 2017.

21. Dave Miller is within $20 million of the all-time spot held by John Campbell. It’s the first time in 31 years that anyone has been this close.

20. Through the first 22 years of the Crown, Bob McIntosh led all trainers with 15 with Chuck Sylvester next at 12. All but one were pacers for McIntosh and all but one were trotters for Sylvester. In 1995 at Garden State Park, they each won their lone Crown on the ‘other’ gait. It was Paige Nicole Q (2YOFP) for Sylvester and Armbro Officer (2YOCT) for McIntosh, both freshmen.

19. Presidential Ball was off the board twice in 38 career starts; both Breeders Crown appearances in 1992-93 (sixth and eighth). He was blanked in the Crown as a stallion too: 0-15 (15 0-4-0 $890G).

18. If Tactical Approach wins the 2023 Breeders Crown, it’ll be just the second time that a Breeders Crown 3YOCT winner also sired the Crown 3YOCT winner in his first crop. His sire Tactical Landing won this in 2018. Muscles Yankee (1998) and his son Mr Muscleman (2003) currently stand alone.

17. Early (pre Hambletonian that is) retirees at age 3 have done quite well in the Breeders Crown as stallions:

• Mr Vic retired on Hambletonian Day 1996 and sired 2006 BC Open Trot winner Sand Vic.

• Valley Victory retired the week of the 1989 Hambletonian and has a 51 6-9-4 $2.8 Million Breeders Crown siring record.

• Walner retired just before the 2017 Hambletonian. He had three winners in his first 3YO crop last year. 

• Donerail retired just before the 1995 Hambletonian. He is still among the top broodmare sires in Crown history.

16. Malabar Man (1997 HOY) won the Breeders Crown twice, at 2 and 3, in a 26-for-31 career. Neither time was he favored. It was Meadowbranch Lou at 2 and Lord Stormont at 3 that had those honors.

15. Brittany Farms hit $5 Million in 2005 as the leading Crown owners, before any other owner had even half that.

14. A Breeders Crown winner with 50 starts the year before? Yes, Swing Back in 1993.

13. Dave Miller won a record five in one night in 2015 in Canada in the Breeders Crown. Know what his record was early on in the Crown? His first six years, he was six-for-62.

12. The 2011 “snowstorm fiasco” at the Woodbine Breeders Crown caused massive program changes that year. Yannick Gingras and Tim Tetrick among them. The next year, they won seven of the 12 Crowns.

11. Why do you never ever hear the name Pacific Fella? He was the first pacer ever to go 1:48.2 in a race twice. He sired No Pan Intended in 2003 (from his first crop) who still is the only Breeders Crown, Triple Crown winner and then Artistic Fella who gave Tim Tetrick his first Crown in 2007.

10. In 2013 at Pocono, the top five drivers in North America swept the board, all 12 Breeders Crowns. Three for Ron Pierce, Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras, two for Dave Miller and one for Brian Sears.

9. John Campbell raced in the Crown from 1984-2016. In his last four years, covering 27 drives, he was in the money over 50 per cent of the time going 14-for-27.

8. From 1985-1987, 10 homebreds won a Crown.

7. The top 5 dash-winning drivers of all time have over 83,000 victories, but are just six-for-145 in the Breeders Crown.

6. Six years after her sire passed away, Armbro Feather won the 1989 Mare Pacing Breeders Crown. Most Happy Fella passed in 1983.

5. Cam Fella had a Breeders Crown double winner from his first crop — Camtastic (1987-88) — and a Breeders Crown triple winner — Eternal Camnation (2000-2002-2004) — from his last crop.

4. Arch Madness ended HOY Donato Hanover’s win streak in 2007 in the Breeders Crown for sophomore trotters. He holds the record for most Crown finals with seven, all coming the decade after his sire Balanced Image passed away (2004). Note: T C I’s sire Cantab Hall was euthanized this January at 22.

3. The all-time money leader for 2-year-olds — either gait — Redskin, banked $1,407,263 in 1986. That record still holds, and he did it without winning a Breeders Crown or getting a dime in the Woodrow Wilson ($1,561,500 won by Cullin Hanover in 1986).

2. Dragon’s Lair and Nihilator (1984), some feel the best Breeders Crown race/moment ever. Hope everyone enjoyed it because it was their only meeting.

1. Windsong’s Legacy passing on the 2004 Breeders Crown. It may have cost him the HOY title. He was edged by 3YOFP Rainbow Blue: 119-98. She did race, didn’t lose again and beat older mares to seal the deal against the MIA Windsong’s Legacy who was immediately retired after winning the Triple Crown. The horse who did win the Breeders Crown 3YOCT, Yankee Slide, was 33 lengths behind Legacy in the Kentucky Futurity.