Happy 30th Birthday Western Dreamer!

He is the oldest living Triple Crown champion regardless of breed.

by Bob Heyden

Western Dreamer just turned 30 and he’s the oldest living Triple Crown winner.

He’s the most senior member of either the thoroughbred or standardbred Triple Crown club.

A 23-year resident of the Kentucky Horse Park (since July 2001), he is a fan favorite, a kid lover, a ham, you name it, and it’s not like there isn’t competition. Personality-plus characters like Mr Muscleman and Marion Marauder also love the spotlight and attention, too.

Speaking of the Triple Crown, an in depth look into the thoroughbreds reveal that Secretariat — Triple Crown champ in 1973 — had the shortest life of any of the 11 who have passed on. Big Red only made it to 19, passing the first week of October 1989.

Here’s the list of both sports, the year they won the Triple Crown and how long they lived:


1919 Sir Barton — 21

1930 Gallant Fox — 27

1935 Omaha — 27

1937 War Admiral — 25

1941 Whirlaway — 25

1943 Count Fleet — 33

1946 Assault — 28

1948 Citation — 25

1977 Seattle Slew — 28

1978 Affirmed — 26

2015 American Pharoah — 12

2018 Justify — 8


1955 Scott Frost — 31

1959 Adios Butler — 27

1963 Speedy Scot — 30

1964 Ayres — 29

1965 Bret Hanover — 30

1966 Romeo Hanover — 35

1968 Nevele Pride — 28

1968 Rum Customer — 30

1969 Lindy’s Pride — 31

1970 Most Happy Fella — 16

1972 Super Bowl — 30 (Note: Super Bowl the year before he passed sold 39 yearlings, averaging $29,667 including World Trotting Derby champ Tejano).

1983 Ralph Hanover — 28

1980 Niatross — 22

1999 Blissful Hall — 28 (still alive).

2003 No Pan Intended — 16

2004 Windsong’s Legacy — 7 (shortest for either sport).

2006 Glidemaster — 21 (still alive).

2016 Marion Marauder — 11 (still alive).


The pacers are holding up their end, but what about the HOY trotters?

It’s been 77 years (1947) and we are still without a trotter named HOY siring a HOY. Not Muscle Hill, Muscles Yankee, Nevele Pride, Scott Frost or Mack Lobell.

But on the pacing side, they are holding up their end of the deal, thank you.

Rocknroll Hanover (2005 HOY) sired 2010 HOY Rock N Roll Heaven from his first crop.

Albatross 1971-72 HOY sired a three-pack: Niatross (both 1979-80 HOY) and Fan Hanover, 1981 HOY. 

Niatross had a first crop winner with Nihilator, 1985 HOY.

Cam Fella joined Albatross as the only ones to double up on each side. Cam Fella was the 1982-83 HOY and sired both Precious Bunny and Cam’s Card Shark to the honor in 1991 and 1994, respectively.

Bye Bye Byrd was the 1959 HOY and 17 years later so was his son Keystone Ore (1976) that gave Stanley Dancer his seventh HOY trophy, easily an all-time record.


It’s not supposed to play out like this if you look at the PPs.

Scott Zeron is 34 and is a three-time Hambletonian winner before age 35.

Keep in mind he’s never won a Hambletonian with a favorite, he was wiped out in 2017 with International Moni in the first turn after winning his elim, and was not even in the race in 2022 due to injury.

I am guessing Zeron never saw the following list:

Hambletonian first starts:

Stanley Dancer — 18-10-12-9-11-6-9

Billy Haughton — No wins until he turned 50

Hakan Wallner — 13-9-3-8-8-11-21

Berndt Lindstedt — 12-6-5-13-25-14-7

Brian Sears — 10-7-4-10

Yannick Gingras — 7-10-10-11-7


“Richest ever pace, richest ever race.”

It happened 40 years ago in the summer of 1984. They were just 27 days apart. The richest ever Meadowlands Pace ($1,293,000) went to On The Road Again driven by Buddy Gilmour for trainer Harry Poulton, then the richest race ever held, the $2,161,000 Woodrow Wilson was won by Nihilator driven by Bill O’Donnell for trainer Billy Haughton. Five drivers appeared in both, and surprise, all are Hall of Famers: Carmine Abbatiello (Andrel and Ramblin Storm), Bill O’Donnell (Guts and Nihilator, favored in both), John Campbell (Russ Lynn Scott and Supreme Dynasty), Ron Waples (Jariz and Witsends Wizard) and finally Buddy Gilmour (On The Road Again and Standing O).


For 17-straight seasons, the Burkes have led the trainer standings. Fifteen for son Ronnie and two for dad Mickey. All-time records in $10 million, $20 million, and career money and all-time records in wins during the last 17 years. And the all-time richest horse, Foiled Again with $7,635,538.


1. John Campbell’s first divisional winner was a 4YO son of Albatross in 1981 named Royce.

2. he Meadowlands Pace was not advertised as that initially. It was the $400,000 estimated “The Meadowlands” prior to 1977 when Escort, after a 0-for-18 freshman season, won it in Year 1 with a record $425,000 on the line.

3. John Kopas is well known for his famous DQ with Savilla Lobell in 1981 in the $700,000 Sweetheart, then the richest race for females. But, just 11 months earlier in 1980, he was DQ’d with Center Square in the Wilson elims after winning in 1:58.3. He was placed fourth and out of the richest race to that point — $2,011,000 won by Land Grant — one of the horses elevated to make it to the final. That was the elim where 1-10 favorite French Chef broke at the start, recovered to make it to the top in :58 flat, but tired and finished well back.

4. There were 154 eligible to that 1980 Wilson. Two would sire million-dollar race winners and both involved Ray Remmen. In 1985 the $1,344,000 Wilson went to Grade One, giving Remmen his biggest purse win, from the first crop of Slapstick (favored in the 1980 Wilson). The aforementioned French Chef was the sire of 1990 HOY Beach Towel.

5. One of the many reasons why Garden State Park (GSP) was not the “Track of the 21st Century” as advertised. There was the erroneous thought that it would be “Meadowlands South,” but I was all over that from Day 1. What I didn’t know was that the idea was actually hatched in 1977. On July 13, New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne passed legislation to allow the NJSEA to buy and rebuild Garden State Park. The purchases would be made through bond issues (Sound familiar?). A fire had destroyed GSP on April 14 that year and the project was actually called “Meadowlands South.”

6. I never knew that Adios Harry, a yearling in 1952, was named that by Max Hempt, who was furious with President Harry Truman (in 1952 his near eight-year reign was about to end) and this was Hempt’s way of waving sayonara. Adios Harry ended the decade with a $345G bankroll to edge by Belle Acton as the richest and the fastest of the decade too by virtue of his 1:55 mile at Vernon Downs.

7. Has there ever been a more forgotten/maybe even disrespected horse who made $2 million in their career than Jake And Elwood? He was 33-for-63 racing at 2-3-4 and missed a nose to 1990 HOY Beach Towel in the Meadowlands Pace, and you never ever hear his name mentioned. Not even then.

8. Speedy Crown was the first sire to sweep all divisions for 2 and 3YOs in the year end ballots in 1982 with Dancers Crown (2YOCT), Armbro Blush (2YOFT), Jazz Cosmos (3YOCT) and Dance Spell (3YOFT).