A couple of questions, including who’s the early 2024 HOY fave

by Bob Heyden

Karl has to be the early 2024 Horse of the Year choice. Any way you slice it, the now 3-year-old son of Tactical Landing not only won his division and was a scant nose from being unblemished, he did it so easily. Yes, memories of Muscle Hill have come to mind, and remember that the 2008 2YOTC of the Year had one blemish also, a photo (by a neck in his debut), and he ran the table in 12 amazing efforts in 2009 to easily take down HOY honors. Oh, and he’s the grandsire of Karl.

Seven times the 2YOTC of his year then followed up with a 3YO HOY season. Scott Frost in 1954-55 did it first, then Speedy Scot in 1962-63 and Nevele Pride in 1967-68. All three won the Triple Crown. There was a gap then of a couple of decades until Mack Lobell in 1986-87 who dominated at 2, 3, and 4 and was a two-time HOY, much like Scott Frost and Nevele Pride had a HOY hat trick. Then there was another gap to Malabar Man in 1996-97, then another decade to Donato Hanover in 2006 taking his momentum into 2007 with 19 straight and a Hambletonian blowout. Muscle Hill is the last to do both, so it’ll be a 15-year gap if Karl can go out and make it eight in 2024.

Karl would also take us back to the 1950s if he does capture the Hambletonian. It would mean Tactical Landing would have Hambletonian credits in his first two crops, not done since 1957-58 when Stars Pride won it back-to-back with Emily’s Pride and then Diller Hanover. Maybe Tactical Landing can dream big, and be another Stars Pride who was the only sire to go back-to-back-to-back.

T C I is from the 16th crop of the late Cantab Hall, the 2004 Hambletonian runner up. He has not yet won the Hambletonian as a stud, but three times hit the board. Mets Hall was second in 2018 for Team Miller, My MVP was third in 2012 and 2009 saw Explosive Matter second best to Muscle Hill’s record 1:50.1.


A January staple at The Meadowlands. It had a 1978 official start-up as a series, although the year prior, Tarport Hap beat the boys in a race named The Presidential. It was the free-for-all go-to event of the winter. Tune Town, Red Bow Tie, Falcon Seelster, all had great moments in the series.

That first year saw Buddy Gilmour and Senor Skipper take it. As a matter of fact, Gilmour and Lew Williams split the first four editions. Genghis Khan set the record for wins in a single Meadowlands’ meet in 1982 at 16, but the Presidential was not one of them, because he finished second to the stubborn Rusty Abbot. John Campbell got his first for 1984 leading trainer Fred Grant with Boomer Drummond.


Brett Pelling or is that Brett “Hanover” Pelling? Maybe it should be after his success with both Papi Rob Hanover and HOY/HOY sire Rocknroll Hanover.

Trace Tetrick had 530 wins and big brother Tim had 529 wins to end the 2023 season. The slight second choice for Trace with Coach Stefanos (sixth) in the Breeders Crown won by Confederate made for the brothers to be 1-2 in the same Breeders Crown race in the wagering. Remember too that Trace started Confederate’s career with a third at Hoosier Park in July 2022 and Tim took it from there. The last time that a HOY started and ended their career with the same last name of a driver but two different ones? Don and Clint Galbraith with Niatross in 1979 and 1980. Don is Clint’s godson.

Do you still not want post 10 in the Hambletonian or Oaks? It won both in 2023 as well as the Oaks in 2022.

Raging Glory for his was 20 4-3-3 $54,963. Head-scratcher time. How did this son of Big Towner sire a winner of $2,673,920; Red Bow Tie?

In 1984, four decades ago, there was a fire in May at Freehold, that necessitated a group of tents be placed in order to resume racing a couple of months later. It was referred to as “Joe Lynch Park.”

Who were the last trotter and pacer to hold the all-time marks without competing as a freshman?

On the trotting side it was Pine Chip at 4 in 1994. He time trialed in 1:51 flat and was a repeat winner of Trotter of the Year.

On the pacing side, it was Trenton who went 1:51.3 on Aug. 21,1982 at Springfield as a 3-year-old. He did this for Tommy Haughton a week after Genghis Khan had lowered the race record to 1:51.4 at The Meadowlands in a three-horse pre-betting card event.

The first million-dollar event? It was the 1980 Meadowlands Pace at $1,011,000 and the runner up to Niatross was Storm Damage, who lived three more decades plus five months, passing at 33 in Dec. 2010. He also out-earned race-winner Niatross, who died on June 7, 1999, $58-57 million as a stallion.

Their two sons wound up with history’s first two sub 1:50 race miles, Nihilator (Niatross) and Call For Rain (Storm Damage).


All made at The Meadowlands in the period between 1979 and 1982. Ernie Spruce reached three times, Thomas Fay twice, and Charles Rocco once. All for $100,000 exactly.

March 16, 1979 — Taurus Romeo went first. (None in 1980 and then five in the ensuing couple of seasons).

• March 14, 1981 — Sure Show (Fay)

• March 28, 1981 — Rex Hanover (Rocco)

• May 23, 1981 — Southern Sam (Spruce)

• Jan. 30, 1982 — Meadow Norm (Spruce)

• Aug. 7, 1982 — Pumping Iron (Spruce)

Later, in the 1980s, Ramblin Storm was taken twice for six figures, the first horse ever to do so.


In 1984, 1,746 horses remained eligible for NJSS Fair Races.

The year before, the number was 1,562.

The fair season went from June 1-Oct. 14. The tracks were Showplace Farms, Big Z Farms, Scenic View Acres, Willowbrook Farms, Egyptian Acres, Capital Hill Farms, Cowtown, Johnson Park in Piscataway, Gaitway Farms, East Lynne Farm with the finals at Showplace.