Slow miles, aggravating things about drivers and Haughton Hambletonian stats

by Bob Heyden

In a slow time of the year, here are some of the slowest times some noted people have won in:

Brian Brown: “It was 2:16 with a trotter.”

Peter Blood: “Hinsdale, fast track, Abel Eden, 2:17 in 1975 or 1976. He got on the list and couldn’t go enough to ever race again.”

Stephane Bouchard: “2:09, Quebec City, middle of winter.”

Jack Darling: “2:17, in the snow, Western Fair in about 1975. I was driving Nevele Sunshine.”

John Kopas: “Twin B Luvsong in 2:14 at Monticello in 1979. She was a 2YO by Songcan.”

Bob McClure: “At Flamboro; it was way too muddy to race.”

Kim Hankins: “2:20.1 at Rushville, IL, in the early ’80s.”

Patrick Lachance: “Chantitown Jackpot, Dec. 30, 1996 at Monticello, 2:09.2. [Paid] $26.00.”

Linda Toscano: “2:07 at Roosevelt.”

Brad McNinch: “2:17.3 at Flamboro, Pride Almahurst. The track was thawing in the spring.”

James MacDonald: “2:02.1 at Flamboro, when the track was six seconds off, for Casie Coleman.”

Michael Cruse: “Eds Anita at East Lynne Farm in New Jersey, 2:14.2. That was my first fair win. Pari-mutuel, that was with Nevada Skipper, 2:03.2, at Liberty Bell.”

Neil Glasser: “2:09.4 at Monticello. Someone got the idea to throw more dirt on the track to dry it out and it kept raining.”

Lauren Tritton: “2:05.4 at Monticello with a filly trotter.”

Bill O’Donnell: “Glen Brae at Saratoga in the 1970s, 2:18. They still had the clay surface then.”

James Bernstein: “Afton Chips, 1972 at Foxboro in 2:18.”

JoAnn King: “2:17 at Harrington Raceway, 100 years ago.”

Kyle Wilfong: “Premier Hanover, 2:06.1, in a walkover in the Review at Springfield for my dad.”

Dave Mattia: “Crown Tribute on the trot at The Meadowlands in 2:02.”

Dave Smith: “2:28 in the mud at Saratoga on a night where nobody went faster than 2:26. I won with a $4,000 claimer named Scott’s Goose.”

Greg Wright, Jr.: “2:09 at Western Fair in the winter. My dad can top this for sure.”

Mike Lachance: “2:19 at Batavia, Mr Reco, 1968.”

Mike Keeling: “OSS event with Worthy Folk at Woodstock in 2:06.”

Paul Kelley: “With me driving, in 1982, Taffy Devonshire, 2:07.4 at Scarborough Downs.”


Hey, it’s a public sporting event. Money down too. These are 10 gripes I personally have and a few I’ve heard that you’re bound to see if you’ve been at it as long as I have.

1. The driver who comes out at the 3/8ths from the 2-hole — especially on the bigger track — to get the top when everyone can see the front end is on a mission. Oops, right back in.

2. Drivers who come off the track and toss the lines at the trainer or caretaker and then head for a cigarette.

3. The occasional driver who doesn’t, or didn’t, know the Challenge Cup at Roosevelt was three times around, not twice.

4. Interview avoiders. You know who you are.

5. Grudges taken out on the track (see Webster-Case and Gagliardi-Poulin in the 1980s at The Meadowlands). Hey guys, this is a public sporting event. Out-of-towners at The Meadowlands in stakes competition years ago, shall we say, were not going to get any holes and would often be “fully extended” if they tried for the top.

6. Pylon violators. It can happen. Sure. Just not too many times. Hey, the rule is already vague, don’t make us suffer worse while waiting.

7. Drivers with odds-on favorites who unnecessarily battle with longshots early in a race. Awful.

8. Guys coming off the track after the race, often in a post-race interview saying, “Wow, I didn’t know the stretch was that long!” Really? Replays available upon request.

9. Guys who are happy to be there. Want to know why Campbell, Tetrick, Gingras, Sears, and Miller are right there in all the biggest money events? They are not looking for the nickel, and let’s be honest, some really are.

10. You bet an outside post hoping the driver leaves, he does, and most others don’t. He rifles out from post 9, few else are going early, and the next thing you know he’s taking back and tucking eighth. Race over, at least for us.


Billy Haughton’s gone 38 years now and still needs no introduction no matter how old you are.

This I will submit as one of his greatest stats!

He won his first Hambletonian at age 50 and the floodgates then opened with him taking it five times in a nine-year span, four of those driving.

The four of the five Haughton Hambletonian wins were the richest ever Hambletonians at that time!

1974 — Christopher T — $161,150

1976 — Steve Lobell — $263,524

1977 — Green Speed — $284,131

1982 — Speed Bowl — $875,000 (The last before the purse was raised to a million or more). 

The 1980 Burgomeister Hambletonian win at $293,570 just fell short of Legend Hanover’s $300,000 the year prior.

In 1984 Haughton took the Woodrow Wilson, the all-time richest race ever held, $2,161,000, which still stands 40 years later.


It was 48 years ago. Really?

Look at how popular standardbred racing was then:

• No. 2 spectator sport in the country.

• No. 1 fastest growing sport.

• There were 437 parimutuel/fairs/matinees in the U.S.

• Purses: $58,679,557.

• Races: 64,443.

• $100,000 races: 19.

• $50,000 races: 38.


Greyhound won the 1935 Hambletonian with one of the four smallest purses for the race. He’s the only one of those four winners who got less than 50 per cent of the-purse!

His share of the $33,221.43 was $14,544.43 or 41.6 per cent.


At least I think so. The 1978 official Hambletonian program from DuQuoin has the winner, Speedy Somolli, listed as a gelding.

Thank goodness nobody told Park Avenue Joe, Alf Palema and Nuclear Kosmos, his sons who won the Hambletonian.