Horse of the Year hits and misses

by Bob Heyden

As we head into the Dan Patch Awards weekend, let’s start with some Horse of the Year history from 50 years ago.

I vote for the Horse of the Year ballot from 1974 as the most unique of now 77 HOY seasons. Here’s the facts:

1. Sixteen horses got votes. Think about that. Only one did last year, Bulldog Hanover, and possibly this year also.

2. Delmonica Hanover (17 5-4-1) was named HOY with a 29.4 per cent win percentage. The next lowest win percentage for a winning HOY was Glidemaster (15 8-7-0) in 2006 with 53.3 per cent.

3. Billy Haughton won his first Hambletonian that year Christopher T, but that colt did not get a vote.

4. Haughton did finish third and fourth with Handle With Care (30 votes) and Armbro Omaha (22), respectively. At that point, Haughton was three years removed from his very first HOY in 1977 with Green Speed.

5. Delmonica Hanover only won five of 17 starts, but the Prix d’Amerique and a second straight Roosevelt International were in there. That tipped the scales 48-32 over Armbro Nesbit.

6. The prior year’s ballot? Delmonica got two votes tied for fifth as a 4YO in 1973. Armbro Nesbit tied for 10th with one vote. Colonial Charm and Handle With Care also got a lone vote and votes in 1974.

7. The top seven 1974 Pacer of the Year vote-getters all got HOY votes too:

Armbro Nesbit (53-32), Handle With Care (45-30), Armbro Omaha (43-22), Nero (15-10), Alert Bret (13-5), Boyden Hanover (6-4) and Silk Stockings (6-1).

8. Who would get HOY votes the next year?

Wow, Silk Stockings would be 1975 HOY runner-up with 49 votes. Nero was third with 29, Bonefish fourth with 21, Sir Dalrae with two, Dream Of Glory with two, Handle With Care one and Yankee Bambino one.


1. Twenty plus years now since a Pacing Triple Crown winner also won HOY. The last was No Pan Intended in 2003.

2. Still no HOY for either Muscle Hill or SBSW.

3. It’s 56 years since a 2YOTC was named HOY; Nevele Pride (1967). T C I and Karl at least made it interesting.

4. It’s 14 years and counting since a 3YOTC was HOY; Muscle Hill (2009).

5. It’s been 34 years since a HOY had 30 or more starts, Matts Scooter (1989), and showing zero signs of change.

6. It’s 25 YEARS since we’ve had a HOY repeater, easily the longest drought, since Moni Maker (1998-99).

7. A combined $2-million season and HOY? Wiggle It Jiggleit did it in 2015. Oddly the two prior did not get the hardware; Market Share (2012) and Captaintreacherous (2013).

8. Six decades since a sire had multiple consecutive HOY winners. Only Adios has done this with Adios Butler (1960-61) and Bret Hanover (1964-66).


Three female trotters born in back-to-back years all went on to become HOY:

1992 — C R Kay Suzie — HOY (1995)

1993 — Continentalvictory — HOY (1996)

1993 — Moni Maker — HOY (1998-99)


The last time this happened was in 2010: Rocknroll Hanover (2005) and Rock N Roll Heaven (2010)

It’s never been done on the trotting side.


They’ve had HOY in Canada on both gaits: Majestic Son (2006) and Sylvia Hanover (2023).