It’s been how long?

And a look at my Hall of Fame horse ballot.

by Bob Heyden

Can you believe it’s been 50 years since a colt went through the Old Glory Sale at Yonkers for $15,000? That son of Albatross named BG’s Bunny would later be the sports first 1:54 flat 3-year-old pacer, doing so in a 1977 Meadowlands Pace elim. A couple years earlier at the same sale $2,500 was the hammer-down price for Kash Minbar, who in 1978 would become the first 1:56.1 trotter in Meadowlands’ history for the trotting master, Jimmy Cruise.

Thirty-eight years ago, Manfred Hanover became the first horse to tie for 2:00 miles for a trotter with 25 and he broke it nine days later. Greyhound’s record had stood nearly five decades. Manfred Hanover was as unusual a trotter as we’ve ever seen. He chugged Gatorade for one. He competed at the highest levels for Mark Jordan, Patsy Rapone and Walt Szczepanski. He would race a couple of times a week. He once won a Su Mac Lad leg, ventured to Yonkers to take their feature, then came back to win the Su Mac Lad final in an eight-day period. The Su Mac Lad was the free-for-all event for trotters during the winter back then. Manfred hailed from Clare, MI.

Twenty-five years have passed — this September will mark the anniversary — since history’s first 1:49 flat mile on the half-miler in Delaware, OH by Jet Laag. Luc Ouellette drove for Linda Toscano. Three years earlier a couple of fast miles went to Stand Forever and Jenna’s Beach Boy on the half, but Jet Laag managed to shave 3/5ths and then 2/5ths to establish the new mark.

It’s been 24 years since an April colt named Mr Muscleman was foaled. He’s now 24 and a main attraction at Kentucky Horse Park. He went well over $3 million for his career and was a fan favorite. He hailed from the very first crop of Muscles Yankee, and apparently the buyers were a little gun shy at first. How else could this fella slip through the cracks to the tune of $2,000?

It’s been 20 years since:

• Windsong’s Legacy joined the Trond Smedshammer barn in 2004 and proceeded to change the sport? Not only did Windsong’s Legacy win the Triple Crown with his trainer also driving — the last time it was done — but he also sired Chapter Seven who then sired Walner. Triple Crown winning sires not named Windsong’s Legacy all lived well into their 20s and beyond. Windsong’s Legacy unfortunately passed at age 7 in 2008.

• Lou Meittinis passed away, on Aug. 3 at 61. In 2004 Lou trained a barnful of good ones, headlined by Hot Hitter, the 1979 Jug winner and then new single season earnings record holder at 826G, as well as Turn The Tide and Icarus Lobell. His son Jimmy took the 2000 Kentucky Futurity by open lengths with Credit Winner, a year after handling the 2YOFT champion Dream Of Joy.

• Ake Svanstedt won Elitloppet with Gidde Palema. A decade later he started his stellar career in North America with Sebastian K, who broke the world record with a 1:49 romp at Pocono Downs.

• A 25-year-old Aaron Merriman won his 1,000th career race driving Harmony Oaks Rowdy at Northfield Park. It’s safe to say he hasn’t missed many days since.

• Donato Hanover was born on May 3. He was Hip #23 at Harrisburg in the same sale Foiled Again went through in 2005 (Hip #520). Donato was from the first crop of Andover Hall and went on to a spectacular career that ended up some loose change shy of $3 million. He had 19-straight wins from his second start until his last two, the 2007 Breeders Crown elim and final where he finished second and third, respectively.

• Foiled Again was born on May 8, tattoo #4B3970. Consigned in 2004 by Boxwood Farms for Barbara Matthews, he could be seen in Exhibition Hall, row C, stall 53, back then. He was raised at the Cream Ridge Training Center, in Crosswicks, NJ. The first colt and second foal of In A Safe Place, made $7.6 million which is a career record.

It’s been 14 years since we lost Shiaway St Pat at 32. The first New Jersey Hambletonian winner (1981) was knocking around for most of the next half dozen years after winning the Classic with Ray Remmen in front of a national TV audience. The Meadowlands brought him back home and he lived out his life as a celebrity of sorts.

It’s been 10 years since Walner was foaled on April 12. The Southwind Farms standout has electrified the racing world both on and off the track since. Little known and mostly forgotten was that his two starts as a sophomore before retiring to injury, were the two fastest 3YO trotting miles (1:50.3 and 1:50.2) of 2017.


My ballot on the race mares:

1. Shartin N — The dominant mare for three seasons and still the fastest in 1:46.4. The 2019 HOY did it all here and is a no-brainer.

2. Put On A Show — She appears in both the racing and broodmare sections. She clears the bar on both for me. She set a Breeders Crown world record in 1:47.3, and reset the 2- and 3-year-old female earnings record until I Luv The Nitelife upped it.

3. Shake It Cerry — Three Dan Patch awards and the 2014 Trotter of the Year with $2.7 million. No problem.

4. Darlin’s Delight — She made $2.9 million without a Breeders Crown! That is unreal. She was a star every year on the track along with her childhood buddy My Little Dragon.

5. Ariana G — Not sure when she’s going in, but she is going in.

6. Pure Country — She quietly took down divisional honors at 2, 3, and 4 for pacing mares which is unprecedented. She had two Breeders Crown wins and was unblemished at 2. There’s lots to like.

7. Buck I St Pat — She suffers from the passage of time. She was a three-time (2008-10) Dan Patch winner with well over $2 million.

8. Check Me Out — If not for some very untimely interference in the 2011 Hambletonian Oaks, it would have put her past $2 million and made her other black type stand out even more to me.


1. Bettor’s Wish — Lifetime he was 24-for-44 with some sparkling non-victories too. He maintained his form at both 3 and 4. Bettor’s Delight’s first siring son superstar? Maybe. But as a racehorse? Spectacular.

2. Mister Big — Who wins at double the percentage from 2 and 3 to then 4, 5, and 6? Mister Big hit at 23 per cent at 2 and 3 and then at 47 per cent after for $4 million.

3. Marion Marauder —He is not only the last Triple Crown winner, he is the richest Triple Crown winner ever on either gait.

4. Nuncio — He came so close to winning the 2014 Triple Crown. He won 59 per cent at 2 and 3 and an amazing 72.2 per cent after with $3.6 million. The only issue is seeing it, since a lot of damage was done overseas.

5. Won The West — He had four-straight $600G seasons. That wins the day. He had $3.9 million for his career.

6. Glidemaster — He was the 2006 Triple Crown winner and set a 3YO money record and a Hambletonian mark of 1:51.1. The reason he’s not in my top five is Majestic Son, who beat him 4-for-5 lifetime.

7. Vivid Photo — Plenty of money, but 129 losses. He lived a Hambletonian fairy tale and was the first to reach $1.5 million.

8. San Pail — The only $3 million winner lifetime who won at better than 50 per cent higher after 2 and 3. He was 19 per cent (10-for-52) and 2 and 3 and 69 per cent (42-for-62) after.

9. All Bets Off — Three million for his career and he earned ever dime, with four straight years of at least 20 starts against the best older pacers in training.

10. Market Share — The only trotter to have a $2 million season followed up with a $1 million (2012-13).