Eclectic and electrifying notes of interest

by Bob Heyden

Where were you 60 years ago?

Were you at the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, NY? Or at Yankee Stadium as they made their fifth-straight World Series appearance? Maybe you were at the grand opening of Shea Stadium where the Mets outdrew the Yankees. Actually, Yonkers Raceway averaged more fans per night than the Yankees too!


• The oldest living Hall of Famer Bruce Nickells (96 on July 5) celebrates 60 years since he debuted in the Hambletonian with Scribe Rodney (8-6-7). That year of 1964 saw Ayres take down the third Trotting Triple Crown following Scott Frost in 1955 and Speedy Scot in 1963.

• 2024 marks the 60th year of operation for HHI (Harness Horsemen’s International). David Buckson was their first president in 1965 in Montreal their birthplace welcoming “any member of any horsemen’s association.”

• May 8 is not only the 20th birthday of Foiled Again but the 61st anniversary of the foaling date of Fresh Yankee. The 1971 HOY, the first North American bred millionaire, was a daughter of Hickory Pride—Pert Yankee bred by NY Yankee star outfielder Charlie “King Kong” Keller. Her 31 20-11-0 $359,002 ($900 yearling) was her 1971 slate for Sanders Russell (first trainer) and Joe O’Brien.

• May 20 marks the 27th anniversary of the passing of Harry Burright of Macomb, IL. The 1948 North American dash-leader with 129 wins and career totals of 2,671 and $5,069,986 in earnings, was Illinois Hall of Fame bound in 1979.

• Scotty Zeron turns 35 on May 23. He’s coming off his first $10 million season, surpassed $100 million for his career as well as earning his first “Driver of the Year” title given by USHWA.

• Jet Laag turned 31 years old recently getting the jump on his 25th anniversary of his epic 1:49 effort in 1999 on the half at Delaware, OH. Linda Toscano looking to defend her Jug/Jugette titles in 2024 was the trainer of Jet Laag.

• It’s been 98 years since Hal Dale was foaled in Indiana. He later sired Adios in 1940 and Dale Frost in 1951. Dale then sired Meadow Skipper. Remember him? The last eight times that the richest ever race was contested, four times it was won by his son, three times his grandson and once his great-grandson. The latter being Nihilator which is where we are today.


Jared Seekman was the youngest ever driver to take down a pari-mutuel race, doing so at 13 years 11 months with Wallstreet Victory at the Ottawa County Fair in Holland, MI in 2008. Now 30, he and brother Travis are doing Desirae and Joe Seekman proud.


Was Dealt A Winner the most underrated horse of the 21st century? He competed year in, year out against the likes of Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit. He set the Triple Crown all time mark of 1:47.3 winning the 2015 Cane Pace first time at The Meadowlands.


For eight straight years now the USHWA Driver of the Year has not yet been over 40 years old. David Miller was the last to win it at an age past 40. Miller did it in his 50s in back-to-back (2015-16) years.


How successful was Hanover Shoe Farms as of December 1965? Well,, the following nine stallions had their books already closed for 1966: Tar Heel ($3,500), Bullet Hanover ($5,000), Stars Pride ($5,000), Caleb ($1,000), Ayres ($2,000), Hickory Smoke ($2,000), Gamecock ($500), Lehigh Hanover ($1,500) and Dancer Hanover ($750).

:55 IN 55

Luther Lyons was the driver who broke the existing world record with a 1:55 mile at Vernon Downs in 1955 with Adios Harry. Then another son of Adios, Adios Butler, would break that and then another son of Adios, Bret Hanover, would take it down to 1:53.3 in the fall of 1966 at the The Red Mile.


Bettors Delight’s first crop were 3YOs in 2006. He had 114 from his first offering with 75 taking 2:00 marks, 35 in 1:55 and 18 under 1:53. He averaged 55G per starter.


Remember when back in 1931 William Monroe Wright, founder of Calumet Baking Soda and Calumet Farms, was in a coma when his Calumet Butler won the 1931 Hambletonian. He then passed away and his trotters were sold and it then became a prominent Thoroughbred establishment.


Ever notice the irony of Garden State Park (1985-2000) closing the first year of the 21st century after carrying the moniker “Track of the 21st Century.”


Sorry to hear of the passing of Mickey Burke, the 2006 USHWA Trainer of the Year and leading money-winning conditioner in 2007 and 2008. The founding member of the Burke Brigade was a generous man with a finger on every aspect of the sport and he will surely be missed.