Seeing Seth Rosenfeld’s name on the program again is wonderful. Can anyone remember the richest two-year-old he campaigned way back when? No not Beach Towel, who was the sport’s richest ever three-year-old in 1990 at $2,091,860. The answer would be Halcyon, who made $734,370 as a freshman in 1986.
Big money past 50
With John Campbell announcing this week that his retirement will be at the end of the June, it is worth noting that the two drivers who are also members of the $200 million club — Ron Pierce and David Miller — both took their seasonal bests in earnings past their 50th birthdays. Pierce in 2006 while 50 ($14,739,087) and just last year for Miller at 52 ($12.5 million plus).
A Meadowlands card recently had four drivers under the age of 25. A look at the top 60 drivers at the Meadowlands in 1993 shows zero drivers on the list were not yet 25. Speaking of drivers not yet 25, Peter Haughton drove in five Hambletonians prior to his 25th birthday, starting at age 19 with Journalist in 1974.
Speaking of Peter Haughton and trotters, it was he who drove the first ever Meadowlands trotter to victory on Sept. 2, 1976. He drove Savoir, the defending Horse of the Year to a four-length score in a $17,500 open and paid 7-5.
Early Chuck Sylvester — like 1976, long before his Hall Of Fame career kicked into overdrive — he competed at the Meadowlands with a pacer called Perkys Kid, sophomore gelding by Egyptian Dancer; and a five-year-old trotting mare he co-owned with Gil Short by the name of Sunnys Dream.
Is Betting Line the first stallion in four decades to stand at Hanover Shoe Farms not having ever raced at the Meadowlands?
Jimmy Takter’s first Triple Crown drive came in the 1984 Yonkers Trot with Bold Vigil as part of the entry with winner Baltic Speed. Bold Vigil was impeded on the backstretch the first time and lost any chance. It is interesting to note who else was in that race: fellow Swede Per Eriksson had won his elim, from post 8 no less, with Socrates Lobell. For those keeping score, it was a pair of 23-year-old Swedes who would win seven Hambletonians between them up to and including 2016.
One tough mare
You gotta love Armbro Regina. Not only is she the last filly to go four heats in the Hambletonian (in 1976), when she won the third heat it was in 1:56.3, which was the fastest for a female to that point in the half-century history of the Hambletonian. Plus, winning heat three guaranteed a fourth heat, which went to Steve Lobell
Lesser-known world records
Two of the lesser known all-time world record setters are Warm Breeze and Jade Prince. Here’s a little bit of a closer look:
Jade Prince was just two when he set a world mark of 1:54.1 on Oct. 5, 1976 in the second heat at The Red Mile. He had won in 1:55.1 earlier in the day and is the last freshman to hold the all-age mark. He lowered it two-fifths from Albatross.
Warm Breeze set a 1:53.1 world mark in Sacramento on June 26, 1977 in a $15,000 free-for-all with Richard Farrington in the sulky. Warm Breeze won by 18-and-a-quarter lengths to improve to four-for-six on the season.
A look at the 1987 Hambletonian Day card
Mack Lobell won and was the first of John Campbell’s six Hambletonians and the first of four for trainer Chuck Sylvester. Sylvester also had Dragons Lair on that card, as well as Time Well Spent and Waikiki Beach.
This Hambletonian came eight days after Campbell had seized the all-time earnings mark from Herve Filion — a record he has built on ever since and never relinquished.
That same year, Jimmy Takter made his Hambletonian debut with Sir Taurus, who was six. Varenne’s sire, Waikiki Beach, was in the race, too. Joe Hogan was the driver of Go Get Lost. Joe Holloway was also on the card and would become the first trainer to win 100 races in a single meet that year.
Ulf Thoresen, the defending Hambletonian-winning driver from 1986, drove Beseiged.