by Bob Heyden
Two major $20 million + milestones have been recorded in 2017.
Trainer Ron Burke exceeded $20 million for the fifth straight season.
Meanwhile, Somebeachsomewhere set the single-season earnings record for a stallion when he exceeded $20 million in progeny earnings and was well past $22 million as December dawned.
With Fourth Dimension all but nailing down the 2YOCT division with a convincing Valley Victory win, it’s very likely that sire Chapter Seven will win his second straight freshman trotting division from only two crops! (Walner 2016). Check this out (2017 stats only):
Chapter Seven — 155 foals, $4,681,109, average earnings per foal: $30,201
Muscle Hill — 454 foals, $11,950,784, average earnings per foal: $24,857
2nds anyone? 3rds?
Not here. The top two earning freshman fillies of 2017 are Youaremycandygirl 11 9-0-0 ($895,561) and Manchego 12 12-0-0 ($873,948). That’s 23 combined starts and no seconds or thirds. Niatross went a career without finishing second or third. He was the only Horse of the Year do ever do this for an entire career He was 39 37-0-0.
What The Hill’s double digit odds
He was sent off at 17.20-1 in this year’s Hambletonian, won it,but was then DQ’d. Regardless of the outcome there, he does look to have a great chance to be the divisional champion. Care to guess who the last 3YOCT divisional winner was who was sent off at double digit odds in the Hambleteonian?
In 1996, 22.90-1 shot Running Sea — who finished third behind Continentalvictory and Lindy Lane.
They are the only ones to do this since the Meadowlands got the Hambletonian in 1981 — assuming What The Hill captures the divisional title.
What The Hill had stayed up in the Hambletonian?
Second behind Devious Man ($1,030,444) in the sophomore trotting colts’ division this year with earnings of $948,178, What The Hill’s numbers would then look like this:
18 10-1-2, $1,448,178 — and that would be a better single season than…
• Classic Photo (2005) — $1,376,829
• Mr Muscleman (2003) — $1,364,220
• Lucky Chucky (2010) — $1,432,324
• Pine Chip (1993) — $1,363,421
• Yankee Paco (2000) — $1,361,421
• Armbro Goal (1988) — $1,311,234
What if (part 2)…
Plunge Blue Chip had not lost at Yonkers in her NYSS final?
Had she won that day, the top two freshman trotting fillies in the year-end race would have both been undefeated. Manchego was 12-for-12 and Plunge Blue Chip ended up 9-for-10.
Aaron Merriman is not only the fourth driver to reach 1,000 wins in a single season, he’s had at least 1,500 more starts than anyone else in the top 40. He entered December about 415 starts short of Tim Tetrick’s 2007 record of 4,728.
1998 — Walter Case 2,993 starts 1,077 wins, $4,445,228
2006 — Tony Morgan 4,133 starts 1,004 wins, $8,478,313
2007 — Tim Tetrick 4,728 starts, 1,189 wins, $18,350,047
Respecting your elders
These five Triple Crown winners were all denied Horse Of The Year honors by an older horse.
1969 — Lindys Pride denied by 4YO Nevele Pride
1970 — Most Happy Fella denied by 7YO Fresh Yankee
1972 — Super Bowl denied by stablemate and 4YO standout Albatross
1983 — Ralph Hanover denied by 4YO Cam Fella
1999 — Blissful Hall by 6 YO Moni Maker
All but Fresh Yankee won multiple HOY titles.
Speaking of Fresh Yankee
With female trotters in the year-end spotlight this year, let’s take a look at Fresh Yankee who was the 1970 Horse of the Year. Bred by Charlie Keller (the NY Yankee), she improved to $856,580 lifetime at age seven that year winning 110-49 in the HOY voting over Most Happy Fella (out of 207 ballots. Rounding out the top five in the voting was: Albatross with 10 votes (1971-1972 HOY), Columbia George with eight and Fulla Napoleon with one.
TVG final mirror image
The older pacers in the $350,000 TVG final crossed the wire 1-2-3-and their records lifetime and for 2017 looked eerily similar:
Mach It So — 26 6-4-5, $763,371
McWicked — 27 7-7-2, $561,775
All Bets Off — 26 5-5-4 $735,391
There were three double millionaires in the field and, you guessed it, it was these same three horses.
Late Bloomer alert
For all those horses who had a couple of okay seasons, remember, there’s always tomorrow. Sometimes you can even step it up and go with the elite. And, once in a very great while, you get a Foiled Again, whose combined record at 2 and 3 (2006 and 2007) was 27 7-5-5 $59,359. He’s past $7.5 million today.
Brian Brown trainees Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon are the two leading money earners in the sport this year. When was the last time a trainer had the two leading money winners?
In 1994, Bill Robinson did it with a pair of sophomore pacing colts, too — Cams Card Shark ($2,264,714) and Pacific Rocket ($1,418,325). This is in all of harness racing — trotters, too.
Hannelore Hanover making a “Spectacular Bid” for HOY
Hannelore Hanover comes off a great season where she beat the boys and won the Breeders Crown, the Maple Leaf Trot and then the TVG to make a loud statement. But she actually made more money in 2016. Can she do what Spectacular Bid did in 1979 and 1980 when he made more money the year before also, but then was named HOY?
1979 12 10-1-1 $1,279,334 3YO champ
1980 9 9-0-0 $1,117,790 HOY
Hannelore was a million-dollar winner both seasons also.
2016 20 17-2-0 $1,119,117
2017 17 10-5-0 $1,030,379