Harness racing’s Muscles Yankee, by Valley Victory–Maiden Yankee was a star in 1998 as a three-year-old. Driven by the winningest sulky jockey of all time, John Campbell, Muscles Yankee set world records for three-year-olds and all age racers when he scored a 1:53 on November 14 at Colonial Downs, New Kent, Virginia’s 1-1/4 miles track.
His progeny continue to have great success. Another son, Muscle Hill, won harness racing’s Horse of the Year in 2009, and was regarded as one of the sport’s best ever trotters. Muscle Hill tied the world speed record of 1:50.1 for the mile in last season’s Hambletonian Stakes, as well as scoring the fastest ever Hambletonian.
Standardbreds Versus Thoroughbreds in Breeding
Unlike in Thoroughbred racing circles, Standardbred harness racers may well produce sons and daughters before their own racing careers end, which gives them a heads-up in the breeding shed races.
On the other hand, more and more quality racing Standardbreds are being retired earlier from the track so their owners may add their talents to the gene pool before injury, or mishap sends them to an early pasture.
Pacer Somebeachsomewhere and trotter Deweycheatumnhowe are recent early retirees, leaving the track after their near perfect seasons in 2008 at the age of three. Both were gait division champions, and Somebeachsomewhere was 2008’s Harness Horse of the Year.
Muscle Massive Won Hambletonian
Muscles Yankee son Muscle Massive won the 2010 $1.5 Million Hambletonian mile on August 7 in 1:51 over favorite Lucky Chucky. Campbell was in the bike behind Lucky Chucky, who won his Hambletonian Elimination race July 31.
In his July 31 elim, Muscle Massive, with Ron Pierce driving, finished second behind Pilgrims Taj, driven by Mike Lachance.
The first three finishers in each of three elims qualified for the trotters’ Hambletonian Final. In winning the final, Muscle Massive became the leading North American-Based money earner, having bankrolled $969,665. He has posted four wins, two seconds, and one show from eight starts.
Muscle Massive’s dam is Graceful Touch, by Pine Chip. He is owned by Brixton Medical AB (Anders Agerup), Order By Stable (Stefan Balazsi), Louie J. Camara, Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, and Sam Goldband.
Trainer Jimmy Takter Wins Hambo and Yonkers Trot
Muscle Massive’s Hambletonian score gave trainer Jimmy Takter a million-dollar win day, as his nine starters on August 7 produced three victories.
Takter, 49, brought his harness racing hopes to America from Sweden thirty years ago, and this season has been his most successful.
Besides getting to the Hambletonian winner’s circle, Takter enjoyed victory with On The Tab in the Yonkers Trot, the first race of trotting’s Triple Crown, on July 10. The Hambletonian is the Triple Crown’s second jewel. The final Triple Crown race of trotting is the Kentucky Futurity.
Takter’s Yonkers Trot triumph was his second consecutive score in that elite contest. His schoolee Judge Joe won the event in 2009.
Muscles Yankee Daughters in Sweden
In 2009, during elimination races for Sweden’s Kriterium and the Svenskt Trav Oaks finals at Spanga, three daughters of Muscles Yankee qualified in two separate races.
Zilan Boko won her elim, driven by Jorma Kontio, while Dileva Kall went second. The third daughter, Pebbly, won her elim match.
Back to Back Yonkers Trot
Back to back Yonkers Trots have been won in 1971-’72 by driver Stanley Dancer with Quick Pride and Super Bowl; 1976-’77 by Billy Haughton with Steve Lobell and Green Speed; 1984-’85 by Soren Nordin and son, Jan, with Baltic Speed and Master Willie; and 2004-’05 by Trond Smedshammer with Windsong’s Legacy (at Hawthorne Race Course in Indiana) and Strong Yankee (at Freehold Raceway, New Jersey).
/Resources: The Horseman and Fair World magazine, issue August 11, 2010, “Faith Rewarded”, by Gordon Waterstone; issue July 28, 2010, “Will Chucky Be Lucky?”, by Gordon Waterstone; issue July 14, 2010, “Swedish Horseman Joins Elite Group…”, by Steve Kallas; issue September 30, 2009, “Muscles Yankee Daughters Strong In Sweden”/