Speedy Crown - 1971
Speedy Crown: "Speedy" Crowned the Champ There are several accepted routes to Hambletonian fame. One is to make all the stops and meet all opposition and reach peak form at DuQuoin. Another is to pick your spots along the way, bring your colt to a peak of performance and hope everything happens the right way. It certainly did for Howard Beissinger and Speedy Crown in 1971. Speedy Crown was considered a rank outsider when the 1971 seaon began, but during the course of the season, Beissiner brought his charge along carefully, showing that he could trot with the best of them early and often. Not eligible to the Review Futurity at Springfield's Grand Circuit stop, he instead elected to go a time trial with Speedy Crown, and the colt responded wtih a 1:57.2 "workout" which was faster than the 1:58.2 mile recorded by Quick Pride and Hoot Speed in the Review. After that, with the rest of the field shipping to Indianapolis for the Horseman Stake, Beissinger elected to ship right to DuQuoin and work his charge out for two weeks over the Hambletonian track. He put several stiff works in him as he was razor sharp for the race, trotting two near perfect 1:57.2 and 1:58.1 miles, easily whipping Savoir and A.C.'s Orion. Speedy Crown went on to complete the 1971 Triple Crown.
As Beissinger pulled him off the rail up the backstretch in the second and final heat, Speedy Crown stepped on Hoot Speed's sulky wheel. According to Beissinger, "he never missed a beat!," exhibiting the trotting talent he would pass on to his sons and daughters in an extraordinary stallion career that ended in 1996 with his retirement at age 28. Trainer/driver Howard Beissinger's wife Ann was the breeder of Speedy Crown. Speedy Crown was voted Trotter of the Year. Top Hanover, by 1963 winner Ayres out of the exported free-for-aller Elaine Rodney, was the first "European horse" to start in the Hambletonian. Through sired at Hanover, Elaine Rodney was owned in Italy at the time. Top Hanover was trained in Europe and driven by leading German reinsman Gerhard Krueger. Elaine Rodney finished second to Blaze Hanover in the first heat of the 1960 Hambletonian. Gay Blossom won the first Hambletonian Filly Stake (renamed the Oaks in 1982). From 1926 to 1970, 141 fillies started in the Hambletonian; only seventeen have started in the Open since the inauguration of the Hambletonian Oaks in 1971.