Bonefish - 1975
Bonefish: Pressure Squarely on Dancer The 1975 renewal of the Hambletonian had several things going for it. There was a nationwide television audience, the first parimutuel betting in DuQuoin, and it was the 50th renewal of harness racing’s greatest race. It also became one of the most thrilling events in the history of the Hambletonian. The undisputed favorite was Bonefish, the handsome son of Nevele Pride—Exciting Speed, owned by the A. M. Cuddy Stable of Canada and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Dancer. The Dancers and the Cuddys had sold Bonefish to Castleton Farm of Lexington, Ky., prior to the race and a $1 million tag rode on Bonefish’s nose throughout the day. The pressure was clearly on Dancer from the word "go." The crowd was buzzing aplenty when Bonefish, in the words of trainer Dancer, "just went bad a heat" to be ninth in the first heat, which was trotted in 1:59 by outsider Yankee Bambino and young Walter Ross. The second heat was won by Noble Rogue and Jimmy Arthur, trotting in 1:592 over Yankee Bambino and Bonefish, who made a late, but impressive rally. The day was growing old, but the field had set it up for Bonefish to win if he could go the distance. Carefully prepped by Dancer, Bonefish was ready to assume his favorite role by the time the third heat rolled around and his cruising 2:003 win in the third heat foretold his eventual victory, but not without the struggle of his life. Bonefish, Yankee Bambino, and Noble Rogue all reappeared for the fourth and decisive heat, only the sixth time in history the race had gone that distance. Three tough, tired and game trotters answered the call for the final. And in a stretch battle that might have come out of a Hollywood script, Bonefish prevailed by a scant nose. Yankee Bambino showed he was dead game and gave it a marvelous try. It was victory number three for Dancer in trotting’s number one event and another vindication of his supreme training and driving skill.
First $200,000 purse in the Hambletonian. First live television coverage on CBS Sports Spectacular moved the race from a traditional Wednesday race day at Goshen and DuQuoin to Saturday. After a debilitating fourth heat race-off, neither the winner, Bonefish, nor Yankee Bambino (who was second beaten by a nose) would ever race again. Bonefish was the only winner of a fourth heat not to win the first or second heat. Bonefish was the 30th winner sired by a Kentucky stallion; Pennsylvania also has a record 30 through 1995 (Tagliabue). Bonefish was voted 3-year-old Trotting Colt of the Year.