Steve Lobell - 1976
Steve Lobell: Second Straight 4-Heat Clash In the long and storied history of the Hambletonian, only six races had taken four heats to declare a winner. In 1975, Bonefish proved toughest of all and in 1976, Steve Lobell and Bill Haughton responded to the call of greatness with a record-breaking victory. Haughton, who won his first Hambletonian with Christopher T. in 1974, returned to Victory Lane for the second time in three years with Steve Lobell, a son of Haughton pupil Speedy Count. The first heat of what would be the sixth four-heater in history was taken by the cleverly named Zoot Suit, a son of Nevele Pride—Glad Rags, who trotted in 1:582 for Vernon Dancer. Steve Lobell and Haughton returned in the second, equalling Super Bowl’s three-year-old record of 1:562 . Then the filly queen, Armbro Regina, knocked the colts over with a resounding 1:563 photo decision of the narrowest kind with Zoot Suit and Quick Pay right there. The final was cut out by Armbro Regina, but Steve Lobell prevailed in the final sixteenth for Haughton and his owners.
First heat winner Zoot Suit was a son of 1965 winner Nevele Pride and the multiple stakes winning pacing mare Glad Rags (who was second to Meadow Skipper in his last career start). Despite his mixed gait pedigree (a trotting sire on a pacing dam) Zoot Suit became one of the foremost trotting stallions in Sweden. Steve Lobell's 1:56 2/5 second heat was a world record for a 3-year-old; the first sub 1:57 3-year-old trotting mile. Armbro Regina's third heat in 1:56 3/5 was a world record for a 3-year-old filly. Winner Steve Lobell collapsed after an exhausting fourth heat race-off. This, along with the four heats of the 1975 race, precipitated a change in the conditions to limit the greatest number of heats to three (beginning with the 1981 race). Steve Lobell also won the Yonkers Trot, but was beaten in the Kentucky Futurity by less than half a length in each of three heats. He lost by a nose to Soothsayer in the first heat and by a nose and a neck to the eventual winner Quick Pay, ironically driven by Haughton's son Peter. Steve Lobell was voted Trotter of the Year.