Legend Hanover - 1979
Legend Hanover: Sholty & Illinois Owner First Victory Legend Hanover was two-year-old Trotter of the Year in 1978 and was one of the early choices for Hambletonian favorite. But coming into the race, he had only four wins in 19 starts and he was to be driven in the biggest race of his life by a driver who had never ushered him around a racetrack. But Legend Hanover overcame these obstacles and provided one of the most interesting Hambletonian victories ever with a straight heat 1:57, back in 1:561 triumph in the sport’s greatest race. George Sholty, who had driven Florida Pro to a world record 1:55 heat win in 1978, got his first Hambletonian victory with two flawless drives of the Messenger Stable’s Super Bowl colt.
Hambletonian was awarded to The Meadowlands, its present host, beginning in 1981. First $300,000 purse in the Hambletonian. Because of par-mutuel wagering, George Sholty got the last minute driving assignment after Illinois racing officials ruled that Joe O'Brien, Legend Hanover's regular catch-driver, could not dirve him because O'Brien trained another horse in the race. The problem was ironic given that it was only the second year of pari-mutuels at DuQuoin. Legen Hanover was owned by Dr. Arthur Galt, the only Illinois resident to win the Hambletonian during its tenture at DuQuoin. Corinne Tripp, wife of trainer Ray Tripp, was the regular caretaker for Legend Hanover. Mrs. Tripp was so nervous on race day that she watched the Hambletonian from the grandstand while veteran groom Pat Troll "heeled" the horse in the paddock that afternoon. It was Troll's second visit to the Hambletonian winners' circle; he took care of Christopher T (1974). In 1980 he was the caretaker of Burgomeister and is believed to be the only groom to care for three Hambletonian winners. Legend Hanover was a three-quarter brother to Somolli, the dam of 1978 winner Speedy Somolli. The filly division purse topped $100,000 for the first time and was won by Pegan Princess.