Prakas - 1985
Prakas: O’Donnell Gets First Hambletonian Win Hambletonian records were at the mercy of Prakas and Bill O’Donnell in 1985. They won the 60th edition of the race in straight heats at the Meadow-lands, and stopped the clock in 1:543 in the second heat - snapping the record 1:55 for the fastest heat shared by Speedy Somolli and Florida Pro. The first division was captured by Torway and Howard Beissinger in 1:55.2. Torway, a 37-1 shot, had only one win and raced mostly in New York Sire Stakes prior to the Hambletonian. The record crowd of 37,652 backed Mark Six, who had captured the Canadian Trotting Derby at Greenwood earlier in the year. Prakas garnered the title of pre-race favorite by virtue of his six wins and three seconds in nine starts and his track records at Vernon Downs and the Meadowlands, both in 1:56.
When the gate left, Ben Webster and Flak Bait grabbed the lead with a :28.2 quarter. O'Donnell then pulled Prakas from the two hole and carried the field through clockings of :57.3 and 1:26.4. In the stretch, O'Donnell waved his whip at the colt and Prakas opened up to win by three and a half lengths in 1:55.1. In the final, Flak Bait was again the first to show, Piggvar dropped in second and Mark Six was parked to the quarter in :28.2. Prakas, after getting away fifth, challenged and took the lead past the half in :56.4 and the three-quarters in 1:25.2. They turned for home and Prakas' victory was sealed when Mark Six, the biggest threat, started to fade. A tired Prakas drifted out as he neared the wire, but had enough left in the tank to set the record of 1:54.3. The purse of $1,272,000 was the richest ever for the Hambletonian, and Prakas took home $636,000 for owners Hans Enggren, Iain MacKenzie and Carl Vizzi. Enggren was the breeder of not only Prakas, but also Torway, whom he sold as a yearling for $32,000. Prakas was trained by Per Eriksson, who arrived from Sweden with the father-son team of Soren and Jan Nordin, but had recently struck out on his own.
Co-owner Hans Enggren bred not only Prakas, but also Torway, the winner of the first elimination heat in 1:55 2/5, a track record for 3-year-olds. Prakas reclaimed the 3-year-old standard when he won his elim in 1:55 1/5, then set a new Hambletonian stake record of 1:54 3/5. 23-year-old Per Eriksson became the youngest trainer to win the Hambletonian. Prakas was voted the Trotter of the Year. The Hambletonian was simulcast for the first time. It was the first Hambletonian win for the Meadowland's perennial leading driver, Bill O'Donnell; Prakas was the fifth horse he'd driven in the classic. O'Donnell closed out 1985 with more than $10 million in earnings, the first driver to mark that milestone. Two of his regular drives, Prakas and Nihilator, set single season's earnings marks that year.