Armbro Goal - 1988
Armbro Goal: Swede Dreams Despite their reputation and skill with trotters, Swedes had never won America’s premier trotting event. Not until Armbro Goal, trained by Jan Johnson and owned by Tomas Bertmark, both from Sweden, won the 63rd edition of the Hambletonian. Driver John Campbell captured his second consecutive Hambo, the first time a driver accomplished that feat since the late Bill Haughton won back-to-back in 1976 and 1977. Campbell employed the same strategy with Armbro Goal he used with Mack Lobell in 1987: get the lead early in both heats. He won the first heat in 1:543 by three lengths over maiden Rule The Wind, then posted a four and a quarter length victory in 1:551 over Firm Tribute to take the crown in straight heats. Bertmark purchased Armbro Goal just one week before the Hambletonian for $2.5 million from James Plate, Paul Ryan and Michael Caggiano of New York and New Jersey. The horse was to race under his former owners' names the rest of the year, with Bertmark splitting earnings and expenses. Armbro Goal earned $578,400 with his Hambletonian victory, Firm Tribute took home second money of $289,200 on the basis of his third place finish in the first heat and his second place spot in the second heat. Firm Tribute had to start from post number 13 (third from the rail in the second tier) in the first heat, and earned post positions three for the second heat. Since at least 15 trotters have to be entered before the race is split into divisions, the Hambletonian was contested in one division this year. That was the first time the race went in one division since Legend Hanover won in 1979.
Swedish owner/breeder Tomas Bertmark and partners bought Armbro Goal the week before the Hambletonian for $2.5 million, but the winner raced under the prior owners' name because he had already been entered in the event under that ownership. With just 12 trotters entered, the Hambletonian raced only one division for the first time since 1979. Armbro Goal won in straight heats, with a second heat victory of more than four lengths. Continental Farms (Jan Johnson & Berndt Lindstedt) became the only stable to win both the Hambletonian and the Hambletonian Oaks (Nan's Catch) in the same year. Armbro Goal was voted the 3-year-old Trotting Colt of the Year. Armbro Goal was the grandson of 1953 winner Helicopter; his dam Armbro Flight was second (beaten a neck) in the fourth heat raceoff in 1965. Armbro Flight was 23 when Armbro Goal, her13th foal, was born. She is the oldest mare ever to produce a Hambletonian winner. Armbro Flight was also the dam of 1976 heat winner Armbro Regina (third to Steve Lobell in 1976).