Probe & Park Avenue Joe - 1989
Park Avenue Joe & Probe: Dead Heat Excitement The 64th Hambletonian looked to be one of the most exciting, eagerly anticipated battles in many years - pitting two-year-old champion colt Valley Victory against two-year-old filly champ Peace Corps. The Hambo did indeed live up to its hype but neither Valley Victory nor Peace Corps played a part in it. Valley Victory, suffering from a virus, never entered the race, leaving Peace Corps the overwhelming favorite. The filly carried a 17-race winning streak into the Hambo, and the hopes were high among her trainer Tom Haughton, driver John Campbell, and owner Bjorn Pettersson of Sweden.
The anticipated showdown between 1988 2-year-old divisional champions Valley Victory and Peace Corps failed to materialize when Vally Victory was not entered because of illness. The Meadowlands had to hold onto thousands of "I like the colt" buttons. They still gave away the "I like the filly" buttons. Peace Corps (on a 17-race winning streak, though she had not raced in five weeks) finished a tired third in the first heat and second in the next heat, failing to qualify for the third heat race-off. The two horse race-off resulted in the only dead heat in Hambletonian history. Both horses paid $2.10 to win, producing the only minus pool in the Hambletonian. The last quarter of the race-off was :26 2/5, the fastest quarter ever in the Hambletonian. The mile was 2:02 2/5. Bill Fahy won in his first drive in the Hambletonian. Park Avenue Joe was the second Hambletonian winner for caretaker Randy Beeckman, who also groomed Mack Lobell (1987). Park Avenue Joe was the second of only three black trotters to win. Park Avenue Joe was foaled in Pin Oak Lane Farm in Pennsylvania, in the same barn in which 1992 Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee was born. More than two years after the race, the decision of an administrative law judge upheld the opinion of the Hambletonian Society that both horses be declared co-winners of the Hambletonian, although Park Avenue Joe garnered first money as best summary (2-1-1 dh versus 1-9-1 dh for Probe).