Alf Palema - 1992
Alf Palema Emerges from Crowd A record 27 trotters dropped in the box for the 1992 Hambletonian, but the race was without a clear standout. Per Eriksson, who won the jewel the previous year with Giant Victory, had four sophomores entered. Of those four, King Conch had the most credentials. The eliminations went in three fields of nine. In the first, Valley Boss Bi won in 1:563 , the filly Armbro Keepsake was second, and Ships Watch third. Favorite Magic Lobell went on a break in the stretch while on the lead, and didn’t make the cut. The second division went to King Conch in 1:56.4, with Herschel Walker and Rising Light next in line. The third contest was captured by Baltic Sonata, with Alf Palema second and Sirocco Spur third. The nine lined up again for the final, with the winner of that dash capturing the coveted crown. King Conch turned back a challenge from Baltic Sonata, and then held off Armbro Keepsake at the head of the lane. Valley Boss Bi went on a break, and Herschel Walker was making a move. The one moving fastest of all, however, was Alf Palema, as driver Mickey McNichol found a slim opening on the rail. Eriksson had pulled the colt's shoes after the first heat, and the barefoot boy got up to score over his stablemate by a head in 1:56.3. King Conch held on for second, with Herschel Walker third.
Largest number of starters (27) in the Hambletonian which necessitated three eliminatin divisions for the first time. Alf Palema became the first starter to win the Hambletonian by winning only one heat - the final. Alf Palema was actually the lesser member of the Swedem Stable (Per Eriksson) entry. King Conch, the 1991 Breeders Crown and divisional 2-year-old champion, was the pre-race favorite. He cut the mile and was just beaten as his stablemate slipped up the rail. Trainer and co-owner Eriksson admitted that no one was more surprised than he at the result of the photo. Alf Palema may be the only horse ever to win the Hambletonian racing barefoot - without horse shoes. Alf Palema is named for a leading salesman in co-owner Bender's roofing company. Alf Palema was the last horse bred by George Alexander, whose Chestnut Farm raised and bred only trotters. It was the first Hambletonian winner bred by Alexander, who was a director of the Hambletonian Society and a member of its Executive Committee. The mare, Highland Bridget, was sold privately in foal with Alf Palema in the dispersal of Alexander's horses at the time of his death in 1988. Alf Palema was voted Trotter of the Year.