Malabar Man - 1997
Burroughs & Malabar Man Were Pros Much was made of owner-breeder Malvern Burroughs status as an amateur driver in the 1997 Hambletonian . While the 56-year-old Burroughs may not drive for purse money [he donates it to charity, primarily the Seton Hall Seminary], he gave Malabar Man a perfect steer in the $1 million trotting classic. As one reporter, Sherry Ross of the New York Daily News, put it, Burroughs "drove like a chilly professional when he threaded Malabar Man through the eye of the needle to skim the rail inside of Bowlin for Dollars and win the Meadowlands race." Burroughs, who parlayed a single dump truck into a construction and real estate empire, was involved in building the Meadowlands racing strip in the mid 1970s. One this bright, sunny day he would win the track's most important race as only the second amateur (Harrison Hoyt was the first in 1948) to win the Hambletonian in the first 72 editions of the stakes. Malabar Man was unbeaten in the first six starts he had at three, coming tinto the Hambletonian with victories in 19 of 21 lifetime starts. Sent off as the 3-10 favorite in the $1 million final, he trotted the mile in 1:55, paying $2.60 as part of the three-horse entry. One of his stablemates in the care of trainer, Jimmy Takter, Take Changes, was one-length back in second. "I wanted to win the race for the horse." Burroughs said, wiping at the tears that mixed with sweat. "I would have felt bad if I goofed up and caused the horse not to win. I was happy the horse could show his greatness. "I just thank God for sending me this wonderful horse," said Burroughs, who lives in Flemington, New Jersey. Malabar man's season continued after the Hambletonian victory, with wins in 13 of 16 starts, including that $594,000 Breeders Crown on October 24, his final start. He retired to a career at stud at Perretti Farms in Cream Ridge, New Jersey, with a career bankroll of $2,143,903. In post season balloting, Burrough's homebred son of Supergill-Lady Love McBur won the Dan Patch Award as Horse of the Year, along with honors as Trotter of the Year and Three-Year-Old Trotter of the Year. The 1997 edition of the Hambletonian marked the first time eliminations were held the week prior to the final. Hambletonian Day was a betting bonanza with a total harness handle of $6,115,766 ( up from $5,819,226 in 1996) of which $3,167,323 (up from $3,139,833) was wagering at the Meadowlands. The crowd of 26,618 was off from the 1996 total of 28,299, but on-site betting (on the live and incoming simulcast signals) reached $4,343,416 versus $3,703,814 the previous year.
For the first time, eliminations for the Hambletonian and the Hambletonian Oaks were contested the prior Saturday (August 2). For the first time, the elimination races were seeded by formula to balance the fields with pre-race favorites Malabar Man, Bowlin for Dollars and Yankee Glide drawing in separate eliminations. For the first time, the post positions for the finals were determined by an open draw. Malabar Man won from post four. He won his elimination from post three. Owner-breeder Malvern Burroughs became the second amateur diver to win the Hambletonian. Harrison Hoyt won with Demon Hanover in 1948. According to 87-year-old Hoyt, who was present in his first visit to the Meadowlands, Burroughs handling of Malabar Man was "Exactly the way I would have taken him." Malabar Man was the 20th homebred to win the Hambletonian. It was actually Burrough's second Hambletonian drive; he drove Climbing Bud (5-x-5) in 1995. Amateur driver Burroughs donatedhis 5% diver's fee to Seton Hall Seminary. Thirty winners, including Malabar Man, traced their paternal line directly to Volomite (second to Walter Dear in the 1929 Hambletonian). Volomite was a great-great great-grandson of Hambletonian 10. Malabar Man was the 60th of the 73 winners to trace their paternal line directly to Peter The Great, a great-grandson of Hambletonian 10. John & Adelaide Skoglund's Must Be Victory set a stakes record in the Oaks winning in 1:53 3/5. Must be Victory is by Valley Victory, sire of three Hambletonian winners and two Oaks winners from his first five crops. The purse for the final of the Hambletonian Oaks was increased from $300,000 to $500,000.