Windsong's Legacy - 2004
Triple Crown Winner For trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer, his victory in the 2004 Hambletonian with Windsong's Legacy was gratifying on many levels. Not only had the Norwegian-born horseman realized the culmination of years of hard work and avenged his loss with the race favorite the previous year, but Smedshammer raised $25,000 for the American Cancer Society in memory of his father, Lars, and owner Patricia Spinelli's husband, Ron, each of whom lost his battle with lung cancer. After Windsong's Legacy advanced from the eliminations, Smedshammer and the ownership of the colt pledged five percent of his earnings in the Hambletonian Final to the American Cancer Society. Smedshammer had lost his father, Lars, a year earlier, while Ron Spinelli had succumbed to cancer only the week before the race. Just the year before, Smedshammer looked to be in perfect position to take home his first Hambletonian trophy with the race favorite Power To Charm, but that prospect dimmed quickly as Power To Charm faded on the lead past the half and finished fifth. This time, Smedshammer would be the fourth choice in the race, despite his colt's victory in the Stanley Dancer two weeks prior. In fact, the odds of Windsong's Legacy reaching the Hambletonian were not his favor form the beginning. The modestly priced yearling was orphaned at two months old when his dam, Yankee Windsong, died from complications of colic. Angels may have been smiling on horse and driver as the wings of the starting gate folded. Smedshammer elected to follow Cash Hall and ended up with a perfect second-over trip as Cash Hall was left to race uncovered while challenging the favorite, Tom Ridge, through soft opening fractions. Despite the leisurely pace, Tom Ridge was unable to sustain his drive and just as Cash Hall finally pushed past Tom Ridge at the three-quarter marker, Smedshammer tipped Windsong's Legacy three-wide and swept past the field for a length victory in 1:54.1. Windsong's Legacy would go on to win the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity, completing the Triple Crown, the first horse to do so since Super Bowl in 1972. Smedshammer would be named the United States Harness Writers Association's Trainer of the Year for his achievements with Windsong's Legacy, named the Three-Year-Old Trotter of the Year and Trotter of the Year, and his other divisional trotting champions, three-year-old trotting filly Housethatruthbuilt and older trotting mare Stroke Play. Windsong's Legacy, who raced in then name of Ann Brannvoll of Suedsmo, Norway; Ted Gewertz of New York City and Patricia Spinelli of Oyster Bay Cover, New York, was retired to stud duty at Perretti Farms in Cream Ridge, New Jersey.
The last Triple Crown winner was Super Bowl in 1972, and ironically, who when bred to Yankee Windsong, the dam of Windsong's Legacy, produced Moonlight G, a hard-knocking trotter that the Spears family kept and still raced at age seven. Winsong's Legacy was her fourth foal, and Yankee Windsong died of colic complications when her colt was eight weeks old. He was named in her honor and cared for by Hanover Shoe Farms top yearling man, Dennis King. The late Yankee Windsong was voted 2004 trotting Broodmare of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Assocation as her three racing sons gave her an annual earnings total of $1,727,100. His sire, Conway Hall was fourth in the 1998 Hambletonian won by Muscles Yankee. Windsong's Legacy gives Conway Hall is a first-crop Hambletonian credit. He stands at the State University of New York's Morrisville Colleg, which features a hands-on standardbred equine racing and breeding program. His stud fee , originally $5,000, has increased to $20,000 as of 2005; the highest in New York in 20 years. Windsong's Legacy was sold at the 2002 Harrisburg Sale for $27,000. Second and third-place finishers Cantab Hall and Cash Hall sold for $310,000 and $300,000 respectively. Windsong's Legacy joins 2003 winner Amigo Hall as the only two Hambletonian champions since 1997 (when eliminations were moved to the week prior) not to win their elims. Windsong's Legacy set a single seasons earning record in 2004 of $1.7 million displacing two other Hambletonian winners: Malabar Man ($1,679,862 - with foreign earnings) and Prakas ($1,610,608 - all domestic). Smedshammer and co-owner Patricia Spinelli encouraged the owners to donate five percent of the horse's winnings of $500,000 to the American Cancer Society; Smedshammer lost his father, Lars, to lung cancer and Spinelli's husband, Ron, an original partner in Windsong's Legacy died a week prior to the Hambletonian, also of lung cancer. They presented a check for $25,000 to the American Cancer Society. Windsong's Legacy eventually won all six finals in which he was entered in 2004, adding the Goodtimes, Stanley Dancer Trot and Canadian Trotting Classic to his Triple Crown triumphs. The win was the first in the Hambletonian for Ann Branvoll and Patricia Spinelli. Ted Gewertz had previously won in 1991 with Giant Victory in partnership with Stan and Steve Robins. He has never failed to earn a check in the big race as his Giant Hit was third in 1993, while both Giant Chill (1995) and Power To Charm (2003) were fifth. Windsong's Legacy was voted divisional champion and Trotter of the Year. Horse of the Year went to sophomore pacing filly Rainbow Blue. Windsong's Legacy never finished worese than third in 2004 with a summary of 12 starts, 9 wins, 2 seconds, and one third for $1,713,806 in purse money, and a mark of 1:53. In 17 lifetime starts, the only time he finished off the board was a fourth place finish as a two-year-old in Lexington. Walnut Hall could not claim a winner's credit as they did in 2003 with Amigo Hall (both bred and owned) but nonetheless the "Hall" moniker was sprinkled liberally throughout the 2004 Hambletonian proceedings. The winner Windsong's Legacy was sired by Conway Hall, a Walnut Hall Ltd. stallion. The place and show horses, Cantab Hall and Cash Hall, were bred, raised, and sold by Walnut Hall Ltd. (Walnut Hall also bought back an owner interest in Cash Hall). And the fifth-place finisher was Justice Hall, another Walnut Hall Ltd. product. He is owned in part by Mary Katz of Lexington, wife of Steve Katz, an executive with Walnut Hall Ltd. Trond Smedshammer became the first driver-trainer to win since Stefan Melander and Scarlet Knight in 2001. Smedshammer made his first appearance in the Hambletonian winner circle in 1989 as an assistant for Lindy Farms Stable, with Probe, who famously deadheated with Park Avenue Joe win the race final. The Norwegain-born horseman embarked on his own in 1992 and five years later he won an elimination of the Hambletonian with Bowlin For Dollars, who finished fourth in the final. In 2003, Trond was sitting pretty with 1-2 favorite Power to Charm (driven by John Campbell), who disappointed with a fifth-place finish.