Breeders Crown Trophies Named in Memory of Max C. Hempt & John F. Simpson Sr.
Two of the trademark crystal trophies that have graced the Breeders Crown championship series since 1984 will bear additional etching from this year forward - in memory of two men whose influence on the creation of the series and in the greater sphere of harness racing cannot be understated. The Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Filly Pace trophy has been named the Max C. Hempt Memorial Trophy and its trotting counterpart has been named in memory of John Simpson Sr.
Max C. Hempt was a director of the Hambletonian Society from 1957-1989 and president of the Society from 1966-1984. The creation of the Breeders Crown series in 1983 evolved under his administration, and he was the original chairman of the first Breeders Crown committee. The renowned Hempt breeding farm produced many champions bearing the prefix "Keystone" to reflect their Pennsylvania origins, including two Horse of the Year winners in Stenographer and Keystone Ore.
In addition to being a major breeder, Hempt was a successful amateur driver, a U.S. Trotting Association director for 21 years, and a vice-president and trustee of The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 1979. He was also co-owner of the great Fancy Crown, who was “Crowned” in the inaugural sophomore filly trot in 1984.
The Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Filly Trot Trophy will be entitled the John F. Simpson Sr. A successful driver-trainer of his era, in 1951 Simpson was designated by Lawrence Sheppard of the dynastic Hanover Shoe Farms to guide the fortunes of the “Shoe” Farms breeding, racing and training interests for many years. Simpson Sr. served as a director of the Hambletonian Society from 1971 until his death in 1995, and was on the original Breeders Crown committee that helped shape and direct the Breeders Crown championship series. Hanover Shoe Farms is the longest-running sponsor of both the Hambletonian and the Breeders Crown, and created the Simpson Stakes for two and three-year-old trotters and pacers. The list of champions trained and driven by Simpson Sr, and those bred by Hanover under his direction are too long to list, but encompass every major race around the globe. These trophies join the H. A. Grant Jr. Memorial Three-Year-Old Colt Pace Trophy and the John Cashman Jr Memorial Three-Year-Old Colt Trot Trophy.
The Hambletonian Society, which owns and administrates the Breeders Crown races, will continue to designate Breeders Crown memorial trophies annually, as a tribute to the legacies of those who have guided the 30-year-old series so successfully. Crystal Apex Awards and Design of Sheridan, Ontario, handcrafts the winner’s trophies that feature 12-inch high crystal monoliths individually deep-etched to carry the ornate Breeders Crown logo. Each crystal piece is mounted atop a tiered, ebonized wood base upon which a plaque is hand engraved with the name of the Breeders Crown champion.