Hi there,

Welcome to issue #11 of Insider Access.

Released every 2 weeks, Insider Access showcases insider rumors and commentary in the worldwide harness racing industry.

Each issue includes an exclusive Stallion review not available anywhere else - this week we review Muscle Hill.

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Contract with COSTA/WEG may not be that great

This past week Harnesslink.com broke the story about the tentative agreement between Central Ontario Horsemen’s Association (COSA) and Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG).

We billed it as one of the greatest possible agreements in Standardbred racing, but since then we have learned more about the dealings and how questions still remain unanswered.

Agreements like this are not done overnight and we appreciate people like COSA president Bill O’Donnell, not wanting to discuss any issues until the agreement is finalized.

But too many times in the past agreements have been made and there always seems to be underlying issues that go unanswered in legal terms and end up resulting in problems after the fact.

It seems the following issues with the COSA/WEG agreement need to be ironed out before it can be signed. The issues of concern are as follows:

* The five-year contract would go through 2019, which is excellent and can encourage owners, breeders, trainers and drivers plus everyone else involved in the industry, especially race fans, that the Standardbred business will be stable.

* The $40 million per year for purses may be good over the five years period the contract goes for, but back in 2009 WEG tracks raced for nearly $75 million. It was not that much every year back then, but $40 million is not even close to $75 million. Fees paid by horse owners for added money stakes events is not included in this figure.

* The race dates at 232 per year between Woodbine and Mohawk is very good, up nearly 40 days from 2013.

* The terms of splitting the revenue from any new gaming opportunities (table games, Historic Racing, V75 wagers, etc.) is not listed as a 50/50 split. It could come out to be less as the language needs to be worked out along with WEG cost deductions for running these events.

* There is talk in the agreement about facility repairs and upgrades over the term of the contract and how WEG will consult with COSA over this issues but does not specifically state if the horsemen have to share in the costs associated with it.

* The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) has been dealing with the Ontario Racing Commission on the funding of marketing efforts to promote racing. This funding comes from the Ontario pari-mutuel tax reduction (PMTR) funds. But what we find disturbing here is that it calls for a distribution split of these funds 60/40 in favor of Thoroughbred racing while the mainstay of racing in Ontario is dominated by Standardbred racing. We hope this issue is well fought to be reversed.

* There was also talk of getting or forcing the two Standardbred groups in Ontario, COSA and the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA) to join forces and become one voice for Standardbred racing in Ontario. This talk has been going on for months and so far to no avail.

In the course of a perfect world, all of these issues could and should be worked out for the future of harness racing in Ontario. And we hope that it can take place.

What is most important is that all horsemen and women that work, live, race and are part of the Standardbred Industry in Ontario have the opportunity to voice their opinions before the “I’s” are dotted and the “t’s” are crossed and the agreement is signed. That way moving forward everyone is working together to make the future for harness racing even better.

Graham Beirne's Betting Restricted in NZ

One of the major issues facing the harness racing industry in New Zealand is the retention of gamblers who invest in our sport in preference to other forms of gambling.

One of the biggest gamblers on harness racing in New Zealand is Graham Beirne who is a well-known figure in the harness racing industry. A prolific breeder and owner, his horses carry the "Anvil" trademark at the start or end of their names.

So you would think that the TAB (Totalisator Agency Board), who are the sole legal gambling outlet based in New Zealand would bend over backwards to accommodate someone like Graham and encourage him to bet.

But no, they want to restrict the amount and the frequency of his betting because they say he is too successful.

By his reckoning he is 6% in front over the last year but that is too much for the TAB.

They have annoyed Mr Beirne so much that he is talking of getting out of harness racing completely.

The TAB have a monopoly in New Zealand and in this case they appear to be abusing their position.

Common sense must prevail here and some agreement reached because the industry cannot afford to lose people of the ilk of Mr Beirne.

New Low Cost Sales Format in New Zealand

A few feathers have certainly been ruffled with the announcement of the Broodmare and mixed stock being run by the Standardbred Breeders Association at Addington in September.

In a novel concept the horses for sale are not actually on site on auction night. It is up to prospective buyers to inspect stock prior to sale if they are interested in purchasing any of the stock for sale.

The aim of that is to keep the costs to the vendor to an absolute minimum and therefore encourage vendors to sell their stock.

With an entry fee of $125 and no commission on any sale, the concept has proven extremely popular with over 80 entries to date.

The timing of the sale is also good for everybody involved as we are about to head into the breeding season and well-bred mares should be in demand.

Of course not everybody is happy with the concept. The long established bloodstock company, PGG Wrightson, is not involved in the planning of this alternative to their broodmare and mixed stock sale held every year in May. PGG Wrightson has had the market all to themselves for a long time and a low cost alternative to their sales timetable might just find favour with cash strapped vendors.

Stallion Review - Muscle Hill
Muscle Hill
Muscle Hill

Stats as of the 22nd August 2014


Muscle Hill is by Muscles Yankee from Yankee Blondie by American Winner from Yankee Bambi by Hickory Pride from Yankee Duchess.

Muscles Yankee - statistics

Eligible to race - 1,317

Winners - 675

$2,000,000+ - 0

$1,000,000+ - 13

$100,000+ - 214

Sub 1:53 - 23

Average earnings per starter $99,489

Average earnings per eligible horse - $67,081

Total earnings to date $88,345,796

In New Zealand Muscles Yankee bred 41 winners (by Frozen Semen) of $2,570,522 in stakes including the Champion trotter I Can Doosit 1:55.5, 30 wins and $1,139,694 in stakes.

In Australia Muscles Yankee bred 48 foals (by Frozen Semen) for 20 winners and $1,400,468 in stakes including the gelding Let Me Thru ($453,945), Lord Of The Gym ($262,090) and Down Under Muscles ($216,925).

Muscles Yankee has also left a number of winners throughout Europe but we have no records for today's preview..

Muscles Yankee

Here is a great article written about Muscles Yankee just after winning the Hambletonian and it details the pedigree of Muscles Yankee

Power, Precision, Performance.

Those adjectives would sum up Muscles Yankee's impressive demolition of his Hambletonian competitors on Saturday at The Meadowlands.

His power was overwhelming. He appeared to have trot left in a near stakes record 1:52.2 mile. As for precision, he looked like a well-oiled trotting machine through the stretch, avoiding the breaking habit which cost him so dearly at two. And for performance, the mile was the second fastest Hambletonian heat in history, eclipsed only by Continentalvictory's remarkable 1:52.1 effort in the second heat of the 1996 Hambletonian. Muscles Yankee was simply awesome on this day in what has to date been a nearly perfect season for the son of Valley Victory-Maiden Yankee.

Watch - Muscles Yankee 1998 Hambletonian

This is Valley Victory's third Hambletonian winner from only five crops of Hambletonian age. In 1994, in his first crop, he produced Victory Dream, one of the most courageous horses of this era, and then in 1996, he gave us the wondrous Continentalvictory, clearly one of the most sensational trotters ever produced. Valley Victory has never had the advantage of breeding a large book of mares due to his well-publicized fertility problems. Muscles Yankee is one of but 42 foals by Valley Victory in his 1995 crop.

Valley Victory became the darling of the trotting industry with his very first crop. They are uniformly good-headed, smart horses, who acquire their gait naturally, learn speed quickly, go clean and are, when they are very good, nearly unbeatable. The only knock on the Valley Victory offspring to date has been the threat of unsoundness. For example, the careers of Continentalvictory, Victory Dream, Donerail and others have been shortened due to racing injuries. But clearly, Valley Victory is a dominant sire in the mould of a Star's Pride, the leading sire of Hambletonian winners. Valley Victory clearly has a lot to offer to any broodmare.

In this case, Muscles Yankee is out of the Speedy Crown mare Maiden Yankee, herself a stellar performer with 13 wins in her two-and-three-year-old seasons, with a mark of T3,1:59.4f. She earned nearly $190,000. Her most prominent stakes win in open company was the Lady Suffolk at three and the Reynolds Memorial at both two and three. In addition, Maiden Yankee is a full sister to the good trotter Defiant Yankee 2,1:58.1; $172,290, who took his record over The Red Mile at Lexington winning a heat of the International Stallion Stake. However, his biggest win was at three, winning the 1981 Dexter Cup for Howard Beissinger in 2:01h. Defiant Yankee is a stallion whose stud career has puzzled us. He never really got much attention. He has, however, had his moments as he is the sire of the world champion trotting mare Beat The Wheel 4,1:51.4; $303,178, still the breed's fastest racing trotter.

One of the most recurring themes in pedigree research is that a full or half sister to a good horse has a better than average chance of becoming a successful producer herself, even when she may have had little racing ability herself. It has happened again with Muscles Yankee.

Maiden Yankee, the dam of our newest Hambletonian winner, has had six previous foals whose collective earnings are just past $51,000. Still, the market for trotters is forgiving, and Muscles Yankee was a $200,000 yearling. My own notes on him as a yearling were that he had good size, was a little sickle-hocked, but had tremendous size and strength. He was a coarse yearling and he is far from a pretty colt now. Another of my observations on him as a yearling was that he appeared to be well-named, because he was indeed very muscular. Nearly two years of maturity have seen him develop into a massive colt, with a strong, well-developed shoulder and a tremendously powerful stifle and hock.

Another of my catalogue notes remarked that this matching of a Speedy Crown mare to Valley Victory was the right cross, especially when the Speedy Crown mare also has a second dam by Noble Victory.

If we examine the most outstanding production of Valley Victory, among his other top offspring to date have been Continentalvictory, Bullville Victory, Victory Dream and Donerail. The one thing all these have in common is a second dam by Noble Victory.

Continentalvictory is from a mare by Chiola Hanover, but her second dam is by Noble Victory. Bullville Victory, Victory Dream, Donerail and Muscles Yankee all have Speedy Crown dams with Noble Victory second dams. When a common thread begins to appear in a pedigree, we must take note. So, when this happened the first time, it was duly noted. When it happened again, it was even more intriguing. Now, it looks like the best way for this to work. It is made even more interesting when we consider that Valley Victory also has a second dam by Noble Victory, the good stakes filly Victorious Lou T3,1:59. While many have espoused the success of the 4 x 2 generation cross to Speedy Crown in this and similar pedigrees, every one also has the 4 x 3 cross to Noble Victory also lurking there. There is clearly much more at work here than just the 4 x 2 cross to Speedy Crown.

Muscles Yankee is now Valley Victory's fastest racing son with his tour de force in the Hambletonian. Continentalvictory at 1:52.1 is still Valley Victory's quickest credit, with her arch-rival Act of Grace T3,1:52.3 not far behind. The fastest previous colt credit had been Lindy Lane at T3,1:53 in his heat of the memorable 1996 Hambletonian.

Let us consider for a moment, the presence of Speedy Crown on the past week of racing at The Meadowlands. His daughter Moni Maker once again asserted her class and dominance over the world's best aged trotters with a convincing pair of stunning wins in the Breeders Crown and the Nat Ray. Speedy Crown's 2yo daughter Rae was a steady, impressive winner of the Merrie Annabelle. His broodmares Margit Lobell and Starlet Crown produced Enjoy Lavec and Starchip Enterprise who were one-two in the Peter Haughton. His daughters Hildy Hanover and Montesquieu produced Fern and Kosmo Girl, who were one-two in the Hambletonian Oaks. Second in the Hambletonian went to David Raymond, a colt by Speedy Crown. Rarely, if ever, has a single horse so dominated a week of action. And, of course, it should be noted that Muscles Yankee, Fern and Enjoy Lavec are by three different stallions, Valley Victory, Sierra Kosmos and Pine Chip.

Speedy Crown mares have shown they can produce any where at any time, giving them a unique status. It is impossible to say that a golden cross consists of a certain stallion with a Speedy Crown dam because the reality is that Speedy Crown mares are producing the world over. Europe is populated with prominent performers from Speedy Crown mares exported in the last two decades.

The maternal family of Muscles Yankee has been entirely created and managed by the Yankeeland Farms of Maryland, and this well-earned triumph is the first Hambletonian credit for this long-established and respected breeding farm. This is, of course, the same farm which produced such noted "Yankees" as Fresh Yankee, TV Yankee, Yankee Bambino and many others too numerous to mention. In fact, Yankeeland Farms has had a profound impact on both of the last two Hambletonians, as they not only bred Muscles Yankee, but also bred his first four dams, and bred the second and third dams of 1997 Hambletonian winner Malabar Man.

Muscles Yankee is the third straight Hambletonian winner to be from a maternal family that had not previously produced a winner of our biggest race, as both Continentalvictory and last year's winner Malabar Man were the first for their respective maternal tribes as well.

Muscles Yankee is from the family of Kit by Pioneer, one of the oldest in the breed that traces to the time of Hambletonian himself.

There are a number of black-type performers in this immediate pedigree, including Smokin Yankee T3,1:58; $445,953, who is from Modern Yankee, a sister to Muscles' third dam.

One of this family's most recent prominent credits was the good Valley Victory gelding Federal Yankee, a winner of nearly $300,000.

Of interest to the pedigree researchers is that this maternal family is home to the trotting sire Rodney, who is a half-brother to Muscles Yankee's fifth dam. We now know that Rodney had a great impact on the breed in developing the sire line who's various branches led not only to Valley Victory, but also accounts for Speedy Scot, Speedy Crown, Speedy Somolli, Armbro Goal, Prakas, King Conch, Arnie Almahurst, Arndon, Pine Chip, Speed In Action, etc.

Once again, the Hambletonian has produced a memorable winner, whose place in history looks just fine next to those who preceded him.

Now for a quick summary of Muscles Yankee.

He was the winner of the USHWA Dan Patch & HTA Nova Award for Three Year Old Trotting Colts

At 2, he was the winner of the Bluegrass, Breeders Crown elimination, Champlain, Int'l Stallion Stake, Standardbred elimination & Valley Victory elimination

At 3, he was the winner of the Beacon Course elimination & Final, Bluegrass, Breeders Crown elimination & Final, Hambletonian elimination & Final & Yonkers Trot

Muscles Yankee is the sire of 13 Millionaires including: Mr Muscleman, 1:51.1s ($3,589,142), Muscle Hill, 3, 1:50.1 ($3,266,835), Deweycheatumnhowe, 3, 1:50.4 ($3,155,178), Strong Yankee, 3, 1:50.3 ($1,434,351), Costa Rica, 3, 1:54.3s ($1,379,178), Muscle Massive, 3, 1:51 ($1,239,138), Neighsay Hanover, 1:52.2f ($1,228,796), Little Brown Fox, 3, 1:51.2 ($1,190,330), Housethatruthbuilt, 3, 1:52.4 ($1,165,183), Looking Hanover, 1:53.2f ($1,089,286), Muscles Marinara, 1:52.1 ($1,058,750) and Blur, 3, 1:55.1s ($1,022,268)


The first dam of Muscle Hill is the race winning daughter of the American Winner mare Yankee Blondie. Yankee Blondie was a minor winner of just $8,434 with a three-year-old record of 1:59.4f.

Yankee Blondie is the dam of eight foals including a two-year-old in 2014, for five winners. They are Muscle Hill 1:50.1 ($3,318,682), Diesel Don 1:55.3 ($247,117) who was exported to Finland, Manfromnantucket 1:57 ($152,857), Upfront Yankee 1:56.2 ($40,623) and Winbak Blondie 1:57.4 ($16,545).

Yankee Blondie is also the dam of the unraced Pine Chip mare Mets Rival who has produced three winners to date. They are Mets Inn 1:56.4 ($200,313) who is the dam of promising 2014 two-year-old Mets Life ($15,050), Commando Queen ($124,941) dam of Order By Commander 1:56.1s ($85,329) and Winbak Maya 1:55.4 ($31,730)

The second dam of Muscle Hill is the Hickory Pride mare Yankee Bambi. From 16 foals she has produced 11 winners including the Speedy Crown stallion T V Yankee 1:56 ($572,024). T V Yankee is the sire of 136 race winners of $6,084,358 to date.

Yankee Bambi is also the dam of the following good winners Yankee Yankee ($272,638), Yankee Bravado ($158,552), N Y Yankee ($125,080), Yankee Pinstripe ($73,799) and Elegant Yankee ($39,366). The last mentioned Elegant Yankee is the dam of Friendly Lover ($36,566) who has produced the very good horse Good Friend 1:54.4f ($322,108)

Yankee Bambi has left three unraced daughters that have produced well. They are Yankee Meme, who is the grand dam of Yankee Becall 1:57.1f ($106,328) who was exported to Sweden, Yankee Kitten who was also exported to Sweden left Kentucky Yankee 1:55.3 ($181,478) and Bashful Yankee who is the dam of Bamboo Yankee 1:54.2f ($379,797) and Yankee Benson 1:58f ($57,931)

The third dam of Muscle Hill is the outstanding producer Yankee Duchess who was by Duke Of Lullwater. Yankee Duchess left 17 foals, 8 of those were winners. But it was not the winners that has made Yankee Duchess prolific. It was the three great mares by Hickory Pride that she left. Yankee Duchess produced five daughters by Hickory Pride and three of those daughters have become the grand dams of three super sires.

Those three daughters of Yankee Duchess are Yankee Bambi, Yankee Scottie and Yankee Flight.

Yankee Bambi, as detailed above is the grand-dam of Muscle Hill T,3, 1:50.1 ($3,266,835). Yankee Scottie is the grand-dam of Windsongs Legacy 1:53 ($1,921,088) and Yankee Flight is the grand-dam of Yankee Glide 1:55.1 ($506,904)

It is interesting to note that these three mares and Yankee Duchess the dam of the three mares, have all produced between 15 and 17 foals each.

Muscle Hill was from the third daughter of Yankee Bambi. Windsongs Legacy was from the eighth daughter of Yankee Scottie and Yankee Glide was foal number twelve from a daughter of Yankee Flight.

Muscle Hill 1:50.1 ($3,266,835) has two crops racing and full details are below.

Windsongs Legacy 1:53 ($1,921,088) was by Conway Hall and was the first foal of his dam Yankee Windsong. She left four foals for four winners. Windsongs Legacy bred 250 foals from just four crops before his untimely death but still produced 108 winners of $16,303,924 to date. His progeny have averaged $65,216 per live foal and $106,562 per starter to this date. Windsongs Legacy has produced two outstanding sons in Lucky Chucky 1:50.4 ($2,119,958) and now a promising young sire of winning two-year-olds in 2014, and Chapter Seven 1:50.1 ($1,952,853) who stood at Blue Chip Farms in 2014 his second season at stud for a service fee of $8,500.

Yankee Glide 1:55.1 ($506,904) was by the immortal Valley Victory and was the seventh of thirteen foals of his dam Gratis Yankee and he was the only one of any note. He was a great winner himself but his real claim to fame is his progeny. He has become a great sire. Yankee Glide has produced 1,180 foals eligible to race, 842 raced, 582 winners of $76,713,128 in stakes to date. Yankee Glide has produced 10 millionaires including the great mare Passionate Glide 1:52.2 ($2,131,377) and the great racehorse and now stallion Glidemaster 1:51.1 ($2,038,575) to mention just the top two.


From a breeding point of view you could say that Muscle Hill has ticked all the right boxes. He is by one of the all-time great sires in Muscles Yankee and is from a prolific producing dam family of stallions, such as Yankee Glide, Windsongs Legacy, Glidemaster, T V Yankee and now Muscle Hill. No need to say no more, this is just a tremendous family and I believe that it will produce many more champions in the future

Muscle Hill was sold as a yearling in 2007 at the Harrisburg Sale as Hip# 199 for $55,000. Interesting to note here that I have seen a catalogue reference page of Muscle Hill by one of the buyers that show a list of leading trainers comments written on the page prior to sale that showed these leading trainers thought that Muscle Hill was not a very good prospect. All the comments shown were negative comments. Point here is that I believe every buyer at a sale is equal. No one formula works all the time. You just cannot tell which horse is going to be the fastest at the yearling stage. Nobody can in my opinion.


Muscle Hill trotted a world record equaling mile as a three-year-old in 1:50.1 and won 20 of 21 lifetime starts for stakes of $3,318,682.

Here are the facts prior to Muscle Hill's final start in the Breeders Crown

Muscle Hill has won 19 consecutive races since finishing second in his career debut as a two-year-old on July 3, 2008 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. He was beaten by a neck by Homer Jay in a leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes.

Since then, the total margin of victory for Muscle Hill in his 19 wins is 77 and 3/4 lengths and that's an average of 4 lengths per triumph. No horse has been nearer than a length of Muscle Hill at the finish of any of his wins.

Never in the history of harness racing's Horse of the Year voting, which began in 1947, has a trotter won the honors with an undefeated season. That could change if Muscle Hill, the No.1 ranked horse in the weekly harness racing poll, wins the U.S.$600,000 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters.

The closest a trotter came to an undefeated Horse of the Year campaign was in 1948 when Rodney won 12 of 13 starts (with the setback being a second-place finish). Four pacers have had unbeaten Horse of the Year seasons: Artsplace in 1992, Forrest Skipper in 1986, Niatross in 1979, and Bret Hanover in 1964.

Over the last 35 years, no horse has won the U.S. Dan Patch Award as best three-year-old male trotter with an undefeated season. The only three-year-old filly trotter to accomplish the feat was Syrinx Hanover, who was 12-for-12 in 2001. The only undefeated horse to be voted the Canadian O'Brien Award as the best three-year-old male trotter was A Worthy Lad, who was 13-for-13 in 1990. (A Worthy Lad was a perfect 30-for-30 as a two and three-year-old.)

Muscle Hill will set harness racing's single-season record for earnings with a win in the Breeders Crown. Muscle Hill will surpass $2.45 million with the triumph, breaking pacer Somebeachsomewhere's record of $2.44 million set last year.

Lifetime, Muscle Hill has earned $2.97 million in purses. He ranks No. 18 on the all-time money list for trotters. He can join Deweycheatumnhowe as the only trotters to surpass $3 million in career earnings prior to turning 4.

Muscle Hill equalled the all-age world record for trotting on a mile track when he won the Hambletonian by six lengths in 1:50.1 on August 8 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Donato Hanover, Giant Diablo and Lucky Jim share the mark with Muscle Hill.

Watch - Muscle Hill 2009 Hambletonian

Last year, Muscle Hill won the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 1:53.3, which set the world record for two-year-old trotting colts on a mile track.

The following article was written by Rob Longley from Sun Media and posted in the London Free Press just after Muscle Hill won his final race the $617,880 Breeders Crown.

Muscle Hill didn't even have to flex.

So simple was the superstar trotter's win in his $617,880 Breeders Crown event last night at Woodbine Racetrack that the three-year-old colt didn't have to strut anything near his best stuff to retire as a champion.

But when you're pushing your winning streak to 20 in a row and in the process make your opposition look like the pylons that ring the track, looks can be deceiving.

How easy was it? The winning time of 1:54 1/5 was Muscle Hill's slowest effort of the season, though the final quarter mile was trotted into a stiff headwind. But with mission accomplished, there's no doubt the smooth-gaited animal will be remembered as one of the finest of his breed.

"Now that it's all over, I will say it: He's the greatest trotter that ever lived," said trainer Greg Peck, a native of Sydney Mines, N.S. who admitted he had to do little more than put Muscle Hill in his harness and watch him go through most of his career.

"By most conventional wisdom, he's the greatest. I haven't seen many that have won so easily and looked like they were ready to go again."

Watch - Breeders Crown - 3 Year Old Colt Trot

Muscle Hill, who is now headed to the even more leisurely life of a stallion, was seen as a standout so much so that track officials banned place and show wagering, a rarity in a 10-horse field. Those who wanted to back him anyway, didn't exactly build up their RRSP's as the champ returned a meagre $2.10 to win. The win was worth more than $308,000 and allowed Muscle Hill to finish off a single-season earnings record of $2.45 million, surpassing Somebeachsomewhere's $2.44 campaign a year ago.

So dominant was the son of Muscles Yankee that it looked more like a victory parade than a horse race. With driver Brian Sears patient as usual, he made the lead on the backstretch, slowly grinding down early pacesetter Swan For All and then cruised to the wire, easily prevailing over 83-1 longshot Triumphant Caviar.

His winning margin of 2 1/2 lengths was well below his career average of four lengths but it hardly mattered. When you have a horse that has never been asked to extend himself, that's the way it goes.

"I don't think he ever was," Peck said when asked the last time his colt was pushed in a race. "The slowest he was going was at the wire tonight and it was only (the wind) that could slow him down."

Peck is the latest Atlantic Canada horseman to hit stardom. "I used to read about big races like the Hambletonian and just dream about it. I'm humbled by this."

Here is another great article written by Dean Hoffman after Muscle Hill's Hambletonian victory in 2009

It is perhaps accurate to say that Muscle Hill started 21 times in his career, but never really raced.

"Racing" implies a contest, a sense of competition. When Muscle Hill started, there really never was any competition for him.

Except for his very first race, that is. In that race, driver Brian Sears raced him conservatively, sitting far off the pacesetter. Muscle Hill was seventh at the half and sixth at the three-quarters, then closed to just miss winning by a neck.

He never missed again. He ran off 20 straight victories over two seasons against the best of his class. During that time, no horse got closer than a length to him at the wire.

With the exception of that first start, every other race for Muscle Hill was basically just a day at the beach. He had such extraordinary speed and manners that he turned races into exhibitions of his greatness.

The 2009 Hambletonian was no exception. He led all the way and won by six lengths, looking for the whole world as if he were out for a pleasant Saturday afternoon jog at the Meadowlands. It makes you wonder how fast he could have gone if there had been some competition for him. But Muscle Hill was sui generis, one of a kind, a trotter far beyond competition.

Another great article written by Jennifer Morrison - Special to the Star, Published on Sun Oct 25 2009

With the same haunting ease that came with 19 straight previous wins, Muscle Hill confirmed he is one of the greatest trotting horses of all time Saturday night at Woodbine with a 2 1/2-length victory in the $617,880 Breeders Crown 3-year-old trot.

Fighting a bitter headwind into the stretch Muscle Hill, with ears flat back, strong armed his way to victory, breaking the heart of rival Swan for All, who broke stride trying to chase the champ.

While the effort was not the flashiest of the colt's career, the win, which was clocked in 1:54 1/5 for one mile, likely sealed horse of the year honours for the son of Muscles Yankee.

The colt, having nothing left to prove with $3.3 million in earnings, will now head off to stud duty at Southwind Farm in New Jersey.

"I'm humbled by the horse," said Nova Scotian trainer Greg Peck. "Now that it's all over, I will say he is the greatest trotter ever. I've never seen a horse that won so easily and looked like they were ready to go again."

Muscle Hill became only the second horse in the 25-year history of the Breeders Crown series to pay the lowest possible win payoff for a $2 wager, $2.10, following in the footsteps of Immortality's Crown in 1992.

Driven by Brian Sears, Muscle Hill started out smoothly from the rail post despite some confusion beside him when both Hot Shot Blue Chip and Tom Cango, in posts two and three, broke stride.

It was Sears' first of three Breeders Crown wins on the night.

From fourth and first over into the backstretch, Muscle Hill casually made his way past leading Swan for All by the half-mile mark and never looked in danger of relinquishing the lead from that point.

"Look at those flags out there, that headwind was really knocking them down," said Peck, who trains horses at White Birch centre in New Jersey and recently stepped out and purchased his first two thoroughbred yearlings to train.

Owned by a partnership that includes Southwind, Lou and Tom Pontone, Jerry Silva and other syndicate members, Muscle Hill is only the third colt trotter to win Breeders Crown races at ages two and three.

The colt was bought for $55,000 at a Harrisburg, Pa., yearling sale two years ago because Peck told the Pontones he loved the colt's preview video.

"I know there has been a call from industry and the media to race him again," said Peck, "but we need to do what's best for him and the time for him to go out is now."

It has all been said

"Life is all about expectations," said Muscle Hill's trainer, Greg Peck, after the colt's convincing Kentucky Futurity double heat score.

Peck continued: "...he's at 1-9 and he has to do it convincingly twice in one day". Simply because everyone thought Muscle Hill would win, Peck indicated, the colt had to be great to satisfy fans at The Red Mile for the 117th edition of the $600,000 Kentucky Futurity, where many greats have danced.

From the time Peck first saw Muscle Hill trot, he says, he "used to snicker to myself 'look at how this thing can go.' " Now, Peck grins after the colt's 19th straight triumph, and comments on what other people are saying, "he's the greatest trotter they've ever seen".

Watch - 2009 Kentucky Futurity Final


Muscle Hill has started his stud career in sensational fashion. He is already the sire of Trixton 1:50.3 ($852,838) this year's Hambletonian winner, Southwind Spirit T2,1:54.1 ($377,495) winner of The American National, Muscle Network T2,1:53.2 ($316,931) world champion and winner of the Valley Victory and International Stallion Stakes etc.

Muscle Hill was clearly the leading first-season sire in North America and he finished third in the overall two-year-old list.

He also finished third on average earnings per foal behind only Credit Winner and Cantab Hall and ahead of established sires such as Donato Hanover, Andover Hall and Majestic Son.

Muscle Hill - North American statistics

First crop of 81 foals from 139 bred resulted in 46 colts and 35 fillies.

Eligible to race - 77

Winners - 36

$1,000,000+ - 0

$750,000+ - 1

$250,000+ - 3

$100,000+ - 10

Sub 1:53 - 3

Average earnings per starter $64,858

Average earnings per eligible horse - $43,800

Total earnings to date $3,372,623

Muscle Hill has hit the headlines again with this year's two-year-old crop producing the sensational world champion filly Mission Brief T2,1:52.2 ($255,775) with only 5 lifetime starts to date. He also has another very good two-year-old filly called Jolene Jolene 1:55.2f ($109,097)

Second crop of 82 foals from 139 bred resulted in 46 colts and 36 fillies.

Eligible to race - 76

Winners - 9

$750,000+ - 0

$250,000+ - 1

$100,000+ - 2

Sub 1:53 - 1

Average earnings per starter $22,949

Total earnings to date $665,508


Muscle Hill has had a sensational start as a stallion. To produce Trixton, a Hambletonian winner from your first crop is exceptional, then from your second crop leave a world champion two-year-old filly Mission Brief, that trots in 52 and a bit, Muscle Hill looks to have a very profitable future.


Muscle Hill has bred by frozen semen a total of 34 mares to date. 19 of those were bred in this 2013/2014 season just finishing on the 31st of August 2014. Muscle Hill has only the one current two-year-old filly bred from the good mare Adellas Dash called Glenferrie Burn. She has had nine starts for two wins three seconds and a third to date for $21,648 in stakes. Glenferrie Burn ran third in the Breeders Crown final just completed last Sunday. For the only foal on the ground to make the Breeders Crown final, is a great start for Muscle Hill's siring career down under. In Australia Muscle Hill has 6 rising two-year-olds bred from a total of 8 mares.


Muscle Hill has bred 39 mares in New Zealand, 27 of those were bred in the 2013/2014 season just completed on the 31st of July, (One month earlier than Australia). He now has two unraced three-year-old fillies.


We have no statistical data on progeny bred in Europe for this review.


The greatest trotter of all time has started to perform in the stallion barn in exactly the same way he performed on the track. Muscle Hill has already shown he can sire elite level colts and fillies from his first two crops and seems to have made the transition from the track to the stallion barn a seemless one. With the depth of great stallions close up in his pedigree, Muscle Hill has been given every opportunity by breeders to add to the achievements of his fantastic maternal family.


The big danger here is the near impossible task of trying to live up to all the hype that has been generated about Muscle Hill. This is an industry that is quick to put horses up on a pedestal and then just as quickly bring them down to earth when they don't meet the unrealistic expectations of some in the industry. Muscle Hill is the biggest name in the trotting game at the moment and so he becomes the biggest target of the knockers regardless what the stats say.


Muscle Hill, who raced only as a two and three-year-old, is the champion trotter of this era. Possessed of brilliant speed, great stamina and a magnificent flowing gait, Muscle Hill became the idol of all American trotting fans.

Beaten at his debut, Muscle Hill won the last 20 of the 21 races he contested, setting two world records and a string of stakes and track records. His average winning margin was four lengths!

As a two-year-old he won eight of his nine starts for $817,301 including the $700,000 Breeders Crown in a world record 1:53.6, $500,000 Peter Haughton Memorial, New Jersey Sire Stakes, Bluegrass Stakes, International Stallion Stakes and the Simpson Memorial and was named USA 2YO Trotter of the Year.

He took his record of 1:50.1 at three years, winning the $1,520,333 Hambletonian at The Meadowlands by six lengths. He also captured the $617,880 Breeders Crown at Woodbine, $540,000 World Trotting Derby, $1,000,000 Canadian Trotting Classic and Kentucky Futurity, netting $2,501,381, a season's record for a trotter or pacer.

Watch - $1,000,000 Canadian Trotting Classic

Undefeated in 12 starts at 3, Muscle Hill was the unanimous choice for Horse of the Year and 3YO Trotter of the Year in both USA and Canada.

The fastest son of thrice premier sire and champion sire of sires Muscles Yankee 3, 1:52.2, Muscle Hill belongs to a family replete with champion trotters.

Overall rating - 9/10

Watch - bonus video: Images to celebrate and remember

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