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For the record
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - by Tim Bojarski

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All eyes were on Meadowlands Racetrack this past Saturday (May 17) in anticipation of Sebastian K becoming the fastest trotter in the history of the sport. Racing enthusiasts at all levels love to see records broken and to have the chance to see the fastest trotting mile ever definitely deserved the attention.

Although it didn’t happen last week, it is a record that is still in jeopardy this year because of the caliber of the horses competing.

When you talk about the all-time records in this sport, it’s interesting that the fastest times ever recorded on both the trot and the pace was achieved with circumstances surrounding them that could be considered “uncommon.”

The fastest trotting mile of 1:49.3 posted by Enough Talk in 2008 was recorded at Colonial Downs, which is a track that carries an asterisk after all of its records because it has the odd configuration of being a one-turn mile track. The fastest pacing mile ever is a 1:46.1 clocking by Cambest at Springfield in 1993, but it was a time-trial and not an actual race. So it’s kind of an odd situation when you think about it. In order to break these records we are asking todays horses to achieve a better number, but under more difficult circumstances because none of the top horses race at Colonial anymore and time-trials are a thing of the past.

If you look beyond the odd-track and time-trial times these two horses made history with, their best race marks under normal circumstances are still very respectable, but would have been surpassed a long time ago.

Cambest’s career-best race mile was a 1:51.2 effort at the Meadowlands in 1993 and Enough Talk’s race mark on a conventional mile track was 1:51 at the Meadowlands in 2010. Cambest paced three miles in sub-1:50 times during his 1993 campaign, but all three races were won by Staying Together, whose best time that year was three seconds faster than Cambest (1:48.2). And when Enough Talk took his race mark of 1:51 in 2010, four horses had already trotted in 1:50.1 before that time. 

If we look at the efforts of today’s stars, it appears there is an actual time where the Standardbred hits the wall.  On the pace it’s 1:46.4 and on the trot it’s 1:50.1. Let’s delve a bit further.

On the pace, Holborn Hanover (2006), Somebeachsomewhere (2008) and Warrawee Needy (2013) are the fastest as far as race times, and they all took the mark of 1:46.4 in their respective years. 

On the trot, Donato Hanover (2007), Giant Diablo (2007), Lucky Jim (2009), Muscle Hill (2009), Chapter Seven (2012) and now Sebastian K (2014) have all been race-timed in 1:50.1.

So although we are seeing more fast miles from more horses week to week, we have not seen the fastest time of the breed improve on the pace in eight years and on the trot in seven.

Could any of the horses mentioned go as fast as Enough Talk and Cambest if given the same circumstances their records were set under? I don’t know. But it’s difficult for me to expect them to surpass it on different terms, although my gut says it will happen in the near future. 

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