view counter
view counter

Stark Reflects On Bunny Lake

Bunny Lake .jpg

Published: January 13, 2010 1:15 am ET

No Comments | Jump to Comments

Trainer John Stark, Jr. sent a female pacer to the winner’s circle January 7 in the White Ruffles Series at the Meadowlands; a victory that came the same day as the announcement Stark’s most famous lady - Bunny Lake - would be enshrined in harness racing’s Hall of Fame.

The word to best describe Bunny Lake might be “quick.” Whether Stark is talking the great pacer’s turn of foot or the rapid pace at which her career seemed to pass, it fits.

Bunny Lake, the 2001 Horse of the Year, will be enshrined in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York, during ceremonies July 4. She won 47 of 93 lifetime races and earned $2.8 million, which ranked No. 2 in history for female pacers when she retired in 2004.

In 2001, Bunny Lake won 19 of 21 races and $1.1 million to garner Horse of the Year honors. She was the first female pacer since Fan Hanover in 1981 to capture the award. Her top victories were the Breeders Crown and Mistletoe Shalee.

“She deserves it,” Stark said about the Hall of Fame recognition. “She did enough to get in there. Growing up, you always dream about getting one like that. Then when you get one, it seems to go by too fast.”

Last year, Stark got career win No. 4,000 as a driver and for the season saw horses he trained win 55 times for $870,209. Last week, his TCs Delight won an opening-round division of the White Ruffles for four-year-old female pacers.

TCs Delight was unraced as a two-year-old and limited to three starts last season because of bad knees. She has won three of four lifetime races and earned $12,200.

“She’s OK; a nice racehorse,” Stark said. “She tries. She gives it all she’s got and has a good attitude to her. I don’t think she’s a world beater, but she wants to fight.”

Bunny Lake, on the other hand, was a world beater. A daughter of Precious Bunny out of the mare Lake Nona, she was purchased as a yearling for $37,000. She was owned by Wendy and Skip Spring, and Stark later became part of the ownership group. Stark was Bunny Lake’s primary driver in addition to training her.

“It was just kind of a fluke thing,” Stark said. “We didn’t ever go out to buy one thinking that she’d be something like that. We only wanted to buy her as a New York-bred.”

Bunny Lake dominated the New York circuit as a two-year-old, but really opened up Stark’s eyes with a season-ending second-place finish in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington’s Red Mile. She lost by a nose to Lady Macbeach in 1:52.1.

“One more step and we win the race,” Stark said. “That’s when we knew we could race against the Grand Circuit horses at three.”

As a three-year-old, Bunny Lake finished second in both the eliminations and final of the Rose Red at Hazel Park in Michigan. She then won 18 consecutive races - at 10 different tracks - to end the season.

“We were just hopeful we could compete. That’s all we were thinking,” Stark said. “Maybe around late September they started talking about (Horse of the Year), especially right after the Breeders Crown.”

As an older horse, Bunny Lake is probably best remembered for her battles with Eternal Camnation and Worldly Beauty.

“Her style was pretty much the same every race; to get out there quick and control the whole thing,” Stark said about Bunny Lake. “That was her best quality.”

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

view counter

© 2020 Standardbred Canada. All rights reserved. Use of this site signifies your agreement and compliance with the legal disclaimer and privacy policy.

Firefox 3 Best with IE 7 Built with Drupal