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Bunny Lake, Varenne To Living Hall

Published: January 7, 2010 4:42 pm ET

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Stanley Bergstein, chairman of the Living Horse Hall of Fame nominating committee of The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, has announced the results of recent balloting that determined the 2010 members of The Harness Racing Living Horse Hall of Fame.

Annual members (in good standing) voted for the two horses they felt exemplified greatness. Their choices are racemare Bunny Lake, who received 27.5% of the vote, and racehorse Varenne, who received 20.5% of the votes cast.

The other nominees were Armbro Goal (with 14%), Garland Lobell (18%), and Presidential Ball, who received 20% of the vote.

Bunny Lake and Varenne will be inducted on Hall of Fame Day, Sunday, July 4. The ceremonies for these two extraordinary standardbreds will take place during The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame’s annual dinner. For information on the Hall of Fame weekend and other festivities surrounding this important occasion, visit this website from April 2010 onward, or call or write the museum at 240 Main Street, Goshen, NY 10924. Phone: 845-294-6330.

Standardbreds are only eligible for nomination to harness racing’s highest accolade if they comply with the following strict criteria (2011 Living Horse Hall of Fame criteria in parenthesis):

  • They must be retired from racing for five years and had a drug-free career. In addition, racehorses must have won 70% (75%) of their lifetime starts, or gone undefeated in a single season campaign of 12 or more races, or been the winner of $2.75 (3) million lifetime or named Harness Horse of the Year (US and/or Canada).
  • Stallions must rank among the 10 all-time leading money-winning sires at their gait or have sired at least 100 $200,000 winners or been a leading money-winning sire at his gait in three or more seasons.
  • NOTE: BROODMARES are automatically elected if they have produced a $1 million winner and two other winners of $500,000 OR produced a Harness Horse of the Year (US and/or Canada) and another $500,000 winner.


Bunny Lake

(Nominated as Racemare)
p,2,1:54; 3,1:51s; 4,1:49.4; 5,1:50.3s; 6,1:49s
($3,068,733) Bay Mare, 1998
(Precious Bunny – Lake Nona – Abercrombie)

Bunny Lake earned more than $3 million during her racing career, retiring the second-richest pacing mare of all time. In her first year of racing, Bunny Lake won the La Paloma followed by all six New York Sire Stakes in which she appeared, including the final. She ended her freshman year with $281,255 in earnings.

In 2001, as a three-year-old, Bunny Lake was named 2001 Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers' Association; the second pacing filly to capture the award. She was also voted Pacer of the Year and Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer. Bunny Lake won 19 of 21 starts (18 in a row) and never finished worse than second. She duplicated her previous year’s effort winning every NYSS she raced in, including the final. She was also victorious in the Jim Lynch Pace elimination and final, the Historic Ladyship, the Tarport Hap, the Mistletoe Shalee elimination and final, the Glen Garnsey Memorial, the Breeders Crown elimination and final, the Lady Maud and the Courageous Lady. She finished the year with $1,146,219 in total winnings and a record of 1:51s.

In 2002, Bunny Lake won the final of the Classic Distaff in a stakes and track record of 1:58 for 1 1/16 miles, and established a 1:51.2 track record for four-year-old pacing mares in the Vernon Downs 50th Anniversary Pace. She won $465,772 that year and lowered her record to 1:49.4. As a five-year-old, Bunny Lake won 10 out of 24 starts, including the Roses Are Red final and a match race against rival mare Worldly Beauty, and earned $611,212. The following year, Bunny Lake set the World Record (1:50.2) for an older pacing mare in the Classic Distaff. Later that same season she set her own lifetime mark and stakes record of 1:49s in back-to-back victories in the Roses Are Red Stakes. With earnings of $564,275 Bunny Lake was the 2004 leading money-winning pacing mare. At retirement she ranked as the eighth leading money-winning pacer of all time.


(Nominated as Racehorse)
6,1:51.1; 7,1:51.3f
($5,651,061) Bay Horse, 1995
(Waikiki Beach – Ialmaz – Zebu)

Varenne, a paternal grandson of 2003 Hall of Famer Speedy Somolli, is the richest trotter of all time and the fastest all-age and aged trotter on a five-eighths mile track (1:51.3). It is no wonder fans refer to him as 'Il Capitano.'

Varenne began his racing career in 1998 as a three-year-old. He had eight wins, including the Italian Derby, in 11 starts and banked nearly $600,000 that year. As a four-year-old he was undefeated in his 14 starts, including the European Championship, the Premio d’Europa, the Premio Continentale and the Gran Premio della Nazioni, with season earnings of $716,579.

As a five-year-old in 2000, Varenne took victories in France’s Grand Prix Encat and Coupe du Monde. In addition, he took Sweden’s Olympia Travet and Italy’s Gran Premio del Lotteria, clinching Italy’s Horse of the Year title. His 13 wins out of 18 starts netted him $1,085,254.

Varenne continued to excel with age and in 2001, at the age of six, became the first trotter in 34 years to sweep three of international harness racing’s prestigious titles: the Prix d’Amerique (winning in the second fastest time ever), the Elitlopp and the Gran Premio del Lotteria. His other victories that season included the Trot Mondial, Prix Locatelli, Premio Roma, Prix Renzo Orlandi and the second leg of the World Cup/Elite Rennen. He became the first European horse to win a Breeders Crown, and even set a World Record of 1:51.1 in the process. He also stands as the first foreign trotter to be elected France’s Horse of the Year and took the USTA’s Trotting Horse of the Year title. With 14 starts and 13 wins, Varenne had season earnings totaling $1,825,297.

In 2002 Varenne became the fifth horse to have consecutive wins in the Elitlopp. He took it in a World Record time of 1:53.1 in the elimination and then bested that mark by winning the final in 1:53 – the fastest mile ever trotted around three turns. Varenne scored a second-year Prix d’Amerique victory, this time in 1:57 (mile-rated) for the 15/8 mile race. That year, Varenne topped the $2 million mark with $2,188,048 with 14 wins out of 15 starts.

Varenne was retired in November 2002 with a reported 62 wins from a reported 72 starts. He now stands at stud in Italy and Sweden. From four North American crops, he is the sire of 13 starters, including Southwind Serena 3,1:55.2 ($385,088) who won the 2007 Breeders Crown.

(The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame)

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