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Race Rewind: Artsplace Simply Awesome

Published: November 30, 2020 11:15 am ET

Last Comment: November 30, 2020 2:26 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Thirty years ago, the legendary Artsplace put the exclamation mark on a sensational rookie season with one of the most impressive miles in harness racing history.

Artsplace and driver John Campbell stunned the industry by winning the 1990 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt Pace in 1:51.1 on November 30, 1990. The mile was the all age Pompano Park record, the fastest ever, regardless of age.

"I was fortunate enough to be there in person and you had to be there to appreciate how remarkable the effort was," said Western Fair's Greg Blanchard in an interview regarding favourite Breeders Crown memories. "He parked Die Laughing through unbelievable fractions and then at the top of the stretch, when logically the colt should have been tiring, John Campbell hit the wheel disc and Artsplace drew away into the teeth of a very strong headwind which was measuring between 40 and 50 miles per hour that night."

Borrowing from a blog SC's Jeff Porchak posted previously, here are a few points to put the mile into perspective.

  • The world record for pacing colts on any size track was set earlier that year by Deal Direct, who defeated Artsplace in a division of the International Stakes at Indianapolis -- a mile track -- in 1:51.4. Die Laughing, also from the same crop, equaled the former world record for pacing colts earlier that year with his 1:52.1 win in the Woodrow Wilson.
  • Miss Easy was the fastest freshman regardless of sex by virtue of her 1:51.2 world record mile at the Red Mile. Miss Easy was part of that 1990 crop of two-year-olds, she also raced in the Breeders Crown that night against her female counterparts. John Campbell piloted her to a 1:54 win a few races before Artsplace, and told the media the track was off one or two seconds with the conditions.
  • The previous world record was 1:53.2. The all age world record for a five-eighths mile track was 1:50.4, set earlier that year by In The Pocket at The Meadows. The four-year-old and up record was 1:51, held by world champion and 1989 Horse of the Year Matts Scooter.
  • Among the horses Artsplace defeated in that 1990 world record mile, Cambest, who would go on to be the sport's fastest pacer by virtue of his 1:46.1 time trial.
  • Artsplace's world record stood until 2008 -- nearly 18 years! -- when If I Can Dream paced over Dover Downs in 1:50.4.
  • Beach Towel, the dominant three-year-old pacer that season who went on to Horse of the Year honours in the U.S., won his Breeders Crown Final earlier that month at Pompano in 1:51.2. That track record lasted 21 years.

Interestingly, Artsplace was not the three-year-old award winner of his crop. That honour went to Precious Bunny. Artsplace stayed on the track at four and completed a 16-for-16 season en route to Horse of the Year honours in 1992.

Artsplace was inducted into the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2015.

November 30, 2020 - 2:26 pmI was there that night also.

John Hill SAID...

I was there that night also. I thought the teletimer had malfunctioned!!

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