Haughton, Doherty Stakes Move To Hoosier

Published: November 30, 2022 01:58 pm EST

Two of the richest and most prominent two-year-old Grand Circuit events, the Peter Haughton Memorial Trot for colts and geldings and the Jim Doherty Memorial (formerly the Merrie Annabelle) for trotting fillies, will have a new home in 2023.

Harrah’s Hoosier Park, which has one of the wealthiest open stakes programs in North America, will host the juvenile trots on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023 at the seven-eighth mile track in Anderson, Indiana.

“Harrah’s Hoosier Park could not be more pleased to be the new home for the Peter Haughton Memorial and the Jim Doherty Memorial stakes,” said Rick Moore, vice-president and general manager of Harrah's Hoosier Park.“These two long standing and much heralded trotting events for two-year-old colts and fillies will only add more luster to our already deep Championship season, which commences with the Dan Patch Stakes in August.  We would like to thank the Hambletonian Society for entrusting us with these two great Grand Circuit races.”

Originally created by Joe DeFrank for the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, in recent years both events have been part of a stakes-laden, trot-centric undercard for Hambletonian day. They will be replaced on Hambo day with New Jersey state-bred events of equal stature.

The Hambletonian Society now owns and administers both the Haughton and Doherty, and found a willing host in Harrah’s Hoosier Park for the $300,000 (est.) Grand Circuit jewels.

“The Society is fortunate to count the management of The Meadowlands and Harrah’s Hoosier Park among our great partners,” stated John Campbell, the president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society, which owns and administers 150 of the sport’s most prestigious events. “The stakes calendar, especially for two-year-olds, has to be managed carefully and no one wanted to see races of this caliber go away. I believe we worked out a solution that was beneficial to everyone.”

Full conditions and a payment schedule will be published in January 2023 in the U.S. Trotting Association Stakes Guide. Both races were designated as "Win And You’re In" events for the 2022 Breeders Crown, with this year’s Haughton winner Kilmister and Doherty winner Instagram Model receiving entry to their $600,000 USD Breeders Crown finals with the starting fees waived.  The "Win And You’re In" status will also apply again for the 2023 Breeders Crown, which is hosted by Harrah’s Hoosier Park on Oct. 27 and 28, 2023.  

The inaugural Peter Haughton was raced in 1981, created and named in honour of the sport’s rising star, 25-year-old Peter Haughton, who tragically passed the year prior. It quickly became one of the biggest events in the ensuing decades for two-year-old male trotters, and twice raced for $1 million. Superstar winners include such names as Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill and King Of The North.  

The first edition of the Merrie Annabelle stakes was raced in 1977 at The Meadowlands for a purse of $30,000. Another instant classic, the race became an important addition to the winner’s pedigree page, and the purse soared past $500,000. Previous Merrie Annabelle winners include immortals like Peace Corps and CR Kay Suzie.

In 2015, the race was renamed the Jim Doherty Memorial by Meadowlands management, in honour of the late Hall of Famer and his contributions to Meadowlands history over three decades. Recent winners of the Doherty include Mission Brief (who set the stakes record at 1:52.2) and the budding freshman superstar Manchego.

For more information on staking and payment schedules, check out hambletonian.com after the new year.

(With files from Hambletonian Society)

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