by Dean Hoffman
They went together like peanut butter and jelly. One without the other just wasn’t the same.
They were pacing fillies named Amneris and Stienam and they engaged in countless seesaw battles in the 1984 and 1985 seasons. They were seldom far apart at the finish line.
In the first season of the Breeders Crown in 1984, Amneris and Stienam met at Maywood Park on Oct. 19. When Stienam drew the inside post, the bettors jumped on her and made her the 2-5 favorite. Amneris was sent off at generous 12-1 odds.
Driver Buddy Gilmour used Stienam’s inside post to his advantage on the Chicago-land half-miler and sent Stienam to the front. Nantucket Lobell slipped in behind her in second with Amneris in third.
Driver John Campbell sent Amneris in pursuit of the pacesetter in the third quarter but Stienam wasn’t about to surrender. Around the final turn and into the stretch, the familiar fillies battled.
At the wire. Amneris posed her neck in front of Stienam with Nantucket Lobell just another neck back in third.
Amneris wore the tiara.
A year later Amneris and Stienam found themselves at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta. It was the Breeders Crown rematch and the excitement was pervasive at post time. Both fillies were sent off at 2-1 odds, and yet the Canadian filly Brees Brief was actually the post-time favorite.
Stienam once again drew inside Amneris, a crucial advantage, and driver Buddy Gilmour used that edge to get the lead in the opening quarter with Stienam. But this time John Campbell wasn’t content to wait until the final quarter. He sent Amneris to the front past the quarter-mile marker.
Campbell eased the tempo in the second quarter and coasted along in front. Yet Campbell knew what to expect in the homestretch. He knew he would look over his right shoulder and find Stienam bearing down on Amneris.
And that’s exactly what happened. The expected battle played out before the big Breeders Crown crowd. Amneris had the lead and she wasn’t about to surrender. But Stienam wasn’t about to relent. Once again, their stretch duel was as good as it gets in horse racing and it was Stienam who got the edge this time. She put her head in front just before they reached the wire.
It was fitting that Amneris and Stienam finished 1-2 and 2-1 in their Breeder Crown matches. Amneris had been the champion 2-year-old in 1984 and Stienam was voted best in 1985. Their names are irrevocably linted in harness racing history.