by Dean Hoffman
No other harness track in North America conducted mile races around just one turn. Colonial Downs is a 1-1/4 mile track, so mile races started out of a chute on the backstretch. The horses traveled almost a half-mile before reaching the first turn. Then had a seemingly endless homestretch that accommodated closers.
No one was certain what might happen when the finalists lined up behind the gate for the 2-year-old pace. The favorite was Island Fantasy, trained by the highly-respected Bob McIntosh. Badlands Hanover and The Panderosa were the second and third choices, respectively, of the bettors.
When the field flew away from the start, Ft. Apache Hanover was the first to get the lead, but then driver Ron Pierce sent Badlands Hanover to take command. Island Fantasy was within striking distance and The Panderosa was reserved off the fast pace. The half-mile marker was reached in :54.1.
Driver Mike Lachance rallied Island Fantasy into a contending position during the third quarter with The Panderosa still well back.
Once they turned into the stretch, Island Fantasy had clear aim at Badlands Hanover but the pacesetter wasn’t about to quit. He rebuffed the favorite’s challenge and hit the wire 2-1/2 lengths in front.
The timer read: 1:50.
It was a milestone—the first time that a mere 2-year-old had ventured into the 1:50 list, even today a mark of distinction for any horse.
The first 1:55 juvenile, Striking Image, had taken his mark 22 years earlier. The first 2:00 2-year-old, Adios Boy, had taken his mark 23 years before Striking Image. Both Striking Image and Adios Boy reached milestone in the sunshine, but Badlands Hanover made history on a mid-November night.
The breed had improved dramatically in the 45 years from Adios Boy to when Badlands Hanover charted new ground in juvenile speed.
Badlands Hanover ended his freshman season with eight wins in 14 starts and was never worse than third. He was trumpeted as a major factor in the sophomore stakes of 1999, but that season he won only once in 11 starts and came to be known as “Bad Luck Hanover” after encountered bad post positions and bad luck during the season.