by Dean Hoffman
It’s perhaps accurate to say that Muscle Hill started 21 times in his career, but never really raced.
“Racing” implies a contest, a sense of competition. When Muscle Hill started, there really never was any competition for him.
Except for his very first race, that is. In that race, driver Brian Sears raced him conservatively, sitting far off the pacesetter. Muscle Hill was seventh at the half and sixth at the three-quarters, then closed to just miss winning by a neck.
He never missed again. He ran off 20 straight victories over two seasons against the best of his class. During that time, no horse got closer than a length to him at the wire.
With the exception of that first start, every other race for Muscle Hill was basically just a day at the beach. He had such extraordinary speed and manners that he turned races into exhibitions of his greatness.
The 2009 Hambletonian was no exception. He led all the way and won by six lengths, looking for all the world as if he were out for a pleasant Saturday afternoon jog at the Meadowlands. It makes you wonder how fast he could have gone if there had been some competition for him. But Muscle Hill was sui generis, one of a kind, a trotter far beyond competition.
Catch this year’s Hambletonian on August 2nd on CBS Sports Network (check here for channel and availability in your area). A live streaming broadcast can also be view here and all the pre-, during, and post-race action can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.