by Dean Hoffman
Mack Lobell had so much speed that he often didn’t have to try hard to win races.
There were times when Mack surged ahead of his rivals and then simply lost interest since he found himself without competition. But when Mack Lobell brought his “A game” to the track, the other horses should have stayed in their stalls. They were racing for second place.
Mack was understandably the heavy favorite coming into the ’87 Hambo.
Sharp-eyed observers noticed, however, that Mack actually shifted into a pace prior to the start of his elimination heat. That was perhaps a bad omen. But when Mack got behind the gate, he was all business. That meant it was hopeless to catch him as he trotted the fastest mile ever (1:54) in Hambletonian history.
But Mack broke into a gallop past the wire in that opening heat and driver John Campbell and trainer Chuck Sylvester knew that the colt’s feet were stinging him. So they added pads for the second heat.
Again, the race itself was no contest. But if Mack could’ve talked as he trotted down the homestretch, he might well have said, “Feets, don’t fail me now.”
His feet didn’t fail Mack until a step or two beyond the finish when he again broke into a gallop.
Still, the victory was assured and Mack’s margin was 6-3/4 lengths, the largest winning margin in Hambletonian history. His time of 1:53.3 lowered the Hambletonian record he’d set an hour earlier.
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.