Hambletonian Greatest Moments – #7 Dancer wins with Duenna after favored Dancer’s Crown dies

by Dean Hoffman

Stanley Dancer had a gift for developing extraordinary young horses and he was particularly adept with trotters.  By 1983, he had developed and raced such stars as Nevele Pride, Super Bowl, Noble Victory, Bonefish, Egyptian Candor, Worth Seein, Nevele Diamond, Smokin Yankee, and Nevele Thunder.

As the ’83 season dawned, Dancer thought he might have his best trotter ever in Dancer’s Crown. He has been unbeaten as a 2-year-old and Dancer wanted few things more than to add another Hambletonian credit to his stellar resume. A Hambletonian win at the Meadowlands would be particularly satisfying to Dancer because he was a New Jersey boy himself and always based his stable in the Garden State.

But in the summer of ’83, Dancer’s Crown suddenly took ill and died of a twisted intestine. Dancer was heartbroken as he saw his Hambo hopes dissipate. He had a consolation, however, when breeder-owner Norman Woolworth entered the filly Duenna, trained by Dancer, in the Hambletonian. Woolworth felt she had a legitimate chance to win, even if few others did.

Dancer’s masterful horsemanship was at its finest on Hambletonian day as he coaxed the headstrong filly into the best performance of her life in the biggest race of her life. Duenna won the Hambletonian in two heats over a cast of talented rivals. It was Dancer’s fourth winning Hambletonian as a driver and fifth as a trainer. And the fact that he won the race in his home state made the victory even sweeter for Dancer.


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 FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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