by Dean Hoffman
Harrison Hoyt was a hat maker who dabbled in horses. In 1946, he bought a yearling at the Harrisburg sale that would convert him into a horseman who dabbled in making hats.
The colt’s name was Demon Hanover, and he was a picture-perfect trotter from the time Hoyt began training him on a one-third mile track near his home in Connecticut. Could he really be a success on the track? After all, Hoyt was just an amateur. How could he expect to compete with the professional horsemen?
Demon Hanover was such an outstanding colt and so successful that many people waved large sums of money at Hoyt in hopes of collaring the colt. Hoyt refused. He was having too much fun. Making hats was his business; horses were just a hobby for him. Except that Demon Hanover was worth more than any of his hats.
He won the 1948 Hambletonian with disdainful ease. After the race, Hoyt drove his wife and two young sons from Goshen, New York back back to his home in Connecticut. Along the way, he stopped for gas and the attendant noted that the family had been to the races in Goshen.
“Who won that big Hambletonian race today?” the attendant asked as pumped gas.
“I did,” said Hoyt.
The gas jockey perhaps suppressed a laugh as he appraised the doughty middle-aged man with a wife and two kids in the car.
Hoyt said later, “I had to open the trunk of the car and show him the Hambletonian trophy.”
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.