One thing that the Hambletonian proved beyond any question is that harness racing's sportsmen of the year are the owners of Honeysuckle Rose, a New Jersey physician named Philip Chapalis and his dentist friend Alvin Field. The week before the race their trainer, Vernon Dancer, called them and gave them a choice. They could enter their filly in the Hambletonian or in another race the same day limited to female 3-year-olds for a smaller purse of about $32,000, as compared with the $144,710 of the Hambletonian.
"If we go into the filly division," Dancer said, "we're almost sure of picking up first money of around $18,000. If we go into the Hambletonian, we pay a $2,000 starting fee and we might draw a bad post and get nothing." The two good doctors told Dancer to go for broke.
Sure enough, Honeysuckle Rose drew Post No. 15 and was lost in the pack at the start of the first heat but wound up a strong-finishing fourth. Considering her post position, she trotted about as well as any of the horses that finished ahead of her. But she is a delicate filly and the effort took a lot out of her. She was still blowing a little when the horses went out for the second heat and after showing early speed she tired and was out of it.
The two New Jersey doctors came out of the race with nothing except a canceled check for the $2,000 entry fee—and a lot of respect from their rivals.