2001 Horse of the Year Bunny Lake stands out as one of the grandest of history’s distaff pacers, having earned more than $2.8 million during her racing career and winning 47 out of her 93 starts. She retired as the second-richest pacing mare of all time and eighth leading moneywinning pacer overall.
Bred by R. Peter Heffering, Bunny Lake was a February 1998 foal out of Lake Nona and sired by 1991 Horse of the Year Precious Bunny p,3,1:49.4 ($2,281,142). Wendy and Arthur “Skip” Spring of W. Springtime Racing Stable in Johnstown, NY purchased Bunny Lake as a yearling for $37,000 at Harrisburg in 1999. Her longtime trainer, driver and co-owner was John Stark Jr.
As a 2-year-old in 2000 Bunny Lake finished on the board in every one of her 12 starts, winning 8. That year she won the La Paloma elimination and final, followed by all six New York Sire Stakes in which she appeared, including the final. She ended her freshman season with $281,255 in earnings.
In 2001, as a 3-year-old, Bunny Lake was named 2001 Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers' Association – only the second pacing filly to capture the award. She was also voted Pacer of the Year and 3-Year-Old Filly Pacer. Bunny Lake won 19 of 21 starts (18 in a row) and never finished worse than second. Victories included the James Lynch Pace elimination and final, Historic-Ladyship, Mistletoe Shalee elimination and final, Tarport Hap, Glen Garnsey Memorial, Breeders Crown elimination and final, Courageous Lady and Lady Maud. She duplicated her previous year’s effort by again winning every New York Sire Stake she raced in (five events including the final), finishing the year with $1,146,219 in total winnings and a record of 1:51s.
As a 4-year-old in 2002, Bunny Lake had a respectable record of 19-6-6-5. She did not win a race until June when she bested Eternal Camnation p,5,1:49.2 ($3,748,574) and Molly Can Do It p,5,1:49.4 ($889,308) in the Classic Distaff Final in a stakes’ and track divisional record of 1:58 for 1 1/16 miles. She won three of her next four including the Lady Liberty and the Vernon Downs 50th Anniversary Pace where she established a 1:51.2 track record for 4-year-old pacing mares and recorded one of the top ten fastest miles in Vernon’s history. Three of her six second-place finishes that year were behind arch-rival Eternal Camnation in three consecutive races. Bunny Lake won $400,049 in 2002 and lowered her record to 1:49.4.
In 2003 five-year-old Bunny Lake was a member of perhaps the strongest-ever crop of pacing mares, competing all season long against the likes of Eternal Camnation, Worldly Beauty p,4,1:49.3 ($1,900,255), Carolina Sunshine p,4,1:48.4s ($1,211,748), Molly Can Do It and Artistic Vision p,4,1:50.2 ($634,808). That year she won 10 out of 24 starts, including a thrilling match race against rival Worldly Beauty at The Meadowlands and the Roses Are Red at Woodbine on her way to earning $531,134.
The following year, Bunny Lake set the world record (1:50.2) for an older pacing mare in the Classic Distaff at Dover Downs. Later that same season she set her own lifetime mark and stakes record in back-to-back 1:49s victories in the Roses Are Red Stakes. With earnings of $484,819, six-year-old Bunny Lake was the leading moneywinning older pacing mare of 2004.
Bunny Lake is currently a broodmare for Hanover Shoe Farms with five foals and two starters to date. In 2009 she was bred to 2008 Horse of the Year and world champion Somebeachsomewhere p,3,1:46.4 ($3,221,299) and has produced a yet-unnamed bay filly. Wendy Spring once said of Bunny Lake, “She’s a people’s horse. She’s a horse from the minor leagues who left her stamp on the whole pacing world.”