Dick Neville, well-known farrier
of 60 years, and the subject of Dean Hoffman's award-winning 2004 Hoof Beats article "Shoer to the Stars" has announced his retirement from Blacksmithing.
Neville will be available for consultation for those scratch-your-head type of horses as he
is located in the Columbus,
Ohio area and would be happy
to share his expertise as well
as a few anecdotes.
If you'd care to send him your regards, give him a text or a
call at 614-216-1096.
A down and out trainer finally goes to the doctor and gets some tests done. He returns a week later to get the results.
He slowly walks up to the receptionist, a cute bubbly 23-year-old, that flashes her eyes and adjusts her tight cashmere sweater with a smile.
"Hi," she chirps, "my name is Cheyenne and how may I help you?"
"I'm here to get my test results," bemoans the guy.
"Why certainly," she says as she snaps her bubble gum at him, "go right in... he's been expecting you."
The trainer shuffles his way into the examination room.
"Joe," begins the Doctor, "I've got good news and bad news for you..."
"Dammit Doc," says Joe, "I'm been feeling like crap for months. Give me the bad news!"
"Okay Joe," says the Doc. "You've got a problem that'll only be corrected with an 8-hour surgery. Your recovery time will be months long and very, very painful."
"Oh Jeez," moans Joe.
"On top of it all there's no guarantee that it will be successful."
"And the even worse part is that, due to the new regulations and changes in health insurance, you've missed the cut-off date to apply by 5 days. None of this will be covered!"
"What the hel..." groans Joe. "Then WHAT is the damn GOOD news!?!
"See Cheyenne out there?" nods the doctor. "We're going to the Barbados for a month next Saturday."
Cape Cod was initially just the point of land at the tip of the peninsular due to the many cod fish that the original explorers found the feeding off of Stellwagens Bank, one of the islands that submerged about 5,000 years ago. Erosion, the natural forces of wind, water, and time, continues its process.
As we are beings with a definite time span we are witness to a very minuscule portion of the on-going actions that have occurred since the beginning of planet Earth over four billion years ago.
Two trainers are talking by the barn when an old
hound dog lying nearby lets loose a long, plaintive howl.
"Ruh-oooooooooooo," the old dog sirens.
"What's the hell’s wrong with him?"
"He layin' on a sharp rock."
"Why don't the damn fool move?"
"He'd rather howl."
Georges Island was home to over 150 generations of Native Americans and the sites of the Indian villages, their trails, as well as ancestral burial grounds now lay under hundreds of feet of seawater along with the bones of mastodons and mammoths. It is the submerged evidence of an ongoing process.
Erosion continues as the sea reclaims what was hers once more. The woodlands become grasslands which, in turn, are transformed into salt marshes. What was once a heavily-forested peninsula has been reduced to rolling sand dunes of scrub pine and fond memories that we now call Cape Cod. We still watch with apprehension as the waves approach our cottages and land-marks and the space around us continues to go from land, to sand, to sea. Perhaps with our realization that we are merely tenants on this planet called Earth, it becomes an affirmation that we are all part of a much grander plan.
A prime example of the process is Billingsgate Island off of Wellfleet. There once was a village of 30 buildings on what is now just a sand bar at low tide. We have maps and pictures as well as the evidence of foundations but is anyone alive that was eyewitness to tell us of its existence? No. It simply was too many years ago.
About 5,500 BC, the island was totally submerged but up until the 1700's colonial mariners used to stop and "stretch their legs" on the top of "Mount George" which, by then, had become just a sandbar at low tide. That summit nowadays lies under at least six feet of water. There are historians to this day that think the mariners were fabricating tales when they talk about "Georges' Bank" because most of the island is under at least 180 feet of sea water.
The flora turned into birch tree woods and after a century it became a pine tree forest. Within 700 years, what had been a lifeless, rock-strewn plain had been transformed into an extensive area of huge oaks, massive maples, and towering fir trees which was inhabited by the first Cape Codders.
They built their villages by the seashore and hunted and fished and lived in harmony with Mother Earth on what the geologists call "Georges Peninsula" for over 6,000 years. When their "lease" expired and the sea reclaimed its land, they moved back towards the forested islands.
Around 10,000 years ago the peninsula was divided by the sea and the eastern-most part became "Georges Island." which was the size of Connecticut and lay off the Massachusetts coast for another 5,000 years.
The highest point was over 180 feet above sea level but, as the erosion continued its work, it too was whittled down to a mass of rolling sand dunes and clam flats.
At first the outwash plain was bare ground - much like an old river bed - consisting of sand, rocks, boulders, and gravel. With the warming weather lichen and underground plants took root. After about 75 years the landscape sported grasses and started to become tundra & the small brush attracted birds and numerous animals that foraged on the vegetation. The rolling fields of tall grasses and bushes were inhabited by the mammoths and elks and wild horses that in turn attracted man.
Massachusetts' was quite different than the familiar shape of today. It was once a land mass that extended for another 60 miles to the south and over 125 miles out into the Atlantic. It contained over 35,000 square miles which is more than the area of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire combined.
As the weather warmed and the Seasons became distinctive once more, the glacier melted and the sea level rose. It probably was noticeable during one's lifetime at first but, as the rate modified to only increasing about a foot every thirty six years or so, it went unobserved. The land was clear of glacial ice about 15,000 years ago.
Our last Ice Age, the Wisconsinam-2 began about 80,000 years ago and ended approximately 16,000 years ago. There have been many such ice Ages in the Earth's history and each one reshapes the face of the land. For over 60,000 years winters were so bitterly cold that the summer never warmed enough to completely thaw out the ground (a situation that still exists in the Arctic Circle) and the accruing ice and snow became a glacial ice cap. It was over two miles thick and covered most of the northern hemisphere as water was locked up as ice and snow and the sea level was over 400 feet below what it is now.
We imagine that the natives had to contend with erosion back then as well. But when they, as each generation before them had done, realized that their "lease" with Mother Earth had expired, everyone would pack up their belongings and simply move further inland to establish another "old Indian village" until its time had come as well.
The sea claims back between 3-5 feet of shoreline a year... every year. It is all in the fine print of the "rental agreement" that many of us fall to read. Mother Earth also retains the right for her "mood swings" as well: she sends us an Ice Age every so often when it suits her.
Hyannis just to the south, one of the seven villages of Barnstable, was their Summer hunting grounds. Each spring they would pack up their villages of domed teepees called wetus and move down to the sheltered Hyannis harbor to hunt and fish and stock up for the winter months. This went on for millennium after millennium.
The oldest Indian trail on Cape Cod - Mary Dunn Road -in Cummaquid [Long Point] is reportedly to be dated at being at least 5,000 years old because that is how long Barnstable Harbor has been here.
The trail used to extend out into the area called Cape Cod Bay for many miles. But with the rising sea levels the process of reclaiming the land continued.The area of Barnstable-Yarmouthport was called Mattacheesett by the Native Americans -"old fields by the borders of water" in Algonquin - and it was their winter campgrounds.
When our Pilgrim Fathers negotiated their purchases back in the 1600's - a scant 14 generations ago - the natives could not comprehend the idea of land owner-ship possibly because they had been witness to a much larger time frame.
Native Americans have occupied the Cape for over 300 generations. They were part of the Algonquin Nation, a band of linguistically-related tribes that occupied the northeastern United States.
To the Native Americans, who have been documented as being on Cape Cod between 9,000 and 11,000 years, the idea of "owning" the land was an abstract thought. They believed that you could neither own land as much as one could own the air or the water.
Four billion? Yes, four thousand million years ago.
To put that into perspective: the dinosaurs have been extinct for only 65 million years.
Our recorded history dates back to less than five thousand years but Mother Earth's archives are in her rocks and on the face of the land... and under the waves of the sea.
As we watch the sea claim portions of longtime [250 years?] family-owned land perhaps we have to look at our "lease agreements" a bit more closely...
The Sagamore and the Bourne Bridges, both 135 above mean high tide [the same as the Brooklyn Bridge] that link the island to the mainland, were constructed between 1933-1935. The locals refer to leaving to leaving the Cape as "going over the bridges."
Cape Cod Massachusetts... was not only the first landing spot of the Pilgrims in 1620, it has been a favorite vacation destination for over 150 years.
"The Cape" - as it is affectionately called in Massachusetts - is actually a plethora of terminologies. Ironically, since the construction of the Cape Cod Canal began in 1906, it is not a cape nor a peninsular but rather an island.
Not everyone embraced the new sulky with "them fancy wheels" probably because it did cost a mite more.
This photo from Chatham Fairgrounds in New York circa 1910 shows that two different sulkies are being used.
The detractors wanted each record to be noted with a "k" for the kite track and a "p" for one took with pneumatic tires. The "wits" of the day said that it could also stand for "kwite poor."
Goldsmith Maid, 2:14 @ age 17 
Edward Franklin Geers lived in Columbia, Tennessee where they have a small memorial park to honor him. He got his nickname of “Pop” when he became a father for the first time at the age of 37 and a friend said to him “you’re a ‘Pop’ now!”
For twenty years Geers was the leading race driver of the world, winning hundreds of races and more than a million dollars in purses and stakes. In 1894 he made Robert J. the world's champion as a pacer, by driving him to a record 2:01 1/2; he brought out and first raced Star Pointer, 1:59 1/4, the first two minute horse; he won the world's trotting championship in 1900 with The Abbott, 2:03 1/4. He drove to their records sixty-six trotters in the 2:10 list, the fastest being the Harvester, 2:01, the champion trotting stallion of his day (1910) and he also gave their best records to sixteen pacers in the 2:05 list.
At Toledo, Ohio, in 1918 he won the first race in history in which all the heats were paced below 2:00 with Single G, “the horse that time forgot.”
Track [one turn]
Dayton Ohio Fairgrounds
The main attraction of 1874, drawing 75,000 eager fans, was the appearance of the world's fastest racehorse, "Goldsmith Maid," which set a new world trotting-horse record of 2:18.
Another 75,000 enthusiasts turned out at the Fairgrounds on June 18, 1908 to celebrate the quasi-sporting feat of Orville and Wilbur Wright's manipulating a biplane to become airborne five years earlier, the huge assembly is worthy of mention here. The brothers received gold medals from the United States Congress, Ohio General Assembly and the City of Dayton.
Doble's 1926 obituary by John Hervey
Goldsmith Maid [1857-1885]
In 10 seasons from 1867-1877 Bud Doble won 87 contested races and lost but twenty; he also started her in 27 exhibitions against time. For the decade she won $364,200.00 in stake, purse and exhibition money [a figure not surpassed until 1950]. Her total number of winning heats was 332. Her monies would be equal to $8.3 million in 2014 dollars.
"It was Aug. 17, 1892, at Washington Park, Chicago. The "bicycle sulky" had been introduced two or three weeks before, and its use was beginning to spread like wildfire. Pretty nearly every blacksmith and carriage shop in America was "full up" with regulation high-wheel sulkies waiting their turn to be fitted out with the "bicycle attachment." Those trainers lucky enough to "get in on the ground floor" were coining money in two ways: first, by the great advantage which the pneumatic tires and low wheels gave them in winning races over competitors pulling the high wheels; second, by renting their "bikes" out to less fortunate fellow-reinsmen when they were not using them themselves.
The performance in question was the first time in history that a trotter started to "bike" to beat the world's record. Before an immense assemblage, Nancy trotted the mile in 2:07¼, she and Doble receiving an ovation. The partisans of Maud S. and Sunol, however, discounted the performance on the ground that the new style vehicle had given the mare far more assistance that the reduction in the record amounted to, and it was apparent that this could not successfully be denied, for on every hand horses were smashing their records to atoms, with its aid. However, Nancy soon ended the discussion, for at Independence, Ia., over the Williams "kite" track she reduced the mark to 2:05¼ on Aug. 31, and followed this up by her top performance, at Terre Haute, Sept. 28, in 2:04, flat.”
-from Doble's 1926 obituary by John Hervey
“Harland,” she called out as the pair walked in, “we’ve got customers!”
The two brothers watched as the boy fumbled and cussed silently as he turned the chickens and basted them with a special sauce.
“You don’t like to barbeque?” asked Orville.
“To be honest sir,” the boy grumbled with a Kentucky drawl, “I’d rather be frying.”
And Wilbur, not really paying much attention, thought he had said "I'd rather be flying."
The rest, they say, is history.
And Rumor has it that when Orville and Wilbur were visiting the Lexington Trots of 1897 to witness the records being set by the bicycle sulky they spotted a booth with red and white checkered table cloths.
There, the Widow Sanders was taking orders while her son - a mere lad still clad in knickers - was cooking feverishly over a hot grill.
Back in Dayton, Ohio the Wright Brothers deviated from their printing business to concentrate more on their bicycle shop and making their own brand of bicycles.
They too paid a 10% royalty fee to Sterling Elliot, now publishing his own magazine Bicycle World.
At Terre-Haute, Indiana Doble drove his newest champion Nancy Hanks hooked to it.
The mare trotted to a World's Record [which was matched by the pacer Mascot the next day] around “The Four-Cornered Track” and newspapers across the country bannered their front pages with the time:
Although the debates pro and con began, the "bike" had truly arrived.
Bud Doble and Nancy Hanks, 2:08
Doble, the trainer/driver of both Dexter and Goldsmith Maid, tried the new contraption later on in the same day.
And he won also.
"The bicycle sulky was made that day," said Geers.
At the old Hamtramck Track in Detroit, he said, “some inventor left the new sulky” at the barn of fellow top driver/trainer Bud Doble [1843-1926] who had promptly stuck it at the end of the shed row.
Geers borrowed it and worked a horse, Excellence, who improved by two seconds each time he was hooked to it while going five heats.
With Bud’s permission he used it on Honest George who was racing his final heat that day.
He was initially nearly laughed off the track when he paraded him but the horse won.
By July of 1892 the new bicycle-tired sulkies were being sent all over the Grand Circuit.
Twenty years later Edward "Pop" Geers [1851-1924] would tell in an interview with a New York paper how he was the first driver to try the new invention.
"One afternoon in Buffalo, as I went to go home, I borrowed a bicycle with the new tires on it," said the Silent Man from Tennessee, "and the thing nearly run away with me."
It didn't take him too long to figure out that the new tires would help the horses around the tight turns.
Soon every neighborhood in every town had inventors and on Maple Street in Watertown, Massachusetts one such man was Sterling Elliot [1852-1922].
Thomas Edison [1847-1931] described him as "a genius" because of his improvements in transportation.
Elliot developed a great pneumatic bicycle tire with ball bearings as well as a quadricycle with a pinion steering system still in use today. After overwhelming success with his pneumatic tires, in 1886 Sterling Elliott sold his bicycle factory to his neighbors who ran a photography store: the Stanley Brothers, Francis and Freeland, who were identical twins. They used the quadricycle as inspiration for their design of the first steam-powered automobile: The Stanley Steamer.
Aye, and it's cheaper than the trolley!
Scotsman Robert Thompson [1822-1873] had patented the idea of a pneumatic tire [filled with air] in 1844 but John Boyd Dunlop [1840-1921] redeveloped it in 1888.
Dr. Dunlop [he was a veterinarian] was watching his young son riding his tricycle on solid rubber tyres over cobbled ground. He noticed that his little boy was not going very fast and did not seem very comfortable.
Dunlop took the tricycle, wrapped its wheels in thin rubber sheets made of Goodyear’s rubber, glued them together and inflated them with a football pump.
That way he developed the first air cushioning system in history, and laid the foundation for the first pneumatic tyre.
Less than a year later, Dunlop’s invention made its racing debut on two wheels. It enabled a little known rider to easily beat his stronger rivals in a series of bicycle races, thanks to the advantage given by his pneumatic tyres
The bicycle craze really took off.
Now all the carts and wagons were furnished with the new hard rubber tyers [tires] and starting in the 1850's hard rubber-tired bicycles became the fashion.
The bicycle was invented around 1817 and were originally pedal-less as people would sit and push themselves with their feet.
The rubber tyer...
After many years of trial and error, during which time he was in and out of debtor's prison, in 1839 Charles Goodyear [1800-1860] finally "vulcanized" rubber which was no longer sticky and remained pliable in cold weather.
He patented the process in America in 1844 but was constantly in patent lawsuits in Europe. When in France in 1850 his royalties stopped and he was hustled off to a 16-day stay at his familiar "hotel" (as he called it) ...debtors' prison.
Of course the most famous cartwrights of all were Ben and his three sons: Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe.
The Romans would construct their wheels and attach wet leather around the felloes [wooden rims] which constricted as they dried. They eventually were replaced by iron strakes [pieces of flat iron hob-nailed onto the rims] that was the norm up until the 1830's.
Then the ‘strake’ method of ‘shoeing’ a wheel was replaced by the ‘hoop tyre’ method. The blacksmith makes a one piece tyre with a single welded joint in the form of a hoop, exactly measured so that it is just smaller than the wheel. He heats the tyre, which causes it to expand, and hammers it onto the wheel with a flush-headed nail, and then drenches it into water to cool it and the tyre shrinks, creating an extremely tight fit binding the several parts of the wheel together.
It was called an "iron tyer" as it tied the wheel together.
Ironically it was just a lost art that had been used by the ancient "chariot people" such as the Celts dating from 1500-600 BC.
In Troy, N. Y. a manufacturer put out a long shaft sulky with twenty-four inch wheels. It dropped the driver down behind the horse and reduced the wind resistance. They built tubed "bikes" to bring the weight down to 28 pounds. And one of the first ever built was for Joe Patchen, the sire of Dan Patch.
So a horseman has a parrot that can recite the Gettysburg address in FIVE different languages. Smartest bird he's ever seen. He takes him into a bar and boasts how brilliant he is. Naturally the nay-sayers think he's full of it so he bets them all $100 bucks that he can even say it in French.
"No way," they say and the consensus is about 4-1 that the bird will come up blank.
The guy confidently covers their bets and places the parrot on the bar.
"L'adresse s'il vous plait," he says.
The parrot looks at him and just squawks.
"L'adresse s'il vous plait," he reiterates.
The bird just squawks, ruffles his feathers, and
looks at him with a blank stare.
The place erupts into tremendous howls and
guffaws as they bust the horseman.
Furious, the guy pays off the bets, grabs the parrot
by the neck, and storms out.
"Whoa, whoa!" squawks the parrot. "Why so rough!?!"
"Rough won't describe what I'm gonna do to you,"
steams the guy. "You just cost me over $2,000 dollars!"
"I know I did!" agrees the bird. "But just think what
the odds are gonna be nextweek!"
WILLY'S 9/26 HOWAREYATODAYS?
MOONWARDS HANOVER Kayne Kauffman $148.80 DAYTON
ONE DIRECTION Chris Page $65.80 NORTHFIELD
T RED Jason Merriman $47.80 NORTHFIELD
ALWAYS A FORCE Jason Merriman $83.20 NORTHFIELD
WINNING DESIGN Daniel Tuccillo Jr $104.40 PLAINRIDGE
KILLALY Daniel Dube $48.20 YONKERS
MR FANTASY George Brennan $39.40 YONKERS
R9 NORTHFIELD Tri: 3-2-4 $1,292.80
R12 NORTHFIELD Tri: 8-3-1 $2,416.40
R9 PLAINRIDGE Tri: 1-9-5 $2,111.60
R9 YONKERS Tri: 2-8-6 $2,920.00
NORTHFIELD Pick 3: 8/5/9 $3,464.20
Thus "Fa fe fi fo fum!" becomes "Behold food, good to eat, sufficient for my hunger!
The wheel ... ROLL `EM, ROLL `EM, ROLL `EM
Has been around since prehistory. First fashioned from flat boards, each generation has made their improvements as father passed his skills to his sons. They became a “wright”- a skilled worker/maker [wryhta in Old English] and professions such as a wainwright [wagon maker] or wheelwright [wheel maker] and cartwright [cart maker] evolved.
"Take it easy," he'd twang. "It's in with the colt's harness, I used it on him last week `cause he was ducking shadows up by Howard's barn.
That's when the frustrated Fred took to stuttering: "He d-d-don't n-n-need a shadow roll! He's shying away from that stereo those k-k-k-kids have blasting in the barn. You should've p-p-put ear plugs on him, not a sh-sh-shadowroll!
"He needed a shadowroll," Harry would shoot back. "I went a mile in `:40 with him and he was perfect and you can keep your ear plugs.""He was supposed to go in `:45 last week," Fred would say after he calmed down and went in search of the shadowroll. "I should have gone with him myself," he'd mutter under his breath, "I get along with him better than you."
"Then go with him," called out the keen-eared Harry, "see if I care if he jumps over the hub rail... it'll teach you right!" Then he'd settle back into his chair with a smile and wait for the next problem to develop but that would be about the extent of them.
They didn't have any particular system set up, one would get the horses ready while the other did the riding. They took turns, each doing what suited their fancy for the day. Rarely did you see them training in sets - which everyone one was thankful for - one was enough on the track at any one time.
The night they raced they'd head to the paddock always a half-hour ahead of everyone else. They'd start warming up early too. That was a sight in itself... their colors had to be at least 40 years old, complete with a broken belt buckle that would dangle furiously in their wake as they went along; their now-yellowed unpainted white helmet secured by a piece of a stud support that they'd dug out of the rubbish. They were quite the pair. Yet, aside from their eccentricities, they did all right.
Every day during the summer, right around noon, Fred and Harry would play host at the barn to a group discussion about the various problems with the horses and the world. Fred would be scurrying around straightening up and putting his two cents worth in every so often while Fred would be sitting in his chair, listening intently, before offering any of his sage advice. There was never a lack of audience as the season rolled lazily along..
TODAY'S 9/27 FAIRS
Bloomsburg, PA 10:30a
Cumberland, ME 1:30p
Fred, on the other hand, would get all perturbed if a hopple hanger was out of place. He'd spend an hour looking for "the filly's shadow roll" even though there were half-dozen others available.
"She needs the yellow one... with the cheek pieces turned up... she won't jog without it," he'd complain to himself. Then he'd tear through two or three trunks in search of it. When he couldn't find it he'd get all red-faced and flustered. He never cussed but you could tell that there were a few choice expletives simmering below the surface. Finally Old Fred would stand in the middle of the shed row and holler at Harry, demanding to know what he did with it. Harry would turn and just tell him to calm down.
They killed the story.
It's called teamwork
It is said that opposites attract. It is true in nature and it definitely happens in the horse business. At almost every track throughout the country there a scenario of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple as people go about the daily chores associated with operating a stable.
One such pair was located at one of the smaller tracks that dot northern New York. Each was in their seventies and had a family of their own yet, to this day, I don't think they ever introduced themselves to one another. That's just the way of the business.
They always had at least four horses in the barn: two racehorses that were constantly in over their heads and a colt and a filly that seemed like they were forever in training. The barn was the same one, year in and year out, and was always called "Harry and Fred's barn" around the track.
Every spring they were assigned six stalls: four for the horses, one for the feed/tack room, and the sixth for the imaginary claim that they were going to make every meet. It ended up being occupied by an old flea-bitten goat that didn't get along with anything but a feed tub. "Nellie" would be the first thing you'd hear when you walked by the barn, followed by the feed bin being raided and Harry hollering "leave that alone you damn thing!" It was the only time Harry would raise his voice and he wasn't too fond of her.
It seemed as though they had been partners since time began and both were quite set in their ways. Harry was the less excitable of the two, preferring to sit in front of the barn, smoking a Chesterfield, and rambling on about "the big horse" that they had "a few years back." You could have set a firecracker under the chair and he would've just flicked his cigarette and ask why in hell you'd done such a thing. Nothing really ever bothered him.
A little known fact...
Relatively unheard of old-time horseman Howard Kissinger was the elder brother of statesman Henry.
Although a talented and knowledgeable trainer who operated a modest stable of about six horses, he was a terrible gyp who couldn't drive a wheelbarrow and had absolutely no diplomacy when it came to talking with any of his owners.
A Giant Appetite... made popular in the folklore of Jack the Giant Killer.
Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum.
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he living, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to mix my bread!
"Fa fe fi fo fum" is actually a coherent phrase of ancient Gaelic, and that the complete quatrain covertly expresses the Celts' cultural detestation of the invading Angles and Saxons from across the North Sea that occurred in the 5th century A.D.
Fa from faich (fa!) "behold!" or "see!"
Fe from Fiadh (fee-a) "food";
Fi from fiú "good to eat"
Fo from fogh (fó) "sufficient" and
Fum from feum "hunger".
To Bike or Not to Bike...
Take me to your Leaders
New England’s own Alfred T. Day [1929-1985] – you, you, you, you know “Bucky” Day – the legendary driver throughout the Northeast had over 2,500 wins and uncounted starts in his career. Up until 1976 he had but ONE two minute mile win: in 1971 at Syracuse NY with the 4-year-old mare Miss Novia Scotia in 2:00 flat. With the advent of the new sulky a 2:00 mile became as common as eyebrows. The ”modified” sulky broke the 1:50 barrier when the incomparable Niatross’ time trialed in 1:49.1m at Lexington’s Red Mile in October of 1980.
Another battle between Miki and Wiggle It.
The explosion of speed of 1976 was when the modified sulky was put into use. There were debates as to which manufacturer's bike was the best but it all came down to that they all were better. Up until that year besting a 2:00 mile was the hallmark of excellence in the sport and they were each recorded individually in the USTA year books beginning with Star Pointer's initial 1:59 1/4 at Readville, Massachusetts in 1897.
The week of September 26th
The effort by Alfred D that day didn't create too much enthusiasm with the crowd but it was the first time the new bicycle tires were used in a race and they would eventually lower the times of all harness horses between five and seven seconds!
The Fairgrounds was opened in 1853 and hosted racing until about 1903 when a newer fairgrounds was constructed outside the city. During that time P.T. Barnum had brought his traveling circuses to the grounds as well as The Worcester Worcesters playing baseball in the diamond alongside the Judges' Stand in the infield. In 1880 it was the location of the first pitched "Perfect Game" in baseball.
Dan Patch was a brown horse sired by Joe Patchen out of Zelica and was the outstanding pacer of his day. Foaled in 1896, Dan broke world speed records at least 14 times in the early 1900s, finally setting the world's record for the fastest mile by a harness horse (1:55) during a time trial in 1906, a record that stood unmatched for 32 years. Dan Patch was foaled on 29 April 1896, in a barn in the town of Oxford, Indiana.
In 1938 Billy Direct finally bested Dan Patch's record when he paced a mile in 1:55. That mark was not broken until 1960 when Adios Butler went in 1:54:3.
THE GREAT TARMAC
TRIES HIS TALENTS AT DAYTON THIS WEEKEND.
What happened to Murder in the Cliffs?
On June 8, 1892 at the half-mile Worcester [Mass.] Agricultural Fairgrounds an owner/trainer from Boston by the name of Charles E. Clark put a pair of pneumatic [air-filled] bicycle wheels onto an ordinary sulky frame and brought his horse, Alfred D, out for the race. The pacing gelding had a mark taken the previous year at Manchester, NH of 2:51 and that day at Worcester he sizzled the Fairgrounds in 2:29!
One morning Fred was doing the teaming and brought the filly out to jog. He stood her in front of the cart and waited for Harry to come out and give him a hand hooking her up but his partner was in the barn, brushing off the colt, and in his own world.
Fred waited patiently as Harry whistled away as he braided the colt's foretop and talked nonsense to him. Finally the antsy Fred could wait no more.
"Are you g-g-gonna help me with this f-f-filly," he steamed out as he took to stuttering, "s-s-sometime today!?!"
"Don't rush me," Harry drawled, "I work cheap, not fast." He turned towards Fred with a grin on his face, obviously pleased with his wit, and in the blink of an eye the colt reared up and cuffed him alongside his head. The hat and the glasses went sailing off as he spun around twice and pirouetted like a ballerina across the shed row. He rolled over two trunks and knocked into three harness bags before landing in a heap in the pile of sawdust that had been outside the door for the past 20 years.
"D-d-dammit Harry," stuttered Old Fred as he stared at him, "are you gonna help me h-h-hook her up or are you gonna f-f-f-fool around all day?"
Harry sat rubbing the side of his noggin and let out a long resigning groan. "I will," he calmly said, "as soon as I find my glasses."
Fred looked into the shed row.
"I think Nellie has got hold of them," he quietly offered.
Harry jumped up and raced back into the barn. "Let go of them you damn thing," came his voice.
They spent the next hour chasing her around the barn area before they got them away from her.
And if wasn't for teamwork, they never would have caught her.