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Sunday, February 18, 2007

President's Niatross Day

- Thanks to Erin for writing in about the video of jockey-ridden trotters in Europe that I thought I saw and I guess I did. I just can't seem to recall where I saw it.

But I do have a video of the opposite to offer. Certainly the most famous instance of thoroughbreds pulling drivers in sulkies was the time trial by the amazing pacer Niatross (one of those horses whose name I just can't mention without first preceding it with an appropriate superlative) in October, 1980 at the Red Mile in Lexington. Niatross had by then long recovered from his two race losing streak, the only losses of his career, which I discussed in this post which I wrote, by absolute sheer coincidence, exactly one year ago Monday. Seems like there's something about President's Day that makes me think of Niatross. Hmmm, let's see, maybe it's because he's a son of another superb pacer in Albatross, and our current President is a son of.... Nope, that's not it.

Niatross was getting ready to sweep the Pacing Triple Crown by winning the Messenger at Roosevelt when he went to Lexington to try and surpass his own race world record, a 1:52.4 at the Syracuse Fairgrounds, as well as the standing time trial record of 1:52 by Steady Star.

And using two thoroughbreds pulling sulkies as prompters, he not only shattered the mark, he pulverized it, and in the process became the first harness horse to break the 1:50 mark. He stopped the timer in 27.3, 54.3, 1:21.4, and then, as driver Clint Galbraith allowed one of the thoroughbreds to come up on the inside to add some urgency, they got the final quarter in 27.2 for an unheard of final time of 1:49.1.

The video of the event posted below was taped, according to the blurb on You Tube, with a camcorder, though it must have been known as something else back in 1980, yes? It's a lot of fun to hear the crowd ooo and aah, at first merely with nervous anticipation as Niatross got to the half in the same time as Steady Star, but then erupting to drown out the track announcer when the three-quarter time was posted, and just going crazy as he crossed the wire. So here it is...enjoy, and have a happy holiday, whatever you want to call it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Niatross a most deserving TT record holder in place of Steady Star, a no heart horse that couldn't beat raceway stock the week before he set the old standard.

Miss Conna Adios

Patrick J Patten said...

Awesome Youtube find, never really into pacers&trotters but that got me pretty fired up. Great way to start a vacation day, love the guys standings around commentating.

Green Mtn Punter said...

Alan, thanks for the Niatross memory. My father was a big standardbred fan, it was a sport for country boys racing lower priced stock at county fairs in New England, as opposed to thoroughbreds, a/k/a the Sport of Kings. I opted for the thoroughbreds because I was fortunate enough to experience Saratoga as my "first" racetrack, sort of like one's first love. I see standardbred racing as horse racing's NASCAR, it began by racing your neighbor home from church on Sunday, when one driver said to the other : "I'll bet my mare is faster than yours!"

Erin said...

The evidence...