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Monday, March 9, 2015

Nasty But Productive Trotters

Some trotters—Triple Crown winner Super Bowl, for instance—are easy going by nature, while others—many of the fillies—are high strung and difficult to deal with. It’s noteworthy that many of the latter variety have had a very positive effect on the breed and the sport, their sour personalities notwithstanding.

Nevele Pride, who won the Triple Crown and broke Greyhound’s longstanding world record when he time trialed in 1:54.4 at Indianapolis, was vicious to the point where he was always handled with a bull pole. His stall at various raceways was always cordoned off from the public, lest some unsuspecting soul lose a digit or two. His cantankerous disposition may have been inherited from his mama, the Hoot Mon mare, Thankful, who carried the nickname “Little Evil.”

Noble Victory was another “sweetheart.” He was a great two-year-old and retired the fastest trotter in a race, thanks to a 1:55.3 win at DuQuoin. I believe he was also the subject of the first million dollar syndication. His get in general were hard to handle, but his son Noble Gesture was extremely high strung and a danger to his stall. He died of a heart attack at 13, but three years before passing, his son Balanced Image was born. He didn’t suffer from the same fertility issues that plagued his daddy and granddad, but he was big, bad and not to be trifled with while in his stall. And many of his get were in turn rough cut and aggressive.

Stars Pride’s Triple Crown winning son, Ayres, was at the other end of the spectrum, stature wise, from Balanced Image, but he was an equally peevish little sucker. Another shorty with a nasty disposition is the Conway Hall trotter, Wishing Stone. The winner of $2.2 million is out of a Valley Victory mare.

Speedy Somolli, the first trotter to win a race in under 1:55 and Valley Victory’s paternal granddad, was the devil himself. Valley Victory’s grandson, Self Possessed, the sire of Cantab Hall and the star-crossed Snow White, was no walk in the park either.

Impish, who trotted in a world record 1:58.3 at the Red Mile more than 50 years ago, was a temperamental diva. When Frank Ervin put Impish and stablemate Sprite Rodney in a double harness and set a world record of 1:59.2 with the pair, they fought each other every step of the way.

D Train, the Donerail mare who is the dam of Donato Hanover and Here Comes Herbie, is another screwball. Noble Gal, a daughter of Noble Victory, who captured her division at three, is another. And add Elitlopp winner Elma to the list. Division winner at two and three, Superlou, is another filly who spelled trouble but got it done on the track. Stars Pride’s daughter Meadow Bright, who also took her division at two and three also fits the bill.

The iconic roan filly Merrie Annabelle, who won 10 in a row at two, equaling Scott Frost’s 2:00 record in the Hanover Filly Stakes at The Red Mile, was very headstrong. She died in a freak accident shortly after that.

The Nevele Pride mare, Panty Raid, who won the first World Trotting Derby and was Trotter of the Year at three, only lived until age six, but that year she had a Speedy Crown filly named Dormitory, who was vicious and would regularly attack people. Dormitory produced a Super Bowl filly named Super Nice five years later, and she won the Merrie Annabelle. It all comes together in the end for these nasty, but productive, trotters.

Joe FitzGerald


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