It soon became fairly obviously why I had never heard of Dan Patch...he was a harness racer. Although I love harness racing, I do not follow it nearly as close as I do Thoroughbred racing. I don't follow it much at all really, I just enjoy being a spectator. But the fact that knew nothing of this legendary pacer was unacceptable!
It turns out that Dan Patch was pretty much the greatest harness racer off all time. The awards given out at the end of the harness racing seasons are actually called the Dan Patch Awards. Even though it has been ages since he was on the track (the early 1900s) Ol' Dan Patch is still admired by racers everywhere and cosidered the best.
When he was racing, he beat the world harness records at least fourteen times and actually set the fastest time for a harness paced mile at 1:55.25 in 1905. Sometimes owners would scratch their horses from a race if Dan Patch was on the card, knowing that nearly no horse could beat him. This didn't stop Dan Patch from pacing the race anyway...he just had to race the clock (and he usually won that too!)
Having never lost an actual race, Dan Patch's undefeated career made him a favorite among nearly everyone. He was endorsed with countless items ranging from toys (I am positive I would have bought one) to cigars and washing machines. His talent brought many fans to the track, and often packed the grandstands with his supporters. Even a United State's President or two stopped by the track to watch his amazing speed.
After earning over a million dollars in race earnings (in the early 1900s remember...that's a lot of cash now!!!) and nine world records, Ol' Dan Patch was retired in 1909 to a life of glory where in his later years he traveled to exibitions so his faithful and adoring fans could visit the legend for themselves.
While searching for pictures of Dan Patch, I came across a blog entry about him.
"Dan Patch was the fastest racehorse of his day, having never lost a race. He also broke the two minute mark 35 times, more than any other horse. He was the Black Beauty of his day. There is still a Dan Patch Historical Society continuing the memory of the famous horse. Even at the Minnesota State Fair, there is a street named Dan Patch Avenue," (The Millennial Freemason).
Besides being absolutely gorgeous, a magnificent racer, and all around amazing, Dan Patch was foaled in the good state of Indiana. Way to make the state proud! Way to go! I know the harness world, my mother, and now I...will never forget good Ol' Dan Patch!