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Tuesday, July 14, 2015


When my husband and I were newly weds, we drove across the country from Oregon, where we were married, to New Haven, CT where Tom was a student at Yale and I was going to start my teaching career at North Haven High School. We had taken the long route through Canada before cutting down into upstate New York. It was late at night and without even a moon to light the way, all was dark as we drove across the farm lands. Eventually, the sky up ahead was glowing with bright lights. When we arrived at the source of the light, we discovered that they were illuminating a horse racing track. Going around the oval were Standardbreds, pulling sulkies. Having never seen a harness race before, we pulled off and went to watch. It was fascinating and so fun.

I have mentioned before that, as a child, my favorite books were anything written by Marguerite Henry. She wrote one book about harness racing titled "Born to Trot". That was my only exposure to harness racing.

So, today, I decided to go back to my usual theme of "Noble and Great Horses" and write about one of the greatest harness racers: the great champion and outstanding sire, ADIOS!
 Adios was born on January 3, 1940, the son of Hal Dale and the mare Adioo Volo. He was born at Two Gaits Farm in Carmel, Indiana. He was trained and driven by Frank Ervin. For a while, he was owned by Harry Warner of the Warner Brothers film studio. During his racing career, he won multiple world championships. His pacing record at the Shelbyville Indiana fair stood for 43 years!
In 1948, Adios was bought by harness racing driver Delvin Miller. Miller brought him to his Meadow Lands farm near Washington, PA, where he stood at stud. While he was a great racer, Adios was even a better stud and is considered by many to be the greatest sire in harness racing history. He sired eight "Little Brown Jug" winners and his sons, Adios Butler and Bret Hanover, both became winners of the Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Pacers. Before he died, Adios had sired 589 offspring. His name is found on consumer products and harness horse equipment. He even has a golf club in Florida named after him!

The Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Pacers are:
Cane Pace, held at Tioga Downs in Nichols, NY
Little Brown Jug, held at the Delaware County Fair in Delaware, Ohio
Messenger Stakes, held at Yonkers Raceway in Yonkers, NY

There is a different Triple Crown for Trotters.

All North American Harness races are restricted to Standard Bred Horses.  But the races are divided into two specific gaits: a trot or a pace.

 There is a big difference between pacers and trotters. A trot is a two beat diagonal gait, like my Hanoverian, Jazz, does and that we English riders ride either posting (rising up and down) or sitting. The trot of a standard bred is faster than the gallop of the average non-race horse and has been clocked at over 30 miles per hour.

The pace, on the other hand is a lateral two-beat gait. In the pace, the two legs on the same side of the horse move forward together. Some horse naturally prefer to pace. This gait is generally not comfortable to ride as the rider is thrown from side to side. The pace of the Icelandic Horse is one exception. But the pace is even faster than the trot in a harness racing horse.

This famous set of pictures shows that there is a moment in the pace (as well as the trot) when all four of the horse's feet are off the ground.

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