Niatross to todays champions

Some of us who have been breeding standardbreds for the past 30 to 40 years will remember the amazing news from the United States in late September 1980 that harness racing’s magical 1.50 barrier had been broken for the first time in history.

Niatross and his trainer/driver Clint Galbraith were responsible for that historical event when they sizzled around the famous Red Mile track in Lexington, Kentucky in 1.49.1 [ 1/5th].

Now almost 40 years later the harness racing world pays homage to three individual pacing machines who own the title of the fastest pacer on the planet.

Those three horses in chronological order of their 1.46 performances are Always B MikiLather Up and Bulldog Hanover.

Those three horses are all stallions so let’s not forget the fastest female on the planet, Shartin 1.46.4 [4/5ths]

Here in Australia, we are familiar with the breeding of three of the four above-mentioned horses.

Amazingly none of them including Bulldog Hanover are sired by stallions that many Australian and New Zealand breeders have high respect for. So, lets digest the breeding of those four world champions.

Always B Miki is by Always A Virgin from an unraced Artsplace mare called Artstopper, who is now in the USA Hall of Fame as a broodmare. He was bred by a celebrity lawyer from Delaware, USA and raised on a farm in Pennsylvania.

Lather Up is by I’m Gorgeous from Pocket Comb 1.56.4 $30,977 who is by In The Pocket. Bred and raised in Maryland, USA.

Bulldog Hanover is by Shadow Play from the Artsplace mare B J’s Squall 1.53.2 $261,750. Bred and raised by the famous Hanover Farm in Pennsylvania.

Shartin is by Tintin In America from the Live Or Die mare Bagdarin 1.57.7 $2,854. Bred and raised by Graham Crabbe in Christchurch, NZ.

So where does this scintillating speed come from?

Only one of the dams of those four horses had any racetrack prowess – that being B J’s Squall [dam of Bulldog Hanover]. She is in fact a daughter of another Hall of Fame broodmare in Lady Ashlee Ann, the dam of 3 in 1.50 including a stallion well known to us in the Southern Hemisphere in Betterthancheddar.  Interestingly Betterthancheddar is now the sire of the fastest horse bred in Australia in Better Eclipse 1.47.6.

Now back to the sire of Bulldog Hanover – that being Shadow Play. He has sired 278 Australian bred winners [ as of 12th July 2022] but didn’t achieve the desired results in Australia that were expected.

However, he is so much more respected in North America, particularly in Ontario, Canada. He was unlucky to be born in the same year as the champion Somebeachsomewhere, so his career earnings of $1,549 million could well have exceeded $2 million if he had raced in a different season.

The respect for him was there right from day one of his stud career in Canada and he has always bred big books of very good mares. Last Year in North America he sired three of the top five colts to race in the three-year-old ranks including Bulldog Hanover.   Shadow Play has now sired 19 in 1.50 in North America and has progeny earnings exceeding $43 million.

Always A Virgin was bred by the same gentleman, Joe Hurley, who bred Always B Miki.

He sired 404 foals in Australia for 146 winners [ as of 12th July 2022] but never really gained much traction as a stallion and as a result his son, Always B Miki, didn’t really attract great books of mares in his first couple of seasons Down Under.

However once again Always A Virgin is a well-regarded stallion in North America and regularly features in the Top 10 on the USTA Sires List. His progeny earnings in North America now exceed $54 million   – he has sired 30 in 1.50 and three millionaires including the first horse in harness racing history to achieve the 1.46 record.

I’m Gorgeous, the sire of Lather Up 1.46 is perhaps the enigma amongst these sires of the fastest pacers on this earth.

He was amongst the best of the three-year-olds in USA in 2010 earning $416,934 that year and then retired to Stud in Ohio in 2012.

His breeding would be well known to Southern Hemisphere breeders being by Bettors Delight from a mare by Andrel [a stallion who was based at Nevele R stud in the 1980’s and 1990’s].

However, he hasn’t been rushed at stud siring just 81 foals in his career. From those 14 have taken 1.55 records with 10 earning more than $100,000.

Lather Up is from an In The Pocket mare and we are aware of his ability to sire extreme speed so perhaps this is where the 1.46 speed was hatched from.

Tintin In America is the sire of the super mare Shartin.   He himself is a son of McArdle and probably fair to say a stallion that wasn’t hugely patronized in the Southern Hemisphere. Many breeding purists consider Tintin In America to be one of the most under rated sires currently at stud in Australia.

Tintin In America was blessed with sheer raw speed and won five Group 1 races in his relatively short racing career. His dam is by In The Pocket just like Lather Up, so maybe this is the source of his own high point to point speed.

From quite small crops Tintin In America has sired eight $100,000 earners including the mighty Shartin 1.46.8 $2.697 million, who is the only Southern Hemisphere bred horse to be ever voted the USTA Horse of the Year.

So, breeders of Australia, you don’t have to breed your mare to only the highest service fee stallions available. Opportunities abound with the selection of stallions available in this 2022 Australian Stallion Guide.

Always Be Miki
Lather Up
Bulldog Hanover