The Trotter

PrintPrintEmailEmail

After 1900 the trotting horse was rapidly reduced to the role of being merely the sportsman’s delight. The motorcar replaced him on the highway, and the tractor soon ended forever the need for animals that could be, at one and the same time, useful on the farm and a pleasure on the road. But on the turf the trotter retained a faithful following despite the inroads of such spectator attractions as baseball, football, and Oatracing. In it) 12 Uhlan, a gelding, trotted the mile in 1:58 ten years later Peter Manning went against the clock in the time of 1:56 3/4. Greyhound’s 1:55 1/4 in 1938 reduced the mark still further, and this record has never been surpassed.

After World War II the center of harness racing moved to the large tracks—like Roosevelt Raceway in New York—near the great urban centers. The early sixties brought continued growth and crowds of over 50,000, and pari-mutuel takes approached five million dollars for a nine-race card. At Hanover, Pennsylvania, L. B. Sheppard’s Hanover Shoe Farm perpetuates a present-day version of Bonner’s Tarrytown.

At mid-twentieth century much of the romance of the trotting turf was gone, but with each year’s revival of the Hambletonian, the initiated arc reminded of the famous Good Times track at Goshen, of William Rysdyk, and of all the colorful antecedents of the modern American trotting horse. It is a nostalgia readily stimulated by the trotting prints.