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Remembering Dan Patch

Published: July 11, 2016 12:31 pm ET

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One hundred years ago today the world lost a world champion, and world famous Standardbred named Dan Patch.

Dan Patch (Joe Patchen - Zelica) set a world record with a 1:55.1 clocking in 1905. In 1906, an astonishing 93,000 people attended the Minnesota State Fair to see if Dan Patch would break the record and he did, with a 1:55 mile.

However, the one 1:55 clocking wasn't recognized as the harness racing world record because Dan Patch's connections used time trial methods used been banned at the end of 1905. His time of 1:55 was equaled on two occasions, first by Billy Direct in 1936, but not beaten until 1960 when Adios Butler paced 1:54.3.

Dan Patch's achievements made him a sports and crossover cultural celebrity, making front page headlines with his accomplishments and his name and likeness endorsing everything from toys, washing machines, cigars and automobiles.

His presence would attract fans in the six figures. Dwight Eisenhower recalled lining up as a young boy at the 1904 Kansas State Fair to see Dan Patch. Harry Truman had a similar affection with horse, writing Dan Patch a letter when he was younger.

Dan Patch retired undefeated in 1909, holding nine world records and spent much of his later life attending exhibitions.

The legendary horse passed away on July 11, 1916 and his beloved owner, Marion W. Savage, passed away just 32 hours later from heart failure.


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