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Uphill Battle To Lead Post Parade

Published: July 13, 2011 4:35 pm ET

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When Paul Gillenwater bought Uphill Battle as a three-year-old in 1998, the seller told him, “If you’re looking for a good little horse, he’s the one.”

“How good is he?” Gillenwater asked.

“Damn good,” said the man.

Over the next 11 years, Paul Gillenwater never disagreed with that sentiment.

“He was a damn good horse,” said Gillenwater. “He was born to be a racehorse and that’s exactly what he was.”

Uphill Battle raced 400 times in his career, winning 52 times and taking a record of 1:51.1 at Scioto Downs. That’s why he was chosen to lead the post parade for Scioto’s Ohio Driving Legends race on Saturday night as part of the 'Back to the Track' activities.

“I learned that size doesn’t matter in a good horse,” said Gillenwater. “He raced all those years, all those races, and I injected his left hock once. That’s it. He never had his knees or stifles injected. He didn’t need any vet work; he took care of himself.”

Uphill Battle was bred in Ontario and is a son of Bo Knows Jate. In his career, he earned more than a half-million dollars.

“He wore the same bridle and same equipment all the years I had him,” said GIllenwater. "The only adjustaments I made were in his hopples.”

Gillenwater said that the little pacer was best coming from off the pace and positively lethal if he was in striking position in the final quarter.

“If he was close at the head of the stretch, he was going to go by them even though he had to take three strides to their one,” said Gillenwater. “I remember one night when Brad Hanners drove him at Scioto. He was seventh at the head of the stretch and paced right by the field to win. Brad was just twirling his whip at the wire.”

Most horses that enjoy lengthy racing careers are geldings, but Uphill Battle is a stallion and his manners were impeccable.

“He was really good mannered,” said Gillenwater. “He didn’t kick or bite. About the only time he acted up was when he was in the paddock and saw the outrider’s horse.”

Uphill battle made his final start on December 31, 2009 just a few minutes before he reached the mandatory retirement age of 15.

In his retirement, Uphill Battle is preparing to be a father, as he’s been breeding some mares in Ohio. Gillenwater is pleased that some Ohio horsemen have booked mares to the legendary pacer. His original owners in Canada have bred a mare to him, too.

Gillenwater is proud that his old warrior has been chosen to parade the Ohio Driving Legends race on Saturday night. There’s no question in his mind that Uphill Battle is truly a legend.

“I’ve never had a horse like him,” said Gillenwater, “and I know I’ll never have another one like him.”

(Scioto Downs)

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