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In A Class Of His Own

Published: August 14, 2013 9:27 am ET

Last Comment: August 20, 2013 1:51 pm ET | 6 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

He was never involved in a photo finish, with his narrowest win margin at three-quarters of a length. When he retired, he held 15 World Records. His time trial of 1:49.1 was nearly three full seconds -- 14 lengths -- faster than the former World Record.

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame's Class of 2013 includes the legendary pacer Niatross, who won a remarkable 37 of 39 career starts and more than $2 million in purses. He was trained and driven by co-owner Clint Galbraith, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

Included in his accomplishments were both a race and track record of 1:53.4 in the 1980 Prix d'Été at Montreal’s Blue Bonnets, the fastest Canadian mile at that time. But in addition to all of the records and wins, many recall the two races that Niatross lost -- especially the well-documented fall over the hubrail at Saratoga -- almost as vividly.

"Something like that can be as simple as something like [fellow 2013 HOF inductee] Secretariat losing the Wood Memorial in 1973 before winning the Triple Crown," Hall Of Fame analyst Bob Heyden told Trot Radio. "You find out three days later that he's got a huge abscess in his tooth. Not everyday is going to be perfect for a racehorse. When you set the standard as high as these kinds of horses, you're much more likely to remember a race day loss -- like Somebeachsomewhere -- than all the races they won, because they're so's such an unusual occurrence."

After losing back-to-back races at three -- where he fell over the hubrail at Saratoga and then made a speed break after hitting his hocks on the racebike and came to nearly a complete stop in his Meadowlands Pace elimination -- he never lost again. Niatross reeled off 18 straight wins before his retirement on December 27, 1980 at Pompano Park. The photo above was featured on the cover of the program that night. After retiring to stud, Niatross sired winners of over $62 million, including three millionaires. His most famous son, Nihilator earned more than $3 million on the racetrack.

To listen to the full audio feature on Niatross, click the play button below.

Trot Radio - Episode 303 - Bob Heyden on 2013 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Inductee Niatross
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

Niatross and thoroughbred superhorse Secretariat headline the field of 13 new Hall of Fame inductees under new rules that allow international competitors into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

There will be a total of three horses and three people representing Standardbreds, along with three horses and four people from the Thoroughbred ranks entering Canada's Hall in August 2013. The Induction Ceremony will be hosted this Thursday at the Mississauga Convention Centre on Thursday, August 15, 2013.


August 20, 2013 - 1:51 pmThat cold blustery afternoon

That cold blustery afternoon at Greenwood when Niatross raced was one I will never forget. The power of him roaring down the stretch with a jam packed crowd cheering was a site to behold. To this day I have saw many good horses and maybe some great horses but Niatross is at the top of my list as the greatest horse to ever look through a bridle.

August 15, 2013 - 1:06 pmOnly once was I able to see

Only once was I able to see this pacer race at Roosevelt, October 11, 1980 in the Messenger Stakes. It was a nasty night, but what a night it was. I will never forget NIATROSS, and his charisma and effect he had on the public that watched him race. Tears, joy, laughter, and with much cheering the crowd displayed as he finished the Messenger on a good track that night.

I am so happy that NIATROSS in being inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame. NIATROSS will always be, in my mind, the greatest race horse this millenium has ever seen. There are other great horses that have passed on and ones that are still racing today but none as worthy of this honor as the great NIATROSS.

Janelle Scherbik

August 14, 2013 - 2:44 pmWithout a doubt Niatross was

Norm Brunet SAID...

Without a doubt Niatross was 10 generations ahead of his time. To drop THE record by 3 seconds is jaw dropping. It's difficult to compare breeds but both Niatross and Secretariat are my all time favorites. They both dominated their class by so much.
But I have to give the nod to Niatross for breaking the 1.50 barrier in 1980. He broke Steady Star's 1.52.2 WORLD record by more then 3 seconds by going 1.49.1 at Lexington in October 1980. 33 years later a 1.49.1 mile is still impressive.
Somebeach was a great horse but Niatross was THE GREATEST.

August 14, 2013 - 1:19 pmLike Mr. Riga I made the trek

Like Mr. Riga I made the trek to watch him. What I recall was how lazy he seemed until they went behind the gate. Then he pinned his ears back and was he scary!!

August 14, 2013 - 1:12 pmIt was an honor to be so

chris coyle SAID...

It was an honor to be so close to the horse for so many years. The stat that separates him from all of today's champions was that he never ducked his competition and raced in all of the classic events at age 2 and 3 no matter how many heats or what size track and this separates him from everyone. Chris Coyle

August 14, 2013 - 10:14 amI had the pleasure of

Joe Riga SAID...

I had the pleasure of watching this awesome pacing machine when he came to Greenwood. In those days the interet and and simulcasts of racing was not available. We were shown the odd race here and there but not like today where you can watch racing from anywhere on the planet. To watch a horse as great as Niatross race on TV was a rare event and to watch it live was even rarer. Therefore when I heard he was coming to Toronto I made sure I was there so as to not miss the opportunity. Those were the good old days of Greenwood where you could watch the horses and drivers come right by you as they made their way to the track. What a great feeling it was to see this champion live in the flesh. It was a special day and of course he di not disappoint. He basically toyed with a field that consisted of some of our best free for allers at that time. And it was a pleasure to watch. My brother still has the program (kept in great condition) from that day. In my humble opinion (and I know some may disagree) but when you factor in all the records he set,the fact that he never required a photo finish to determine that he had won, the fact that he was never actually beaten in a race but only beat himself, Niatross was by far the best horse to race OF ANY BREED (with all due respect to the great Secretariat).

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