|A Great Ancestry |
The founding sire of today's Standardbred horse was a grey thoroughbred named Messenger--a decendant of the Darley Arabian line of thoroughbreds--who was brought to the United States in 1788, and purchased by Henry Astor, a brother of John Jacob Astor.
Messenger's great-grandson was Hambletonian 10, born on May 5, 1849 in the town of Sugar Loaf, Orange County, New York, and who is considered to be the foundation of the modern Standardbred breed. His sire was Abdallah and he was out of a Charles Kent mare. Hambletonian 10 began his stud career at age two.
Another son of Abdallah, named Abdallah Chief, was thought to be the faster of the two horses at the time. So he and Hambletonian 10 were hitched to skeleton wagons at Long Island's Union Course racetrack. Each horse went around the track seperately, and each was timed. Hambletonian 10 was clocked in 2:28 and 1/2 for the mile, while Abdallah Chief was timed in 2:55 and 1/2. This earned Hambletonian his reputation for speed, and his stud fee was thus set at an unprecedented $500.
From his four sons, the entire lineage of virtually all modern Standardbreds can be traced. Hambletonian 10 died in 1876 at the age of 27, and the Hambletonian Society was established in 1924 to honor him and the trotting gait. The first Hambletonian Stake was held in 1926 at Syracuse raceway, and today is held at the Meadowland's on the first Saturday in August annually.