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It's been 35 years since fans at the Delaware County Fair have seen a horse capture the Pacing Triple Crown with a win in the Little Brown Jug. True, three horses have won the Pacing Triple Crown since Ralph Hanover in 1983, but because the sequence of Crown races often change, none of those horses completed their quests in Delaware, Ohio. In fact, of the 10 Pacing Triple Crown winners to date, only Ralph Hanover and Adios Butler in 1959 finished their feats in the Little Brown Jug. Stay Hungry will try to join them on Thursday. He will become the sixth horse to compete in the Jug with the chance to win the Pacing Triple Crown and first since 1993 when Riyadh finished second. Western Hanover in 1992 and Albatross in 1971 also finished second in their bids. The most recent Pacing Triple Crown winner was No Pan Intended, who in 2003 won the Cane Pace first followed by the Little Brown Jug and the Messenger Stakes. To commemorate the 35th anniversary of the last Pacing Triple Crown coronation at the Little Brown Jug, Ralph Hanover's driver and co-owner Ron Waples recounted his memories of the experience and the horse. "I'd have said it then and I'd say the same thing now, it's probably one of the biggest thrills of my life," Waples said about winning the Pacing Triple Crown. "Going into the Jug, the horse was very sharp and very good. He'd taken on all comers. I think back on it now, and I think I would have been more disappointed if he'd gotten beat than anything. I was just so hyped up about it, so confident that he was going to do well." Ralph Hanover, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1986 and died in 2008, was a son of Meadow Skipper out of Ravina Hanover. He was purchased for $58,000 by trainer Stew Firlotte and Waples, who had decided to partner on the yearling rather than bid against each other. The colt proved to be lazy throughout his career, but knew when it was show time. "He was hard to get to go at all until we got him in with horses," Waples said. "Once he got behind the gate and started to race he woke right up. Even at his best, he was always very, very lazy." Ralph Hanover won seven of 15 races at age 2 before etching his name in history at age 3. In 1983, Ralph Hanover won 20 of 25 races and earned a then-record $1.71 million in purses. He won the Messenger Stakes in June, the Meadowlands Pace and Queen City Pace (later replaced by the North America Cup) in July and three double-heat races -- the Adios, Cane Pace and Prix d'Ete -- in August. He also competed in the double-heat Oliver Wendell Holmes in August, finishing second by a nose. After some time off to freshen up, Ralph Hanover won the Simcoe Stakes before claiming the Little Brown Jug in straight heats on a chilly 50-degree day in Ohio. "He was a lazy colt, but I think that's why he lasted so long," Waples said. "You could leave out of the gate and have him on high gear and two steps later he would be going at a slow walk if you let him. Or you could come first up and he would just relax out there. It made no difference to him. "His manners and his gait were his two large pluses. I was just a minor part." Prior to the Little Brown Jug, Waples called Firlotte to find out how preparations for the race were going. "I watched three other ones train here and they all trained somewhere between 2:05 and two minutes," Firlotte told him. "And how was Ralph?" Waples asked. "I think he trained pretty good," Firlotte responded. "He went a mile in 2:35." "It was funny," Waples said. "That just shows how lazy he was. But once you got him behind the gate and asked him to go, he responded very well." Ralph Hanover won the Little Brown Jug and Pacing Triple Crown in front of a crowd of 46,087. "The Jug is a pretty cool place no matter what you're going to do," said the 74-year-old Waples, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1986 and U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1994. "It's just unbelievable. It's quite a thrill. "Time goes by really fast. It doesn't seem that long ago. But it is." The Pacing Triple Crown began in 1956. Following is a list of the 10 horses to win the three races in the series: The Cane Pace, Messenger Stakes, and Little Brown Jug. Year-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1959-Adios Butler-Clint Hodgins-Paige West 1965-Bret Hanover-Frank Ervin-Frank Ervin 1966-Romeo Hanover-William Myer, George Sholty-Jerry Silverman 1968-Rum Customer-Billy Haughton-Billy Haughton 1970-Most Happy Fella-Stanley Dancer-Stanley Dancer 1980-Niatross-Clint Galbraith-Clint Galbraith 1983-Ralph Hanover-Ron Waples-Stew Firlotte 1997-Western Dreamer-Mike Lachance-Bill Robinson 1999-Blissfull Hall-Ron Pierce-Ben Wallace 2003-No Pan Intended-David Miller-Ivan Sugg Here is the video when Ralph Hanover won the Triple Crown at the Little Brown Jug https://youtu.be/Qf1rgX3UTRo.  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA Media 

No Pan Intended, the last of the ten Pacing Triple Crown winners, is headed off to Ireland to continue his breeding career. His North American stint in that capacity has been unremarkable. Let’s hope the fifteen-year-old son of Pacific Fella finds the Emerald Isle more to his liking. That got me to thinking about the fact that most of the nine complete Triple Crown winners have come up short in the harness racing breeding shed. No Pan Intended, who won the Triple Crown in 2003, drew 201 mares the following year, resulting in 133 registered foals, but demand dwindled to the point where he only attracted 11 mares in 2014. All told he averaged 30 foals per year for his career in NA. The nine-year-old slugger Alexie Mattosie is his only millionaire. He won the Presidential and the William Haughton in 2011, but has done it the hard way for the most part. Lennon Blue Chip, from his first crop, is about $50,000 from being a millionaire, but aside from a couple of OSS Gold legs it’s been a long slog. Nebupanezzar, from crop number two, did win the Governor’s Cup, along with a couple of Gold legs, and he also ended his career about $50,000 short of a million. No Pan Intended’s performance as a broodmare sire has been negligible.  The Cambest colt Blissful Hall won the Triple Crown four years earlier. He sired a half dozen crops here before being sent to Australia. Camelot Hall, from his first crop, won the Metro and Nassagaweya, and the following year Shanghai Phil, the sire of Duc Dorleans, won the Bluegrass, ISS and Champlain. And Armbro Dancer and Marnie Hall met with some success against the older mares. Nat A Virgin, Play It Again Sam and Witch Dali are a few of his broodmare credits. Western Dreamer, an incomplete son of Western Hanover, won the Triple Crown two years earlier, in 1999. We have to go back fourteen years to 1983 for the next winner, Meadow Skipper’s richest offspring, the Canadian hall of famer, Ralph Hanover. There are plenty of examples of stallions who don’t come close to reproducing themselves at stud, but Ralph certainly stands out in that group. He bred 200 mares in each of his first two seasons, producing 126 and 104 foals, respectively, but he was down to five by 1996, when he finished his career in Ontario. He produced handsome individuals like himself, but most of them were simply too slow. Some believed that Ralph beat up on a weak group, but the checkmarks were all in place for a successful breeding career. It just didn’t happen. The great Niatross preceded Ralph. He won three years earlier, in 1980, then retired as the fastest and richest pacer ever. His first crop of 148 contained the great Nihilator, who won 35 of 38 starts and earned a world record $3.2 million; Pace and Messenger winner, Pershing Square; and two and three-year-old division champ Semalu D’Amour. And crop number two, which numbered 200, contained his second consecutive freshman champ, Barberry Spur, as well as Smartest Remark, Caressable and Masquerade. Niatross was subsequently moved to New York, where the bottom fell out of his siring career. Whether the move was a contributing factor to the drop off is up for debate. He started out at $35,000, but was standing for $2,000 in New Jersey by 1999. His broodmare credits include, Electric Slide, Bonnie And Clyde, Stand Forever and Gothic Dream. We go back a decade for the next Triple Crown winner, and we finally hit the jackpot with Most Happy Fella, one of the greatest sires to ever roam the earth. He died tragically at 17 and only left us 13 crops, but he dazzled us with his accomplishments. His first crop contained Silk Stockings and Tarport Hap; Oil Burner, the sire of No Nukes and grandsire of Western Hanover, was in his second; Happy Motoring, who gave us OTRA, came along in 1976, and the great Cam Fella three years later. And Most Happy Fella’s daughters gave us Laughs, Armbro Emerson, Ramblin Storm, Mystical Maddy, Topnotcher, Nobleland Sam, Sweet Reflection and Armbro Dallas. The Poplar Byrd colt Rum Customer won two years earlier. After a handful of failed crops in NA, he was shipped to New Zealand. Two years earlier, in 1966, Romeo Hanover won the Triple Crown. The hall of famer won his division three times and lost only once at three. The fact that his richest performer was the dual gaited Speedy Romeo says it all. He stood at Pine Hollow Stud, the same farm where Niatross saw his siring career go to pieces 17 years later. Romeo’s prowess on the track did not translate to his progeny. His daughter Last Wish was the second dam of Precious Bunny. That’s about it. He was relocated to Australia in 1978. Bret Hanover was the second Triple Crown winner, and like all the rest, with the exception of MHF, the three-time Horse of the Year failed to match his excellence on the track with his performance as a stallion. He experienced plenty of success, especially early on, and he was a prolific sire, but that great son eluded him. Strike Out, a division winner at two and three, was probably his most accomplished son, but fertility issues kept him from carrying on the line. Storm Damage, who fought the good fight against Niatross and Tyler B, was another. The Adios line running through Bret endures through world champion Warm Breeze’s grandson McArdle. The Meadow Skipper line helped do him in on the one hand, but it also allowed him to flourish as a broodmare sire. Among his credits: Fan Hanover, Nihilator, Cam Fella, Barberry Spur, Town Pro, Jaguar Spur, Ball And Chain, Three Diamonds, Miss Easy, Naughty But Nice, Delinquent Account, Armbro Feather and Sonsam. And the first Triple Crown winner was Adios Butler, the greatest pacer of his era, who paced a world record 1:54.3 in a time trial as a four-year-old. He was voted Horse of the Year at three and four. His level of success as a sire was very modest. Realization winner Adios Waverly, Honest Story and El Patron were three of his best. And his daughters were inconsequential as broodmares. Does the fact that the Pacing Triple Crown has for all but Blissful Hall and No Pan Intended taken place on three half mile tracks help explain the lack of production in the breeding realm? After all, the trotters get two of three on big tracks. Regardless, some of the better stallions simply didn’t win the Triple Crown. Cam Fella won the Cane and Messenger, as a supplemental entry in both, but he wasn’t staked to the Jug. Western Hanover won the Cane and Messenger but was a nose short against Fake Left in the Jug. Artsplace was parked the mile and finished ninth in the Messenger. He didn’t race in the other two legs. Albatross won the Cane and Messenger, but was beaten by Nansemond in the Jug. Abercrombie won the Messenger, finished eighth in the Jug and won his Cane elimination. I guess it all comes back to that.    by Joe FitzGerald for Harnesslink Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for  http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/.  Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

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