- Hanover Shoe Farms
cleanup = May 2007
POV = May 2007
tone = November 2007
Hanover Shoe Farms, Inc. is one of North America’s largest and most prominent Standardbred horse breeding facilities. Its name is known worldwide among harness racing enthusiasts, and it is the leading breeder by money earnings of Standardbred horses. Its impact upon the Standardbred breeding industry traces back to the early 1900’s and continues into the present day.
In a book titled "Quest For Excellence", Dean Hoffmann, an executive editor of Hoof Beats magazine, chronicled the farm’s history as it approached its 75th anniversary in 2001. Hoffmann stated in his opening chapter- “Any businessman, coach, or athlete will tell you that while it’s certainly a great accomplishment to rise to the top in your chosen field, it’s an even greater accomplishment to remain on top. By that definition, Hanover Shoe Farms leaves you searching for a word more powerful than ‘dynasty’” ["Quest For Excellence" by Dean Hoffmann (executive editor of Hoofbeats magazine)Page 9.] .
For as long as the
United States Trotting Association(the breed registry in Columbus, Ohio) has been keeping records of breeder statistics, Hanover Shoe Farms has ranked first in annual progeny earnings generated from their race track performances ["Quest For Excellence" by Dean Hoffmann (executive editor of Hoofbeats magazine)Page 9.] . In 2001 Hanover Shoe Farms set the all-time breeder earnings record regardless of breed with $21,372,418 in annual progeny earnings [United States Trotting Association- [www.ustrotting.com] ] .
The historic farm encompasses convert|2426|acre|km2|0 in and around Hanover, Pennsylvania, USA. It is home to 9 stallions, 336 yearlings and over 500 broodmares. The yearling farm is located near Gettysburg, PA and a satellite stallion station is located in Lambertville, NJ with two more stallions. Hanover Shoe Farm has produced world champion racehorses and its stallions have sired a multitude of winners in harness racing’s most prestigious events including the
Hambletonian, the Kentucky Futurity, the Little Brown Jugand the Breeder’s Crown.
Originally founded in the early 1900’s as Hanover Shoe Stables by Harper D. Sheppard and Clinton N. Myers, owners of the Hanover Shoe Co., a manufacturer and retailer of quality leather shoes, the racing stable was started as an enjoyable venture for the two businessmen. Hanover Shoe Stables fell under the management of Lawrence Sheppard, Sheppard’s son, in 1922 and in 1926 he purchased a 69 horse dispersal from the estate of A.B. Coxe for $150,000. The package included some of the best stallions, broodmares, yearlings and young racehorses of the era. According to "The Kentucky Harness Horse", written by Standardbred historian Ken McCarr, it was “the start of one of the largest and most prominent harness horse nurseries in the world” ["The Kentucky Harness Horse" by Ken McCarr (former editor of The Horseman & Fairworld magazine and registrar at The USTA from 1948-1971)Page 85.] .
In 1926 the farm began to sell small consignments of yearlings at public auction. In 1928
Hanover’s Bertha(t,3,T1:59,1/2m, $71,779), a daughter of Peter Volo out of Miss Bertha Dillion who was purchased from the Coxe estate, was retained by the farm and trained by Tom Berry. She set two year old trotting record of 2:02 in 1929 and it wasn’t until 1934 that her record was equaled by Lawrence Hanover, her full brother ["Drivers Up" by Dwight Akers Page 323.] . As a three year old Hanover’s Bertha was undefeated and gave the Stable its first Hambletonianvictory. She trotted the first 2:00 mile ever in an official race while winning the 1930 Kentucky Futurity["Quest For Excellence" by Dean Hoffmann (executive editor of Hoofbeats magazine)Page 27.] .
Dean Hanover (t,3,T1:58 ½ m, ) by Dillion Axwothy, one of the Coxe Estate acquisitions, was among the farm’s yearling crop in 1935 and was sold for a mere $410. Lawrence Sheppard purchased the trotter back in 1937 for $25,000 after he had raced under the name Mr Watts and rechristened him with his original title (occurred prior to the formation of the USTA’s rule that once a horse has raced it’s name cannot be changed). Dean Hanover was time trialed by Sheppard’s eleven year old daughter Alma in a world record 1:58 ½ at Lexington, the fastest trotting mile ever driven by a woman- a record that stood for over 45 years ["The Complete Book Of Harness Racing" by Philp A Pines (Director of The Hall 0f Fame of The Trotter)Page 149.] . A week later Lawrence Sheppard sat in the race bike behind the trotter winning in a three heat world record, 2:00 ¼, 2:00 ¾ and 2:00 ¾ ["The Complete Book Of Harness Racing" by Philp A Pines (Director of The Hall 0f Fame of The Trotter)Page 310.] .
Lawrence Sheppard was instrumental in the continuity of the breed as many wealthy Standardbred breeders abandoned the industry during the depression. Hoffmann sites in his book that after William M. Wright, founder of
Calumet Farm, died in 1931 his son Warren dispersed the Standardbred breeding stock in favor of Thoroughbreds. One of the Calumet stallions, Mr. McElwyn was purchased by Henry Knight of Almahurst Farm in Kentucky and later resold in 1936 when Almahurst dispersed its Standardbreds at The Old Glory Sale in New York. Lawrence Sheppard was there to buy the stallion for $15,500 and the next two Hambletonian winners were both by Mr. McElwyn out of Hanover broodmares ["Quest For Excellence" by Dean Hoffmann (executive editor of Hoofbeats magazine)Pages 32 and 33.] . While other Standardbred breeders curtailed their operations during the depression and World War II, Sheppard persevered in his quest at the Pennsylvania nursery.
In 1941 Sheppard purchased Billy Direct who had set a world record pacing in 1:55, a time trial effort at Lexington in 1938, a record that stood until 1961 ["The Complete Book Of Harness Racing" by Philp A Pines (Director of The Hall 0f Fame of The Trotter)Page 308.] . Billy Direct became the farm’s first pacing sire and produced 186 offspring including Tar Heel who became one of Hanover’s leading stallions. Tar Heel was a co-holder of the world record for three year old pacers (p.1:57.2) in 1951 and he was purchased by Sheppard and general manager John F. Simpson at auction in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania along with Solicitor who shared the record. The pair was purchased for an unheard of sum in the day, $225,000 for the pair ($125,000 for Tar Heel and $100,000 for Solicitor). The pair was raced successfully by Simpson and later stood at stud on the farm. Through 1977 Tar Heel’s progeny earned more than $27,000,000 a record in the sport. 135 of Tar Heel’s sons became sires themselves and his daughters were sought after as quality broodmares. Ken McCarr, author of "The Kentucky Harness Horse", attributes Tar Heel as “one of the greatest living sires of extreme speed” ["The Kentucky Harness Horse" by Ken McCarr (former editor of The Horseman & Fairworld magazine and registrar at The USTA from 1948-1971)Page 79.] . they race very ofenten
Hanover bred Titan Hanover set a new two year old trotting record of 2:00 in 1944 in a time trial and went on to win the coveted Hambletonian trophy in 1945.
Hanover’s leadership was evident in both gaits. Lawrence Sheppard added Star’s Pride (t,1:57.1m, $140,969) to the breeding shed in 1959 when he purchased E Roland Harriman’s share of the horse for $100,000 plus breeding rights ["The Complete Book Of Harness Racing" by Philp A Pines (Director of The Hall 0f Fame of The Trotter)Page 327.] Star’s Pride produced world champion sons Nevele Pride (t,4,T1:54.4m, $873,350), the first two year old ever named Harness Horse of the Year in 1967 a title he held in 1968 and 1969 as well ["The Complete Book Of Harness Racing" by Philp A Pines (Director of The Hall 0f Fame of The Trotter)Page 77.] , and Super Bowl (t,3,1:56.2, $601,350), 1972’s Trotting Triple Crown Champion and Trotter of the Year. Both sons left a major impact upon the trotting pedigrees of today.
Lawrence Sheppard not only saw to the advancement of Hanover Shoe Farms but to the Standardbred industry as well. He was President of the
United States Trotting Associationfrom 1950-1958 and was its honorary life president. He was the first chairman of the Pennsylvania Racing Commission, an amateur driver and founded the Hall of Fame of the Trotterlocated in Goshen, New York. As stated by Philip A. Pines, author of "The Complete Book of Harness Racing", Sheppard “played major roles throughout the sport’s modern history” ["The Complete Book Of Harness Racing" by Philp A Pines (Director of The Hall 0f Fame of The Trotter)Pages 298 and 299.] .
At the urging of John F. Simpson, Sheppard purchased
Adios(p,T1:57 ½ m, $33,329), who held the Pacing Triple Crown title, in 1955 for $500,000 ["The Complete Book Of Harness Racing" by Philp A Pines (Director of The Hall 0f Fame of The Trotter)Page 305.] . Adios became an influential pacing sire within the industry producing five straight Little Brown Jugwinners from 1958 through 1962 (Shadow Wave-1958, Adios Butler-1959, Bullet Hanover-1960, Henry T Adios-1961 and Lehigh Hanover-1962). He also sired the legendary Bret Hanover(p,4,T1:53.3m, $922,616), 1964-1966 Harness Horse of the Year, who won 62 of 68 starts lifetime.
In 1964 John Simpson took over the management of the farm as Lawrence Sheppard’s health began to decline. On February 26, 1968 Sheppard died at Hanover-General Hospital in Hanover, Pennsylvania succumbing to congestive heart failure and emphysema at the age of 70. His widow, Charlotte Sheppard, an astute horsewoman in her own right, became Hanover’s chairman of the board and the farm continued under the leadership of John Simpson & Paul Spears.
Simpson continued on Hanover’s journey to acquire the best stallions and broodmares. Best Of All (p,4,1:56.2m, $549,074), Columbia George (p,3,1:56m, $398,324) and Steady Star who had time trialed in a world record p,1:52 free legged were added to the stallion barn.
In 1972 the “franchise makers” entered the scene in the form of Trotting Triple Crown Champion and Trotter of the Year, Super Bowl (t,2,1:56.2m, $601,350) and 1971-1972 Horse of the Year and World Champion pacer, Albatross (p,4,1:54.3f, $1,201,470). Their early crops were a success on the racetrack and launched their sires to the top rankings of every breed category. At the Harrisburg sale in 1977 Super Bowl’s offspring averaged $32,673 and Albatross averaged $41,767.
In 1977 pacing world record holder of history’s fastest race mile p,1:53.1, Warm Breeze, and trotter Songflori who had time trialed in t,1:55.1 were selected as Hanover’s new additions to the stallion ranks.
In recent years under the reins of Paul Spears, Jim Simpson (John F. Simpson’s son) & Russell Williams (Lawrence Sheppard’s grandson) Hanover Shoe Farms’ stallions have continued to excel among North America’s leading stallion statistics. In 2001 Hanover’s veteran pacing stallions, No Nukes and Big Towner, ranked first and second on the all time earnings list among active pacing sires with career progeny earnings over $109 million and $105 million respectively. No Nukes was also North America’s leading broodmare sire in 2000 with all age earners of over $20 million and 2 & 3 year old earners of nearly $12 million. Big Towner took top honors as the sport’s leading living sire of $100,000 plus winners with 300 in that category.
Hanover Shoe Farms current pacing stallion roster includes the leading living sire of all time progeny earnings, Western Hanover (p,3,1:50.4m, $2,541,647), who is the sire of progeny earnings totaling $110,357,389 [United States Trotting Association- [www.ustrotting.com] As of 4-17-07.] . He ranks closely behind an elite group of classic stallions including Hanover greats Albatross ($147,821,721); his sire No Nukes ($128,541,231), and Big Towner ($116,724,660) in the all time money winning sires statistics.
Hanover stands two sons of Western Hanover, World Champion The Panderosa (p,3,1:49.3m, $1,452,418) and 2000’s Older Pacer of the Year Western Ideal (p,5,1:48m, $1,455,422), who were among the nation’s leading money winning pacing sires in 2006. The Panderosa has produced 2005
Little Brown Jugwinner P-Forty-Seven (p,3,1:48.2m, $707,660) and world record holder Ponder (p,5,1:48.1m, $1,522,936) among his leading progeny. Western Ideal sired 2005 Horse of the Year and Breeders Crown Champion Rocknroll Hanover (p,3,1:48.3m, $2,754,038) from his first crop of racing age and three year old World Record holder American Ideal (p,3,1:47.4m, $786,055).
1994’s Horse of the Year Cam’s Card Shark (p,3,1:50m, $2,498,204) retired to Hanover Shoe Farms as harness racing’s all time single season money earner with 15 wins in 18 starts and $2,264,714 as a three year old. He is the sire of the world’s fastest race performer Holborn Hanover (p,5,1:46.4m, $1,926,109) and 2000 HTA Nova, O’Brien & Dan Patch Award Winner for two year old pacing Colt of the Year & 2001 O’Brien & Dan Patch three year old pacer of the Year & Horse of the Year, Bettor’s Delight (p,2,1:51.3s; 3,1:49.4m $2,581,461).
Dragon Again (p,5,1:48.3s, $2,343,428) a leading aged pacer in 1999 & 2000 whose accolades included winning 29 of 70 starts lifetime with 13 of 24 in his final season began standing at stud in 2001. His progeny have amassed over $12 million and his leading performer, My Little Dragon (p,3,1:50.2m, $1,385,210) boasts a two time Breeders Crown Championship both at two and three years of age.
2002’s fastest freshman pacer Allamerican Native (p,2,1:51.1-1:53.2f; 3,1:49.4-1:53.2h, $1,296,304) acquired a room in the stallion barn at Hanover in 2004. Allamerican Native claimed 8 wins in 14 starts and $948,017 his two year old season including the $650,000 Woodrow Wilson, $520,000 Governor’s Cup & $235,050 Matron.
2003 Horse of The Year and Pacing Triple Crown Champion No Pan Intended was added to the ranks in 2006 after standing his first two seasons at stud in Ontario. A winner of 17 races in 21 starts his sophomore season, No Pan Intended was a heavy hitter with wins totaling $1,465,852 including the $542,500 Breeders Crown Championship for three year old pacers, the $275,720 James B Dancer Memorial, the $252,945 Messenger, $153,000 Tattersalls Pace, the $326,727 Little Brown Jug, the $331,000 Cane Pace and the $273,983 Art Rooney Stake.
On the trotting side Hanover has veteran trotter and 1994’s two year old Trotting Colt of the Year Donerail (t,2,1:55.4; $703,049). His progeny have earned over $28 million with 72 $100,000 winners and 9 winners of over $500,000. He has sired winners of the
Kentucky Futurity(Chasing Tail- t,3,1:53m, $800,056- 2001), World Trotting Derby (Victory My Way- t,3,1:54.3m, $508,291-2001 & Filly At The Bigs- t,3,1:54m $655,773- 2003) and Filly Futurity (Victory My Way- 2001 & Fun And Strokes- t,3,1:55m, $735,556- 2001). Donerail mares have not only proven themselves on the racetrack but as broodmares as well with 5 top progeny earners of $500,000+ and 16 $100,000 winners.
World Champion and three year old Trotter of the Year with a record 1:54.1 mile trotted on a five-eights mile track, SJ’s Caviar (t,3,1:53.4-1:54.1f-1:56.1h, $1,288,466) took up residence in 2002. He was 2001’s richest trotter with $1,198,490 earned winning 15 of 20 sophomore starts including the $1,120,250 Canadian Trot, $125,000 Pennsylvania Championship Final, $195,900 Dexter Cup and $93,084 Currier And Ives. He is now a sire of 9 $100,000+ earners including Mr Pine Chip (t,3,1:52m, $635,875), PASS champion Mythical Lindy (t,1:57.1f, $298,263) and World Champion three year old trotting filly, Hidden Viggorish (t,3,1:53.1f, $246,403), who eclipsed her sire’s three year old and all age record mile on a 5/8 mile track.
In 2005 Cantab Hall (t,2,1:56.1m; 3,1:54m, $1,442,303) stood his first season after being 2003’s Trotter of the Year with 10 wins in 10 starts including the $420,000 two year old colt trot Breeders Crown Championship, the $150,000 American National and the $113,000 International Stallion Stake.
2001’s two year old Trotter of the Year Andover Hall (t,2,1:56.2s; 3,1:51.3m, $870,510) became a first crop sire sensation in 2006 leading all-age and two year old trotting sires with 2006 progeny earnings of $3,053,897. His outstanding performers included two year old colt trot Breeders Crown Champion and two year old Trotter of the Year, Donato Hanover (t,2,1:55m, $662,587), and O’Brien Award and Dan Patch Award recipient for two year old trotting Filly of the Year, Pampered Princess (t,2,1:54.4m, $626,244) winner of 10 races in 11 starts.
John F. Simpson strongly believed that broodmares played a vital role in the farm’s success and strove to add quality mares to the band. He was quoted as stating “No breeding farm is going to reach the top, or remain on top, unless it consistently strives to improve its band of mares.”
Following John F. Simpson’s belief that it is vital to continue to improve the quality of one’s broodmare band Hanover Shoe Farms has spent over $16 million dollars in the past decade on mare purchases. Recent additions of world class performing mares such as 2005 Kentucky Filly Futurity and World Trotting Derby winner Her Culese (t,3,1:53.3m, $354,658), 2004 Buckette and Review Stake winner Bramasole (t,4,1:53.1, $347,753), 1998 Jugette, Matron, NJSS 3Year Old Filly Championship and numerous 3 Year Old Filly stakes winner Armbro Romance (p,3,1:49.4m, $794,375), and 2001 Horse Of The Year, NYSS Champion and Breeders Crown Champion Bunny Lake (p,1:49m, $2,843,476) exhibit Hanover Shoe Farms dedication to the improvement of their broodmare ranks.
Among the established herd are some of the top producing mares in the country including Rich N Elegant who’s offspring boast three sub-1:50 performers and two multi-millionaires (2005 Horse of The Year and Breeders Crown Champion Rocknroll Hanover p,3,1:48.3m, $2,754,038, Red River Hanover p,3,1:48.4s, $965,426, and Royalflush Hanover p,4,1:49.3m $2,153,893). Five other mares owned by Hanover have produced two progeny with sub-1:50 records. These mares are Cathedra, Armbro Romance, Incredible Margie, Ohyouprettything and Sandlark Hanover. Also in Hanover’s established broodmare rank is Hattie, the dam of the world’s fastest race performer, Holborn Hanover (p,5,1:46.4m, $1,926,109) by Cam’s Card Shark -a Hanover sire. Her top progeny list also includes Hyperion Hanover (p,4,1:50.4s, $200,876), Hatsoff Hanover (p,4,1:54f, $361,412), Meltdown Hanover (p,5,1:52.1s, $190,972) and Dreamland’s Jo Jo (p,1:53.1s, $192,486).
From two foals of racing age trotting broodmare D Train has progeny earnings of over $1 million-Here Comes Herbie t,2,1:56.f; 3,1:52m, $365,541 and 2006’s Two Year Old Colt Breeders Crown Champion and Dan Patch Award recipient
Donato Hanover(t, 3, 1:51.2m, $2,561,868).
Hanover Shoe Farms continues their "quest for excellence" with the addition of Donato Hanover to their stallion ranks in 2008. The farm has reached an agreement to syndicate the champion trotter after his three year old season of racing and plans to stand him at stud. Carrying on the Hanover tradition established by Lawrence Sheppard in 1926 of acquiring the best stallions and mares available, Hanover Shoe Farms continues to strive toward it’s motto of being “the greatest name in harness racing”.
Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame
* [http://www.hanoverpa.com] The Official Hanover Shoe Farms Website
* [http://www.ustroting.com] The United States Trotting Association
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