GREAT DAN PATCH (The Movie)
Dennis O'Keefe plays the farm-raised chemist-cum-trainer who drives DAN to his greatest victories, losing his patrician wife (Ruth Warrick) along the way, but falling in love with another woman who loves harness racing as much as he does (Gail Russell). This movie was produced in 1949 in black and white.
DAN PATCH, the celebrated Harness horse (1897-1916); the 20th Century harness racing has known many celebrated horses: GREYHOUND, BRET HANOVER, NEVELE PRIDE; but their reputation cannot match the astounding popularity of the Great DAN PATCH.
DAN PATCH was bred in Indiana by a country store keeper named Dan Messner, Jr. The big, light bay colt was foaled in 1897. His sire was the noted JOE PATCHEN and his dam was a $225 mare.
DAN PATCH first raced on August 30, 1900, when he lost only one heat. In 1901, he was on the Grand Circuit and caught the eye of a sportsman from Buffalo, New York, named M. E. Sturgis, who bought him for $20,000. Driven by Myron McHenry, a famous driver of the day, DAN PATCH created a brilliant record losing only two heats in 56 starts by July 1902.
Again DAN PATCH was sold, this time to M.W. Savage of Minneapolis for $60,000. Savage owned a large stock food company, and he restricted DAN PATCH's schedule to public exhibitions in which the big pacer would pit his speed against the clock. In 1903 at Memphis, he paced a 1:56 quarter-mile to sulky and on the same day did a 1:57 quarter-mile to wagon. In 1904, DAN PATCH did a 1:56 mile, again at Memphis. At the Red Mile in Lexington, he went an incredible 1:55 quarter-mile.
DAN PATCH, the beloved super star became a national celebrity; there was DAN PATCH smoking and chewing tobacco, a DAN PATCH washing machine, even a dance named the DAN PATCH Two Step. He earned his owner $17,000 a year in stud fees, and as much as $21,500 for a single exhibition. In all, Savage's horse made him perhaps $3,000,000 richer. DAN PATCH had his own private railway car to travel in, and at home he lived in a huge barn that was so grand it was called the, "Taj Mahal." Savage, indeed, cherished his champion pacer.
DAN PATCH died on July 11, 1916, and the next day his owner followed him to the grave.
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