Forty years since the death of Meadow Skipper

Forty years since the death of Meadow Skipper

January 28, 2022

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by Bob Heyden

Meadow Skipper, the greatest, most influential horse of all time, died on this date (Jan. 28) in 1982 at the age of 22.

Both Albatross and Most Happy Fella were sons of Meadow Skipper, who was a racehorse from 1962 to 1965 and a sire from 1966-1982.

A son of Dale Frost—Countess Vivian, Meadow Skipper raced for Norman Woolworth of Winthrop, ME and trainer/driver Earle Avery.

He won $428,057 in his career — #8 all-time among pacers at the time of his retirement.

He entered the 1963 Jug with 50 career starts and was second and third in his two heats while Overtrick won it all.

His 2-year-old record of 27 15-6-2, $24,007 and his 3-year-old record going into the Jug was 23 12-3-5, $149,696.

As a sire, well, hers’s a look at some of the highlights from this truly amazing animal:

He had a Triple Crown winner from his first crop — Most Happy Fella 1970.

He had a Triple Crown-winning grandson named HOY in 1980 — Niatross.

He had a Triple Crown winner after he died — 1983 Ralph Hanover.

His son Albatross was the first $1 million earner over a two-year span (1971-1972).

The first $2 million career winner was his grandson Niatross.

The first $3 million career winner was his great-grandson Nihilator.

Albatross won the first ever Tattersalls in 1:54.4 — the first sub-1:55 race winner. Then at 4, he did it twice in one afternoon at the Red Mile, re-setting the record at 1:54.3.If that wasn’t impressive enough, in 1974, Handle With Care took on the boys — and older boys, too  — and became the first female to better 1:55, winning in 1:54.4 in California in a field that included the defending HOY Sir Dalrae. Oh, and she was a daughter of Meadow Skipper.

No other Triple Crown-winning sire had a Triple Crown Winner both before and after their death.

He led North America in siring earnings from 1975-1978. (He had 184 $100,000 winners. Remember, that was in his first eight crops when there wasn’t a purse as high as $500,000). Then, his sons took over with Albatross, Most Happy Fella and Meadow Skipper making up the top three the next five years.

Meadow Skipper’s sons won the first two editions of the Meadowlands Pace — 1977 Escort and 1978 Falcon Almahurst. These were the only two editions to be raced in heats and the final the same night.

It’s now been 46 years since the last time a 2-year-old had the all-time speed mark — 1976 Jade Prince (1:54.1). He was a son of Meadow Skipper.

The first of two $2 million races was won by a 69-1 shot named Land Grant — a son of Meadow Skipper.

In 1977, Governor Skipper was the 3YOCP of the year — a standout son of Meadow Skipper.

Genghis Khan was the outstanding FFA pacer of 1982 and lowered his own world race record to 1:51.4 — the first sub-1:52 pacer. He was a son of Meadow Skipper.

Every 1980 Woodrow Wilson finalist — all 12-traced directly back to Meadow Skipper in history’s first $2 million race held just three weeks after his grandson Niatross won the first ever $1 million event (Meadowlands Pace).

Meadow Skipper had horses racing until 1994 — and his $68 million still ranked fourth all-time as of 1990 — eight years after his passing.

His son set the single season money record in 1983 — Ralph Hanover.

Two great-grandsons won the last two Triple Crowns for pacers — 1999 Blissful Hall (Cambest) and No Pan Intended (Pacific Fella).

The last pacer to be named HOY back-to-back was Cam Fella — a grandson of Meadow Skipper.

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