Gallo Blue Chip is going strong at 27

by Bob Heyden

This should be written nine years from now, when Gallo Blue Chip will be 36 and the oldest living Horse of the Year ever.

“Whatever the record is, he will break it,” said trainer/co-owner Mark Ford.

Gallo is now 27.

Stenographer, the 1954 HOY, who lived to be 35 and passed in 1985, is the current record holder.

Either way, Gallo Blue Chip is currently the oldest living standardbred Horse of the Year.

At 3, the 2000 HOY set the earnings record of $2,428,816 and he retired in 2005 as the richest pacer ever with $4,260,959.

He held that honor for 11 years (2001-12) until the current king Foiled Again took over and sits atop the hill at $7.6 million.

Most importantly, how is Gallo doing today, right now?

“It’s almost like he’s still racing,” Ford said. “He looks fantastic, comes in every night and gets a blanket. He’s got buddies, yes. He’s maintained his weight. He’s always carried good flesh. You would never know it’s been 24 years since he was Horse of the Year.”

Here’s a refresher for those new to the name Gallo Blue Chip.

• He was bred by the Dan Gernatt Farms and foaled at Blue Chip Farms on April 29, 1997.

• He sold for $50,000 at Harrisburg in 1998.

• He’s a (second crop) son of Magical Mike, a winner of the Woodrow Wilson, Jug and sophomore Breeders Crown.

• He’s out of Camatross, a daughter of two-time HOY Albatross.

• He raced for Chris Oakes his first start and then was sold for $100,000 to Marty Scharf. (With Mark Ford as a co-owner).

Ford remembers the moment they bought him.

“I left the room thinking I just made the worst decision ever,” Ford said. “A 2-year-old Magical Mike gelding and they weren’t going back then for a lot. It didn’t make a lot of sense.”

It started to soon after though as Gallo ran the table after winning his first for Oakes ending his freshman year eight-for-eight with $151,355.

At 3, he helped usher in the new millennium in style-capturing 19 of 29 starts with five seconds and one third, good for a grand total and new single season standard of $2,428,716, a record only topped once since, by Somebeachsomewhere in 2008.

How was Gallo after that Magical season?

“He won over a million at 4 and became the richest pacer ever,” Ford said. “We retired him at 8 in 2005 and he’s been here [at Ford’s farm] ever since.”

What about those 29 starts in 2000?

“He had a grueling season,” Ford said. “We went everywhere. He wasn’t eligible to the Cane, Messenger or Adios. We supplemented to the Tattersalls and there were 14 in there. Most people were thinking he’d been softened up by the three heats in the Jug, but he actually got better.

“At that time, the check he got, $228,000, was the largest check ever cut in standardbred racing to any horse in the state of Kentucky.”

What about Dan Dube doing most of the driving?

“I remember in his final start at 3 in the Provincial Cup at Windsor, he’d just gone a huge mile to be second in the final and Dube said right after the race, ‘It’s going to be a very long time until you ever get another one like this,’” Ford said. “When I look back, not only did Gallo Blue Chip change a lot of lives, but I’m not 100 per cent sure he didn’t keep the entire operation going.”

How did Gallo change lives?

“Here’s one,” Ford said. “I can’t remember the girls name at the moment. Back in 2000, Steve Salerno was having a painting done and a fund-raiser for a little girl next door who had leukemia. They were hoping to raise $2,500. I told Steve, myself and Marty Scharf would buy the painting and match whatever they raised. They got to $20,000 and we matched it. They were unbelievably excited and happy. Every year she sends a Christmas card, to this day. That beautiful young lady is 27 or so thriving and living in Colorado.”

How important has Mark Krouse been throughout?

“Invaluable,” Ford said. “He runs the show. I met him Christmas 1991 and we’ve been together since. Everything goes through him.”

So, Gallo is living the good life, 15 minutes from where he was born. He’s 27 going on 4. He looks the part, not quite the cruise director at Ford’s Campbell Hall farm, but he’s close. For the better part of the first decade of the 21st century he was the reigning heavyweight champion. Hearing all this from Ford, I get the feeling that nobody has ever told Gallo that he has since relinquished that Crown. Nor should they.


This year, 2024, marks the 25th anniversary of USHWA giving out its very first Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to John Bradley.

In 1991, the first Hambletonian winter book wagering started at the Stardust Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas. Super Pleasure was installed as the 4-1 fave. Eventual winner, Giant Victory’s name did not appear initially.

In 2001, Scarlet Knight made the trip from Sweden to take on/take over the Hambletonian.

In 1952, Don Richards won his first race at Trotters Park in Gloucester, ME, with Kay B Braden. Now at 90 something, he’s still at it, working with horses every day and hoping for another Creatine.

In 2002, Andover Hall had his best day ever as the favorite in the Hambletonian and his worst day ever as he broke and finished last. In 2007, Donato Hanover and Adrian Chip, from his first crop went 1-2 in the Hambletonian while his daughter Danae won the Oaks.

It’s been 64 years since a female won two of the three pacing Triple Crown events. Countess Adios won two of the three richest races of the entire 3YO stakes calendar, the $152,786 Messenger and $65,245 Cane Pace. She was not eligible to the Jug.

If you don’t mind going back 53 years, 1971 marked the qualifying debut of 2-year-old Strike Out. He qualified in 2:07 and raced at beat older on May 4 and June 1. There were no ill effects of this though as he captured the 1972 Jug.