Make the Story of Dan Patch Your Next Read

The story of Dan Patch begins on 29 April 1896, when a knobbly-kneed and clumsy little colt was born to owner Dan Messner. Not seeing much racing potential in the colt was disappointing to Messner, but the colt’s gentle demeanor and obvious love for attention from people encouraged Messner to keep trying. Through his desire to bring out the best in Dan Patch and the patient training of John Wattles, the future slowly grew more positive for the large horse. His life is a rags-to-riches story, one of heartache, love, affection and loss. It is story that deserves to be kept alive, and Charles Leerhsen has done just that by writing and releasing the novel “Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the most famous horse in America”.

It took four years of training before Dan Patch was entered into his first harness racing event. In 1900, M.E. Sturgis paid a sum of $20 000 for Dan Patch, which was a record price in those years. But it was only under the guidance and care of his third and last owner, Marion Savage, who bought Dan Patch in 1902, that he became the “World’s Champion Harness Horse”.

Dan Patch became a force to be reckoned with in the world of harness racing. On 8 September 1906, he made history by running a mile in fifty-five seconds – a record that stood for thirty-two years. What made him a truly special horse were not only his fantastic performances on the track but his love for people. He would often acknowledge the crowd with a nod of the head, leading people to say that he counted heads in the grand stands. And drawing large crowds is what he did best. Having sixty to a hundred thousand people turn up to catch a glimpse of Dan Patch was not unusual. Savage created an empire of cigars, washing machines and endorsements around the Dan Patch name, and even had a special train for transporting the American hero to exhibitions and races. In 1909, after going lame at an exhibition mile, Dan Patch was retired. On 11 July 1916, while Marion Savage lay in hospital, Dan Patch passed away and was buried in an unmarked grave on the estate, which lay close to bankruptcy. The shock and heartache of losing his trusted friend and the horse he adored was too much for Savage, who died approximately thirty-one hours after hearing the news.

A handful of loyal Dan Patch supporters tried to keep the memory of this magnificent horse alive. Charles Leerhsen believed that the time was right to share the life, tribulations and sacrifice of one of America’s most loved pacers with the modern world. “Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the most famous horse in America” brings to life a story that honors a deserving horse, and reminds us that a horse is not just another racing machine but an animal that loves, fights, sacrifices and dedicates its life to humans.

Back to Blog