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Balmoral Park

Balmoral Park (11/13/09)

Contact: Tom Kelley
(708) 672-1414


Mister Big
Mister Big - photo courtesy of USTA/Ed Keys
The storied racing careers of two of harness racing’s greatest pacers, Mister Big and Art Official, will come to a close on Saturday night as they battle eight other top class pacers in the $200,000 American National Stake for older pacers.

Mister Big’s resume includes two Dan Patch Awards, single season records for earnings in 2007 and 2008; a world-record equaling mile of 1:48 at Harrah’s Chester this year; and becoming only the second pacer in history to surpass $4 million in lifetime earnings.

“He’s definitely going to be missed,” trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. said. “You just don’t replace a horse like him. I’m just grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to train him and be associated with him. It’s been a privilege.”

Over the past 45 years, the only older pacers to win consecutive Dan Patch divisional honors have been Mister Big (2007-08), Red Bow Tie (1998-99) and Rambling Willie (1975-76-77). Since June of 2007, essentially the midpoint of his four-year-old campaign, Mister Big has raced 45 times, with 21 wins and 40 top three finishes while taking on North America’s best pacers.

Among the victories in his illustrious career are back-to-back Haughton Memorial titles in 2007 and 2008 (the only horse to ever accomplish the feat) as well as three Allerage Stake titles, two U.S. Pacing Championships, a Breeders Crown, Canadian Pacing Derby, Ben Franklin Pace, Bobby Quillen Memorial and Dan Patch Invitational.

The six-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear earned $1.53 million in 2008 and $1.31 million in 2007, both single-year records for purse earnings. Lifetime, Mister Big has won 34 of 84 career races and earned $4,000,257, trailing only Gallo Blue Chip ($4.2 million) on the career list among pacers.

Following his career on the track, Mister Big will head to Tara Hills Stud Farm in Ontario, Canada to begin his new career as a sire.

“He has all the attributes to be a great sire,” Morgan said. “He’s got the look, the conformation, the intelligence and he’s so tactical and versatile. Horses like that are awfully hard to come by and I think he’ll carry those traits to his offspring.”

Art Official
Art Official
Locally owned Art Official will also be heading to stud duty after Saturday’s American National. The four-year-old son of Art Major, who is owned by Jim Jesk’s Sawgrass Farms, will be headed to New Zealand to embark on his new career as a sire pending fertility tests next week.

The Joe Seekman trainee comes into the American National with 18 career victories and $2,038,885 in career earnings. During his spectacular three-year-old season which saw him post 13 wins, four seconds and one third while earning $1,502,395, he also became the only horse to defeat world champion Somebeachsomewhere, winning the $1.1 million Meadowlands pace by a neck in 1:47 in a race that ranks as one of the most exciting of all time.

“He’s given everyone associated with him throughout his career some unbelievable memories,” said the Michigan-based Seekman. “That win in the Meadowlands Pace was more than you could ever hope for. The way he did it and the grit and determination he showed that night was simply incredible.”

Among some of the other memorable victories in his outstanding career are a heat of the Little Brown Jug, the Cane Pace, Hoosier Cup, Bluegrass Stake and the Tattersalls Stake. He is also only one of three horses in history to pace two sub-1:48 winning miles. joining Somebeachsomewhere and Lis Mara in that lofty category.

*with contributions from USTA Newsroom




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