Us Harness Racing

Nancy Hanks through Kenneth Owen inductees

In collaboration with Delaware newspaper publisher H. C. (Hank) Thomson, Joe Neville conceived the idea of a pacing counterpart to the Hambletonian trotting classic, and a state-wide contest was staged to find an appropriate name for the race. A "natural" from the standpoint of promotion was chosen and The Little Brown Jug was first raced in 1946 and has risen in value steadily since then with the 1959 event having a purse of almost $77,000, more than double the original purse.

Sports fans who never had heard of Delaware, O., soon began making annual pilgrimages to this central Ohio county fairgrounds for the pacing classic and world records set in the Jug have become commonplace.

NANCY HANKS t, 2:04 1955 [1886-1915]
Nancy Hanks was a daughter of Happy Medium and Nancy Lee, bred by Hart Boswell of Lexington, KY. As a three-year-old her best heat was in 2:24½.
J. Malcolm Forbes purchased her the following year after she had trotted in 2:14½, paying $45,000 and setting a new price record for trotting mares, not exceeded until 1909 when H. M. Hanna paid John E. Madden $50,000 for Hamburg Belle. Under the training of Budd Doble she continued to lower world records until 1892 when, on September 28, she trotted in 2:04 at Terre Haute, IN. She was retired to Forbes Farm, where she produced foals by the champions of the day. At the death of Forbes in 1904, she was sold for $4,000 to J. M. Johnson, Calais, ME. In November 1907, she went to John E. Madden of Hamburg Place, Kentucky, for $1,500. Nancy Hanks died there on August 16, 1915, age 29.


NAPOLEON DIRECT p, 1:59¾ 1955 [1909-1934]
Bred by Clark Jones, Columbia, Tn. in 1909, Napoleon Direct, a 1909 foal, was sired by Walter Direct out of Lady Electress. He was sold to H. S. Frierson and in 1913 Pop Geers raced him for his first season and won ten of fourteen races. In 1915, he won at Lexington in 2:00¾. The next season he gave Pop Geers his first 2:00 ride by pacing in 1:59¾, and won twenty-one out of twenty-three heats started. He was retired to stud at Tolley Farm in Columbia and by 1930 was considered the greatest living pacing sire. At the age of twenty-four he sired the world champion pacer Billy Direct. He died January 22, 2023 at Tolley Farm.


NELSON t, T2:09 1994 [1882-1909]
Sired by Young Rolfe out of Gretchen, Nelson was bred by C. H. Nelson of Waterville, ME, who developed the trotter's speed and trained, drove and owned him throughout his extended turf career. The horse achieved early speed when, at 3, he trotted in 2:26¾ on a half-mile track in Lewiston, ME. Any three-year-old that trotted that fast in 1885 was assured of a wide reputation. Four years later Nelson appeared on the Grand Circuit in Buffalo and created a furor when he won a $5,000 stake by trotting three consecutive heats 2:15, 2:17¼ and 2:15. On September 6, 1890, in an exhibition mile, at Bangor, ME, he set a world record of 2:15¼ for a half-mile track. In 1891, at Grand Rapids, MI, hooked to a high wheel sulky, he trotted a 2:10 mile over a regulation track. His career record was set in 1893 at Rigby Park in South Portland, ME when, this time to the new low wheel bike, he went against the clock in 2:09. Nelson died on December 4, 2022 at Sunnyside Farm, Waterville, ME at age 27.


NERVOLO BELLE t 1966 [1906-1935]
Foaled in 1906, she was by Nervolo out of Josephine Knight. Never destined for the races, she was sent to Almahurst Farm and launched a breeding career which was to affect the blood of the Standardbred greatly. Her offspring include Peter Volo, Volga E. and Worthy Volo. She retired in 1928 and died on the farm in 1935.


NEVELE PRIDE t, T1:54.4 1994 [1965-1993]
Nevele Pride, by Star's Pride and Thankful, was the winner of the 1968 Trotting Triple Crown and followed Bret Hanover as the only two-year-old to be voted Horse of the Year (1967), an honor he won twice more In 1968 and 1969. Trained and driven by Hall of Famer Stanley Dancer, he started 29 times at two, winning a remarkable 26 races and finishing second on two other occasions. At age three he won 21 of 23 starts and at four won 10 of 14. But more importantly, he shattered the sport's all-time speed mark, when Dancer sent him against the clock at Indianapolis in '69 and trotted in 1:54.4. Six days later, at Saratoga, he posted a 1:56.4 victory over the half-mile oval, the fastest ever to that time for trotter or pacer. Nevele Pride died on February 19, 2023 in Lexington, KY and was laid to rest at Stoner Creek Stud, alongside the great pacing sire Meadow Skipper and the Thoroughbred champion Count Fleet.



JOSEPH A. NEVILLE 1975 [1900-1960]
History will record Joseph A. "Joe" Neville as being the founder, in 1946, of The Little Brown Jug. It was "Jugger Joe" who lifted a harness race at a county fair to an internationally acclaimed competition. He served as a USTA director for 16 years, as the association's general counsel from 1958-59, and then was chairman of the District 1 board. Neville was also a member of The Hambletonian Society, a steward of The Trotting Horse Club of America and a vice-president of the Grand Circuit. Moreover, he was an active participant as a harness horse owner, his trotter Milestone and pacers Eddie Havens and Iosola's Ensign being well known. He died in 1960.




NIATROSS p, 2, 1:55.4; 3, T1:49.1 1999 [1977-1999]
An Albatross-Niagara Dream-Bye Bye Byrd foal, Niatross was bred by Niagara Acres (Elsie Berger) and trained and driven by Clint Galbraith. Niatross was a large (16 hands) bay who became one of harness racing's legendary horses. He was inducted into the Living Horse Hall of Fame in 1997, undefeated in 13 starts as a two-year-old and was voted 1979 Horse of the Year; major wins included the Woodrow Wilson and the Kentucky Pacing Derby. At 3, Niatross was a Triple Crown winner and voted Horse of the Year again, after winning 24 of 26 starts with earnings of $1,414,313. In 1980, he became the fastest horse in history with his 1:49.1 time trial—the first 1:50 Standardbred ever. Niatross also paced the fastest miles ever raced at that time— world records of 1:52.1 on a mile track and 1:54.4 on a half-mile track. In 1980 he beat out Jack Nicklaus and Muhammad Ali to be the New York Posts Athlete of the Year, the only horse ever given that honor.
Niatross retired as the fastest and richest Standardbred ever, with total lifetime earnings of $2,019,213. He moved on to a career as a stallion. Niatross' offspring have won more than $54 million and he has sired 127 in 1:55, 620 in 2:00 and over 150 $100,000 winners. His top performer was the great Nihilator p,3, 1:49.3m, a world champion who won 35 of 38 races and was the leading money-winning pacer of all-time with earnings of $3,225,653. Niatross also sired other top performers such as Little Brown Jug winner Barberry Spur p, 3, T1:50.2 ($1,634,017) and the top filly Caressable p,2, 1:55.4 ($1,006,380). In total, at the time of his death, Niatross was the sire of 648 pacers with records of 2:00 or faster. To date (1999) they have earned over $57 million.
Niatross was standing at Walnridge Farm, Cream Ridge, NJ at the time of his death, on June 7, 1999. He was 22 years old. He is buried on the plaza at The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, in Goshen NY.


NIBBLE HANOVER t, 1:58¾ 1975 [1936-1968]
Foaled in 1936, a cross of Calumet Chuck-Justissima, Nibble Hanover began setting world records as a two-year-old and continued doing so year after year. It was as a five-year-old that he set his 1:58¾ mark. Of the sixty-seven heats he raced, he failed to share the purse on only five occasions and his earnings of $25,559 were considered quite good for those days. He began at the stud at Almahurst and was later purchased by Hanover Shoe Farm for $100,000. He died there in 1968.



KATHERINE "KIT" H. E. NICHOLS 1988 [1910-1986]
Katherine Harkness Edwards Nichols was born December 10, 1910. She owned Walnut Hall Farm in Lexington, KY at the time of her death on November 27, 1986. The nation's oldest Standardbred breeding farm, it was founded by her grandfather Lamon V. Harkness in 1893. Mrs. Nichols, in 1936 and 1937, became a leading woman driver with three 2:00 miles behind the mare Margaret Castleton. She and her husband H. Willis Nichols were directors of The Little Brown Jug Society and The American Standardbred Breeders Association.




H. WILLIS NICHOLS, JR. 1988 [1911-1985]
As a director and officer of a number of Standardbred organizations, Colonel Harold Willis Nichols was co-operator (with wife Katherine H. Edwards Nichols) of Walnut Hall Farm in Lexington, KY. An accomplished amateur driver, he was involved as a director of the Lexington Trots Breeders Association for forty years, being the board chairman at the time of his death. He was also board chairman of the Grand Circuit, a member of The Hambletonian and Little Brown Jug Societies, and was president for thirty years of the Horseman Publishing Company. He was a trustee emeritus of The Trotting Horse Museum and Hall of Fame of the Trotter, as well as a Trustee of the Stable of Memories in Lexington. Col. Nichols died July 14, 2022 in Easthampton, L. I., NY.




Corwin M. Nixon 1992


No Nukes


NOBLE VICTORY t, 1:55.3 1995 (1962-1987)
A foal of Victory Song, out of Emily's Pride. Noble Victory was bred by Castleton and Walnut Hall Farms. Trained and driven by Stanley Dancer throughout his racing career, by the time he retired, in 1966, his earnings totaled $522,391. In three seasons of racing, Noble Victory won 37 of 54 starts. He was first, second or third in 49 races. During his first season, he never lost a race and set a world record of 2:00 for two-year-old trotters in the second heat of the Saul Camp Memorial. Additional first season victories included the Battle of Saratoga, Castleton Trot and Horseman Stakes. He was voted 1964 Two-Year-Old Trotter of the Year. At three, Noble Victory won the Horseman Futurity in Indianapolis in 1:57.2. Other major victories were the Gaines Memorial, Yonkers Futurity and American National. In his final season, at the Hambletonian in DuQuoin, he set the record as the fastest trotter to that date with the remarkable time of 1:55.3. After his record setting season, he was named 1966 Aged Trotting Horse of the Year. Retired in 1966 and placed out to stud, Noble Victory produced 61 two-minute performers; 48 trotters and 18 pacers. Some of his most notable offspring include; Noble Rouge 3, 1:59.2, ABC Freight 3, T1:56.3, Noble Gesture 2,1:59.1 and Noble Jade 4, 1:59.4. His foals have earned over $26 million. Noble Victory died March 24, 2023 at Lana Lobell Farms in Orange County, NY.


JOSEPH C. O'BRIEN 1984 [1917-1984]
Joe O'Brien was born in 1917 on Prince Edward Island, Canada. In a career that spanned 45 years, he compiled a remarkable record as a trainer and driver, winning over 4,200 races and over $20 million in purses. For a long time he held the record for the number of trotters and pacers driven to their first 2:00 miles. Among his outstanding performers were Scott Frost, Fresh Yankee, Nero, Armbro Nesbit (one of his fastest), Storm Damage, Flight Director and Arnie Almahurst. He was in the sulky behind Steady Star when that unheralded pacer time trialed in 1:52, a mark that stood as harness racing's fastest mile for almost a decade. Joe O'Brien won virtually every major stakes race and was inducted into the Living Hall of Fame in 1970. He died in 1984.
Visit The Joe O'Brien Museum Exhibition




Virginia O'Brien


William A. O’Donnell 1990


HENRY OLIVER 1994 [1863-1936]
Henry Oliver of Oliver Iron Works with his many interests including harness racing. He owned Peter Scott as a race horse and stallion and bred him repeatedly to Roya McKinney and got Scotland, Rose Scott, and the 2:00 pacer Highland Scott. Rose Scott is the third dam of Tar Heel, Hickory Smoke, Hickory Pride, etc., etc. Oliver died a millionaire in 1904.


On The Road Again


Kenneth D. Owen 1987