September 8, 1906
“The great Dan Patch is the king of American harness racing. The big bay stallion, stabled in Savage, sets a record time for the mile at the State Fair in 1906 and lends his name to products and promotions.” *
My experience with horses is limited. As a child, I did get the opportunity to ride at Vavel Ranch, in Maple Grove, MN. My dad, being a proud Polish-American, made quick friends with its owner Mr. Jankowski, and I with his daughter. They would let me ride, in exchange for helping her with chores which was usually more fun than being stuck at home.
That said, one needs some backstory to pray for an event, and the excerpt below fills in the huge gaps in my insufficient knowledge of horse racing.
“Dan Patch’s official record of 1:55¼ for the pacing mile was set in 1905 in Lexington, Kentucky. His 1:55 unofficial record for the pacing mile was set in 1906 at the Minnesota State Fair, but not officially recognized because of the use of a prompter with a windshield. This record was tied 32 years later in 1938 when Billy Direct became the official 1:55 world record holder. Marion Savage was so indignant about Dan Patch’s 1:55 mark not being recognized (the rules having recently been changed) that he renamed the International Stock Food Farm in Savage to the International 1:55 Stock Food Farm. The 1:55 mark was equaled in following years, but was not broken until 1960, 54 years after Dan Patch’s run, when Adios Butler paced the first sub-1:55 mile in 1:54:3. Dan Patch’s fastest race mile was 1:58.” **
What a joy people must have felt on that day in 1906 as they watched Dan Patch break the world’s record for the mile! What was it like to witness all the stars lining up? What a rush to see horse, driver, and sulky (cart) perform flawlessly, all executing their purpose as one? You surely gave them a glimpse of Your triune nature; three facets of a personality operating in unity towards a divine purpose! (Is this what Freud attempted to portray in his model of the ID, ego, and superego? Our beings’ a reflection of the Trinity: conscious, unconscious, and the ‘I AM’?)
It is amazing to think of the impact that Dan Patch had on the state of Minnesota. He became an icon in harness racing! He represented the faith, persistence, and excellence of his owners and handlers in this training-intensive sport. Thank You, Lord, for the inspiration that this single horse race gave to Minnesota!
Today I wish to remember the plight of owner Marion Savage. What a crushing blow to achieve a perfect race, and then have that achievement unrecognized by a change in the rules after the fact! Too often our society lives by the Golden Rule; those who have the gold make the rules.
Will You forgive Mr. Savage his righteous indignation, as You forgive those who may be responsible for stealing his record through parliamentary procedure? Will You heal his pain, and uproot how any bitterness from this event transferred to racing participants past, present, and future? Will You stop any heritage of injustice that branches from this questionable rules change in harness racing?
We perpetually wrestle with this question: why must we forgive when we are the ones who have been wronged? Christ, why did You say, “…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,…”? Matthew 5:44 NIV Perhaps one answer is suggested by the man who famously wrote, “Gott ist tot.” (God is dead.) “Whoever lives for the sake of combating an enemy has an interest in the enemy’s staying alive.” Nietzsche
It appears that Your interest in forgiving, even when we have been wronged, is that we do not become prisoners to an offense made against us. You do not want us to carry the weight that hampers our personality, and even destroys our bodies with ulcers, cancers, and mental illness. Will You be our horse in the race?
**Please enjoy the “Dan Patch Historical Society”! http://www.danpatch.com/marion-w-savage.html