Rich N Elegant, the mare which many consider to be the greatest Standardbred broodmare ever, was humanely euthanized Friday, Nov. 16, at Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania due to a severe bout with colic. Rich N Elegant, who was a Harness Racing Hall of Fame broodmare, was 22 years old.
Rich N Elegant, originally named Armbro Literal, born on St. Patrick's day March 17, 1990, was bred and raised by the iconic Armstrong Bros. organization in Canada. There was very little in her formative years which would lead one to believe that she would achieve the greatness that ultimately came to her. Although she was sired by the successful Direct Scooter and came from anoted family brought to prominence by the late Bill Shehan and subsequently carried on mostly by both Kentuckiana and Brittany Farms, she was a relatively bargain priced yearling, selling for $22,000 to trainer John Kopas, acting as agent for Vincent Li.
She enjoyed moderate success on the racetrack, taking records of 1:57.2f and 1:56.4f at 2 and 3. She ended her racing career with earnings of just short of $100,000 ($96,244) and actually ended up racing for a claiming tag of $15,000. There were no takers at that price. She ultimately came to the attention of bloodstock agent Bob Boni, who offered her to Hanover Shoe Farms for the bargain basement price of $12,000. That's when the fireworks began.
Her first mating was with the then unproven Western Hanover. Interestingly, she was the only maiden represented in that stallion's first book of mares. Little did one know at the time that both sire and dam were destined to make harness racing history. From that first booking came the Metro winner Rustler Hanover p,2,1:52.3, 3,1:51 ($971,638). Her next foal was the multiple stakes and FFA winner Royalflush Hanover p.2,1:52.2h, 3,1:51.3, 1:49.3 ($2,153,813). Subsequently she produced her greatest foal the world champion Rocknroll Hanover p,2,1:49.4; 3,1:48.3 ($2,754,038); the North America Cup winner Red River Hanover p,2,1.52.2, 3,1:48.4 ($965,426), and the Woodrow Wilson winner Richess Hanover p,2, 1:53 ($557,537).
It could be argued that she played a big part in the success enjoyed by the stallions Western Hanover, Cam's Card Shark and Western Ideal, since Rustler Hanover, Royalflush Hanover and Rocknroll Hanover came from the first crop by each of those sires.
In 2009 Rich N Elegant received the honor of being inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. In recent years she has not conceived. However, she has an untrained 2 year old named Russell Hanover (by Somebeachsomewhere) that was injured as a baby and was unable to be sold as a yearling or trained.
Hanover's Farm Manager, Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, described Rich N Elegant as "a perfect mother. She was very smart. When it was time for the mares and foals to come in. all the other mares would be trying to push their way to the front, putting their foals in precarious positions with hooves flying all around them. She would wait calmly at the very back with her foal, being usually the last to come in. In fact, I can't remember ever treating a foal by her side for a wound of any kind. She wasn't a people-friendly horse like Cathedra. I would always describe her as being somewhat aloof, but without a mean bone in her body.
"She developed hydrops during her pregnancy in 2008 and subsequently lost the foal she was carrying and almost her life. Her last foal was born in 2010 via embryo transfer. That colt, by Somebeachsomewhere, was kicked in the hock as a baby and was unable to be trained. I always said that if Richie had raised him, he never would have been hurt.
"She battled health problems for the last few years of her life. She lived in a large paddock with a blind mare as her buddy. When she colicked on Friday morning, we tried every medical treatment available to get her comfortable, but it became apparent that it was a surgical colic. Because of her health problems and age, it was decided that abdominal surgery held little promise of success. We decided it would be unfair to her. She was put to sleep with much sadness at 11:04 a.m."
Rich N Elegant was buried at the Hanover Shoe Farms equine cemetery, which is the final resting place for the many great stallions and mares that have called Hanover Shoe Farms their home. (Hanover Shoe Farms)