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Western Hanover now all time money-producing sire

January 08, 2010

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The late Western Hanover, who stood his entire career at stud at Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania, is now the all time money-producing sire of all equine breeds, having eclipsed Abercrombie thanks to the earnings of progeny which raced in 2009. Abercrombie had led the list for more than the last decade. Western Hanover is now the sire of the winners of $156,543,228.
With Western Hanover's latest achievement, Murray Brown, director of public relations at Hanover Shoe Farms, recalled the horse as a yearling, his accomplishments on the track, and how market breeders initially ignored the horse. Below are Brown's recollections.
"Western Hanover was regarded as a beautiful, but slightly diminutive yearling," writes Brown. "He was nevertheless Hanover Shoe Farm’s highest-priced yearling in its 1990 consignment. He was purchased for $105,000 by George Segal because Segal's Hall of Fame trainer Gene Riegle had told him, `George, this is a colt you need to buy.'
"Despite having respiratory problems in the winter, which delayed his debut until August, Western Hanover virtually swept the table thereafter and was voted 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year for 1991, earning $697,322.
"At three, he again demonstrated the ability he had shown the previous season and was voted 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year for 1992 after earning $1,844,315.
"Hanover Shoe Farms purchased an interest in Western Hanover and he was slated to be syndicated and to enter the stud in 1993. The syndication process was difficult and after virtually all of the leading market breeders were offered the opportunity to buy shares in him,  only one, Allamerican Harnessbreds, did so.
"The reasons for this were probably twofold. Firstly, he was entering the stud the same year as his stablemate and Horse of the Year Artsplace. Artsplace was formidable competition and the large commercial breeders were more inclined to invest in him. Their investments were well made as Artsplace met all expectations and almost immediately became one of the sport's epic sires.
"The second and perhaps just as important reason was that some of the sport’s self proclaimed experts began to refer to him with disdain as `Little Ralph,' implying that they felt that he would become a disappointment in the stud as had Ralph Hanover. This talk was especially prevalent after Western Hanover’s difficult Little Brown Jug loss (to Fake Left).
"Nevertheless, the small, but exclusive syndicate went forward with him beginning his stud career in 1993 at Hanover Shoe Farms at a service fee of $4,000.
"Aside from the support given him by his owners and the odd commercial breeder, his first book consisted mostly of `mom and pop' mares. From that first crop came the 1996 Metro winner Rustler Hanover and the 1997 Triple Crown winner and Pacer of the Year Western Dreamer.
"It wasn’t really until his fifth crop that Western Hanover received the quality of broodmares that his previous success proved that he deserved. From that point forward he ranked at or near the very top of all the world’s pacing sires. Subsequently, virtually all of the harness world’s leading commercial bought shares in him at a far higher price than for what he was originally syndicated. What was initially a disappointment for Segal ultimately turned into a windfall.
"There’s no accurate way to predict how long Western Hanover will remain at the top of the list. However, with full crops of 2- and 3-year-olds in addition to a host of older pacers, it's fairly safe to predict that he should maintain his position for the better part of the next decade."
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