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Greatest Trotter Who Ever Lived?

Standardbred Canada has a poll up asking who is the greatest trotter who ever lived. These questions are fun, but really it is impossible to compare a horse who raced in 1930 to today, is it not?

We had this question last year with Beach. Is he better than Dan Patch? Who the cripes knows;. it's not like we can say we watched Dan Patch get hooked by a horse in 1903 and lose, while Beach getting hooked with Shadow Play in the Messenger and winning makes me think he is.

I like Beach and Muscle Hill; love them. I think they are the two best three year olds of this generation, however that is as far as I can go.

Another thing that makes it hard to compare is longevity. Is Muscle Hill better than Peaceful Way? Probably, but hold on. She demolished boys and won way more money. Maybe he isn't.

It is a neat question though, because it makes us think of all the greats.

People are generally biased in putting modern horses over older ones in these lists. I remember growing up and watching Gretzky and it was the same with hockey players - "he ain't no Gordie Howe" some people would say. Well ya, he was actually.

For me there are five or six great trotters that I absolutely think were awesome and I would have Muscle Hill on the list. He is the best of the modern super-speedy trotter (one that reminds us of a pacer) and that means something. I would add Greyhound because he went 155 and 1/4th when that time was something bizarre, Mack Lobell for his pure speed and race record, Varenne for an absolutely unparalleled career and Nevele Pride for his pure speed and amazing run at two and three.

These horses were generational, or they lasted long at an extremely high level, changing the way we think of the breed forever. Just don't try and get me to separate them; because there is no way I can.

Greyhound in action. Fast forward to 1:11 for some really cool video of this great horse.

And present day. 150.1 under pretty much a hold. 99 out of 100 3YO pacers would lose this race.


Pacingguy said…
In a way, your video presentation on Greyhound answered the question who is the greatest trotter ever. The runners elected him horse of the year; that says a lot.
Sandy said…
It's really too bad that we don't see more careers like Varenne's. Travel, longevity, defeat, triumph . . all ipart of the resume.
Much like the career of John Henry, how could you not cheer for a horse like John Henry, $1000.00 dollar purchase at one time, virtually no pedigree, more personality than most human athletes . . . long careers make for great stories.
Walleye Willy said…
No way is he the best . Might be fastest might have won the most simoleons.His body of work is no where close to almost all of them .You can,t tell me his wins compare to Peace Corps -Moni Maker -Varenne -Mack -on and on.Until they start racing them again past 3 they can,t have the record period.When he wins 4 Breeders Crown the Eliteloppett travels the globe till at least 6 . Till then you have zero hope of convincing me. His body of work is not there even if he is the best they didn,t let him race long enough to prove it.
Anonymous said…
Just to add in the fact that Muscle Hill did NOT race on a half mile track in his career. I know that there is a crowd out there that says who cares, half miles are old talk, but in a comparison with the all time greats it matters a lot that he never set foot on a half. In the annuls of our sport half mile racing was a big part of the equation. The on going debate about Beach skipping the Jug says the half is still important. If it was such a big deal for Beach, why not for MH?
Is MH a nice horse? Yes, was he a well managed horse? Absolutely. The greatest of all time? Not a shot.
Regards, Rebecca
Anonymous said…
Just to clarify.
There is no debate in regards to Beach and 1/2 mile tracks. Easily one of his most impressive performances came in the Messenger on a half mile, and he set the world record for half mile ovals at the confederation cup (beat it by a full second) . . . in the second heat no less . . . beating the LBJ champion no less.
Anonymous said…
This article is ridiculous, even the children know that the best of all time is Italian VARENNE . This is not my opinion, this is not a lottery where each person says a name at random. There is Wikipedia, where anyone can eventually find compare. I recommend a video... I found on youtube, the title is "VARENNE THE BEST TROTTER EVER"
Anonymous said…
lmao best trotter ever is VARENNE owner of 2 hardly beatble world records
Anonymous said…

No one like him has won all the most important races of the world, Varenne holds many records! Varenne has beaten even the great Moni Maker.
Anonymous said…
Greatest Trotter Who Ever Lived?

Anonymous said…
I am French ... ... Varenne is Italian, but it is fair to say the truth ... Varenne is the greatest of all time, a true legend. I do not think that will come another trotter like him.
Anonymous said…
I'm from Finland, I agree with your comments, Varenne is the king! He has 3 undefeated record, winning in 11 different distances from 1 mile to 1.710 miles. But he has an infinite number of records. Read wikipedia in english. I saw him live in the race in Mikkeli, he was not a horse... was a train, I remember people crying when he won.
Anonymous said…
You guys have lost track of a very legendary horse in this discussion. The Last Emperor - Ourasi
Anonymous said…
Just like that of thoroughbreds, you just cant have a greatest list unless Man O War is on it right? Well in harness racing, turn of the century produced a master horse named Dan Patch. Impossible to compare him to Varenne and vice versa however; Patch raced 10 years without a defeat; set 14 world records, one of which in the mile set in 1906, he held for 54 years until 1960. By itself this is the achievement of the 20th century in harness racing. What makes this so remarkable too, is that this mark was set while running against the clock - no horses of that time could catch him, he was that dominant. He also won over $2,000,000 in a two year stretch which is astonishing given 1901-02 economy. Varenne and others certainly in the greatest list, but from a historical perspective, you have to back in time to credit Patch with his accomplishments and the longevity with which his record stood
Anonymous said…
Varenne is the best! I am from Malta. Americans believe they are always the best at everything. In fact, they know nothing of the world and other countries. I breed horses trotting, it is my world, I know the history of all the horses, because I like to study.
American horses run over a distance of only one mile is rare to see American horses run in other countries or run different distances. Everything takes place in America without addressing horses of other nation. Maybe horses as Dan Patch will be America's best but certainly not the best in the world.

Varenne is the only trotter who has won on 11 different distances, on all types of terrain and temperatures.
It 'the only one who has won on two continents, in 7 different countries. He went to the home of each trotter and broke his ass.
He has twice won the Prix d'Amerique in Paris, the most difficult race in the world. In short, the list of records of Varenne is endless. No one can be compared to the great Italian champion. There is already a world ranking official:

4.Mack Lobell
6.Victory Tilly
7.Muscle Hill
Anonymous said…
varenne is sure in the top 3 i think in a 1 mile distance is not the best of hall muscle hill was undefeated at 3 he win easily each of his win he do all this thing at 2 and 3 so.. you can compare varenne and muscle hill , varenne is an europenn i stat racing at 3 and muscle hill ..stop at 3 ist not the same game...
Anonymous said…
varenne is sure in the top 3 i think in a 1 mile distance is not the best of hall muscle hill was undefeated at 3 he win easily each of his win he do all this thing at 2 and 3 so.. you can compare varenne and muscle hill , varenne is an europenn i stat racing at 3 and muscle hill ..stop at 3 ist not the same game...
Anonymous said…
1.Nevele pride
2.Mack lobell
4.Muscle hill
5.Volo Song

My list
Anonymous said…
I agree, Varenne is the best. He broke the speed record in 11 different distances, two unbeaten record.
It's not correct to talk only about a mile. Varenne won all the most important races of the world, and won the Prix d'Amérique twice (2001–2002), considered to be the most difficult race in world of harness racing (2700 meters / 1.708 miles - 18 starters). Varenne holds many records, no one is like him. I believe that a horse like Varenne will not be born again.
The Italians also have the best jockey of all time, the great Frankie Dettori, I love him!
Anonymous said…
you forget the Italians had also Ribot, the best horse ever. Italians can be considered the best about the world of horse racing, but they are unaware of this

my list

Mack lobell
Anonymous said…
Stupid Italian Varenne trolls. Varenne's pedigree is 97% American and 3% French. He is 0% Italian. He got destroyed by Viking Kronos at 3. He dodged Moni Maker in the Prix D' Amerique and Elitloppet. He was a good older trotter, nothing more. Muscle Hill would have destroyed him. Also lol @ Ribot best ever. Retard.
Anonymous said…
Response to the last comment.

You're a American Envious troll !
You said a bunch of crap!

1) Varenne is the son of Waikiki Beach (from america) and Ialmaz (from Italy) so it's 50% Italian. So you just made bad information.
If you want to go back in time, in genealogy , remember that America was discovered by italians Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci . Probably Varenne is 100% European.

2) Varenne beat Viking Kronos! You can see his victory in this youtube video "Italian Trotting Derby 1998-Varenne."

3) Varenne also beat Monimaker, you can see his victories in this video "Premio delle Nazioni 1999 -Varenne" and this video "Premio della Lotteria 2000 -Varenne"
When Monimaker participated in 'Elitloppet Varenne not running. Varenne began racing in 1998. And when Monimaker participated to the Prix D' Amerique Varenne was too young, only ran for 10 months.
Varenne won the Prix D'Amerique 2 times and 2 times Elitloppet.

4) Muscle Hill?? Pelase..he did not win even a tenth of what Varenne won . Please... You can read the Varenne's story and his victories on Wikipedia or on some specialized website American.

5) Ribot is without a doubt the best horse in the story, everyone can look on the internet its risults and make a careful evaluation.

Dear American, your sordid attempt to misinformation and to change the events has failed miserably ... but you Americans are experts in this.
Anonymous said…
1 Greyhound
2 Varenne
3 Ourasi
4 Une De Mai
5 Mack Lobell
6 Nevele Pride
7 Moni Maker
8 Ideal du Gazeau
9 Tornese
10 Muscle Hill
Anonymous said…
Who is the fastest one know? Sebastian K
Anonymous said…
Here are my best of all time:
1 Ourasi
2 Varenne
3 Greyhound
4 Une De Mai
5 Mack Lobell
6 Roquepine
7 Ideal du Gazeau
8 Gelinotte
9 Bellino II
10 Maori's Idol (Australia)
Anonymous said…
Cardigan Bay & Lyell Creek are my two choices
Anonymous said…
<It is hard to choose between Varenne and Ourasi.
But to me, between the two of them, the Bestest of all times is Ourasi, due to his results but also his temper and his great understanding of a race. M. Goujon once said that he was sure the horse would race and win even with a bucket of sand in place of the driver...
Anonymous said…
I love Varenne i follow every single race of him but , i think greyhound is the best trotter of all time many forget him because ist been a long time ago but, he broke every single record at any distances between 1935-1938, horseman around the world where scare to race agains him , is record in 1:551\4 on a mile track this record has held for over 30 years!! (Only beat in 1969 by Nevele Pride) I dont think any horse in the future would be able to do this again! I think Nevele Pride and Mack Lobell where very dominant horses but they where not versatile like Greyhound or Varenne , Nevele Pride was almost unbeateble on a mile but he not able to keep pace on longer distance. And Mack Lobell was a demon on a big Track but he had troubles on smaller track! I think the perfect dream race would by a race between thoose horse (not in order)
Nevele Pride
Mack Lobell
Muscle Hill
Super Bowl
Ideal Du Gazeau
Sebastian K
Volo Song
Moni Maker

Anonymous said…
Haha ! Bright idea to set up a dream race :D though impossible... What a pity! Imagine... Just add whaterver horse you like and watch them. *sigh*.
Anonymous said…
1. Varenne
2. Ourasi
3. Mack Lobell
4. Ideal du Gazeu
5. San pail
6. Rapide Lebell
Fan said…
It seems hardly fair to comment on this article after all of these years, but please look up Bold Eagle, a son of Ready Cash, who would also be on the list today. Bold Eagle may not be the best of all time -- yet -- but it's impossible to leave him off the list of "best through early in his 5-year old season."
Scharon said…
I have read enough bullshit.....
Nobody has said how Varenne won 62 races.... humiliating any horse... he wasn't a horse but a train..... I Love people from United States but with them is impossible to take a discussion... for them ,they are the best in anything.... a lot of people went thinking that's moni maker was the best of every..... but one two years after was born Varenne and in anyrace Varenne was finishing humiliating moni maker!!! Varenne the best of all time.... and to finish I say you: you can compare Michael Jordan with anyone, you can compare maradona and pelé, you can compare Mohammed Alli with someone, Federer with Nadal etc etc.... but please do not compare varenne with someone.... he has humiliated any fantastic horse!
dave_hurd said…
I saw the greatest Nevele Pride run at Brandywine Raceway in the early 70's
So cool to see. Still gives me goosebumps when i saw him run in 1:57 and change and I was only feet away as he came into the winner's circle. He was very aggressive and a little mean! Great memory. Too bad Brandywine was closed down.