Strange Trivia in Sports - Harness Racing

Some strange trivia, facts, records, and events in the history of the sport of Harness Racing.


Goldsmith Maid is considered the greatest trotting horse that ever lived. Maid, as she was originally named, was the 1st foal of Alexander's Abdallah and a mare who pulled the cart of a New Jersey hat peddler. Her 1st owner, John B. Decker, failed to tame the high-strung Maid and she became a farm animal.

The only human to have any rapport with the young mare was a black youth who worked for Decker. On Christmas Eve, 1863, the young farmhand, known only as Sam, used the 6-year-old Maid to elope with his girl friend. Sam was amazed by Maid's speed and tried to tell Decker, but the owner ignored his employee's entreaties. Determined to prove Maid's ability, Sam took her out nights and successfully raced her against all comers--using his prize money to provide comforts for his new bride.

Eventually, Decker sold Maid to "Jersey Bill" Thompson. The new owner was able to make a harness horse of her, and finally she began to race professionally. She was now 8 years old. Thompson quickly sold her to Alden Goldsmith, who changed her name to Goldsmith Maid, made money with her, and then 4 years later, in 1869, sold her to Budd Doble and Barney Jackman. These 2 men owned Goldsmith Maid for 2 years. They had paid Goldsmith $15,000 for her and she earned $100,000 for them.

When Goldsmith Maid was 14, Doble and Jackman sold her to Harry N. Smith for $32,000. Smith had purchased Goldsmith Maid with the intention of retiring her to breed. One day he noticed that she still seemed to have some speed. He quickly put her back in a harness and on the track. Over the next 6 years, she won another $100,000.

During her career she won $364,200, which stood as a record for decades. From 1871 to 1874 she was undefeated, and she was beaten only once in 1875. She tied her own best time when she was 18 years old, won her final race when she was 20 years old, and died of pneumonia when she was 28.

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