• Guy McKinney

    Being first usually carries prestige and being the first Hambletonian winner carries a certain immortality to it. The massive $68451.32 purse - more than 5 times the 1926 Kentucky Futurity purse ($14000) - attracted 14 hopefuls to the mile track in Syracuse.Guy McKinney developed a critical illness shortly after his yearling purchase but recovered and started three times as a two-year-old, when he was trained by Townsend Ackerman at Goshen, but never figured in any of those races. Owner Harry B. Rea kept faith in the son of Guy Axworthy and made the January 1, 1926 nominating payment to the Hambletonian. He moved the horse to Canadian-born trainer Nat Ray at North Randall, Cleveland. Nat Ray had begun his career as a jockey and steeplechase rider, but in 1911 turned to harness racing. Under his guidance Guy McKinney developed into the supreme horse of the 1923 generation. In fact, he would proceed to win almost everything at 3, including the Kentucky Futurity, the International Stallion, the Matron and the Horse Review Stakes.

    As the Hambletonian approached, Walter Chandler, heir to the Coca-Cola fortune, desperately wanted to win and offered owner Henry B Rea $40000 for the Hambletonian favorite. Rea rejected the offer and asked for $50000 instead. Chandler instead bought another hopeful, Bronx, for $20000. The gamble would backfire as Bronx would finished out of the money in 11th place (with 12-10 finishes). The first heat in the Hambletonian was won in 2:05 1/2, Guy McKinney stalking Guy Dean until the final stretch where he attacked and narrowly beat him. The second heat was won in 2:04 1/2, Guy McKinney had again stalked the leader, this time Charm, and had to hold of a strong finish from Guy Dean who finished extremely quickly from sixth position but was beaten by a head. The Hambletonian win netted Mr Rea $45815.92.

    In the fall of 1926 he was auctioned off for $12000, purchased by the newly founded Hanover Shoe Farms. They did not stand him at stud immediately, however, and instead turned him over to trainer Tom Berry. On Thanksgiving day the next year the pair broke the world record for 4 year olds, the new record being 1:13.8/1:58 3/4. He was then retired to stud at Hanover Shoe Farm, where he died in 1944. At stud he did not achieve that much be sired Spud Hanover, who in turn sired Florican, and he is also the damsire of Sharp Note, winner of the 1953 Hambletonian. His name will also be first on the list of Hambletonian winners.