Messenger Stakes

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The Messenger Stakes is an American harness racing event for 3-year-old pacing horses. It was organized in 1956 at Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, New York (on suburban Long Island) to join with the Cane Pace and the Little Brown Jug to create the Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Pacers. The race is named in honor of Messenger (1780–1808), a horse foaled in England and later brought to the United States. As a sire, virtually all harness horses in the U.S. can be traced back to Messenger.

One of the preeminent events for harness racing horses in North America, the race was held annually at Roosevelt Raceway until it closed down in 1988. From 1988 to 1994, the race changed locations several times, from Yonkers Raceway (Yonkers, NY) to Freestate Raceway to Rosecroft Raceway (both in Maryland). In 1995, it moved to The Meadows Racetrack in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. In 2004, the race was supposed to be moved back to Yonkers Raceway, however, due to construction at the track, the race was moved to Harrington Raceway in Delaware, where the event was held in 2004 and '05. The race moved back to Yonkers Raceway in November 2006. The 2011 edition was raced at Yonkers on November 12, 2011, for a total estimated purse of US$750,000.[1]

Much like the Little Brown Jug, the Messenger was raced in heat events, meaning a horse had to win an elimination heat and the final on the same day to be declared the winner. Starting from 2006 at Yonkers, there will be eliminations, if necessary, one week prior to the event.


Year Winner Driver Owner Time
1956 Belle Action
1957 Meadow Lands Del Miller[3]
1958 O'Brien Hanover
1959 Adios Butler Clint Hodgins
1960 Countess Adios
1961 Adios Don
1962 Thor Hanover
1963 Overtrick John Patterson
1964 Race Time
1965 Bret Hanover Frank Ervin
1966 Romeo Hanover George Sholty
1967 Romulus Hanover
1968 Rum Customer Billy Haughton
1969 Bye Bye Sam
1970 Most Happy Fella Stanley Dancer
1971 Albatross
1972 Silent Majority
1973 Valiant Bret
1974 Armbro Omaha Billy Haughton
1975 Bret's Champ
1976 Windshield Wiper
1977 Governor Skipper
1978 Abercrombie
1979 Hot Hitter Herve Filion Solomon Katz, S A J & Alterman Stables
1980 Niatross Clint Galbraith Elsie Berger, Clint Galbraith
1981 Seahawk Hanover
1982 Cam Fella
1983 Ralph Hanover Ron Waples Waples, Firlotte, Pointsetta & Grants Direct Stables
1984 Troublemaker
1985 Pershing Square
1986 Amity Chef
1987 Redskin
1988 Matt's Scooter G Rumpel, I Rumpel & C Juravinski
1989 Sandman Hanover
1990 Jake And Elwood
1991 Die Laughing
1992 Western Hanover
1993 Riyadh
1994 Cam's Card Shark
1995 David's Pass
1996 Go For Grins
1997 Western Dreamer Michel Lachance
1998 Fit For Life Ron Pierce
1999 Blissful Hall Ron Pierce
2000 Ain't No Stopn Him
2001 Bagel Beach Boy
2002 Allamerican Ingot
2003 No Pan Intended David Miller
2004 Metropolitan
2005 Gryffindor
2006 Palone Ranger
2007 Always A Virgin
2008 Somebeachsomewhere
2009 If I Can Dream
2010 Rock N Roll Heaven Dan Dube Frank Bellino
2011 Roll with Joe Ron Pierce Winbak, Blue Chip S Demeter & Not To Worry 1:52.4
2012 Bolt The Duer
2013 Ronny Bugatti
2014 All Bets Off Matt Kakaley Burke Racing Stable, Baldachino, Panhellenic Stable, and Shelswell 1:51.1