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Modern Trotting Sire Lines

Review by Stan Bergstein
Executive Vice President of Harness Race Tracks of America

The mystery and mystique of breeding successful race horses is a major part of the magic of the game. It is, and has been for two centuries, a tantalizing puzzle, a project with theories but no textbook, a journey with potential rewards but no road maps, a challenge with guesses but no guidelines. Until now.

John Bradley has assembled in the pages that follow a rewarding reference work for the breeder of trotters, a fact-filled compendium of the great sires, and potentially great sires, of the last half century. In doing so he has filled a void in the literature of harness racing, and has done it with a deft hand that bridges the wide gulf between the hopeful buyers and the breeder producing the product. The book offers highly useful help to both. Bradley has compiled, in one place and in clever context, a history and a guide. It is a much needed and previously unavailable source book, but it may be far more than that.

In painting the literary portraits of the leading stallions of trotting, Bradley provides thoughts and theories, facts and personal fancies, statistics and suggestions that can lead both breeder and yearling buyer to more informed and productive decisions. Profiling the stallions, their racing record, their extended pedigrees and their successes in one easily referenced and highly readable book is of itself a valuable contribution. But by going beyond that and indicating the 'nicks' that have worked, the maternal families that have combined to give the stallions their greatest successes, Bradley provides a base on which to breed and buy.

His qualifications to do this are impressive.

During his decade as vice president and manager of Lana Lobell Farms, sales division, during the height of that breeding operation's glory days, he saw firsthand the upper echelons of trot breeding, the crosses that worked and those that didnít, the issues that mattered and those that were superficial. And he was exposed to the thoughts and ideas and theories of some of the sport's leading breeders.

Following that, his own extensive international research into the breed as owner/operator of his Bradley Standardbred Agency has widened his horizons to Europe and Australia, and his writings about European trotting and its successful studs and race horses have broadened the depth of knowledge from which he draws. The history of trotting literature in America extends back some 150 years. It has been dotted in the past with historical narratives and dominated in recent years by handicapping works of wide-ranging quality, from helpful to worthless.

This book is a contribution of exceptional value and accuracy. It has been construed in one sense as a handicapping work of a totally different dimension - on stallions rather than race horses - but it too can produce winners: those happy people who formerly by happenstance or good judgment or sheer luck bred successful trotters, and now can do so with an interesting, fascinating and well-researched reference guide at hand. The international sport of harness racing has gone too long without this book, but it was a wait worth enduring.

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