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Looking Back to Bye Bye Byrd (05/02/13)
Posted Thursday, May 2, 2013
By Mike Paradise
Bye Bye Byrd
The Chicago White Sox winning their first American League pennant in 40 years wasn’t the only excitement in the windy city in 1959.
On July 17 of that year Bye Bye Byrd became the fastest horse in Sportsman’s Park history when he rattled off a 1:58.2 clocking in the $54,879 American National Maturity Pace, a world record for an aged pacer on a five-eighths mile track.
A crowd of 9,797 was on hand to see driver Clint Hodges receive a special $1,000 check in the winner’s circle when he became the first driver in Sportsman’s Park’s 14 year history to pilot a horse under the coveted two-minute barrier.
The four-year-old Bye Bye Byrd went on to capture the National Pacing Derby, the Good Time Pace and the New England Pacing Derby, earning $212,433 and crowed the 1959 Harness Horse of the Year.
In 1960 Bye Bye Byrd would post victories in 11 of 25 starts, add another $187,612 in purse money, and pace a 1:56.1 mile in a time trial for his Indiana conditioner Don Taylor and Rex and Ethel Larkin of Chicago, his owners and breeders.
Bye Bye Byrd retired from racing in 1961 with 50 victories in 101 career starts and earnings of $554,257.
As a stallion Bye Bye Byrd sired 157 horses that paced in 1:57 or faster, 6 in 1:55 or better and such pacing stars as Nardin’s Byrd ($507,257), Batman ($378,649), Eastern Skipper ($563,072) and 1976 Horse of the Year Keystone Ore (1:55.2, $563,072).
Bye Bye Byrd passed away in 1980 at Hempt Farms in Pennsylvania at the age of 25.
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