The Journey and Destination of Tattler’s Jet
The numbers are inconceivable, but in reality they are believable. Four hundred and sixty two lifetime starts, one hundred and twenty wins, a sub two minute win in 1:49 and 2. The endurance and stamina, coupled with blood lines, patience, preparation and opportunity were the recipe that made Jet’s career a reality. Explaining a mile in 49 and two by a twelve year old gelding with all those miles at all those venues and all the shipping around the country remains a puzzle. Had Tattler’s Jet paced his sub 1:50 mile as a three year old at the Meadowlands, Woodbine, Hoosier Downs or Springfield, or any of the venues where records are made to be broken, then it would understandable. But no, it was in an overnight at Virginia’s Colonial Downs. It was the “trip” that an owner with trust, a trainer with confidence, a driver with patience, and a twelve year old horse with heart that shocked the tele timer and the sport of harness racing.
Twelve years earlier…
Dave and Jane Carter of Eau Claire, WI got a call from Hall of Famer, Del Insko. The message was “both your mares foaled and the babies are fine.” A few months earlier Dave dropped two mares off at the Insko Farm in South Beloit, Illinois to foal. One of the mares was a Ralph Hanover mare named “Jodhpurs” that David Carter bred to Tattlers Torpedo. David preferred Illinois breds; Wisconsin purses were small and the Minnesota colt stakes were years from fruition.
The Carters previously owned a few thoroughbreds over the years, but harness racing was more attractive as it allowed David to be more than an owner. The trotters and pacers allowed him to train and drive his own horses. Their farm outside of Eau Claire, Wisconsin is large enough to raise colts and as well as train them on their own track.
Tattler’s Jet’s two year old season was limited to just one start. As a three year old he raced a bit more but was accused of being “lazy.” David lamented that “he just liked to follow the other horses.” Jet eventually qualified at Canterbury Park in Shockopee, Minnesota and finished third in his next start. Those efforts proved to be enough to earn him another year and another chance to be part of the Carter Stable.
Dave eventually turned “Jet” over to his friend Gene Miller out of Charlotte, Michigan. Gene was doing a great job with David’s future Hall of Fame trotter, Crafty Sailor, so why not see how he would do with Tattler’s Jet? Gene’s philosophy in racing horses is simple: “They don’t lay eggs, you can’t milk them, so why not race them,” and race Tattler’s Jet he did. Miller made sure this now aged pacer had time to rest, was turned out between races, and kept fresh in spite of his hectic schedule. Over the nine years with Miller, he averaged over 40 starts a year. Miller raced him where he belonged and where he could get checks. Tattlers Jet took trailer rides covering 53 venues, seven states, and Canada. The starts, wins and age were under the media radar until Gene entered him in the Au Revoir at Monticello Raceway, in New York. The New York Times, one of our nation’s top daily papers with almost two million daily customers, got wind of this little known invader from the Midwest. Move over New York Jets, Giants, Nets, and Rangers. Yes, the front page sports story about three old campaigners, Dave Carter, Gene Miller, and of course Tattler’s Jet is a must read. It will warm your heart and remind you why “The Sport of Kings” still has room for the little guy.
Life after Retirement for the Ambassador
Jet relaxes six days a week, but on Sunday, the Running Aces’ fans get a chance to ride behind him between races. Race goers love it; they stuff the entry box hoping their names will be drawn to sit behind their new harness hero. And, unlike many of his fellow “old timers,” Jet is not intimidated or afraid of the world of social media. He may be the only horse with his own Facebook account. Fans send him messages at will and he (??) responds ASAP. Jet includes pictures documenting his busy schedule at Running Aces. Not too shabby for that lazy horse.
Tattler’s Jet, call him the iron horse, war horse, ambassador, old campaigner, etc., it is now time to call this Standardbred race horse a “Hall of Famer” and add his legacy to the equine category of the Wisconsin Harness Horse Association Hall of Fame on January 23, 2016. Jet, thanks for the memories.
Nominated by: George “Woody” Woodbridge
Biography written by: George “Woody” Woodbridge