by Dean A. Hoffman
Falcon Almahurst was euthanized Sunday at Autumn Breeze Farm in Delaware County, Ohio. The 30-year-old son of Meadow Skipper had been retired from active breeding service since 1999 and was living out his life as a pensioner.
Standing his entire stud career in Ohio, Falcon Almahurst sired the winners of more than $48.1 million. He had 116 pacers with 1:55 marks, including the millionaire mare Stienam p, 3, 1:53.4, a Breeders Crown winner as a 3-year-old in 1985. He also sired the Little Brown Jug winner B J Scoot p, 3, 1:52.3h ($891,010).
Daughters of Falcon Almahurst produced Yes Its True p, 5, 1:50.2 ($883,029), Crisp Sahbra p, 6, 1:51.1 ($856,066) and other outstanding pacers such as Shadow Dance, Ultimate Falcon, K F Pr Sam, Falcons Scooter, Regent Hall, and Here’s A Quarter.
When Falcon Almahurst retired to stud at Hill Farms in Ohio at the end of 1978, he was the fastest 3-year-old ever on both a half-mile and mile tracks. His half-mile track mark of 1:55.2 was taken winning the fastest heat of the 1978 Jug over Abercrombie. Falcon dropped the raceoff in the Jug to Happy Escort.
His mile track mark came in a time trial at Lexington for trainer-driver Billy Haughton.
Falcon’s biggest victory in his career came in the $560,000 Meadowlands Pace on a rainy night. It was the first time harness horses had raced for more than a half-million dollars and Falcon splashed to victory over a field that included his rivals Abercrombie and Flight Director.
Falcon Almahurst sold for $150,000 in 1976, making him the highest-priced yearling that season and the third-highest in Standardbred history. He was a son of Meadow Skipper and the first foal from the stakes-winning Shadow Wave mare Ingenue.
Falcon was purchased as a yearling by Ohio beer distributor Charlie Hill, who operated both Scioto Downs and Hill Farms.
As a 2-year-old in 1977, Falcon Almahurst started six times with three wins and two seconds. He took a mark of 1:59 winning by 13 lengths at the Meadowlands, an astonishing effort in that era. He showed great potential, but throat problems prevented him from realizing his full ability.
Year Gait Purse Races Money
Starts 1st 2nd 3rd 1978 Pace 22 8 6 2 $ 388,396 3, T1:52.2M 08/03/1978 1977 Pace 6 3 2 0 $ 12,380 2, 1:59.0M M M 07/25/1977 Pace Domestic Total 28 11 8 2 $ 400,776 3, T 1:52.2M Career
After winning the Meadowlands Pace as a sophomore, Falcon Almahurst won the Jug Preview at Scioto Downs, setting a track record of 1:55.2f that was especially sweet for track owner Hill.
Little Brown Jug Day was bittersweet for Hill and his wife Lavern. While Falcon came away with a world record, Happy Escort got the trophy.
Haughton then took his talented colt to Lexington, where he won a three-heat duel over Flight Director. The following week he put Falcon Almahurst down to time trial and the colt responded by chopping more than a second off the world record with a 1:52.2 mile.
Next on the schedule for Falcon was a race at Liberty Bell, but Charlie Hill didn’t think there was much more for Falcon to prove. He had world records on both a half-mile and mile tracks and Hill had a bunch of broodmares he wanted to breed to Falcon. So he decided to retire Falcon on the spot.
Falcon Almahurst bred large books of mares in his initial seasons at stud and soon became the dominant pacing stallion in Ohio. From his first crop came Pearl’s Falcon, Sydney Hill, Tup’s Falcon and good fillies such as Caramel Sundae, L’Eggins, Elegant Gypsy, and Rita Almahurst. In his second crop were such notable performers as Joss, Cagey Hero and Secret Wager. His acceptance was assured.
After Charlie Hill died in 1991, Hill Farms gradually wound down its operation and Falcon Almahurst was moved to Midland Acres. He proved to be a popular stallion initially, but some physical and fertility problems compromised his career after age 20. He bred nine mares in 1999 and got only one foal, so it was obvious that it was time to retire him.
His recent years have been spent under the loving care of Sandy Ishler and Mark Kuffel at Autumn Breeze Farm not far from the Delaware County Fairgrounds where Falcon set a world record 27 years ago.