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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

JOSEPH O'BRIEN

Inducted in 1965

Member Details

Date of Birth: June 25, 1917
Place of Birth: Alberton, Prince Edward Island
Date of Passing: September 29, 1984
Sport: Horse Racing
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1943-47

Top driver in the Maritimes

1955

Dexter Cup and Kentucky Futurity with Ambro Flight

1958

Little Brown Jug with Shadow Wave

1960

Hambletonian with Blaze Hanover

1966

Roosevelt International with Ambro Flight

1970

Roosevelt International with Fresh Yankee

Canadian Pacing Derby with Horton Hanover

1973

Little Brown Jug with Melvin's Woe

1975

Drove world record of 44 sub-2-min. miles and 32 2-min. miles in a single season

Honoured Member JOSEPH O'BRIEN
Inspire

Story

Joe O'Brien was one of the most capable, most successful trainers and drivers in harness racing. Born in Alberton, Prince Edward Island, O'Brien first drove a sulky at the age of 13 and continued to race around the Maritimes circuit with his father and four brothers until 1936, when he landed his first job as a trainer. O'Brien soon became well versed in the art of training and racing. He was the leading driver in the Maritimes from 1943 to 1947, upon which time he moved south to try his luck on the U.S. circuit. O'Brien's success over the next three decades was immense. He won three Little Brown Jugs, five Kentucky Futurity races, drove two Hambletonian winners, and became the second man in harness racing history to hit the 2,000-win mark. But his feats did not stop there. O'Brien was out to beat not only his opponents, but also to challenge time. In total, he drove more than 500 sub-two-minute miles, setting numerous records along the way. He drove Scott Frost to the world's first two-minute mile for a two-year old in 1955, Steady Star to a new mark for the fastest clocking ever by a standardbred in 1971, and Flower child to the first European sub-two-minute trotting mile in 1975. His fastest season came in 1975, when he drove a world record of 44 sub-two-minute miles and 32 two-minute miles in a single season. O'Brien drove such fine steeds as Blaze Hanover, Fresh Yankee, and Ambro Flight, but he named Scott Frost as his personal favourite; in 1955, they took the Hambletonian, the Yonkers Trot, and the Kentucky Futurity, making Scott Frost the first horse in history to claim harness racing's Triple Crown. In total, O'Brien drove more than 4,500 winners and collected more than $20 million in purses, making him one of the winningest Canadian harness racers of all time. For his outstanding record, O'Brien received an honoured place in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame as well as the U.S. Hall of Fame of the Trotter (now known as the Harness Racing Hall of Fame).


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