The origins of the Standardbred trace back to Messenger, an English
Thoroughbred foaled in 1780, and later exported to the United States.
Messenger was the great-grand sire of Hambletonian 10, to whom every
Standardbred can trace its heritage. Standardbreds are a relatively new
breed, dating back just over 200 years, but it is a true American
The name "Standardbred" originated because the early trotters (pacers
would not come into the picture until much later) were required to
reach a certain standard for the mile distance in order to be
registered as part of the new breed. The mile is still the standard
distance covered in nearly every harness race.
Standardbred racing has long been known as the sport of the people, and
both the sport and the breed are as much a part of our American
landscape as cowboys and apple pie. As it evolved it gave the United
States some of its first "sports heroes," including the great Dan
Patch, the legendary Adios and the great gray ghost, Greyhound.