by Dean Hoffman
Titan Hanover wasn’t very big, but neither is a Maserati. The size of a race horse or a race car doesn’t matter if the engine is big enough and fast enough.
It was certainly fast enough in the case of Titan Hanover. When he began racing in 1944, he showed that his bulldog determination and flying feet were something previously unknown in harness racing. He was so ahead of his time that trainer-driver Harry Pownall began to think he might do the impossible: he might cover a mile in 2:00 as a mere 2-year-old.
It was folly to even consider that because no pacer had gone in 2:00 as a freshman and very few mature trotters could go that fast. So how was it possible for a mere juvenile to do that?
But Titan Hanover did. In an epic mile at Lexington, Titan Hanover trotted his way into the record books and no 2-year-old colt would trot faster for more than two decades.
When 19 horses entered the 1945 Hambletonian, Titan drew post 12, almost on the outside of the second of three tiers of starters. It seemed almost an impossible handicap to overcome, but the racing commission decreed that Titan He was so far superior to his rivals that he was barred in the wagering.
None of that bothered the colt often called “Little Poison” after popular baseball star Lloyd Waner. Titan simply waited until the dust and the trotter settled and trotted circles around them to win.
Hollywood movie star Jimmy Cagney was on hand for the Hambletonian trophy presentation.
Catch this year’s Hambletonian on August 2nd on CBS Sports Network (check here for channel and availability in your area). A live streaming broadcast can also be view here and all the pre-, during, and post-race action can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.