People admire athletes for their skills, physical abilities, perseverance, and, most importantly, true sportsmanship.
Stanley Dancer was one of such rare athletes, a true sportsman.
Throughout his life, Stanley Dancer won more than 3,000 races and acquired a net worth of $28 million, which was rare in the world of horse racing.
Dancer was a gemstone of the sport, beloved by all racing fans. The United States Trotting Association even called him “the best-known personality in the sport.”
Stanley was inducted into the Harness Racing Living Hall of fame in 1970 to celebrate his career.
Moreover, this honor is of the highest magnitude for any racer in the world of harness racing.
An icon in harness racing, Dancer, left behind a legacy that will always be remembered.
Here are a few quick facts about Stanley Dancer.
|Date of birth
|July 25, 1927
|78 years old (at the time of death)
|West Windsor Township, New Jersey
|5 feet 8 inch
|United States Harness Racing Hall of Fame (1969)
Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame (1989)
|Rachel Young, Jody Dancer
|Two sons (one of whom is New Jersey Assemblyman and former Plumsted Mayor Ronald Stanley Dancer)
|Harness Racer, Horse trainer, Horse Breeder
Stanley Dancer: Early Life and Family
Stanley Dancer was born on July 25, 1927, in West Windsor Township, New Jersey.
The trainer was destined for greatness in the world of horse racing.
Moreover, he spent most of his earliest life on a 160-acre farm with a half-mile training track in the New Egypt section of Plumsted Township.
Dancer from an early age had a love for sports and horses. This resulted in him dropping out of school and pursuing a career in horse racing from an early age.
Soon after dropping out of school, he started driving horses around the freehold raceway.
Finally, in 1946 a year after Stanley’s journey as a harness racing driver, he was able to win his first race.
Dancer was first married to Rachel Young in 1947; however, they divorced in 1983.
After that, Stanley married Jodyd Dancer in 1985 and had two sons (one of whom is a New Jersey Assemblyman and former Plumsted Mayor Ronald Stanley Dancer).
Similarly, he also had two daughters, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
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Stanley Dancer: Aggressive Style
Despite his small stature, Stanley Dancer was always one of the most aggressive racers on the track. He was 5 ft 8 inches while weighing around 61 kg.
“Red smith,” an American sportswriter, even described Stanley as not looking “old enough to be let out for night racing.”
But he always made sure to stand out against these odds with his aggressive and all-out right from the start style.
This aggressive style of racing influenced how races were conducted.
He was the first-ever driver whose initial strategy was to launch horses in an attempt to go wire-to-wire, which forced other drivers to challenge him earlier than usual.
Stanley Dancer: An Adrenaline Junkie
Stanley Dancer was an adrenaline junkie from an early age. Unfortunately, this compulsive impulse for excitement and adventure brought him many injuries throughout his career.
He went through 32 racing spills, four car accidents, two aviation crashes, and a significant racing incident in 1955 where he broke his back.
Despite the physician’s guidance to leave racing, Dancer never stopped. He always made sure he gave his everything to the track.
Moreover, his perseverance and determination played a massive role in constantly rising back as a champion.
Stanley Dancer: Career
Not just a champion, Stanley Dancer was a prodigious one-of-a-kind athlete. Moreover, his records speak for themselves.
Throughout his life, Stanley won 3,781 races. He drove 23 triple crown winners throughout his career and trained three of them himself.
He is the only horseman in history to train and drive three triple crown horses in horse racing.
All these incredible achievements and passion for the sport made him a household name in the world of horse racing.
One of the highlights of Dancer’s career was his win in the International Trot at Freehold Raceway.
International Trot is a harness racing event based in New York with various participants.
In 1961, Dancer won the race finishing at 2:34.4 with his star horse Su Mac Lad, who was honored as the “United States harness horse of the year” the year after.
The race was something to behold as Dancer drove on a rainy and sloppy track filled with mud while 28,105 racing fans watched.
It was a historical event in horse racing since Su Mac Lad became the first American horse to win the title that day.
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Stanley Dancer was not only successful as a driver but also as a horse trainer and a breeder.
In the 1965 four-heat Hambletonian, the Dancer trained the winning horse “Egyptian Candor,” which Del Cameron drove.
One of his best horses, Super Bowl, victory in 1972 of record times 1:57.2 and 1:56.2, broke five world records.
“Bonefish,” one of Stanley’s horse’s victories in 1975, was a world record for four heats divided, with Bonefish beating Yankee Bambino, who came in second in the last heat by a hair’s breadth.
Dancer also trained pacer horse “Albatross,” who was also a multi-world-record holder.
As a three-year-old horse in 1971, he managed to become the fastest Standardbred in a race when he paced in 1:54.4 on a mile track.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Dancer’s beloved horse “Crown” died three weeks before the 1983 Hambletonian.
Crown was a fan favorite, and his death added to the excellent pain for Dancer, resulting in a massive panic.
But with the constant insistence of his family and friends, Dancer unwillingly entered the very little-known racehorse “Duenna” and managed to win the race.
Duenna became the first-ever filly (a female horse too young to be called a mare) to win the race in 17 years.
Arnold Palmer, a well-known figure in golf, even called the victory “one of the most dramatic moments in sports.”
This event clearly showed the true sportsmanship and fighter spirit that Dancer possessed.
He never failed to perform his best and win titles, leaving everyone in awe despite all odds.
Rise as a Racing Star
Stanley Dancer, as a horse racer, set new boundaries for the sport and the sportsmen. He earned around 1 million dollars in 1964.
Dancer is the first-ever driver to win such a large amount of money as a cash prize in a single year.
Moreover, as a sportsman, he brought many eyes to the sports and set a new bar for other racers to strive for.
Not only for the drivers, but Dancer also set a new level for the horses. His racehorse Cardigan Bay became the first standardbred horse to win $1 million in career prize money.
Net Worth and Titles
Stanley Dancer drove his final 3,781st race in 1995.
Throughout his career, he earned over 28,02,426 US dollars as a driver. He was able to win multiple titles from around the world.
The estimated net worth of Stanley Dancer was about $28 million.
He won 3 triple crown titles with his horse trotters, “Nevele Pride” in 1968, “Super Bowl” in 1972, and “Most Happy Fella” in 1970.
Stanley also trained and drove four Little Brown Jug winners: “Henry T. Adios” in 1961″ “Lehigh Hanover” in 1962″ “Most Happy Fella” 1970, and “Keystone” in 1976.
The list goes on as he trained the winning horses of five Hambletonian and drove four of them himself to victory: “Nevele Pride” in 1968, “Super Bowl” in 1972, “bonefish” 1975, and “Duenna”‘ in 1983.
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Stanley Dancer: Legacy and Passion
Sadly, every great thing must come to an end, so did Dancer’s story.
On September 9, 2005, six years after his last race, Stanley Dancer died from prostate cancer at the age of 78 in Pompano Beach, Florida.
If we look at Dancer’s back on his life, it is something to be celebrated and idolized.
An 8th-grade school dropout who went after what he loved, worked with perseverance, and achieved every title of the highest honor in the world of Horse Racing.
Dancer was indeed an icon and figure not only in the sport of horse racing but rather as a whole human being.
Stanley was a man who followed his dreams. So much so that in various interviews, Dancer stated, “never having to feel like he worked because harness racing and horses were something he loved.”
Moreover, he was an excellent inspiration for dreamers all around the world.
Despite various challenges throughout his life, Dancer never stopped. The trainer believed in what he did and did it with full courage and willingness.
Stanley Dancer was a true sportsman, and the Legacy he left behind will never be forgotten.
Stanley Dancer: FAQs
Did Stanley Dancer appear on The Ed Sullivan Show?
Yes, Stanley Dancer and his horse Cardigan appeared on the Ed Sullivan show after their million-dollar win in 1968.
Are Stanley Dancer and Gordon Richards related?
No, Stanley Dancer and Gordon Richards aren’t related, even though both of them were involved in the same field.