Hanover's Bertha - 1930
The foundation for the filly who won the 1930 Hambletonian was laid down at the time of the inaugural Hambo in 1926. It was that year that Lawrence B. Sheppard and C. N. Meyers purchased the entire horse population and farm that made up Hanover Shoe Farm in South Central Pennsylvania from Alexander B. Coxe. One of the mares that changed hands in that transaction was Miss Bertha Dillon. In 1927, Miss Bertha Dillon foaled the little bay filly named Hanover’s Bertha that terrorized the trotting ranks in 1929 and 1930. Already a champion at two, Hanover’s Bertha and her trainer Tom Berry were unbeatable at three until a team effort by competing horsemen forced her into a break in the first heat of the Hambo. She romped in the two remaining heats, leaving no doubt of her prowess over colts and fillies. Her feat is even more amazing because without a mobile starting gate, it took 16 attempts to get her winning second heat under way. With her daughter, Shirley Hanover, winning the 1937 Hambo, Hanover’s Bertha became the first winner, regardless of gender to produce another winner of that race.
The Hambletonian moved to William H. Cane’s three-cornered track, Good Time Park in Goshen New York. That remained its home until 1956. The race went three heats for the first time. The infamous start of the second heat was delayed 43 minutes with 26 recalls, as drivers employed a common tactic of the day, purposely scoring ahead of the "pole horse" (post position #1) to intentionally cause a recall and unsettle the other trotters, or get the advantage on the field at the start. Because of the delay, the Columbia Broadcasting Company could only do the second heat on their radio broadcast and were off the air by the time the horses came out for the third and final heat. The Geers Stake, named for Edward "Pop" Geers, one of the sport’s great horsemen, began as the 3-year-old pacing division of the Hambletonian with a guaranteed purse of $5,000. According to a booklet of eligibles published by the Hambletonian Society, "It was recognized that regardless of how highly they may be bred, nature has failed to endow a percentage of colts and fillies with real futurity trotting ability." Horses paid up on January 1, 1929 to the 1930 Hambletonian were eligible to compete in either race. The 1930 winner was Guy Britton (driven by Nat Ray), who also won the 3-year-old pacing division of the Kentucky Futurity. Today, though still owned by the Society but no longer a part of the Hambletonian, the Geers consists of four separate divisions for both colt and filly pacers as two and three-year-olds and, along with the Tompkins Memorials for trotters, is raced on the Grand Circuit at Scioto Downs.