Peter Astra - 1939
Dr. L. M. Guilinger of Andover, Ohio, owner of the 1939 Hambletonian winner, was a country doctor who, in the early years of his practice, always had a fast-stepping road horse to carry him to the bedside of the suffering. Even with the advent of the automobile Dr. Guilinger kept his horses, but when the automobile became a real necessity switched his interest to owning harness horses for the track. He entrusted a couple to "Doc" Parshall and the doctor decided to take a flyer in the stakes field, though with some misgivings as to what his many patients would think of the wisdom of paying the $3,250 that Peter Astra cost as a yearling. As it turned out he need not have worried. Peter Astra had a veritable victory parade at three. With Nibble Hanover sidelined by sickness, the Peter Volo colt turned on his sweeping long stride whenever needed to win every engagement. The Hambletonian was won with complete ease, much to the pleasure of his owner. The colt then won at Springfield, Syracuse, and Lexington, winning more Grand Circuit stakes than any other three-year-old had ever done. Retired to stud at Gainesway Farm, Peter Astra sired 2:05 performers at both gaits, but never came close to sending out his successor for the classic contests.
Peter Astra’s margin of victory in the deciding heat was reported to be a Hambletonian record of "a half dozen lengths" in an era before the photo finish and official charting. Prior to 1939 individual trophies were presented. The present Hambletonian trophy, a 19-inch Revere Bowl on a tiered pedestal, was created in 1939 by the Park Avenue (New York) firm of Warren D. Perry. The trophy used to go to the winning owner for the year (see 1954), but because of its value (last appraised at approximately $60,000) and high insurance costs, the trophy now stays in the trophy case on the clubhouse level of the Meadowlands. It is displayed during the Hambletonian festivities. Replicas are provided for the winning connections by the racetrack. Upon the $3,250 purchase of Peter Astra, Dr. Gullinger made a special request to the correspondent from The Harness Horse, "I just bought a colt and I wish you would keep my name out of The Harness Horse as owner until I advise you otherwise. If the people back home would know what I paid, they would conclude that I was either out of my mind or had saved up enough money that I did not need any more, consequently some of my patients might think it unnecessary to pay for services rendered." The product of a May-December equine mating, Peter Astra was from the 21st and last full crop of foals of the 24-year-old stallion Peter Volo. The cross of the venerable Walnut Hall patriarch Peter Volo and three-year-old Astra produced a Hambletonian winner.