Dudey Patch

Hall of Fame Inductee, 1998

Drawing comparisons between horses of the first half of the 20th century with those of today is difficult but it is clear that in his era, Dudey Patch was a horse blessed with greatness. The 1931 foal by Gilbert Patch and from an unidentified mare became the first of what would be numerous champions for famed horseman and Prince Edward Island native Joe O’Brien. After running out of competition in the Maritime provinces, the 11-year-old was taken by O’Brien to Dufferin Park in Toronto in November, 1942, where he met the best pacers in Canada over a distance of five-eighths of a mile. The result was a convincing victory in a time of 1:10 1/2 , which shattered the 17-year-old world record by two full seconds. One month later Dudey Patch slipped on the frozen track and broke a pastern thus ending his career.

The former roadster raced for the first time at five, winning at Tillsonburg, Ont., for J. M. Climie. He was sold to Heber Sweeney of Bridgewater, N.S., in 1937 and won 21 times in 37 starts that year. He followed that with 24 wins in 45 starts in 1938. In 1939, he won only seven times, but advanced to the free-for-all ranks and continued to compete against the best horses in the Maritimes for the balance of his career.

In 1940, the gelding was sold to the New Glasgow Community Club (later renamed the Dudey Patch Club), who utilized the services of Jack McMillan. Dudey Patch paced to a mile record of 2:06 1/2 at Charlottetown that season, a remarkable time considering a mile in 2:10 was the standard of excellence in the Maritimes. After adding five wins in 1941, Dudey Patch was turned over to O’Brien. In 1942 Dudey Patch won 32 of 58 starts with 17 victories timed faster than 2:10, including a career best mile in 2:06 at Bridgewater. After starting 13 times, which included four wins, in free-for-all ranks in Toronto that fall, Dudey Patch retired with 100 wins in 265 starts. His summary also included 58 seconds and 35 thirds.

In Marie Hill’s 1975 book Gentleman Joe, O’Brien declared that: “Dudey Patch was a great horse. If you had any way of proving it, he was one of the greatest horses that ever lived. I know he was 14 years old when I had him even though the official age was 11. One hip was about three inches lower than the other due to an accident when he was a colt. If not for this, who can say that he would not have set many more world records at various distances.”