The Star of the Great Western Circuit
North Dakota is not widely known for harness racing. But on this date in 1913, a North Dakota horse was causing a stir in harness racing circles. It was announced that a great North Dakota star athlete would be leaving the state to compete in the East. Champion harness racing horse Don Densmore and stablemate Don Connomore were relocating to Memphis. Owner Dave Dinnie of Minot had considered racing the horses himself, but thought the better of it. He explained that the horses would be driven by Pop Geers of the Geers Racing Stable. Geers was one of the most famous harness racing drivers in the country. The horses were scheduled to make their eastern debut when the season opened in Cleveland on July 12th.
Harness racing fans across the country took notice. A Norwich, Connecticut newspaper ran a lengthy article about Don Densmore, saying the horse would be watched with “more than ordinary interest.” He was a notoriously difficult horse to train and drive, preferring to run in the company of other horses. And although he was fast and had a beautiful stride, it was difficult to get him to outpace his competitors. It was the general opinion that Pop Geers had a knack for handling such a horse, and Don Densmore should run well for him. A Washington newspaper said Pop Geers was going to have a “fast stepper,” and it was widely expected that the horse would break the world record under Geers’ guidance.
Chicago sports writer Henry Ten Eyck White also thought highly of Don Densmore. He called the horse “a sensation” and picked him to finish the season as a winner. By August Don Densmore was labeled “a mild contender” after finishing second at a race in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The horse finished in the money throughout the season and continued his success the following year. He was also a great sire. In 1915 Sadie Densmore, sired by Don Densmore, established a world record for four-year-old pacing fillies.
While Don Densmore never achieved the fame of the great Dan Patch, he was still considered one of the great harness racing horses of his day.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Bismarck Daily Tribune. “Will Go After World’s Record.” 15 February 1913. Bismarck ND. Page 2.
Norwich Bulletin. “Geers to race Don Nensmore [sic].” 10 March 1913. Norwich CT. Page 3.
The Washington Herald. “Geers to Have a Fast Stepper.” 9 March 1913. Washington DC. Page 7
The Evening Times. “Don Densmore is Fit For the Season.” 9 July 1913. Grand Forks ND. Page 9.
The Evening Times. “Don Densmore a Mild Contender.” 2 August 1913. Grand Forks ND. Page 6.
Bryan Daily Eagle and Pilot. “Leading Horsemen Will Take Part.” 17 September 1913. Bryan TX. Page 4.
Arizona Republican. “Three Great Horses.” 8 November 1913. Phoenix AZ. Page 6.
Golden Valley Chronicle. “Tales of the Town.” 15 October 1915. Beach ND. 5.