The biggest daddy of them all is dead. Adios, whose brilliant sons and daughters dominate modern harness racing much as Hambletonian's progeny did a century ago, died last week in a weathered wooden barn deep in the hill country of western Pennsylvania. But the Adios era is not over. Out on the Grand Circuit his 3-year-old son Bret Hanover is unbeatable, the winner of 29 straight. And under the lights at Laurel Raceway, another son emerged last week, the 2-year-old Meadow Lenco, pacing faster than any colt his age to take his third race in a row, the Reading Futurity. These are but two of Adios' 500 foals. Altogether, the bright bay's offspring have won 5,200 races and close to $15 million, gratifying statistics to the man who first recognized Adios' potential—top harness horseman Delvin Miller (left, under a portrait of his champion). It was Miller who bought Adios for $21,000 after he had raced for five years, coast to coast, winning 43 dashes but a paltry $33,000. It was Miller who supervised Adios' 19-year stud career. So, understandably, it was Miller to whom New York's Bettlewood Stables turned last fall after purchasing untried Meadow Lenco for $60,000 at the Harrisburg Sales. Miller shipped the bay colt to Florida, patiently broke him to harness and schooled him for five months, as the pictures on the following pages show. Now, hopefully, Del Miller has a new champion.
In late November, Meadow Lenco received his first lesson (above). He was permitted to smell a leather girth and inspect it. Then the harness was placed over his back and fastened loosely around him.
The next day (right) a bit was gently eased into his mouth and a bridle slipped over his ears. The cups at eye level prevent the colt from seeing behind him. What he does not see will not bother him.
Later that week Meadow Lenco was driven in long reins through the stable area. With one man beside him and another behind, the colt learned to make right and left turns and respond to pressure on the reins. After five days, before he could become bored, his regimen was changed.
After a half-hour refresher course in long reins, an assistant stood at Meadow Lenco's head (above), trying to distract him while a rattle-free cart was pulled up and attached.
One week later Miller slipped into the Jog cart for the first time (above, right) and the son of Adios was led past obstructions in the stable area out onto a deserted race track.
Whip in hand (right), Miller supervised and reprimanded when necessary. He allowed the colt to walk, trot or pace at will, but tapped him lightly when he began to wheel or balk.
Hopples are designed to help a pacer stay on gait. When Meadow Lenco got his first pair (far right) the cart was put away until he had become accustomed to this new gear.
By early February, Meadow Lenco (above, on rail) was working slow miles In company. Like other colts, he tended to take the shortest way around, so positions were alternated in workouts. He then was introduced to the starting gate (below) which looked a little like the feed truck he chased as a foal in the pasture at home. Wary at first, he was allowed to nibble on the gate, soon was jogging quietly behind it. School days over and ready to continue the Adios tradition, Meadow Lenco (No. 5, right) started in a matinee at Pompano Park and won his first race.