Big Towner, a May foal of 1974, was bred by Paul O. Gardner and Florence M. Startsman of Ohio. Startsman remembers that at the time he was “just another horse.” He was purchased as a yearling by Patrick Kelly, and partners Gerald Post and Richard Bissette for $5,700 at the Blooded Horse Sale at Delaware, OH.
As a two-year-old Big Towner won five of six starts, all of which occurred at Rosecroft Raceway. His fastest time was 2:05.4h and his earnings totaled a humble $3,972. Knowing that the colt’s performance could be greatly improved, the owners again enlisted trainer Lee Broglio to prepare the colt for the next season.
Big Towner almost did not make it to his sophomore season. While wintering in Pinehurst, NC, he developed an impaction in his intestines that caused him so much pain he attempted to take his own life by violently throwing himself around his stall. Fearing for the horse’s wellbeing, Broglio and his staff cared for him around the clock for two weeks until his condition improved.
Big Towner returned for his sophomore season with renewed vigor, driven primarily by John Chapman and Lucien Fontaine. He won twelve out of twenty-two starts, including an elimination of the Cane Pace, Monticello-OTB Classic and four New York Sire Stakes. He closed the season with a new record of 1:56.1 and earnings totaling $295,012, making him the fourth richest three-year-old pacer of 1977.
The next season Big Towner’s success continued with victories in the U.S. Pacing Championship, six New York Sire Stakes and seven free-for-alls, which earned him the nickname of Free-For-All King of New York’s half-mile tracks. Big Towner closed the season with a new record of 1:54.4, fourteen wins in twenty starts and $248,142 in earnings which contributed to his career record of 48-31-5-3 and total earnings of $547,126.
Big Towner’s breeding career makes him a respected outcross sire. He has sired the winners of nearly $118 million, ranking him fifth in stallion earnings on the all-time list in 2002 and 2003 and fourth from 2004 to 2006. He was the top North American Moneywinning Sire in 1989 and was runner-up in 1988. He has 1,160 in 2:00, 312 in 1:55 and 5 in 1:50. He is the sire of 353 $100,000 winners and currently ranks fifth among All-Time Leading Pacing sires of $100,000 Winners. He also currently ranks third among All-Time Pacing Sires of 2:00 Performers (1,160). Big Towner is the sire of five millionaires: Town Pro p,3,1:51.4 ($1,229,582), Broadway Express p,4,1:56.1h ($1,141,726), Tune Town p,5,1:49.1 ($1,098,140), Sandman Hanover p,3,1:53.2f ($1,089,005) and Sweet Reflection p,3,1:53.1 ($1,004,639).
Big Towner has sired the dams of over 3,830 starters with combined earnings of over $220 million, including 2,371 in 2:00, 889 in 1:55 and 39 in 1:50. In 1997 he topped the broodmare sire list for two and three-year-old earnings. For the 2007 season he was listed fourth among All-Time Leading 2:00 Broodmare Sires, fifth among Top Broodmare Sires, All-Age and ninth among Top Broodmare Two and Three-Year-Olds. In the 2008 season he maintained his ranking among the All-Time Leading 2:00 Broodmare Sires and ranked sixth among Top Broodmare Sires, All-Age.
Big Towner passed away on October 12, 2003 at Hanover Shoe Farms, Hanover, PA.