kenneth d. owen
Kenneth Dale Owen was born August 23, 1903 in New Harmony, Indiana during the Posey County week-long race meet. Although K. D.'s grandfather, Horace P. Owen, bred Standardbreds, K. D. didn't enter the sport until the 1940s. He graduated from Cornell in 1926 and began his career as a field geologist in Houston, Texas for the Humble Oil Company. During his career he established two successful Houston-based oil companies, Gulfshore Oil and Trans-Tex Production.
From these successful ventures, K. D. developed a top purebred Hereford cattle breeding operation at Indian Mound Farm in New Harmony. Owen was a protege of Charlie Cox and Pop Geers, and in 1944 he pursued his passion of Standardbreds, to become one of the most respected breeders and owners in the country.
In 1951 Sampson Hanover was the first horse to go in 2:00 or faster non a half-mile track in a race at Delaware, Ohio. He went in 1:59.3. Sampson Hanover sired Sampson Direct 1:56, who was one of the fastest stallions in the world when he retired in 1961; Sampson Direct in turn sired Direct Scooter, sire of Matt's Scooter, at one time the fastest pacer in the world T1:48.2 ($2,944,591). Owen was also the breeder of Noble Victory, the grandsire of Mack Lobell, again, at one time the fastest trotter, 3,1:52.1 ($2,770,144). Likewise, his stakes winner Claire Sampson is the fifth dam of Moni Maker, 1998 and 1999 Harness Horse of the Year. Owen also bred both 1990 freshman divisional and Breeders Crown Champion trotters Crysta's Best and Jean Bi. Other Owen stars were Noble Victory, Noble Gesture, Irish Hal, Uncle Sam and 1975 Kentucky Futurity winner Noble Rogue. The Hambletonian escaped Owen until 1967, when he and partners Clarence and John Gaines won with Speedy Streak. With these significant results, K. D. Owen became one of the most prominent owners in the sport.
In 1825, K. D. Owen's great-great-grandfather, Robert Owen, purchased buildings in New Harmony. The town became a Utopian community, with educational and social opportunities available to all. Through K. D.'s efforts, the properties were restored. He was rewarded with Indiana's highest honor, Sagamore of the Wabash.
K. D. Owen was inducted into the Harness Racing Living Hall of Fame in 1988. He was a member of The Hambletonian Society. He died on April 28, 2002 in New Harmony, Indiana at the age of ninety-eight.
Published in the Harness Racing Museum's 2003 book, The 2002 Immortals