San Pail

San Pail’s phenomenal success as Horse of the Year in Canada in 2011 received triple awards February 12 as Horse of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Best Older Male Trotter at the U.S. Harness Writers Association annual Dan Patch Awards dinner and awards event  in Orlando, Florida.

Photo: Dave Landry/The Canadian Sportsman

San Pail, co-owned and trained by Rod Hughes of Dunsford, Ontario, received both Canada’s Horse of the Year and Older Trotting Horse of the Year honours in 2011 as well as Equine Canada’s Canadian Bred Horse of the Year in 2011.  

Purchased as a two-year-old, the brown eight-year-old gelding did not come into his own until his third year of racing.  By the time he was in his eighth year, San Pail had racked up just under $3 million.

San Pail’s success in his later racing career shows that some horses blossom late and is a bittersweet reminder of all those Standardbreds that are sent down the pipeline to auction and ultimately to slaughter.   It is through the grace and business acumen of Rod Hughes that he was not sent down into the Mennonite community to ultimately end up in a Quebec slaughter plant like so many other Standardbreds. 

The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition’s Pasture to Plate (December/2011) ( investigation into Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation slaughter plant in Quebec traced six Standardbreds that were slaughtered last summer.  
These six Standardbreds were aged 12, 9, 8, 6, 4 and 2; five out of the six had racing careers.   
All, like San Pail, showed promise.
All, like San Pail, were finely bred.
All, unlike San Pail, will not be afforded accolades in their careers or at the least, a gentle retirement.  
All were slaughtered on July 13 and 14, 2011.

Read more about this great horse at:–trotting-superstar-san-pail-frontrunner-for-prestigious-u-s-award–san-pail-is-one-harness-racing-s-greatest-rags-to-riches-stories


  1. Lana Marie · ·

    I would love to see this story along with what CHDC’s comments put in the News Papers across Canada. Those 6 Stdb’s, on THAT day didn’t stand a chance (along with the rest)…many before as well the hundreds since. People NEED to know this as there are some who STILL think the ‘old/cripple’ etc. are what they slaughter. Just more reason why the horse slaughter industry must come to an end!

  2. aeolanyira · ·

    PROOF not all race horse owners are sleazy scrooges:)

  3. Leslie Kuretzky · ·

    What an awesome story about an AWESOME Horse and his connections.

  4. mary antislaughter willett · ·

    I want to thank you for noting that not all owners of race horses are the bad guys, throwing their horse into the auction pipeline, when they can’t race. I personally know the Pail (he is my hero horse) and Hughes family. Pail loves and lives to race and is pure heart. Not all standardbred owners look at their horses as nothing more than a commodity.There are good owners of race horses out there, including myself. Many other trainers or owners would have thrown Pail away, but not the Hughes. As an industry, we need to look up to people, like Rod and family, that always act with integrity and respect for our standies, and hopefully learn from them.

    1. I would also like to thank both the CHDC and Mary for letting the public know that there are caring race horse owners out there. I myself own several standardbreds that are ex racers and I have retrained them into awesome riding horses. They were all given to me from another caring standardbred owner who wanted them to go to a home rather than auction. I recently retrained a 16 year old standardbred (ex race horse and broodmare) and she is fantastic to ride and loves her new life. There is a chance for all horses to have good lives if only people would give them a chance.

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