The result of two of Maryland’s greatest breeding programs, Harry LaMontagne’s Conniver – a plain brown filly by Sagamore Farm’s influential sire Discovery out of William L. Brann’s modest stakes winner The Schemer, by *Challenger II– was too big, lanky and awkward to be considered much of a prize. Bred by Alfred Vanderbilt, she was purchased by LaMontagne as a yearling in 1945 for $2,500 while Vanderbilt was serving in the war in the Pacific. When she didn’t win at 2 and showed little to excite in 19 starts at 3, the 17-hand filly was offered to steeplechase trainer and polo player Pete Bostwick, but the deal fell through. The next year she was the nation’s champion handicap mare.
J.O. Tobin was a champion at 2 in England and became a footnote in history when he won the Swaps Stakes-G1 the next year, handing Triple Crown champion Seattle Slew his first defeat. At 4, J.O. Tobin ran at distances of seven furlongs to one and one-quarter miles, on dirt and turf, and shared an Eclipse Award with Dr. Patches as champion sprinter. What a long, strange trip to a sprint championship.