DescriptionThis “south of the river” Minneapolis suburb on the south bank of the Minnesota River started out—like other communities in the state—as a trading post and was originally called Hamilton. Perhaps the town’s most famous resident was Dan Patch, a racehorse born in Indiana and purchased at 6 years of age by horse lover and Minneapolis entrepreneur Marion Savage, who began training the young colt at his farm in Hamilton and entering him in local races.
Dan Patch electrified the turf world at the Minnesota State Fair in 1906 by breaking the world pacing mile record. The new time of 1:55 was equaled in 1938 but stood for more than 50 years, earning Patch the title “king of the pacers.” Townspeople renamed the community to honor his owner, and for a time the horse enjoyed a level of celebrity more commonly accorded today to pro athletes and rock stars, traveling around the country to exhibition races in a specially decorated train car. Patch retired to the Savage Racing Stables outside Minneapolis, and the bond between horse and owner was so strong that when the thoroughbred died of a heart ailment in 1916 Savage passed away the next day, his death attributed to shock.
The life and times of the “world’s champion harness horse” are remembered during Dan Patch Days in June. This family-oriented event features a 5K race, fire hose water fights, burger and Buffalo wing eating contests, a kickball tournament and a juried art show. It all takes place at Savage Community Park, 13500 Dakota Ave. S.