In the early 1960s, Sam Noble of Xenia, Ohio, bought a pacing filly named Entreat Me Not for $700. She was a daughter of the beautiful Royal Blackstone.
His son “Chip” Noble (officially Sam Noble III), an Ohio Hall of Famer, recalled Entreat Me Not by saying, “She only got a record of 2:10.4 [in 1962], but she once paced a quarter in 27 seconds, and that was sensational then.”
“You just couldn’t manage her on the track,” the Ohio horseman continued. “As a broodmare, she got our family’s breeding program rolling and yet this whole family has been very aggressive on the track.”
|USTA/Ed Keys Photo|
|Sam "Chip" Noble III drove Nobleland Sam throughout his two-year career, including this win as a 2-year-old at The Red Mile in 1:55.|
Entreat Me Not’s grandson Nobleland Sam was the dominant pacing stallion in Ohio for many years after two years of excellence on the track.
Nobleland Sam was out of Ima Happy Noble, a Most Happy Fella daughter of Entreat Me Not.
“Ima Happy Noble had a lot of speed, but wasn’t really consistent and she wasn’t manageable on the track either,” said Noble.
When the senior Noble was seeking a mate for the Most Happy Fella mare, he went to Sonsam, a supersonic son of Albatross. He was fully aware that both Albatross and Most Happy Fella were sons of Meadow Skipper and that resulting foals would carry a double dose of Meadow Skipper blood close in their pedigree.
“That was done deliberately,” said Chip Noble. “That was the cross my father wanted.”
Ima Happy Noble started her breeding career with two colts by Sonsam. The first accomplished nothing while the second was Nobleland Sam. He was foaled in mid-June of 1983.
The senior Noble picked the right cross for Ima Happy Noble, but then made a big mistake.
“He really wanted a colt he could race on the Grand Circuit, but he overlooked the stakes nominations on Nobleland Sam as a yearling,” said Noble. “That wasn’t like my father to do, but it happened.”
That oversight was all the more painful when it became apparent early in training that the Nobles had something very special in Nobleland Sam.
“My father trained him most of the time,” said Noble. “My father could be hard on a horse, but Nobleland Sam did everything he was asked to do easy.”
Shortly after reaching 24 months of age, Nobleland Sam began his career with two wins in qualifiers at Scioto Downs. He was well within himself at the wire both times.
After finishing second in his first pari-mutuel start, he won six straight races, five at Scioto, the other a hometown win at the Xenia fair in 2:09.2 for a purse of $450.
After his first start, Nobleland Sam was on top at the quarter each time he raced.
“He was extremely fast off the gate,” said Noble. “My father wanted him raced on the front end, so that’s where he raced.”
In the fall of 1985, the Sonsam colt went to Lexington for a pair of late closers and was second in 1:56.3 the first week. He then won easily in 1:55. It’s hard to believe now, but a 1:55 win truly stood out as remarkable in that era when the world record for freshman pacers was Nihilator’s 1:52.4, set the previous year.
“He was very aggressive on the track like the rest of the family, but we had some rigging on him that helped us manage his speed,” said Noble. “He took a good hold during a race, but he would sit in a hole if the pace was fast enough.”
Over the winter after his freshman season, the colt grew up and filled out as youngsters are wont to do. The Nobles entered him in all the early closers they could find.
So 1986 was a non-stop road trip for Nobleland Sam as he raced at Louisville Downs, The Meadows, Hazel Park, The Red Mile, Brandywine, Scioto Downs, and then went to Greenwood Raceway in Toronto for the North America Cup. Nobleland Sam won his elimination heat over Incredible Finale and then dropped the final to Quite A Sensation.
His best race that season, Noble said, was the $233,000 Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs before a crowd of 7,271. He won his elimination heat by eight lengths over Smartest Remark in 1:55.1, the fastest mile ever on a half-mile track in Canada. He then came back and won the final over Meadowlands Pace champ Laughs and Tucson Hanover.
“That day he handled some of the colts that were contenders in the Jug so easily,” he said.
After that, the Sonsam colt won the $166,000 Jug Preview at Scioto in 1:54.2, downing Allie Kell, Laughs, Robust Hanover, Incredible Finale, Smartest Remark and others. He triumphed despite skipping offstride entering the stretch.
Wins at Northfield and Lexington followed. A record of 16 wins in 23 starts was enough to make Nobleland Sam the 4-5 favorite in the American-National in Chicago. Nobleland Sam wanted the front end, as usual, but he was parked through a blistering opening panel in 26.3 by Brian’s Breeze.
“I remember that he had to work so hard to get to the front that night,” said Noble. “I was aggravated because the horse that parked him didn’t get anything.” (Brian’s Breeze finished last in the field of 10.) Nobleland Sam held valiantly and was fourth, beaten only 1-1/2 lengths.
He finished the season with $430,940, a substantial sum for a horse that wasn’t staked. He was sound and could have raced another season, said Noble, but Castleton Farm was looking for a top pacing prospect for its Ohio facility and made the senior Noble a good offer.
In the stud at Castleton and later at Midland Acres in Ohio, Nobleland Sam was a non-stop ATM for the Nobles over many years. Although he never stood for excessive stud fees, he certainly cranked out the foals. In six separate seasons, he served more than 200 mares and bred his last book in 2010 at age 27. He sired 1,818 foals in total and the last crop will race this year as 2-year-olds.
Collectively they have earned more than $77 million and Nobleland Sam had 308 performers on the 1:55 list.
His fastest and second richest son is Noble Falcon p, 5, 1:48.3 ($1,011,466) a foal of 2004. His richest son is Psilvuheartbreaker p, 5, 1:49.3f ($1,566,664). Others standout sons of Nobleland Sam are K F Pro Sam, Cinder Lane Sam, Noble Tess, C’mon Tuff Guy, Majestic Osborne, Noble’s Grand Slam, Tilly’s Sam, and Hollywood Sam.
It’s no secret that some trainers didn’t much care for the daughters of Nobleland Sam.
Nobleland Sam sired 39 winners of $300,000 or more and only one mare was among them. That was Steph Cress ($305,959) who ranked 37th among the stallion’s richest performers.
“I don’t think the fillies were so bad,” said Noble. “It’s just that Nobleland Sam’s fillies didn’t win as many Ohio Sire Stakes championships as his colts did. But a lot of his fillies were runners-up in the OSS finals, probably as many as the colts who were champions.”
Noble acknowledges that some trainers were quick to claim that Nobleland Sam fillies had an attitude problem.
“I didn’t really find that to be true,” he said. “Maybe it’s just because we were more familiar with the family. That whole family was aggressive and you just didn’t want to rush them into things.”
Nobleland Sam died at Midland Acres on Feb. 26. 2013. Dr. John Mossbarger of Midland Acres said he was proud to have him as part of his farm.
""He was very good to the Noble family and to Midland Acres," he said. "We were very proud to stand him and would take another like him any day."
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