Special to Reflector-Chronicle
The National Greyhound Association honored Pat Dalton, recipient of this year’s NGA Lifetime Achievement Award in ceremonies at the Greyhound Hall of Fame Thursday.
Pat Dalton, popular Irish greyhound veteran who has been a positive influence on racing in all corners of the world for more than six decades, has been unanimously selected by the NGA Board of Directors as this year’s recipient of the NGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
This will be only the third time the NGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award will have been presented. Previous recipients were Herb “Dutch” Koerner (2011) and Cary Alsobrook (2012).
Pat’s impact on the sport has been long-lasting and immeasurable—as well as multi-faceted, whether as a breeder/owner, kennel operator, “international ambassador,” and all-around champion of the game.
Now 76, Pat—from Golden, County Tipperary—owned his first greyhound back in the 1940s in his native Ireland at age 9. He was full-time in the business by 1952, when just 17 years old.
His initial introduce to racing in the United States came in the mid-1960s when he brought a team of Irish greyhounds to compete against American-breds. That alone stirred considerable interest in the sport—but it was especially newsworthy when he ended up winning the Biscayne Irish-American with Gleaming There*. This not only opened the door for more international racing, but helped ignite a greater interest toward injecting Irish bloodlines into the American greyhound pedigree.
In the 1970s, Pat unleashed on America one of the greatest marathon racers of all time, two-time All-American Rocking Ship*. So outstanding were his achievements that this winner of every major marathon event in South Florida was himself inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 1980.
Pat managed many champion kennels here in the States through the years. He oversaw a top kennel in Florida in the Sixties, Later, in the 1980s, he oversaw a premier kennel in New England. He captured the Kennel Championship stake at Wonderland in 1975, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984 and 1986.
His line-up of champion racers reads like a Who’s Who. Besides Rocking Ship* and Gleaming There*, he raced and imported Houghton Tango*, Mortar Light*, For Real*, Tipp Lad*, Maythorn Pride*, Can’t Decide*, Iron Rail*, Planet Boy*, Lucky Artist* and countless others. Domestic-bred greyhounds from his breeding pens or racing kennel included Spartan Sun and Rasta Pup, His racing kennels, often overseen in their heyday by the inimitable Don Cuddy (also a Hall Of Famer), was entrusted with such superstars as K’s Broadway, Banker Hap and Hall Of Famer K’s Flak (when he won the 1979 Wonderland Derby). For a time, he raced another Hall Of Famer, Downing—then purchased a portion of the 1977 All-American, Rural Rube Award winner and future Hall Of Famer. It was while in the Dalton Kennel that Downing wrapped up that epic two-race sweep of Rooster Cogburn at Wonderland in 1977.
For a time, Pat brought American-bred stock to Ireland for his breeding program. He also crossed Irish females to American sires, then sent the offspring back to America for racing purposes. Pat would make as many as 12 trips a year between the two countries, and the Greyhound Review claimed that Dalton might well have been “the most traveled greyhound operator in the world.”
The result of this unique—and tireless—effort was profound. There is in the breeding pens of this country today a very distinct “Pat Dalton Line” that continues to permeate the pedigrees of many of the best racers and breeders in the sport. This line began with the mating of Pat’s own female, Maythorn Pride, to American export Sand Man, resulting in one of the finest stables of sister brood matrons ever assembled. This quintet of legendary dams—Kasco Lady, Miss Hilary, Slight Chill, Bleak Weather and Miss Peel—was the breeding backbone behind Dalton’s great kennels from 1985 on, as well as for so many other breeders from that time, on up to today. Three of these dams—Slight Chill, Kasco Lady and Miss Hilary—finished first, second and fourth in the 1986 Wonderland Brood Matron Standings. Today, you’ll find descendants of these five females in virtually every race in America, and in a growing percentage of America’s breeding stock. The contribution made by the “Pat Dalton Line” has been deep—and lasting.
No one has been at the forefront of promoting international racing more than Pat Dalton, It began in the 1960s with his Irish teams invading America, then extended into later decades, with his willingness to bring teams from Ireland and America to Australia to compete in stake events “Down Under.”
Pat has always been on the front line when it’s come to many key issues of racing—ever ready to offer his input, expertise and efforts on matters that affect the future of the sport. He’s been particularly vocal in such matters as promotion, racing integrity, animal welfare and medication. Pat, for example, was a key player in presenting evidence that led to rules permitting innocuous trace amounts of foreign substances, such as procaine, when they were obviously derived through the food chain—and, just as obviously, did not enhance performance.
Even with more than 60 years in the business, Dalton’s enthusiasm for racing remains fresh. No individual is better known or more widely respected on the world stage of the sport than Pat Dalton.
It was in 2003 that Pat was inducted into the Greyhound Hall Of Fame. Now he returned to Abilene—a decade later—for still another prestigious industry honor.