Local Horse Achieved Fame
Jerry Dean, a locally owned trotter, was regarded as one of the very best trotters in New England and the country during the late 1950’s and 1960’s. Jerry Dean was owned by Frank Ginn of Fort Fairfield, although the farm was located in Presque Isle. In 1954 Frank and his son, Odbrey who trained and drove Jerry Dean, made the decision to have their trotting mare Gail Song sent to Hanover Shoe Farms where she was bred to Dean Hanover who had taken a mark of 1:58 ½ . Dean Hanover had been the leading sire in the nation the year before and required a stud fee of $1000. Jerry Dean was born in 1955 and as a two year old in 1957 nearly died of a virus. He bounced back the next year and took a mark of 2:05.4 at Saratoga which was an indication of things to come. The Ginn’s trained Jerry lightly at two, just up to a mile in 2:30. As a colt Jerry Dean raced in the southern part of Maine and then moved to other major tracks: Foxboro, Rockingham, Roosevelt Raceway, Vernon Downs and Suffolk Downs.
The Dean horse, a rugged and handsome stallion, established several track records in New England and was named King Trotter of New England for two years. He is the only horse to ever win the Massachusetts Trotting Derby more than once, winning in 1961-1964.
At three he took a mark of 2:06.1 which won him recognition. The very next year, 1959, he had a brilliant four year old career, finishing first or second in no less than 17 races. He raced to a mark of 2:03.1 at Suffolk Downs, setting a track record for stallions and was voted New England Trotter of the Year. He also had several memorable matches with World Champion mare, Charming Barbara, beating her twice. Later that fall his time 0f 2:05.4 at Rockingham’s half mile oval was also a track record for age, sex and gait.
Jerry Dean and his driver, “Obb” Ginn, teamed up in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964 to win the New England Trotting Derby. He was the only horse to win the derby more than once. During this time he was considered one of the best trotters in the Country. He raced to a lifetime mark of 2:02 at Vernon Downs and lost in a photo timed in 2:00 1/5. Dean also held a half-mile track record of 2:03.4 at Foxboro. In 1962 he was invited to race in the Golden West Trot in California, but prior commitments kept the seven year old from attending. Charming Barbara, who Jerry had beaten on two other occasions, won the trot in a then world record time of 1:58. In 1963 Jerry Dean was invited to
represent the United States at the International Trot at the Hippodrome in Moscow. He again was forced to decline and Apex Hanover won that event.
According to his driver/trainer, who still resides in New Hampshire, Jerry Dean was a picture gaited trotter and could do anything asked of him. No matter where he raced or whom he raced against, he was always tough to beat. Some of his competitors during his illustrious career were Newport Star, Su Mac Lad, Sumter Prince, Price Jamie, Wee Irish, Heathcliff and Sprite Kid. One of Ginn’s fondest memories was that of Jerry trotting a mile and a quarter event at Rockingham and flying over the final quarter in 27 4/5 seconds in a winning effort.
In 1964 Jerry was invited to compete against Sue Mac Lad, Porterhouse and others in the feature event at Roosevelt Raceway. The dean horse finished third, only a head behind those two outstanding horses. The race was called the Rodney Trot with a purse of $25,000 and was viewed by 36,343 racing fans. Sue Mac Lad was the nation’s top money winning standard-bred and Porterhouse had won over $700,000.
The Dean horse was honored by the New England Trotting Hall of Fame; the Trotting Derby Cooler and trophy he won were retired to the Hall. In 2004 the New England Harness Writers erected a horse hall of fame plaque next to the oversized hall of fame plaque which honors the names of racing greats and is displayed in the main foyer at Plainridge Racecourse in Massachusetts. Currently the plaque holds the names of 31 harness horses that have made significant contributions to New England racing. On that plaque is inscribed the names of two great local race horses, John R. Braden and Jerry Dean. The local area, County and State can be proud of these two outstanding horses.
Jerry Dean accumulated lifetime earnings of $134,571, grinding out his earnings the hard way in overnights and small stake events. A winner of 49 races during an illustrious seven year racing career, he retired to the Burns Veterinary Hospital in Rochester, New Hampshire.
Odbrey Ginn, the trainer/driver of Jerry Dean, now resides in Concord, New Hampshire. Information was retrieved from Boston newspapers, Bangor Daily, The Star Herald and the U.S. Trotting Association.