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.
Heading into the 1984 Triple Crown season, it was a foregone conclusion that Devil’s Bag would sweep the classics. He was so dominant at 2 that the racing world ran out of superlatives to describe him.
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.