By Evan Pattak For The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

Dan Altmeyer notched career training win 1,000 when Pit Boss Hanover captured Thursday’s third race at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows.

Although 1,000 wins is impressive, that figure likely significantly understates Altmeyer’s actual total; he began training in the mid-1970s, but the United States Trotting Association did not start compiling trainer statistics until 1991. Nevertheless, Altmeyer expresses satisfaction with the milestone win. “I’m proud to have won 1,000,” says Altmeyer, 69. “I’ve been doing this for probably 50 years, and I don’t think I’ve worked a day in my life. I was blessed from Day 1.”

While growing up in Kittanning near the Dayton Fairgrounds, Altmeyer was introduced to harness racing by his father, Bill, who had a small stable. Bill was a hobbyist, but young Dan soon was hooked. “I started working with the horses myself, and I knew it would be my career.”

And what a career it’s been. By his count, Altmeyer has trained six world champions, most notably Cambest, who in 1993 time-trialed in 1:46.1, which stood for years as the fastest mile ever.  Altmeyer’s other champions include Make A Success, Santastic’s Pan, Lookout Hanover, Michael’s Western and Sierra Kosmos, whom Altmeyer trained at 2 and 3 for owner Rick Beinhauer.

With his 600 career driving wins, Altmeyer has earned a combined official total of nearly $16 million in purses. Again, a figure that understates the actual total.

Just as important, Altmeyer’s family is deeply involved in the business with him and is an integral part of his success. Consider:

  • His wife Ruth has bred many of the stable’s horses through the years. Her late brother, Dave Rankin, was an accomplished, popular horseman at The Meadows and throughout Ohio, compiling more than 3,000 combined training/driving victories.
  • Ruth and Dan’s daughter, Heather Wilder, is a go-to emcee for harness racing events as well as president of the United States Harness Writers Association Keystone Chapter.
  • Heather’s husband, Mike Wilder, is one of the sport’s elite drivers; he’s approaching 9,000 career wins.
  • Heather and Mike’s daughters, Scarlett and Lauren, still help around the stables, though they’re off to other pursuits. Scarlett is a registered nurse as well as a Standardbred trainer — she earned her initial win in 2022 —while Lauren is completing pre-med studies at Penn State. They’re both Keystone USHWA members.

And let’s not forget the late Terry Altmeyer, who followed older brother Dan into training and became a standout at The Meadows and PA Fairs. The Meadows recently staged its annual late-closing series that honors Terry’s memory. “I’m so proud of the whole family,” Dan says. “Their involvement means a lot to me.”

The family’s participation is reflected in the business’ new name: Altmeyer Wilder Racing. Dan focuses on preparing babies at the family’s Florida digs while Mike coordinates the training and racing operations when the horses have shipped north. That’s a division of labor that suits the patriarch just fine.

“I’m pretty satisfied with the way my life is going now,” Dan says. “I’m happy to work hard all winter and very little in the summer. Mike and Heather are gung-ho all the time.”

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of approximately 700 Standardbred trainers, drivers, caretakers and owners at The Meadows. In addition to providing horses to race at The Meadows, MSOA administers such member-centric services as health insurance and retirement programs for horsemen and horsewomen.

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