While Hamilton continued to establish itself as a rail and river town, an entrepreneur by the name of Marion Willis Savage was building an empire across the river. He was the founder and owner of the International Stock Food Factory in Minneapolis, which manufactured and sold animal feed as well as veterinary supplies. Although M.W. Savage was a prominent businessman in the area, it's likely few in Hamilton were aware of the impact this man would have on their quiet village south of the Minnesota River.
In 1902, M.W. Savage purchased Dan Patch from Manley E. Sturgis for $60,000. It was under Savages ownership that the racehorse excelled - setting records and charming crowds until his death in 1916.
Dan Patch was housed with Savage's other horses on the International Stock Food Farm that the entrepreneur built in Hamilton. The complex included a one-mile track, a covered half-mile track, and a heated stable with an onion shaped dome. Although Mr. Savage lived in Minneapolis, he had a summer home on the north bank of the river where the Masonic Home exists today. The location was perfect for Mr. Savage: he had a great view of his stock farm, and was just a ferry ride away from visiting his prized horses.
M.W. Savage heavily promoted Dan Patch prior to each race. He advertised in the local newspapers, and assigned his employees to distribute posters and flyers about the horses pending appearance. The world grew to adore the horse, and in 1904, the folks of Hamilton renamed their town for the man who brought them Dan Patch.
Love for the famous pacer only grew when in 1906 Dan Patch broke the world record by completing the mile in 1 minute and 55 seconds. This famous race occurred at the Minnesota State Fair. It would be another 54 years before that record would be broken.
Dan Patch's owner capitalized on his horses fame. Dan Patch was an advertising icon for the International Stock Food Company, and today, items carrying his image are collectibles. When Dan Patch journeyed to races and public appearances held throughout the country, he traveled in a luxurious 65-foot railroad car built exclusively for him. And during the holidays, Dan Patch would haul a cutter full of gifts that were delivered to the poor in Minneapolis. Dan Patch truly was, and still is, a beloved American celebrity - much like Rin Tin Tin and Lassie.