Early Beginnings of Peter the Great
Streeter bred horses at his Oaklands home on what is now the campus of Western Michigan University. In the winter of 1894, Streeter sent Santos to Battle Creek to breed with a stallion called Pilot Medium. Her colt was born at the Oaklands in 1895 and named Peter the Great. Peter V. Johnston, a world famous horse driver and trainer who had retired to Kalamazoo, almost passed up the opportunity to train and drive Streeter’s new colt, saying that he was retired and was “going on a long fishing trip.” After much persuasion by Streeter, Johnston gave in and agreed to train Peter. Johnston was an experienced trainer and put all his knowledge to work in training Peter to be a champion.
In 1897 when Peter the Great was two years old, Streeter and Johnston took him to Lexington to race in the Kentucky Futurity, the greatest trotting race of the day. Almost no one had heard of the dark red horse from Kalamazoo, but when he finished a close second to race favorite Janie T., the name of Peter the Great was on every tongue. The following year Peter returned as a three year old and dominated at the Futurity. He won all three of his heats and set a new track record of 2:12:1/2. At the end of 1898, Streeter sold his prize horse to a Boston sportsman named J. Malcolm Forbes for $20,000. In 1899 Forbes raced Peter at the Empire City Track in New York where he recorded his lifetime best time of 2:07:1/4 and finished in first place to claim a $5,000 purse. Soon afterwards he came up lame in one leg. Peter’s racing career had been brief but memorable, but his lasting contribution to the trotting world was in the incredible number of quality colts that he sired.