Born in 1849 at Little Falls, New York, John Splan quit school as a young boy and worked on a farm near his home. From there he went to work for Isaac Woodruff, brother of Hiram. In 1864 Splan was employed by Dan Mace and spent two years refining his skills under the tutelage of "The Wizard of the Reins." After establishing himself as an up-and-coming horseman, he went out on his own and by 1874 was racing horses on the Grand Circuit. In 1876 Splan had Rarus heading his stable as a champion trotter until 1879, when Rarus was sold to Robert Bonner for $36,000 and retired. Splan thereafter had Charley Ford 2:16 3/4, Mattie Hunter,2:12 3/4 and Johnston 2:06 1/4, all good horses in their time. In the 1890s he entered the auction sale business and was instrumental, with his knowledge of breeding, in building up Walnut Hall Farm in Kentucky, where he retired. His book, Life With the Trotters, was a best-seller and is still used as an excellent reference. John Splan died in Kentucky in 1918.
Published in the Harness Racing Museum's 1994 book, The Immortals