Tod Sloans Rise and Decline: Fame and Fortune Quickly Won, but More Suddenly Lost--"Pittsburg Phil" His Coach, Daily Racing Form, 1910-09-04


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TOD SLOANS RISE AND DECLINE. Fame and Fortune Quickly Wen, but More Suddenly Lost — "Pittsburg Phil" His Coach. Twenty years ago a small boy with a huge cigar in his mouth sat on an upturned stable backet anil played pokier With his fellows under the shed of a stable at Sbeepsbead Hay. A famous trainer who was passing paused for a moment to watch the progress of the game. As he lingered the diminutive stable boy scanned his cards, shifted the big cigar with Unit deft motion of the tongue known only lo old smokers, and pushing all the chips in front of him into the center of the board, which sacred as a tabic, remarked: "I tail yer." That boy was Tod Sloan and the trainer was John Muggins, and both wore destined to make racing history across the water. The former was to introduce tie, crouch seat in England and the hitler was to he tlie forerunner of a long line of successful American trainers who were to make names for themselves as horsemen iii England, France, Germany and Russia. Sloans rise to fame and fortune was almost as rapid as bis decline. For some years considered a third-rate jockey his star began to shine alter he became a protege of the late George B. Smith, better known as "Iittsburg Phil." The twissessor of a m.trveh itjsly light pair of hands he had the lirst great requisite for a successful race rider, and when he felt into the hands of Smith, the closest observer thai the American turf has ever known, he learned many things about horses which he bad never noticed before or probatdy had not considered an essential to success in his profession. It was in California that Smith took Sloan under bis wing, and those who were on the coast at that lime teD of seeing Ihe plunger straddle a chair and go tbrobgh the inotiena of riding a horse, talking earnestly Cue while to Sloan, who paid the strictest attention to every word and movement of his mentor, those in the east who had seen Sloan ride when ho was in the employ of Walcott and Campbell and who thought him an indifferent horseman were amazed when they saw the change at Morris Dark the following spring, when "Iittsburg Phils" horses and others ridden by Sloan won race after race. They could not understand the change. The horses thai the young man from Kokomo rode did BOl seeni to he the same thoroughbreds that they bad known when handled by other boys. Sour-lem- pered sluggish brutes became tractable front raa- UeTS wilh an apparent desire to show their best form. The change was due to the wizardry of Sloan, a new-found alchemy the secret of which he appa reiitl.v alone possessed, mid following ill his wake came "Ptttabarg Phil," silent, inscrutable, reaping a golden harvest. To those who could aid him Smith was ever prodl gal. and soon Sloan was oil the upciirviug wave of prosperity. His raiment was of the caatliesl and his cigars were bigger and blacker than those of anybody else with the possible exception of Richard Croker and John W. Gates. lie bought a yacht, built an expensive home near Sbeepsbead Day, and during its construction occupied an expensive suite in a Broadway hotel, where a valet was installed. He became tbe rage as a Jockey and the biggest cm! most influential men of the turf offered him the best mounts in their stable*, if was tudicroaa to see the airs of the one lime ragged stable boy as he quizzed Ihe lights of the lurf as to Ihe condition of the horse they wished him to ride. Stable secrets had lo be uncovered, the horses work chronicled in every detail, and on many occasions the windup was a lial refusal lo lake the mount. Ihe Jockey having learned all he cared for in the way of informal ion w as probably si rung in the belief thai : tie r horse in the same race would win. and in many instances he banted up the trainer and ..-hid for ihe privilege of the mount. II is known that he w..s right la a majority of instances and thai lie often conveyed a shock to some owners or Irainers who did not think their candidate for a race had a cbaace. One of the men whom Sloan played Ibis game on once or twice was lie late M. F. Dwyer, who. while he realized Shans worth to the fullest, would not permit the jockey to dictate to him and he speedily looked elsewhere when In wanted a rider. Rumor lias it Ibat Sloan was speculating heavily on his own mounts, and the maimer in which he spen! money tended to confirm the impression. One of the incidents which brought the jockey prominently Into Ihe limellghl was a happening al Saratoga in Ihe late DO*. A high Official of the Jockey Club was discussing with a clerk the price of a cottage at one of the big hotels. He was told that the price would be .•flu a day wilh Cue proviso of occupancy during Hie entire meeting. It is recorded that the high official thought tlie price excessive and he was driving a bargain, when lo his st upefaei ion a voice over bis shoulder remarked: "Ill take it at forty." Wheeling about, Ihe high official looked down into Sloans beadlike eyes. Special cars were ordinary methods of conveyance about Ibis time for ihe jockey, and in the autumn of this particular year, when the cottage was pari of bis bill of expense*, il was cbroalrJed far and wide thai Sloan and a eouple of his companions l ad Visited his old home at Kokomo in a special train en route fur California. The sensation this created in Indiana is still Icing discussed there and lb" good people of Ihe town rook mi dates by il. "It was tbe year Tod came here on the spi rial train." or "it was the year after Tad was here." is the way I hey figure. II is a matter of history hOM Slomi went to Eng land and France and reveJntteBteed the style of riding, Tbe foreign critics ridiculed bis Heat, call tng it the monkey on the Stick style, but when the little American began rolling up a splendid string of victories, winning with all soils and conditions of horses, they speedily clanged Ibctc opinions and ad vised thelf own riders lo admit the method, which must have some saving qaaliftea. else the inventor of it could tot be s. aaiformlj successful. The efficacy of the forward seat as employed by Sloan can best be illustrated by tbe carrying of a child in the arms. If the cbQd clings eloselv to the Mionlders or leans upon them the burden is light, but if it sils weI Pack upon the arm with tbe weight undistributed the burden is felt much sooner and fatigue comes more tpiickly. The same is true of the jockeys seat in tlie saddle. If the weigh! is upon the withers the bOTSC in galloping is relieved of much of the burden, and the close clinging posture with the swaying of the body leads to a smoothness of motion unobtainable with Ihe upright or semi-upright sent of many old time riders in this country and of all or nearly all of the English Jockeys alter whom American riders copied for upward of a century. HaMast this hiatal ledge Sloan added a pair of deft hands, with which lie tickled be mouths of the most stabbora horses. These animals, most of them ruined bv In .ivy handed, vicious bus who scratched and tore the sensitive nerves of the mouth and tongue until Ihe horses with all their courage foughl back in verv resentment, did aol understand the sort of treatment be gave them al lirst. but a reassuring caress on the BCck, a pin-- fill null of the ear. and jockey and hOTSe were in perfect harmOUl . Is it any wonder Ihe sour tempered ones were wilting l run for him? They w ere pel leil into Subjection, and tin y, like their hUinau prototypes, cudcii by giving buuicthiug for kindness which no amount of brutality could compel. The eases of Daiuicn. Our Johnnv. KrlSS Kringle, Ornament and others in America sod Knighj of ihe Thistle England were only a few that come lo mind now. bul there were niaiiv other horses of evil repute that fell under his spell. Fortune came fast abroad and when the jockey returned lo New York to ride Ballyhoo Bey in the Fatality for the late William C. Whitney he told an acquaintance in this courftry that he had more than !f.",O0.000 to his credit in Rutland. Quite a sum for the tattered stable boy who a few years before smoked his big cigar as he sat upon a water bucket and played poker at Sbeepsbead Ray! A king of England had complimented him upon liis horsemanship, and lu- had been lionized by as8 biggest men of the English turf. It wouid yflW amazing if he had not been spoiled by all the adulation which eaine his way. Tbe day When he committed the unfortunate mistake of bidding on a yearling when a mpresentative of the king was in the ring, pushing his way through the press of nobility, cigar in mouth, was tlie beginning of his undoing. Then came the striking of a waiter with a champagne bottle at Ascot and the revocation of his license as a rider. They give no reasons for their rulings as a general thing in Fngland. It is for the good of tbe turf, and that suffices. Nobody questions the ruling, and those ruled against pass. They rarely COme back. Bereft of a profession Sloan turned player; his cunning was gone when wagering upon somebody elses skill iii the saddle and his friends and money vanished together. Speaking recently to an official who had tried to advise Sloan and who bad always made him behave himself when he rode in this conntry the jockey wilh tears in his eyes said: "I wish that everybody had treated me as you did. 1 wouldnt be broken In pocket and I would be a better man in every way. You made me ewne to time the same as Ihe humbles 1 stable boy and you were more my friend a thousand limes over than those who let me make a fool of myself." Sloans career should lie a lesson to every 1k .v following the profession of riding today. Every youngster when starting out in the ranks no doubt has the best intentions. He has read or heard of |ae dozens of riders who failed to put by a competency against the day when they should become too heavy or too old to ride or perhaps 1m disabled. They achieve some success; the Batterer comes, and the money coming easily goes twice as easily, with never a thought of the morrow. Of course there are cases of thrift here and there, but nine out of ten have never a thought of the morrow. They live in tlie golden present. — New York Sun.

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