view raw text
REMINISCENCES OF A VENERABLE TURFMAN. One of the representative men of the old days of the turf in this country is Charles Littlcfield, who was graduated from the ranks of the lightweight jockeys and went on aud on through the experiences of trainer and owner, and now lives comfortably on the well known Haggin place in Neck Road, just across the way from the famous Sheepshead Bay race course. He is one of the old-time horsemen who has survived the days when a good race horse was expected to be able to run four mile heats and still be in training. He remembers Lexington well, saw him race with Lecoinpte, and rode thd latter in England. Mr. Littlcfield, although nearly four-score in vears, has an unimpaired mentality and, according to his own account of his later experiences, believes himself to be feeling better physically than he has at anv time during the last teu years. He was born in Rochester. N. Y., aud after riding a number of races about home, went to Toronto. Canada, to ride Tom Paine against a Canadian-owned mare. Miss Clash, in two-mile heats. That was in 1840. It was his first trip away from home, but he liked the Canadian city and he made it his home for a few years. Having become associated with a Canadian turfman, he accompanied his employer to Lexington, Ky., in May, 1833, for the purpose of picking up something good enough to win over Canadian tracks. It was Mr. Littlefields first visit to the blue grass country and the Lexington race meeting was in progress. It was at this time he first saw the incomparable Lexington and he was fortunate enough to see him run two races as a three-year-old. , Mr. Littlelield remarked, as he warmed up with his subject, "I can remember that race meeting better than I could anything I may have seen last week. Lexington was a grand-looking colt, about fifteen hands three and a half inches high, stout, compact and deep through the heart. He was not extraordinarily long in the barrel, but beautifully shaped, with blood-like neck, powerful loin and grand quarters. He had oblique shoulders and lairlv long and elastic pasterns. He was a bright bay with a blaze and two or more white legs. "The first race in which I saw him was mile heats of a stake race. Before they got away he broke off and ran away about three miles, and then came back and won the race. Later in the week he won a race at two-mile heats. He had no trouble, in either of his races, though he was ridden by a little hunch-backed negro, who rode him from his head to his tail. He was the property of Dr. AAarfield when he won these races, but the late Richard Ten Broeck, who saw him perform, was so favorably impressed by him that he and Captain Ailey bought him in partnership for 5,500, which was regarded as an almost fabulous price in those la,Thev bought him to match against Sallle Waters, regarded at that time as the champion four-iniler at the big meetings in New Orleans. They made the match to be run in New Orleans, the stakes being .,000 a side, and Lexington won easily. A year later, in 1S54, Lexington won the State Stakes "in New Orleans, a race at four mile heats, in which each state then having a race horse which was considered good enough, nominated an entry. Lexington won this race handily, and then, at the same meeting, he was matched for a four-mile dash with Lecompte, a son of Boston Reel, by Glencoe. raised in the northern part of Louisiana, up on Red River, I believe. At the end of the third mile the boy on Lexington thought the race was over aud partially pulled him up, so that Lecompte went on and won the race before Lexington could catch him again. "AVhile there was no dispute about the fairness of the decision which gave Lecompte the race, the supporters of Lexington Insisted that he would have won had he not been pulled up. while the supporters of the Louisiana colt held that he could beat Lexington doing anything, pointing out that the time he had made, 7:20, was away below the four-mile record. Then Mr. Ten Broeck declared that his colt could beat Lecompte or his four-mile record, and that he would make the match that way for 0,000 a side His challenge was accepted and the supporters" of Lecompte chose to back his record, so Lexington ran against time, 7:20, and he won in 7"io44 "After this Mr. Ten Broeck bought Lecompte, Intending to take him and Lexington, as well as Pryor, by Glencoe. and Prioress, by Imp. Sovereign, to England. That was in 1850. The late John A. Morris was associated with Mr. Ten Broeck in the proposed invasion, but in the meantime Lexington s eyes had gone wrong, or were under suspicion, and he was left at home. Mr. Ten Broeck and Mr. Morris went over in 1850 and in 1S37 Gilpatnck. who was then the greatest of American -ockeys, and I were sent for to ride the American horses in the English campaign. . , "I rode Lecompte in the AArarwick Cup. but finished unplaced, aud later I rode Pryor and Gilpatrick rode Prioress for the Goodwood Cup, but neither -r us secured a place. Later. Prioress, with Tanksley. an American jockey, ran for the Cesarewltch In a field of thirtv-four starters, and she, with LI Hakem and Queen Bess, ran a dead heat. Then there was a run-off and Messrs. Ten Broeck and Morris put un the great English jockey, George Foidiiam, on Prioress "which beat the other two in the run-off easily. In talking about great American race horses Mr. Littlcfield gave great prominence to Kentucky, the famous son of Lexington and Magnolia, by Glencoe. lie looked in a general way," said Mr. Littlefield, like his sire, the famous son of Boston and Alice Car-neal, by imported Sarpedon. He may have been a quarter or half an inch lower on the withers, he was of a considerably darker shade of bay, and he had no blaze, but excepting these differences he closely resembled his noted sire. He was deep chested, and somewhat high at the croup. I rode him in the last nine races he ran, and I always felt that he was a great horse. He always had something on such good ones as Asteroid and Idle-wild anil as to his gameness, I can only tell you that he could win at four-mile heats. At the opening of Jerome Park lie won the Inaugural Stakes, the feature of the day. at four-mile heats, and It was a race worth winning." ..... ,, Recurring to his early experiences. Mr. Littlcheld remarked that ho rode the first three Queens Plate winners in Canada Don Juan, in 1SG0: Willie AAon-der. in 1S01, and Palermo, in 1SG2. AVlicn he was at the 1012 spring meeting at AA:oodbine, the guest of his former partner, Charles Boyle. Sr., he met and shook hands with the boy who rode the winner- of the Kings Plate that day, just hfty-two years after he Littlefield bad ridden the first winner of that time-honored fixture. Among the good horses which Mr. Littlefield has trained, he mentions Captain Moore, Aldebaran ami Julius as the leading trio. He was for some time, a partner with Cliarles Boyle, Sr.. of Woodstock. Ont., in the ownership of racing of horses, and also with his son, the late Charles Littlelield, iu the breed-in" and racing of thoroughbreds. Among those owned bv them was the phenomenally fast tilly Minnehaha, bought bv them for ?00O as a yearling, "and later sold bv them to the late John A. Morris for .4,000. His younger son. Fred, now a successful trainer and owner, was formerly premier jockey for the late John A. Morris. He rode the marvellous v fast sprinter Britannic, by Plevna, bred and raced bv Mr. Morris in the "all scarlet," and afterwards retired to his great ranch in Texas near Kerrville and north of San Antonio. In more recent years Mr. Littlelield was in charge of thoroughbreds from Mr. Haggins Rancho del Paso and Elraendorf stud farms, but since that famous breeder and turfman has greatly contracted his horse breeding operations., he has simply been In charge of the Haggin Sheepshead Bay establishment. "The success of the sales of thoroughbreds this season," said Mr. Littlelield, "appears to indicate that racing lias come back to stay, and that it will oon be on a sound and sure footing, but I cannot flatter mvself that it has come hack in time to make any material difference to me." New York Telegraph.