Why New Orleans Stands Ready to Welcome the Return of the Thoroughbred, Daily Racing Form, 1914-12-20


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: - WHY NEW ORLEANS STANDS READY TO WELCOME THE RETURN OF THE THOROUGHBRED j a "Turn backward, O time, in thy flight!" So the poet sang, yet time sped on. Inexorably has it moved since the creation, and inexorably wiil it move to the millenltun, in front of it the dreams of new ambitions, behind it the ashes of wasted hopes, the traditions and memories of surpassing sweetness. Let us lift the curtain that has fallen! It is April 14, IS."., in the city of New Orleans. Out of a semi-tropic sky the sun, unattended even b- Hakes of cloud, smiled down on a city bustling iu holiday attire. All business is suspended and the thoroughbred is king today. At the Metairie race track, Lexington, the pride of Virginia, aud Lc-comte, the idol of the south, are to meet in a gruelling struggle at four miles for the worlds mastery. Iiut iet us borrow from the columns of the Daily Picayune the pen picture of this gladsome scene: "For several days the city has been steadily filling up witli visitors from all parts of the country, hardly a state being unrepresented, until on the morning of the great race the city literally overflowed with people and the result of the contest between Lecointe and Lexington formed almost tlw sole topic of conversation in every circle. "All sorts of wagers were laid, all kinds of speculations indulged in. Lexington and Leconite were the great lions of the day, and bulletins from, their respective stables were waited for and read with the same interest and avidity as though they announced possible change of a dynasty or the probable fate of a nation. The race was the talk of the street corners, on change, on the Kialto "where merchants most do congregate, iu the private as well as the public circle, by all sorts and conditions of men, women and children. . In brief, it was the ruling idea of the hour. Nothing could supersede or stand beside it. TheTace, the whob.: race, and nothing but the race. "By three oclock the city must have seemed, to those who remained behind, well nigh depopulated. Just before the horses were brought out, the fields and stands presented a coup daeil that was well worth going a great distance and submitting, to some inconvenience to witness. The tneinuefsyjthe strangers, and the general stand, inside and on the roofs, were as full as they could hold, and the congregation of vehicle in the stleld was enormously large. The trees, too, and the tops of the coaches aud omnibuses inside the track were covered. "Many of the ladles seemed deeply interested ia the incidents of the race, and quite rivaled the gentlemen in the confidence and good judgement with which they backed their opinion. Gloves, fan J. bracelets and other such useful and grateful stakes were freely wagered above, while below the -betting was going on between male friends and backers of the; horses iu somewhat more serious .Vein. "On the stand occupied by the ladies we noticed fair representatives of every section of the Union. Among those from other lands was a member of the household of her majesty the queen of England. "The attemlance of ladies at the Metairie course races is indeed one of the most attractive feature? of these occasions, and we are glad to see that it is every year increasing iu extent and in degree. Lexington had been the favorite in the betting for the last week, Lecomtes friends waiting for two te one which they eliel uot get, and were thus relieved from a heavy fall. Lexington was therefore the favorite and stood so at small odds. The largest bet we saw was 100 to 00. It was said that in the public stands he stood 100 to 75 and no takers." The race itself is history. Two weeks before Lexington had lowered the worlds four mile record. His Excellency, Governor P. O. Hebert acting as presiding judge, and the race being given under the auspices of John G. Cocks, president of the Metairie race track. When the start came Lexington, with the sweeping stride of a champion, took the track. -Struggling behind him came the pride of the south, undauute I but outclassed. Thus they sped on the first half in 3 and the first mile iu 1:40;. On they sweut past the second mile. and so to the third with Virginias great sou still leading the van. As they swung into the last mile, Lecomte made a last desperate effort, struggleel to within striking distance of the flying Lexington, hung for a moment and collapsed, aud amid the frenzied shouts of thousands, the pride of the Old Dominion galloped home a winner. Once more the curtain has fallen. Strangers from the North have wondereel at the pent-up enthusiasm of the people of New Orleans over the proposed revival of racing. Those residents recruited from the Puritan states raised under the clammy hand of repression, have stood aghast and marveled. The answer is above. Racing is tho heritage of the present generation and the one that is passing. It is in their blood. The love for the thoroughbred of those of the south is inherent. It was in the blood of those who stood at Metairie that April day, fifty-nine years ago. and who slumber now on the same historic ground. Why? The thoroughbred is the perfection of grace and courage in the animal kingdom. Those of our blood who stood at Gettysburg, those of our antecedents who. half-clothed, half-fed. half-armed, staggered through the bitter years of Gl to Go, leaving indelibly on the pages of history a harrowing picture of such sacrifice as the world had never known before aud will never know again, and wlo fell at the Wilderness, exhausteel in body, but unconquered in spirit, were the noblemen of nature. In ,the animal kingdom the thoroughbred was the nearest to their klud and they took him home. Time moves on to eternity, taking with implacable certitude its daily toll of death and leaving in its wake the atom that is destined to become toe man or woman of tomorrow, iu whom the traditions of a virile people are pro-natally imbedded. That is why, with .kindling lilooel. the people of Xew Ovleaus are waiting to give the thoroughbred a welcome. That is why the children and grandchildren of those who witnessed the historic struggle on April 14. 1S35, at Metairie, will on January 1. 1115, at the Fair Grounds witness the equine struggles of the great-grandsons and daughters and the great-great-graudsons and daughters of the mighty Lexington. JOSEPH A. MURPHY.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1910s/drf1914122001/drf1914122001_1_3
Local Identifier: drf1914122001_1_3
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800