Sysonbys Puzzling Career: Untimely Death of Keene Champion Left Real Quality in Doubt.; Modern Veterinary Methods Would Have Saved Him--Sidelights on His Racing., Daily Racing Form, 1922-05-27


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SYSONBYS PUZZLING CAREER Untimely Death of Keene Cham ¬ pion Left Real Quality in Doubt Modern Veterinary Methods Would Have Saved Him Side ¬ lights on His Eacing BY SALVATOR SALVATORA A current news item states that the skele ¬ ton of the dead champion of trotting stal ¬ lions Lee Axworthy 158U which horse died suddenly in the fall of 1918 at the age of seven years is being mounted for per ¬ manent preservation in the American Muse ¬ um of Natural History in New York City It will there stand side by side with that of Sysonby which was installed there not long after his death in 1906 Voich brings again to my mind the memory of the illstarred son of Helton and Optimo and the curious double doubt about him which has long per ¬ sisted with me The first doubt concerns the necessity of his having died The second his real greatness greatnessSysonby Sysonby it will be remembered was of curiously mixed AngloAmerican antecedents Ho was bred by the late James R Keene who purchased Optime from the estate of Marcus Daly who for several years prior to his death in November 1900 was among the most prominent supporters of the thor ¬ oughbred turf and stud in America He was a believer in the liberal use of British blood and not only imported many English horses but carried on breeding opertions in England EnglandPrevious Previous to his death at the time noted he had taken subscriptions to several fash ¬ ionable English sires for the following sea ¬ son of 1901 and these were carried out by his estate One of his bookings was to Melton to which horse he had engaged three mares Among the matrons selected to send to that stallion in the spring of 1901 was Optime a daughter of Orme and a mare by Speculum and the pair were accordingly mated A few months later Optime was shipped to America and sold at auction October 1 to the late James R Keene who paid 6000 for her She was sent to his Castleton Stud at Lexington Ky and there in the spring of 1902 foaled a bay colt Sysonby SysonbySUCCESS SUCCESS AS A TWOYEAROLD TWOYEAROLDAs As a twoyearold Sysonby started six times and won five being third in the remaining race the Futurity which was won by Artful Tradition second As a three yearold he was unbeaten starting nine times ran a dead heat with Race King in his first essay the stakes being divided and then won eight other races in succession The manner in which he spreadeagled his fields dazzled everybody and he went into winter quarters with a prodigious reputa ¬ tion His expected performances in the great handicaps of 1906 as a fouryearold were the chief topic of winter and spring turf talk Apparently he wintered grandly and his early work was all that had been hoped But the public was surprised and dis ¬ appointed when the news was made public the last week in April that the allconquer ¬ ing hero of the previous season was ailing ailingSysonbys Sysonbys affliction was described at the outset as a form of eczema which gave him much trouble and irritation but was not pathologically important It seemed strange to many that a colt so expertly trained and perfectly kept should contract such a dis ease and the natural expectation was that it would rapidly yield to treatment and he would soon be at work again But time passed and this did not eventuate At length about two weeks after the lirst news of his disablement was made public an article was printed in one of the metropolitan dailies which asserted that instead of being afflicted with a mere superficial ailment Sysonby was in reality a truly sick horse and that it was extremely doubOy if he would be able to race that season seasonROVvTB ROVvTB DENIES RUMORS RUMORSThis This immediately elicited a strong denial from his trainer James Rowe who stated that the report was made up out of whole cloth that S3sonby was doing well and that he expected to send him to the post for the Suburban The rumors however re ¬ fused to die down and at length Mr Keene himself took the trouble to give out an inter ¬ view stamping them as false falseBut But alas the rumors were correct and their denials the delusions Sysonbys con ¬ dition instead of improving grew steadily more disquieting and this finally had to be oflicially admitted when he was scratched from all his early engagements including the Suburban Brooklyn and Brighton Han ¬ dicaps For several weeks contradictory re ¬ ports about him appeared He was alter ¬ nately almost well or critically ill As a matter of fact he was progressing fast to his doom Early in June all attempts at concealment were abandoned and everybody knew the sad truth that the colt was en ¬ gaged in what was literally a race for his life a struggle against Death himself His malady was described as a form of septi ¬ caemia or blood poisoning The most emi ¬ nent veterinary skill was employed and every effort made to save him but without avail On Sunday June 16 only a few days before the Suburban was due to be decided his sufferings ended and he breathed his last at the Keene stable at Sheepshead Bay BayEXPLANATION EXPLANATION OF HIS DEATH DEATHThe The cause of his death was given as the effects of blood poison due to his bruising the frog of one of his forefeet in his nervous stamping in efforts to relieve himself from the itching produced by his original infirm ¬ ity virulent eczema eczemaViewing Viewing the history of this socelebrated case I have no hesitation in expressing the belief that had it occurred coday Sysonbys life might have been saved The pathology and treatment of septicaemia have made im ¬ mense strides since 190G and the remedies now used are entirely different from those then in vogue The history of Sysonbys fcUal sickness leaves little doubt that the alleged original case of eczema was not that disease at all but that septicaemia was present from the first in his system Vet ¬ erinarians of today would have detected that fact and resorted immediately to the modern scientific antiseptic treatment which has proved so eflicacious From the virus ex ¬ uded by Sysonby from one of the sores or ulcers upon his body a bacillus culture would first be made this would be analyzed by a laboratory pathologist its exact nature de ¬ termined and then a serum prepared from it which injected hypodefmically would counteract the farther progress of the in ¬ fection Such treatment if not delayed until too late is today almost invariably success ¬ ful sometimes in cases apparently hopeless hopelessI I shall therefore always be of the opinion that had veterinary science been in pos ¬ session of the resources now at its command Sysonby need not have been lost And had he not have been we might have later on had a better opportunity to gauge his true caliber as a race horse than his two and threeyearold career afforded affordedThough Though Sysonbys performances were as I have said so dazzling only those of Man o War in subsequent seasons have equaled them in this respect the fact that he never beat anything of consequence as a twoyear old and at three did little more than that leaves a doubt of his real capacity In the supreme test of his twoyearold career the Futurity he failed being beaten by both Artful and Tradition In his five winning races that season he won as a rule from small fields of mediocre colts and fillies As a threeyearold he never encountered titans Beldame which ran unplaced in the Metro ¬ politan Handicap a dead heat between him and Race King was at that time manifestly in no such form as she had otherwise dis ¬ played He beat Broomstick three times but the Broomstick of 1906 was far from the brilliant performer he had been in previous seasons The other trying tackle that he had to measure strides with meant nothing as measures of greatness greatnessIn In these regards his career offers quite a parallel with that of Man o War And just as ardent sportsmen will always regret the fact that the latter was withdrawn from the turf before the acid test had been applied to him in his fouryearold career so will they always regret that death prevented a similar test for Sysonby xne fact more ¬ over remains that the handicap horses of 1906 were anything but a superior lot Dan ¬ delion was about the best of them but he was merely a good and never a great race horse while as for the crowd of Go Be tweens Tokalons Rams Horns etc who today so much as remembers them Vic ¬ tories over them would have meant little So in any event just what Sysonby was must remain an enigma He may have been every inch the wonder he seemed And he may not We can never know

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