Glorious Days of Chicago Racing: Worlds Fair Year with Its Wonderful Contests of Speed and Endurance over the Famous, Daily Racing Form, 1922-09-01


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GLORIOUS-BAYS OF CHICAGO RACING WORLD S FAIR YEAR WITH ITS WONDERFUL CONTESTS OF SPEED AND ENDURANCE OVER THE FAMOUS WASHINGTON PARK COURSE BETWEEN SOME .OF AMERICAS NOBLES! A AD GREATEST THOROUGHBREDS BY SALVATOR. I rode, the other day, for the first itme in years, on the South Side "L," in the city of Chicago, around the former site of that most famous of all western race courses, Washington Park. When it was laid out, nearly forty years ago, it was still quite "cpuntry" around about it. But within ten years, so rapid had the growth of the Windy City been, that already it was submerged y block upon block of business buildings and residences. In 1892 the South Sidt "L" was built, the project being stirred on Iy the approach of the Worlds Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893. Jackson Park, the site of the big show, was just south and east of the Washington Park track, and the "L" coming south from the citys heart several miles, when it reached Washington Park turned eastward and ran directly along its entire southern border. The occupants of the. trains, as they traversed this part of the route, could look down upon the race track as upon a panorama. As a rule the motormen were apt to slow up if a race was in progress, sometimes almost coming to a dead stop, so that passengers might get the benefit of tne contest. NO SIGN OF RACE TRACK LEFT. Today even -the experienced eye of an old-time Chicagoan can detect, from the same point of vantage, no trace which might betray the fact that a race track once existed there. The entire tract of what was once Washington Park is now a maze of city blocks and to and fro, where once the hqof-beats of Americans best thoroughbreds beat out their music before cheering mutlitudes, trolley cars, trucks, express wagons r.sid every sort of vehicle of business and pleasure ply through the busy streets. Not only this in every direction, north, south, east and west, one may ride for miles and find tlie same condition. If a tract of ground were wanted for a race track, one would have to travel far indeed from the site of AVashing-ton Park to find .it And to one unfamiliar with the past, it would be difficult to imagine that it is little more than a decade since one of Americas premier racing plants thfare nourished. Washington Park was thrown open to the public in 1881, when Modesty won the inaugural American Derby. The last race was contested there just twenty years later, in 1904, when Highball won the final American Derby. The Washington Park club, of which General Philip H. Sheridan was the first president, passed out of existence in 1906 and the park was then dismantled, the work of subdividing the tract being begun before all the buildings had been demolished. Millions of dollars worth of stakes and purses were decided there during the term of its career, which, however, was one of by no means uninterrupted fair weather. From 1895 to 1899 there was no racing, owing to local conditions, except the one season of 1898. In 1900 there was a renaissance, but - it terminated forever, as aforesaid, in 1904, when the final curtain fell. WASHINGTON PARK IN ITS ZENITH. Washington Park reached its zenith, however, that Worlds Fair season of 1893, which also marked the midstation of its term of life. That year Chicago was the metropolis of America not only but, in a sense, the whole world. The Columbian Exposition was the most colossal undertaking of its kind ever up to that time attempted, and still remains in many ways unequaled by any later one. It brought to the city, for the best part of nine months, seemingly endless and innumerable hordes of people from every nook and corner of the United States and Canada, with others from every portion of the globe. Owing to the proximity of the race track to the exposition grounds and the fact that both the "L" and the surface lines passed it on their way to the latter, it was only natural that hosts of visitors to the fair were attracted to the races also. Due to this fact the thoroughbreds which raced at Washington. Park in 1893 performed before the largest and most cosmopolitan crowds that ever attended any running meeting anywhere in the world. One became used to glimpsing all sorts of outlandish aliens in the throngs that daily packed the grandstand and the betting ring, while on the clubhouse verandas there might, from day to day, be seen celebrities of all spheres and every nation. The atmosphere which prevailed was one of champagne-like effervescence. Enthusiasm was unbounded. Excitement was infectious. It was like some tremendous pageant, some gigantic spectacle, arranged for the edification of the whole world, in which that world played the double part of actor and spectator. GREAT DISTRIBUTION OF PRIZES. I have been looking back over the report of that meeting, in my Goodwin, and I find that during its twenty-five days, 154 races were contested, whose total value was 4i,-190. The daily average of distribution was, therefore, 3,847.60, the average value per race being ,248. The American Racing Manual shows that during 1921 there was only one meeting held in the United States of similar duration which equaled this showing. That was the Saratoga meeting, which endured twenty-seven days, and distributed 86,990, the daily average distribution being 4,332.96, while the average value per race, for 162 races, was not quite ,389. When it is recalled that in 1921 the purchasing power of the American dollar was hardly more than fifty per cent of what it was in 1S93, and the interest in racing in this country only a fraction of what it has since become, the magnitude of that Washington Park meeting of Worlds Fair year is more justly appreciated. As a matter of fact, it was the greatest turf undertaking this country lias ever seen. The officers of the Washington Park club were fired by the ambition to do something befitting the time being, the focus of the world. Here is a brief table of the principal dvents of that meeting, the total values, and the winners: American Derby, Boundless 3 1922.sh0,000 Worlds Pair Stakes, KI Tclegrafo 2 25,000 Columbus Handicap, Rudclph 5 25.CO0 Queen Isabella Stakes, Helen Nichols 3 21,600 Hyde Paik Stakes, Domino 2 18,550 Sheridan Stakes, Ingomar 3 J1.17G Wheeler Handicap, Morello 3 7.0SO The "high lights" of the meeting were the American Derby, the Columbus and the Wheeler handicaps. The story of how ihe crowd of 50,000 people stood mostly and sweltered for an hour and three-quarters while the Derby field, was at the post and how, after much artful maneuvering and magnificent jockeyship, "Snapper" Garrison brought the unconsidered Boundless home in front of a field of Americas best three-year-olds, from east and west, and one contestant sent from the Old World by a noble duke, has taken its place among the historic chapters of turf lore. But as races the two great handicaps distinctly outclassed the Derby, producing the two most thrilling events of their kind that Washington Park ever saw. Both were watched by crowds, only inferior to that of Derby day, and by crowds which did not, like that of Derby day, contain a vast majority of people who came at the dictate of fashion or the csire to be seen, rather than to see. These immense throngs were actuated almost solejy by a burning desire to see which horse of the wonderful fields that assembled would prove master of the other at the weights. The money wagered was like a tidal wave, of gold, before, which, the bookmakers and the "iron men" were swamped.- That year the wonderful "yellow filly" Yo Tambien, daughter of Joe Hooker and old Marian, was at her apogee and whenever she started the publics money and, above all, the publics heart and soul, was with her. Her management, however, was far from the best. Chris Smith, the plunger, who owned her, used her as his meal ticket and much of her speed and strength was frittered away in overnight races. Moreover, he had quarreled with Thorpe, who rode her better than anyone else, so she was being, pitchforked about from one rider to another of small ability. INTERFERENCE DEFEATS HER. Her first stake engagement at this meeting was in the Great Western Handicap, at a mile and a half, an event which she had won the previous year in sensational style and record-breaking time. She went to the post a hot favorite, but the race was won by George V. Hankins Rudolph, then in wonderful form, with Ray S. second and Yo Tambien third. But just as the mare started to make her run at the turn for home she was crossed by another horse, had to be sharply pulled up and her chance was "gone when she was lose and straight again. Much ugly talk was caused by this incident. It was openly charged that the Rudolph party had paid the boy on the offending horse handsomely for what he did. Rudolph, to which she was - giving a year and ten pounds and was one of the best geldings America has seen, as the Great Western was not worth ,000, escaped a penalty for the Columbus Handicap, into which he had been tossed at 107 pounds, the mare having 118 to shoulder. However, the pair were only two of the field of no less than sixteen that faced the barrier. The race was the most valuable handicap ever given in America up to that time, being guaranteed worth 5,000, with 0,000 to the winner. In consequence the whole country the entire racing map was represented at the post. The East sent its best so did Kentucky, while California, Montana, Tennessee and other states were engaged. As one scrutinizes this field of horses and reflects upon the handicap fields of the present day one begins to understand what we have lost by the overracing of two-year-olds and the grinding commercialism to which everything is sacrificed. Of the sixteen starters almost every one was a stake winner of importance. Eight of them, during their turf careers, established the following records : Yo Tambien, won forty-four races and 9,4S0 ; Lamplighter, won twenty-nine races and 8,545 ; Morello, won twenty-four races and 0,155 ; Diablo, won seventy races and 3,253 ; Rudolph, won twenty-five races and 3,090 ; Ida Pickwick, won forty-four races and 5,615 ; Maid Marian, won forty-six races and 1,906 ; Huon, won twenty-three races and 0,790. Of this group Yo Tambien, Lamplighter, Mbrellq, Rudolph and Maid Marian all were record-breakers whose names will be found repeatedly figuring on the lists of "best time on record" in the years of their activity. The jockeys engaged were of similar caliber. Willie Simms Lamplighter, was that years leading rider with 182 wins; Martin Huron, ranked second with 154 ; Taral Diablo, was fourth with 118, while Perkins, Williams, Clayton, Britton, Thorpe, Noble and Miller were all in the first flight of their day, many of them boys whose skill, judgment and daring are still, after thirty years, well remembered. SUMMARY OF THE RACE. Here is the summary of the race, as it resulted : WASHINGTON PARK. CHICAGO, July 15, 1S03. Columbus Handicap, three-year-olds and over, 00 each, 0 forfeit or only 0 if declared. Guaranteed value 5,000, of "which 0,000 to the winner, ,000 to second and ,000 to third. AVeights to be announced July 1. Winner of any race of the value of ,000 to carry five pounds penalty; ICo subscriptions. One and throe-sixteenths miles. . Aetna Stables Rudolph, ch. g, 5, by Fonso Eva S., 107 pounds; Irving 1 Kendall Stables Yo Tambien, ch. f, 4, by Joe Hooker Marian, 118 pounds; Jordan 2 Charter Oak Stables Ray S., b. c, 4, by Speculator Helianthus, 113 pounds; Porter........ 3 Loudoun, 4, 101 pounds Clayton, 4; Illnme, 4, 10C pounds Noble, 5; Diablo, a, 116 pounds Ta ral, 0; lamplighter, 4, 126 pounds Simms, 7; Morello, 3, 113 pounds Miller, 8; Michael, 5, 110 pounds Britton, 9; Poet Scout, 5, 115 pounds Allen, 10; Highland, f, 103 -pounds Thorpe, 11; Huron, 4, 111 pounds Martin, 12; Ida Pickwick, ". US pounds Williams, 13; Wildwcod, 4, 108 pounds Weber 14; Maid Marian, 3, 105 pounds Perkins, 15; Santa Anna, 5, 103 pounds Morris, 10. netting 2 to 1 Morello, 5 to 1 Lamplighter, 5. to 1 Yo Tambien and Maid Marian coupled; to 1 each Rudolph and Diablo; 15 to 40 to 1 the others. Time 1:5954, equaling time record for the distance. The field, as it paraded to the post was a superb sight and thundering ovations were tendered, in especial, to Morello, Lamplighter and Yo Tambien. The Washington Park track was an oval, just one mile in circumference, "dead level," and the start was almost under the shadow of the bleachers, Iience the entire race was run at close range of the vast concourse of spectators. I watched it from a box on the upper balcony, and I recall that others of its occupants that day were the founder two years later of Daily Racing Form, Joseph A. Murphy, now for so many years distinguished as a presiding judge, and Robert L. Dickey, the horse portraitist and animal cartoonist. I never expect to see another contest so thrilling, nor another field of that size and rmality engaged together. Morello caused a 3ensation by falling at the post and throwing Miller, but no damage was done. When the Hag fell Maid Marian, according to program, took the track to make the running for her itablemate. She and Morello were the only three-year-olds in the field and. they were 3oon locked in a speed duel. Not until they had raced nearly a mile was Morello able to force the fleet daughter of .Great Tom Into " submission, but when he entered the stretch in the lead a great shout went up from his backers. Meanwhile Rudolph, favored by his light weight and most cleverly handled by Irving, was galloping along all the while within striking distance on the short route next the rail. He now made his bid and Morello was unable to withstand it but faltered and began to fall back. Ray S., Loudoun, Diablo and Lamplighter were in a pack close behind. All this time the crowd had been wondering anxiously about Yo Tambien. Much misgiving had been felt by her admirers when it was learned that Jordan ride her. He was a middleweight, who could ride at 105 pounds if necessary, of slight reputation and seldom seen on the back of a star. He had elected to take a choking pull on"her and keep her back in the pack of horses, where she was hidden from sight, for they raced in almost a solid phalanx practically all the first mile. At the turn for home he was just beginning to make play with her and not until half way down it did he have her free from the crowd of horses that had hemmed her in. Then she came with a breathless burst of speed. Hurtling through the others, which were all beginning to flag, she made a supreme effort to reach Rudolph, scudding along lengths in front The roar from the stand was prodigious, the. tumult indescribable. On, on she came, her lithe, greyhound figure cleaving the air like an arrow. Had Jordan possessed any real finishing power, been able to rise to the occasion and give her the help she needed, she might-have won. But he was not She reached Rudolphs flank, crept to his girth, to his shoulder, to his throat-latch and then the post was passed, with his lean, blood-like head and throttle showing just in front of hers. Ray S., third, was a length and a half behind her, with Loudoun next The others staggered in as best they could, all, to the last one, raced off their legs. WIDESPREAD DISSATISFACTION. Again the dissatisfaction with the fillys defeat was widespread. Chris Smith himself felt that it was due to his own poor judgment in jockeyship. So he decided to patch up his quarrel with Thorpe, who had ridden her in all her great races the previous season, and get him on her for the Wheeler Handicap, the closing day of the meeting. For this race Rudolph, which had incurred a five-pound penalty by his victory in the big race, declined the issue. Lamplighter had been shipped to New York, his glory dimmed. But Morello remained to do battle, as did Diablo. This time Morello was called upon to shoulder 117 pounds, and it was felt that no three-year-old could successfully carry such a load in such a field. So the two mares from the Kendall stable were made favorites at even money, while Morello was at 2 and Diablo at 4 to 1. Nine horses starter and here is the result: WASHINGTON PARK, CHICAGO, July 22, 1803. Wheeler Handicap, three-year-olds and over; 00 each, 5 forfeit, 0 if declared; ,000 added; 151 nominations. One and one-quarter miles. Elkton Stables Morello, b. c, 3, by Eolus Cerise, 117 pounds; Miller 1 Kendall Stables Maid Marian, ch. f, 3, by Great Tom Sudie McNairy, 102 poupds; Perkins 2 Kendall Stables Yo Tambien, ch. f, 4, by Joe Hooker Marian, 118 pounds; Thorpe 3 First Ward, 3, 95 pounds T. S!oan, 4; Diablo, a, 113 pounds Taral, 5; Somersault, 4, 102 pounds Noble, Or Aldebaran, 3, 94 pounds Clayton, 7; Bolivar Buckner, 4, 105 pounds Morris, 8; Ray S., 4, 113 pounds Williams, 9. Time 2:05, equaling the record for the distance. REPETITION OF COLUMBUS HANDICAP. This race was in many respects a repetition of the Columbus Handicap, but with one surprising difference. Maid Marian had earned the reputation of being one of the fastest mares in training, butt nobody supposed she cared to go beyond a mile, and most critics not that far. But this day she vyas a wonder. Taking the track she sped away like a frightened deer and never did slacken her speed until the end. Soon Morello disengaged himself from the others and took after her, as a week before. In the previous race he had nailed her at the turn for home, but this time was unable to. All the way through the stretch Miller was at work on him with the utmost vigor and it looked as if it would be in vain until, just in the last hundred yards, the filly at last felt the effects of the long-sustained and lulling pace, began to slow up and he drew up to and past her to win by a length and a half. Meanwhile Thorpe had ridden Yo Tambien no better than did Jordan. He kept her back among the trailers for a mile. Every few moments she would be. seen to throw up her head and ask for the bits, but he never relaxed his hold until a mile had been run and did not really let loose of her until the stretch was reached. By this time the run was well taken out of her and while she came fast from far back she finished four lengths behind Maid Marian. The time, 2:05, when it was flashed, pro duced prolonged applause. At last the record that Salvator had established in the match with Tenny, three years before, had been equaled. It was felt that the performance of Morello was even a better one, for he was a three-year-old with 117 pounds up, racing against eight other horses, whereas Salvator, a year older, had carried but five pounds more and run against but a single adversary. Moreover, the Sheepshead Bay track, where Salvator performed, was a larger and faster one than at Washington Park. Morello and Yo Tambien never met again. The mare ran nine more times that season and won invariably, except in the last instance, when she was beaten by Clifford in the mud at Hawthorne, in the three-cornered match with Lamplighter. Morello and Maid Marian met once more, also at Hawthorne, in the Illinois Handicap,, at a mile, and the filly, with 113 pounds against the colts 127, ran away from him and third was the best he could do. Rudolph gave both of them a wide berth, but went East, where he was unbeaten that fall, winning a series" of dazzling races. Not until the next season did he and Yo Tambien meet again and then she was always his better. It is a singular fact that the blood of none of these wonderful performers enriched later generations of thoroughbreds. Morello, after he was retired to the stud, produced only a few foals and then suddenly died. Both Yo Tambien and Maid Marion, when sent to the harem, were lost through paddock accidents before either had produced a foal. And Rudolph was, of course, a gelding. Lamplighter, at Rancocas, was, on the whole, a disappointment as a sire, though producing a few good runners. From Ida Pickwick, however, have descended some brilliant modern stars.

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