History of American Thoroughbred, Daily Racing Form, 1922-11-03


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History of American Thoroughbred Sixth Installment. After experimenting for a length of time with him and others the conclusion became irresistible that a horse, to insure superiority either in performance or production, must not only be perfect in pedigree and passably good in his shapes, but possess that high and commanding form which gives exceeding power while, at the same time, it insures ease of action. "With regard to the commencement of course racing in the North, I am not particularly informed. Previous to the revolution there existed near the center of the county a public course called Newmarket, and also one at Jamaica called Beaver Pond, at both of which trials of speed frequently took place, but whether at regular intervals is not known. As early as 1S0O courses existed at Albany, Poughkeepsie and Harlem, in New York State, on which purses for one and four-mile heats were in contention. It is believed that, until 1804, no regularly organized club existed in New York. In that year an association composed principally of Long Island agriculturists was formed for five years. The old Newmarket course was remodeled and purses offered in May and October of each year for four, three and two-mile heats. At the expiration of the five years, finding it. difficult to raise sufficient funds or enforce regulations on the uninclosed course, the same gentlemen reorganized the society and established an inclosed course about a mile north of the former one, giving it the same name. It is worthy of remark that on these courses, at an early day, some of the finest and most celebrated horses which have left brilliant progeny made their first entry. On the former Tippoo Sultan, Hambleton-Ian, Bright Phoebus, Millers Damsel and Empress obtained their first laurels to be variously worn in this and another field of usefulness. Sultan, after a continued series of victories on the turf, went into the breeding stud with his flag flying at the pinnacle, there to droop and finally trail in the dust. Hambletonian, with varied success as a racer, became distinguished as a stallion for the elegance and finish, as well as speed and endurance, of his progeny for the saddle, harness and trotting course. Phoebus, though a good one failed to repose on the elevated platform which his pedigree, fine appearance and early performance induced his friends to erect. The wreath so deservedly bestowed on the two most magnificent fillies that ever graced the northern turf, now faded and now bloomed, until the performance of Eclipse, the son of one, and Ariel, the granddaughter of the other, added roses whose enduring perfume, while it incites to future struggles for victory, will ever tend to temper the ardor of exultation or soothe the anguish of defeat As evidence that the renown attained on this course was fairly won it is only necessary to state that Messrs. Bond and Hughs of Philadelphia, whose liberality, judgment and skill in procuring, training and managing their horses was scarcely second to that of Colonels Johnson and Tayloe, regularly attended here with their stable at the head of which was First Consul, then confessedly among the best of the South. COCK OF THE JtOCK AND ECLIPSE. On the other course, Cock of the Rock and Eclipse first gave evidence of those powers which conducted the one to eminence and the other, by an unbroken succession of victories, to his last glorious triumph. While racing continued with regularity at Newmarket, the course at Harlem was also kept up. For a short period a race course was established at Powles Hook, in New Jersey, opposite New York City, but it was not until 1810 that the citizens of New York manifested a just appreciation of the exciting and healthful amusement. In this year an association was formed, principally! of citizens, and a course established at Bath, in the County of Kings, on Long Island, and races were held there for two seasons. The j location, however, not proving satisfactory, the same association in 1S21 purchased a plot of ground in Queens County, eight miles from Brooklyn, and inclosed it. It was known as the "Union course." They greatly increased the amount of the purse3 and placed racing on a more elevated and permanent footing than it had been up to that time. In 1823 an association of gentlemen established a course in Dutchess County, near Poughkeepsie, gave liveral purses and had well conducted and good racing for several years. In 1838 individual enterprise established the Beacon course at Hoboken, N. J., opposite New York City. Great expense was incurred in grading and making suitable erections. Large purses were given and for a time its easy access from the city rendered it exceedingly popular. It will be observed, in the communication to which I have referred, that it was not until the year 1819 when the citizens of New York began to appreciate the utility and practical excellence of horse racing or to give it such encouragement as it had always received in Virginia and Maryland. In the latter states the majority in numbers and tho whole, one might say, in wealth, enterprise arid education of the .white population were country gentlemen of athletic habits, out-of-door tastes, liberal hands and open hearts. It was not until ten years later, in the autumn of 1S29, that any regular publication was set on foot for the avowed purpose of recovering as much as was possible of the lost early pedigrees of the magnates of the American turf and for the preservation of authentic records for the time to come. This work, Skinners American Turf Registrar and Sporting Magazine, continued for ten years to do good service for the cause of the turf. "With Edgars Stud Book, which unforunately never was completed, it constitutes the first and only authority on which reliance can be placed as to the blood of the animals asserted to be thoroughbred. In the year 1S39 the magazine passed into the hands of that most able editor and admirable turf writer, "William T. Porter of New York, than whom the turf of America has had no more consistent advocate er more strenuous defender. At the close of IS 14 the magazine was discontinued, the encouragement not being found adequate to the support of both the monthly periodical and the weekly Spirit of the Times, both issued from the same office and made up in some part of the same materials. It is hardly possible too greatly to deplore this cessation, for although Mr. Richards continued for some time to publish a yearly turf register that contained a full and accurate record of races and racing events and a register of the winning horses each year no space was available for the discussion of pedigrees disputed or not fully established or such debate on intricate questions of breeding, running, time, weights, riders and the like in its pages. These thoughts may seem in some sort superfluous, but without having introduced them I should find it somewhat difficult to explain what I mean to convey when I state that I consider the commencement of authentic American horse racing to be simultaneous with the commencement of the second quarter of the nineteenth century, or, at the most, a few years earlier. It is not my intention, by this statement, to underestimate the genuineness of the blood, to deny the excellence, speed, stoutness or authenticity of performance of the celebrated worthies of ante-revolutionary or early post-revolutionary days any more than I undervalue or doubt the pedigree or merits of the great forefathers of the English turf in the days of Queen Anne and of the first moil-archs of the house of Hanover. Much, in fact, as I regard the fame of Buck-Hunter, Spanker, Childers, Cartouch. Bald Charlotte, Matchem and a hundred others one might name, do I esteem that of the Fearnought, Janus, Celer, Tryall, Yorick, Traveller and the mares Sclima, Kitty Fisher, Jenny Cameron, Jenny Dismal and others of American immortality. The pedigrees of some of these run into the obscurity of time and one must write down, unknown, at last for either dam or sire, as is the case with more than one of the admittedly great early English progenitors. A FEW UNKNOWN PEDIGREES. For instance, the sire of Rockwood is unknown ; the dams of Coneyskins, Clumsy, Gray Grantham and "Whynot, the granddams of Bay Bolton, Snake, Jigg and a score of Others from which glory has descended are all unknown. But for that they are not held to be of impure or cold blood. In like sort I hold it indisputable that the dams of many of the noblest and perfect of the progenitors and progenitrixes of the American turf are unknown. The dam of Taskers Sclima is, I hold, unknown. Of tho three dams assigned to her I cannot find that she has any claim to one. Snap-dragon, by Snap, which is ascribed as her dam, was not foaled until Selimas sire, Godolphin, was dead. The large Hartley mare, to which Selima is also assigned, had, according to the Stud Book, no chestnut filly by Godolphin nor any which answers to the date of Selima, of any color. The Fox mare, dam of "Weasel and Daphne, by Godolphin, had no other foals to that horse nor any other foal earlier than 1750-51, in which year Selima is said to have been imported. The last is Skinners pedigree of this famous mare. The dam of Jenny Cameron is not stated. The dam of Kitty Fisher is said to have been Bald Charlotte, by the Cullen Arabian, but there is no proof that this thrice famous mare ever had a filly by that Arab. Again, the dam of Jenny Dismal is recorded to have been a "Whitefoot mare. Of five "Whitefoot mares in the Stud Book not one appears to have had a foal to Dismal, the son of Godolphin. These statements I do not make invidiously or with the intent to disparage the purity of the blood of these animals, of which I have no doubt. I do it simply to show that the same want of absolute authenticity is apparent when we go beyond a certain date in both England and America, the date being more recent here owing to the later introduction of authentic registries. MYTHS OF THE TURF. Nor does this want of authenticity attach to pedigrees only, or even in the greatest degree, for it is much more apparent in the traditional report of performances. The absurd myth of Flying Childers having run a mile in a minute still obtained to the middle of the nineteenth century. Not among sportsmen, of course, for there is not a man who knows what a race horse is, either in England or America, who does not scoff at the palpable impossibility of the thing. As progenitors, all these horses in both countries may be considered, then, in my view, as entities, or, if the reader prefer it, as performers. In view of anything which we know positively, or can ascertain of their performances, I must hold them myths. Thus, on the English turf, while I do not dispute or doubt the excellence of Flying Childers, Regulus, Matchem, Marske, OKel-lys Eclipse and other such for they must have been undeniably good horses to do what we know they did I give no credence whatsoever concerning any particular or special performance of any one of them. On the English turf I esteem nothing positively authentic in the shape of performances previous to the institution of the St Leger Stakes, first won by Lord Rockinghams Sampson filly, in 1776 ; of the Oaks, first won by Lord Derbys Bridget, in 1779; and of the Derby, first won by Sir Charles Bunburys Diomed, sire of our Sir Archy, in 1730. So; on the American turf, I hold nothing as on record prior to the races of American Eclipse and his competitors. To R Continued.

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Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800