History of American Thoroughbred, Daily Racing Form, 1922-11-15


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History of American Thoroughbred Ninth Installment. About this time 1S45 we find the South has been not only holding her own but surpassing the Xorth and challenging Mother Englands Derby and Leger winners, oil their own turf. First Ave had Henry Perrits unequaled mile heats. Next Lecompte beating Lexington many seconds under the best time of Fashions best race. Then Lexington beating Lecomptes best time and, lastly, beating L.ecompte himself in worse time than he had made before, because his adversary could not drive him to make better. Then, Ln conclusion, we haTe Pryor making the best time accomplished in his period, at three-mile heats. Then, Lexington and Pryor, with a semi-dark mare Prioress, about which little is certainly known beyond her own stables, going abroad to take a rise out of the English cracks, calculating, of course, on the immense allowances which were not expected to fall short, under some contingencies, of twenty-eight to thirty pounds, advantage given to foreign bred and untried horses. Many persons believed then of these horses as they did of Peytona that nothing was ever seen in the North which could beat them and that nothing in England could ever see that day. I am not one of those persons. The end is not yet and, fast time or slow time. I do not believe altogether in light weights and fast courses. I do believe, all things fully weighed and considered, with no prejudice or favor for northern or southern stables, that Boston was, out and out, the best race horse of any age, sex or condition that has up to the middle of the nineteenth century run upon American plates and that Fashion is the best mare. That American horses won in England at the extraordinary advantages which they received is not much to brag about. One could handicap Eclipse so that a jackass would beat him, and twenty-eight pounds is a difference with a vengeance on a horses back. The greatest race in the early history of the American turf, that between American 15elip.se and Sir Henry, described by C. C. Cohlen and taken from Vol II., No. 1 of the "American Sporting Magazine," will give the present-day reader an unusually clear insight into the procedure at the time. The article, signed "An Old Turfman," follows : As I have never seen in print a full, correct and impartial account of the following great nice and, having at the time committed my observations to paper, I now transmit them. As many of your readers may not have witnessed this far-famed performance this relation may be interesting. Doubts were entertained by some of the New York sportsmen to the last moment whether this match race would be contested by the Virginia gentlemen. They, it was perfectly understood, had left Airginia Avith live horses selected from the best racers which North Carolina and Virginia could boast of and proceeded to the estate of Bela Padger, adjacent to Uristol, Pa., and about ninety miles distance from the Union course. The southern gentlemen had made their halt at the Badger estate, where they were afforded a line course upon which to exercise and try their animals. HOUSES SELECTED FOR MATCH. The horses selected for this great occasion and also to contend for the three purses to be run for on the three days subsequent to the match ; heats of four, three and two miles, were Betsy Richards, four years old ; Sir Henry, four years old ; Flying Childers, live years old, all by Sir Archy, and Washington, four years old, by Timoleon, a son of Sir Archy. With one of the lirst three named it was the intention of AVilliam R. Johnson to run the match. Of these, at the time he left home, John Richards was his favorite. His next choice was Sir Henry and, thirdly, the mare. Some of the southern gentlemen, including General YVynn, gaAe their opinion in favor of running the mare, fearing Sir Henry might be frightened by so large a crowd of people and swerve from the track. Unfortunately for the Virginians their fa-A-orite, John Richards, met with an accident in a trial race when he received a cut in the heel or frog of one of his forefeet, which rendered it necessary to discontinue his training. AVashington also fell amiss and he and Richards Avere left behind at Mr. Badgers. AVith the remaining three the southern gentlemen proceeded to the Union course, where they arrived about five or six days previous to that fixed upon for the match May 27, 1S23. The ill-fortune which befell the Virginians by laming their best horse in the onset seemed to pursue them, for. scarcely had they arrived at Long Island and become fixed in their new quarters when Mr. Johnson, the principal on their part and upon whose management their success depended in a great measure, was seized with indisposition which confined him to his bed, which he was unable to leae on the day of the race. Thus the southerners, deprived of their leader whose skill and judgment, whether in the way of stable preparation or generalship in the field, could be supplied by none other, had to face their opponents under circumstances thus far disadvantageous and discouraging. Notwithstanding these unexpected and untoward events they met the coming contest manfully, having full and unimpaired confidence in their two remaining horses, Sir Henry and Betsey Richards, and backed their opinion to the moment of starting. At length the rising sun gave promise that the eventful day would prove fine and unclouded. I was in the field at the peep of daAvn and observed that the southern horse and mare, led by Harry Curtis in their walk, were both plated, treated alike and both in readiness for the approaching event. It was jet unknown to the northern sportsmen which was to be their competitor. IMMENSE CUOAV1 GOES TO COUHSE. The road from New York to the course, a distance of eight miles, was covered by horsemen and a triple line of carriages in an unbroken chain, from the dawn of day until 1 oclock, the appointed hour of starting. The stands on the ground for the reception of spectators were crowded to excess at an early hour and the clubhouse and balcony, extending along its whole front, were filled by ladies. The whole track, for a mile distance in circuit, was lined on the inside by carriages and horsemen and the throng of pedestrians surpassed all belief, not less than G0.000 spectators were computed to be in the field. About half past twelve oclock Sir Henry made his appearance on the course, as the champion of the South, and was soon confronted with his antagonist. Sir Henry was a dark sorrel, or chestnut color, with one hind foot white and a small star in the forehead. His mane and tail were about two shades lighter than that of his body. He was fourteen hands three and a half inches high. His form was compact, bordering upon what is termed pony built, with a good shoulder, fine clean head and all those points which constitute a finefore-hand. His barrel was strong and well ribbed up toward the hip. His waist was rather short, chine bone strong rising or arched a little OA-er the loin indicative of ability to carry weight; sway short; the loin full and strong; haunches strong and well let down ; hind quarters somewhat high and sloping off from the coupling to the croup ; thighs full and muscular without being fleshy ; hocks strong, wide and well let down. His legs were remarkably fine, with a full proportion of bone ; back sinew or Achilles tendon large and well detached from the cannon bone. He stood firm, clear and even and moved remarkably well, with his feet in line. He possessed great action and muscular power and, although rather undersize, the exquisite symmetry of his form indicated uncommon strength and hardihood. He was bred by Lemuel Long, near Halifax, N. C., foaled June 17, 1819. He was sired by Sir Archy, son of imported chestnut Diomed, his dam by Diomed ; granddam by Bel Air; g. g. dam by Pilgrim; g. g. g. dam by Valiant; g. g. g. g. dam by Janus; g. g. g. g. g. dam by Jolly Roger, which four last named horses are imported and are to be found in the early English stud books. All horses date their age from May 1. Thus a horse foaled any time in the year 1S19 would be considered four years old on the first day of May, 1S23. Consequently Sir Henry, although not four years old complete until June 17, Avas assigned the regulated weight for a four-year-old, viz., 10S pounds. Eclipse, being nine years old, carried weight for an aged horse, 12C pounds. At length the appointed hour arrived and tho word Avas given to saddle and, immediately afterward, to mount. Eclipse Avas ridden by William Crafts, dressed in a crimson jacket and cap, and Sir Henry by a Virginia boy named John Walden, dressed in a sky-blue jacket Avith cap of the same color. The custom on the Union course was to run to the left about, or with the left hand next to the inner rail. Eclipse, by lot, had the inside position at the start. Sir Henry took his ground about twenty-five feet wide of him, to the right, with the evident intention of making a run in a straight iine for the lead. The preconcerted signal was a single tap of the drum. All was now breathless anxiety. The horses came up evenly; the eventful signal was heard and they were off together, handsomely. Sir Henry, apparently quickest, made play from the score, obtained the lead and then took a hard pull. By the time they had gone the first quartei-mile, which brought them round the first turn to the commencement of what is termed the back side of the course, which is a straight run comprising the second quarter-mile, he was full three lengths ahead. This distance he maintained with little variation, running steadily, with a hard pull, during the first, second, third and for about three-fourths oi the fourth round or mile. The pace all this time was a killing one. It may be proper to note that the course is nearly an oval of one mile with a small variation. The back and front are straight lines of about a quarter of a mile each, connected at each extremity by semicircles of also a quarter of a mile each. A POINT OF VANTAGE. When the horses Avere going the last round, being well mounted myself, I took my station at the commencement of the stretch, or last quarter mile, where I expected a violent exertion would be made at this last straight run in when they left the straight part of the back of the course and entered upon the last turn. Sir Henry was, as heretofore, not less than three lengths in the clear ahead. They had not proceeded more than twenty rods upon the first part of the sweep when Eclipse made play and the spur and whip were both applied freely. AVhen they were at the extreme point or center of the sweep I observed the right hand of Crafts disengaged from his bridle, making free use of his whip. AVhen they had swept about three-fourths of the way round the turn and had advanced within tweTtty-five rods of my station I clearly saw that Crafts was making every exertion with both spur and whip to urge Eclipse forward and scored him sorely both before and behind the girths. At this moment Eclipse threw his tail into the air and flirted it up and down, after the manner of a tired horse or one in distress and great pain. John Buckley, the jockey, who was stationed at my side, observed : "Eclipse is done." AVhen they passed me, about the commencement of the stretch, seventy or eighty rods from home, the space between them Avas about sixteen feet, or a full length and a half in the clear. Here the rider of Sir Henry turned his head around and took a view for an instant of his adversary. AValden used neither whip nor spur, but maintained a hard and steady pull under which his horse appeared accustomed to run. Crafts continued to make free use of his , Avhip. His right hand, in so doing, was necessarily disengaged from the bridle, his arm often raised high in air and his body thrown abroad. His seat Avas loose and unsteady, as he did not have the strength to hold and gather his horse with one hand and at the same time keep his proper position. In order to acquire a greater purchase he had thrown his body quite back to the cantle of the saddle, stuck his feet forward by way of bracing himself with the aid of his stirrups and in this style he was belaboring his horse in the last quarter-mile. Buckley exclaimed, and well he might, "Good God, look at Billy!" From this place to tho winning post Eclipse gained but a few feet, Sir Henri-coming in ahead about a length in the clear. The shortest time of this heat, as returned by the judges on the stand, was 1:?,1V. Many watches, and mine, which was held by a gentleman on the stand, made 7 :40. I pushed immedately up to the winning post in order to view the situation of the respective horses after this trying and severe heat, for it Avas, in fact, running the whole four miles. Sir Henry was less distressed than I expected to find him. Eclipse also bore it Avell, but of the two he appeared the more jaded. The injudicious manner in which he had been ridden had certainly annoyed and unnecessarily distressed him. The blood flowed profusely from one or two foul cuts he had received and, trickling down the inside of his hind legs, appeared conspicuously upon the white hind foot and gave a more doleful appearance to the discouraging scene of a lost heat. CRAFTS NOT UP TO TASK. The incapacity of Crafts to manage Eclipse, which required much urging and, at the same time, to be pulled hard, was apparent to all, he being a slenderly made lad Avejghing about 100 pounds. A person interested in the event seeing Buckley, Avho had ridden the horse on a former occasion, Avith me, requested that I would keep him within call and ready to ride in case of an emergency. It Avas, howeA-er, soon settled and announced that Mr. Purdy would ride him the second heat, upon Avhich long faces grew shorter and northern hope revived. Six to four Avas, nevertheless, offered on the southern horse, with no takers. To Be CoUtii.ued.

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Local Identifier: drf1922111501_7_1
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800