Early Racing Incidents: Washington Father of His Country Judges Horse Race in 1790, Daily Racing Form, 1922-11-29


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EARLY RACING INCIDENTS Washington, Father of His Country, Judges Horse Race in 1790. Tennessee Parson Ilorso Owner Squelches TJltraconscientlons Among His Flock by Witty Response to Criticism. In these days of speedy thoroughbred transportation, where the comfort of the racers i3 second only to the luxurious manner in which every want of the accompanying horsemen is catered to, the difficulties of transportation which the pioneers of the turf had to encounter in the early days can be appreciated. The great distances between sections and the inadequate facilites for travel halted early turf progress more than anything else. It was not until the railroads set distances at naught that animals from the West began to compete at eastern tracks, says a writer in The American Turf. Consequently, the pioneer horsemen of America may be excused for the apparent slowness with which they proceeded to establish tracks. These early followers of the turf met with the discouragements and repulses which seem, from time to time, to be inevitable in connection with racing in the United States, but they were manful and in earnest, devoted to racing as a sport and their efforts were eventually crowned with a success that time has not dimmed. In those days the rewards of the turf were little beyond honor. Purses were ridiculously small and the racing public was a comparatively restricted body. RACING ATTENDANCE GROWS. Gradually the turf grew in esteem until the attendance upon racing events, wherever they might occur, by all classes left no uncertainty as to the popularity and stability of the sport. Statesmen, clergymen and other professional men gave the indorsement of their countenance to the turf, as well as those who were more substantially interested in it from being the proprietors of breeding establishments or active participants in racing contests. Such distinguished statesmen and leaders as Washington and Jefferson were among the early patrons of the turf in Virginia in the latter part of the eighteenth century. They even ran horses in rivalry with their fellov citizens and long after they had departed this life they were pointed to as exemplars. Even now there are extant memorandum books in which Washington recorded his bets on some of the races which he attended. As late as 1790 the Father of His Country acted as a judge at a race course near Alexandria. It speaks well of the high esteem in which he was held and of the confidence which his fellow citizens reposed in his integrity and fairness that he was invited to officiate as judge on this occasion, even though one of his own horses was entered in the race. It is also interesting to note that his horse was beaten. Afterward he sold his horse, which was named Magnolia, to "Lighthorse" Harry Lee for 51,500 and the animal was sent to South Carolina, where it attained to some distinction on the turf. THOMAS JEFFERSONS COLT SCORES. In the same race meeting at Alexandria a horse entered by Thomas Jefferson, called simply a roan colt, was the winner, defeating Washingtons Magnolia and several other horses entered by other prominent Virginian gentry. Quite as early as this time also race tracks were established at Petersburg, Richmond and at other centers of population in the state. In treating of the subject of the development of horse racing in the United States during the present century the historian finds, almost at the outset of his investigation, that it is incumbent upon him to consider the national capital, Washington, as one of the great centers of racing interest and the scene of brilliant turf events. Even before the seat of government was removed from Philadelphia to the new capital and before Congress had held its first session there racing interests had already established themselves on the banks of the Potomac. In 1800 a match race was run in the federal city between Lamplighter, son of Medley, and Cincinnatus, one of the most renowned horses of that day. The former, as a representative of the State of Virginia, was entered by Colonel John Tayloe, while the latter was owned by General Ridgely of Maryland, who ran with General Form an as his associate, Maryland against Virginia. The owner of Lamplighter, being a tavern keeper, did not belong to what was considered the aristocratic class and consequently had not been permitted to become a member of the Jockey Club at Annapolis so 1 as to start his horse. GENERAL RIDGELY PASSES BUCK. Nevertheless, he challenged Cincinnatus, but "I make matches only with gentlemen," was the reply of General Ridgely. At the , request of the Virginia tavern keeper Col-, onel Tayloe took the burden or the challenge i upon his shoulders and, becoming the prin-. cipal of the match, won the purse, which was for 500 a side, i Even the representatives of the sacred pro-i fession did not deem it beneath the dignity of their cloth or derogatory to their Chris-t tian character to be patrons of the turf or . even to be owners of fast horses. The Rev- crend Hardy M. Cryer of Tennessee has ! often been cited as an example of the horse-i loving parson of the period. The story that I has been related of him is well worth preserving as throwing a bright light upon the life of that time. The colt, which had been bred on shares . by Colonel George Elliott, showed remarkable promise of becoming a good racer. When he was two years old he was taken in full charge by Colonel Elliot, who was a dis- tinguished turfman, a near neighbor and an intimate friend of Mr. Cryer. Colonel Elliott I having in view his value on the race course, , started to train him. Some of the ultracon- scientious members of the good Mr. Cryers flock became apprised of Colonel Elliotts intentions and were horrified to know that their pastor still owned a half interest in the , horse. Considerable talk ensued over the matter and finally at a church meeting a committee : was appointed to wait upon the pastor and : ask for an explanation. A careful investi-i gation was made by the members of the : committee, who finally returned a report in which they took the Reverend Mr. Cryer severely to task, which shows incidentally that, notwithstanding the general tolerance and support that was given to the turf, there was a considerable minority at least in the community, even in the South, that looked upon it with something of askance. Before submitting the report to the church authorities with a request to discipline the offending pastor, the members of the committee concluded to present the case for a vote to the congregation before whom the Reverend Mr. Cryer was requested to appear and defend himself, if defense he had. Accordingly, on the appointed day, that being Sunday, after the morning services had been concluded, the chairman of the committee arose and with dignity and a severity that befitted the solemn occasion, read the report in which it was charged that the Reverend Mr. Cryer, being associated with Colonel George Elliott, was actually having a horse trained for the heinous purpose of being run for money, a procedure that was calculated to bring discredit upon the cause of the church and religion. Then the worthy pastor was called upon to state if he had any defense. His response was. brief and to the point. Saying that he could dispose of the matter in a few words, so far as he was concerned, he acknowledged that all that had been said was true and tnat Colonel Elliott was training a colt of which he was half owner. Then he added: "Brethren, if you can make any arrangement by J which my half of the colt can stand in the stable while Colonel Elliotts half runs on the race track, I will be perfectly satisfied to meet your wishes in the matter." The humor of the response resulted in a vote of confidence for the pastor.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1920s/drf1922112901/drf1922112901_2_3
Local Identifier: drf1922112901_2_3
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800