Here and There on the Turf: Buying Race Horses Are Yearlings Biggest Gamble? Whiskaway and Playfellow Nothing Certain in Racing, Daily Racing Form, 1924-01-29


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Here and There on the Turf Buying Race Horses. Are Yearlings Biggest Gamble? Whiskaway and Playfellow. Nothing Certain in Racing. It will always be a question whether it is a bigger gamble to buy yearlings with only the blood lines and conformation as a guide or to buy tried race horses on the strength of a few fine performances. It is generally agreed that buying yearlings is a gamble, but there are many facts which indicate that the purchase of tried horses is as great a gamble. John E. Madden is the largest breeder for the market in the country. He sells practically all of his stud products after they have been tested in actual racing, and there is no doubt that he obtains much better prices that way than if they were consigned to the yearling auctions. The percentage of these made horsss which make good after sale is little higher probably than that of high-priced yearlings that go on to justify their purchase. Thej most colossal failure in the way of made horses sold for high prices during recent years; was Whiskaway, sold by Harry Payne Whitney to C. W. Clark in August of 1922 for a re-i ported price of 125,000. When Whiskaway i was purchased by Mr. Clark he was the leading candidate for three-year-cld honors of the year. He did not win a race during the remainder of the 1922 racing season and has not scored a stake victory since. Whiskaway is a son of Whisk Broom II. and Inaugural, by Voter. His blood lines are of the best, but his family is tainted with temperament. His brother Flags had the reputation of being the greatest rogue of the modern turf and after a flash of great speed and promise Whiskaway began to show the same tendencies. Trainer James Rowc had trouble in training Whiskaway from th start. The colt was lazy and, although he would do his best in an actual race, he loafed consistently in his work. Whiskaway became the most talked-of horse in the country when he defeated Morvich in the Carlton Stakes and pricked the bubbls of greatness which had been blown around the eon of Runnymede. He clinched his title to the leadership among the 1922 three-year-olds when hz repeated this victory in the Kentucky Special. Then Whiskaway began to train off. He was Ecnt to Saratoga and efforts to bring him back to racing condition were meeting with little success. Trainer George Barnes of the C. W. Clark stable had orders to buy the colt and I13 opened negotiations. The sale was completed, but when Harry Payne Whitney heard of the unsatisfactory condition of the celt, it is understood, he offered to refund the purchase price and ca!l off the sale. Mr. Clark would not listen to this. Failing to make any progress with the sluggish colt in trials, trainer Barnes started him in the Huron Stakes at Saratoga a week or two after the purchase. WThiskaway, high in flesh and far from fit, ran an inferior race and was thoroughly beaten. No effort was made to train him again that year. Last year Whiskaway started fifteen times and won four races. In three stake races he failed to finish in the money. Now he has been retired to the stud for a time. The law-court champion, Playfellow, is also making his debut in the stud this year. Everyone is familiar with his history. A brother to Man o War, he began to win races rather impressively in 1921 as a three-year-old in the colors of the Quincy Stable. Trainer S. C. Hildreth of the Rancocas Stable opened nsgo-tiations for his purchase and finally acquired him for 00,000. As soon as the transfer was made the colt lost his form and it was discovered that he was addicted to cribbing and wind sucking. An effort "was made to call off the deal and obtain a refund of the 00,000 purchase pric2 from the Quincy Stable. Owner Johnson refused to agree to this and suit was filed by the Rancocas Stable. The first trial resulted in a hung jury and in the second trial a verdict was returned in favor of H. F. Sinclair. Mr. Johnson appealed, but after a long delay the findings of the lower court were affirmed and the 00,000 ordered returned. Playfellow started four times last year and failed to win a race. Then at the clos2 of the racing season Mr. Johnson announced the horses retirement to the stud. He further announced that for the first season service would be fres to approved mares. It is now reported that Playfellows book is full. Both Whiskaway and Playfellow may meet with greater . success in the stud than was theirs on the race course. In both cases the blood lines of these stallions could hardly be improved upon. Temperament and harmful habits proved their undoing as race horses. Temperament is known to be more or less hereditary, but the bad habits which spoiled Playfellow as a race horse are believed to be l acquired characteristics and unlikely to affect his progeny. The brother to Man o War will ; undoubtedly be given a good chance in the ! stud because of his blood lines and his -success j or failure as a stallion will depend largely! upon his showing during his first two seasons. Whiskaway also will probably draw good patronage until his worth as a stal.ion is established. If he can transmit his speed and staying qualities lb his progeny without too much of that sulky temperament, he will be a really valuable addition to the breeder stock of the country. These examples of the made race horse that-failed after purchas; for a fancy price arc representative. There arc many others less spectacular perhaps, but just as apt in many ways, which could be cited if space permitted. . The truth of the matter is that all blood stock purchases are a gamble and there is litlh to indicate that the yearlings are much more of a risk than the older horses, which have already been subjected to the tests of actual racing. A turf reputation is extremely fragile. Today a horse may be recognized as a champion and valued at a fabulous sum, tomorrow a new champion may be crowned and the de posed thoroughbred lose a large percentage of his former value.

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