History of the Modern Turf, Daily Racing Form, 1924-04-27


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History of the Modern Turf Dally Racing Form re-ently completed publication of a history of the early Amehcan turf covering the period ending shortly before the Civil War. This narrative was adapted from the standard work. Frark Foresters ■I he Horse in America." Publication is bagun below of a sequel to that history, which will cover the period from the close of the Civil War to the opening of the present century- It is adapteJ from "The American Turf." WhM wp enmp to consider the progress of the turf in the Initeel States during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the task is even more apalling in its magnitude than that undertaken in reviewing the earlier records. As has already heen pointed out. the great difficulty that lies in the way of ev lving a thorough and reliahle history of the American turf in thp first century or more of its existence arises from the fact that comparatively little attention was given the preservation of records in those times. This was most emphatically true of the tine previous to 1800. and it is only measurably bss so of most of the present century. 1ntil well toward 1850 no one seemed to consider it worth while to gather the perishing records for permanent preservation. rmctun m r run of ui; ort . To be sure the stud hook antedates that time and the pedigrees are substantially reliable, back, perhaps, to the first epiartor of the century. But pedigrees, however important to the breeder and professional turfman, constitute only a small part of the whole history of the turf. To the general public, and to the turfman as well, the story of the great race* and of the owners of olden times, with the records of the various efforts that were made to stimulate and develop breeding and racing, are quite as interesting and. from certain points of view, quite as valuable as the mere list of pedigrees. It is in these latter particulars that the history of the early turf is notably defil-h-nt. The periodical press, upon which we now mostly rely for the preservation of the lleting facts of the day for the benefit of posterity as well as for our own profit and cnjovmciit. was then almost unknown so far as it related to the turf. To be sure as e-irly as 1829 the publication of the mnnthlv magazine, entitled the American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, was begun by John V. Skinner of Balti-more. Although there was much valuable informaticn in this periodica, it was not altogether reliable, nor din It Bestead to any degree cf thoroughness regarding the items of the turf during its oist--nec. Moreover, it listed only fifteen years. For some two or three years Cadwall; d--r It. Colden of Niff York, who was will known as a writer : I out the turf over the signature of "An Old Turfrran," published another sporting magazine that was admirable in its way. howsoever inadequate and disappointing it was in its failure to cover the entire field. PORTERS VAI.l AB1.K PAPER. So-re time in the thirties William T. Forter found* d the first weekly sporting ncwspipe" ever pul lished in this country. The Spirit -f the Times. More space was given in this paper to other kinds of sport than to racing, such as hunting, fishing, gaming, etc.. but on tin- whole, the periodical ente-rd unon an OHOCCUp!ed field and became of decided usefulness. In its columns, and in those of its successors, variously known as The Old Spirit. Porter** Spirit end Wilkes Spiit. the di-lvor for information regarding the Ameriem turf down to the time of the Civil war. finds much that is valuable and interesting out of which it is possible to constrict a fairlv accurate history of the turf of that period. Although breeding and rising- assumed • ■■Hsiderable proportions between 1825 and lS..O. the sport was. generally speaking, in compact shape, that is. comparatively few h rses attained to gnat prominence, few-breeders and owne-s were prominent, and the ruing events, while of tmns -endant interest, were not notably numerous. It is. therefore, not difficult to gain something of a com-pr. h.-isive view of the general condition of the snort in these generations. Coming down to th late nineties the task of reviewing* the progress of the turf of the Inited States the las; quarter of the nineteenth century becomes almost appalling in its magnitude. Racine has arisen to he one f tlie most popular forma of sport and the | ■Uant the rjughbred. as a subject of popular admiration, is scarcely meoad to the great operatic prima donna or the famous actress. In the aggregate many thousands of persons are regular attendants upon the race meetiags in the various parts of the country during the season, which is generally considered to begin in May and end in November. Nor does this activity cease with the ant— an months. Such was the popular demand for the sport that it was almost in-poaaibte to satisfy it anywhere within reasonable limitation. As a r.-sult of this popularity winter racing v;:s instituted as a feature of several of the coaraea in the South and in California, and was even indulged in to a limited extent in the North, where. bOWOTer, the spectacle cf ;:ame blood horses tearing their amy through mod and snow was anything but agreeable t admirers of the noble atiimal. But take it throughout the country, start-Ing with New Yoik. since there was almost no running known in the section farther lOast. and going through the West, South. Southwest and to the Pacific coast, it was scarcely exaggerattea to say that there was practically no cessation in the beat f the thoroughbreds booth upon the track throughout the entire year. It was no comnr n thing for a thouaaad or more horses to be in |l lining at a single one of the more Important race tracks, and the total number of thorojgh btreda of each season was almost beyond calculation. The difficulties that lie in the way of even a comparatively adequate review of the phenomenal activities connected with the turf in the late nineties mi:st be apparent to ev.-ty one. Volumes would be required and a life time of work would be called for to treat the subject comprehensix ely and thoroughly. As It is the Stud Book and the various guides are plethoric with information, which, however. - purely statistical ami d ics not pretend to give i»:i any s nse whatsoever a picture of the turf as it really exists, wiih the Influences surrounding and guiding it and Its position as a great national institution. The miscellaneous literature of the subject lias become something enormous. Daily newspapers give a great deal of their space to recording the movements of the thoroughbreds and of those who are interested in them, whether as owners, breeders, trainers, racing officials or followers cf the turf generally. Special periodicals devoted to the business have increased in number and in value, and it takes thousands of columns every ye-ar to even measurably record tee turf activity of the times. With this supcrabunelance of material at hand, while so much e«f it is eif a desultory and ephemeral character, one may not hope within reasonable limitations of time and apace to be able to present much more th; H a general id m of the preiminence that turf affairs have assumeel in oontemporaneou.-times. or to more than merely touch upon s MM f its most salient features with the Idea f fairly exhibiting its present status |lc 18!»8 the character of the gentlemen who are conspicuously recognizeel as its supporters, the ups anel down of its career, some ef the mote neitable and picturesque features that identify it, and the outlook for its future greatness. Locked at in this way it becomes absorbingly interesting, not only to sportsmen, but also to the general reader, who is little concerned over long pedigrees or tables of reeorel. Certainly the relation of the history of no national institution could be by any possibility more fase-inatingly interesting than that pertaining to the American turf. A revival of racing was not immediate after the close of the hostilities that racked the North ami South. The wielesprea 1 destruction cf impcrtant business and s i -:; 1 interests that have been the inevitable result of that terrible contest made it impossible for communities to return at once to their former conditiem. Profound governmental and other questions that had arisen out of the struggle between the two sections lemained so long unsettled that, as the history of the period sheiws us, the animosities between North anel South were scarcely less violent than they were- in the elark days when the appeal te the arbitratement of arms was being considered, and when partisan passions raged fiercely. BREEDING IN THE SOUTH. Moreover the great breeding establishments of the South had gone with the general ruin that had swept over that section of the Inited States, while hundreds of the best thoroughbreds had fallen upon the battlefield. In years gone by the turf was really dependent for its existence upon these southern staoles and stud farms. Their loss was now seriously felt all over the country and was impeissiblc of remedy, except by a slow and steady growth extending over many-years e f the future. Gradually, however, the atmosphere began to clca business came back to its normal conditiem. mens minds turned more and more from strife of arms and politics and sectional contreiversies, and they again found time to elevote to the amenities of life. Among the interests that earliest felt the influence of this new national life, racing was most conspicuous. A few years had served to bring into existence almost a new race of thoroughbreds, principally based upon a few-noble horses which had escaped the perils of war and the demanels of military service. Yearlings from Kentucky, Tennessee and other great breeeling states came out again and. although at first they were few in number, the-ir presence indicated that a start had been made in the right direction. This gave abundant encouragement to those who were me st he»peful of seeing a return of the glorious days of the old regime in racing. In the elecade that ine-lueled the period of the Civil War. particularly in its latter years, some eif the greatest bleiod heirses known to the Amoriean turf made their appearance. To a e-onsiderable extent they were the prod uce of Lexington or Leamington, although other families continued to perpetuate themselves in a nowise unimportant manner. Lexington, which had escaped falling a victim of the war. was again engaged in re-populating the paddocks and in introducing a new crop of sons and daughters which should perpetuate his fame even more grand ly than those- which hael preceded them. Of Lexingtons sons Kentucky. Asteroid anel Norfolk hael been first in the public eye. while Foster. Ireakness. Harry Hasst tt. Monarchist and others were just at the beginning of their careers. War Dance- also had returned from exile in Texas to new and valuable- service in the stud. Imported Aus-tialian was adding new strains to the old Lexington anel other purely American blood that were- soon to practically recreate the American thoroughbred. Maggie II. 1... one of the most valuable ! broe d marcs ever known to the turf in the Inited States, saw the light in the latter sixties, while Eolus was just entering upon a brilliant and important career. Vandal foaleel Virgil anel either sens and was taking a noble part in the re-creation cf the turf. ARRIVALS FROM ABROAD. Enquirer and other sons of Leamington were giving abundant preunise of future- usefulness, while Lillet, ile-nclg. Morte-nicr and Other ivpre sentatives of the greatest English families were arriving from abrcael. anel by their engagements in the stud eipening a tlis-tinctly new as well as a most important chapter in the annals e f breeding on this side- of the- water. Well it might be that tinge nuUM turfman of this period regardeel the situation not only with e-omplacency. but with a profound cemfidence that the brightest days that neible sport had ever known were- about to elawn. Nor, as history has Siii e recorded, was this confidence in any wise premaU.lv or misplace-el. Tic oleler generation e f turfme-n had to a considerable- extent passe-d away. Some of tlp-m. howcer. still lingere-d upon the scenes of their former triumphs and were no less enthusiastic and energetic than in the days. long gone by. The places in the ranks eif those who had fallen out were more than filled 1 in aecessions. anel the public began to take an interest in rae-ing matters sue-h as it had scarce-ly «-ve-r before shown. And the e-quine- champions of this period were in every rcsiu-ct smithy eif their ancestors and eepial t • tin- eb-niand fiat the public enthusiasm made npoo them. Within five- years after the Civil War had be-e-n brought to a close me-ti had found time-to e-onside-r again the- delights eif the tun. This was the- era of the American Jockey C|ub at Jerome Park anel the courses at Saratoga tend Monmouth Park. These three courses in particular spiang at eince into the-full flower of public approval and were ■have all else the means e.f leading to the complete rehabilitatiem of the turf. Other courses in the vicinity of New Ye rk were opened at 1aterson and Secaucus, N. J., while running meetings were held at Chicago, Nar-lagansett Park, Springfield, Mass., Boston,! Columbus, Ohio, and Other places that hied rarely, if ever before, seen jockeys in silken jackets, anel have not sine:.- then shown more than a passing admiration for the thoroughbred. Stimulated by the turf activity of the , j North anel also, of course, moved by their inherited predilection for the thoreiughbred. the men of the South, those who had been identifieel with the turf for a generation or more, as well as many younger men who were joining the ranks, took up again the erorh that they had laid down in "61. P»egin-t:ing to recover, at last, from the debilitating effects of the internecine struggle in which they hael been engaged, they turned their thoughts and their energies again to the old-time snort that had for a century and a half been characteristic of the se-e-tion of the country with which they were Identified. Mobile had her Magnolia course. New Or-leans her Metairie course, Memphis her , Chickasaw Jockey Club, Nashville he-r course and Lexington her Association course, around all of which the me st delightful historic memories clustered, and that had returnee! te their former high estate. St. Louis organized the Laclede Jockey Club, Clncin- , nati hael her Kuckeye Joe-key Club, while Zanesville and Chillloothe, Ohio, and numerous other smaller places were- also becoming interested in the running horse and establishing courses where there was always good racing to be seen. The growth of public interest in racing ! I was steady and rapidly enlarged in proportion ! from this time on. Localities where i racing was introduced multiplied, sue-h was j the unboiinileel enthusiasm that had sprung | up among people in all sections of the conn- I | try. In the early years if the succeeding elecade running ineetings were firmly estab- ■ Usbed in public favor in Nashville, New Orleans, Kichmond. Le-xington, Louisville. San j Kiancise-o. I .-river. Baltimore, Cincinnati. St, [ Louis, Chillieothe. Ohio; Chicago, Colum-] j bus, Ohio; Philadelphia, Ogdensburg. N. Y. ; 1 Helena, Mont., and elsewhere, while the great , , ! I ! i j | I | ■ j [ j 1 courses in the vicinity of New York City were at the height eif their unprecedented popularity and success. The racing season had alreaely been ex-te-ndeel, so that on the regular anel meist important tracks it lasted with scarcely an interruption throughout the spring, summer anel autumn. At the same time the demand for racing e utside cf the regular seasem was alreaely beginning to show itself, so that there were here and there suppleme-ntary sea-sona that were scare-ely se-e-ond in interest te» the most important and generally recognized meetings. It must neit be thought, however, that all this advancement, premeiunced though it was. was seen immediately, or its importane-e- fully rtiognized until after long ye-ars had gone by and men were able to look back and eonsieler the- events of those times in the light of their relations tei each other and in the-ir final results. A great ele-al of newly manifested inte-re-st in the- turf was. it must In confessed, of a somewhat spasmtidic character ami did not outlive the imrne-diate period in which it first displayed itself. The gre-at Ne-w York courses long manifested their supremacy anel exercised an « ruluring influene-e. In some other places that started in brilliantly and with great promise- for success there pre ved to be- less e-ndurance, anil the sport was abandoned there almost as ejuickly as it had be-en taken up. Notwithstanding some favorable oircum- stane-es peculiar to the south, it re-quire-el fully te-n years after the Civil War had closed to revive any pronoune-«-d interest in racing in that part of the country or in the west, that was more or le-ss influence-d by the south. The people who lived below the Mason and Dtxoa line had not yet re-e-overed from the elepres.-.mg effects of the sanguinary trouble .that ended in 1864, and they were, on the whole-, too tully e-ngageel in see-king to restore therl fe rm r commercial and industrial wel-4 fare and in considering the grave political- and governmental iut tions that pressed |d| the front as an outcome of the war. j y To be continued. J

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