Belmont Stakes Test of Champions: Race Has Played Definite Part In American Breeding Pattern; Immortal Lexington Sired Four Winners of Classic, While Man oWar Had Three, Daily Racing Form, 1951-06-16


view raw text

Belmont Stakes test of Champions Race Has Played Def in ite Part In American Breeding Pattern immortal Lexington Sired 4 Four Winners of Classic, While Man o;War Had Three By NELSON DUNSTAN NEW YORK, N. Y., June 15.— On occasions/ turf scribes and officials have endeavored to name the five greatest races of the world. Often, there is disagreement, for the reason that there are so many important stakes, it is difficult to designate any five as more important than others. Whatever the gauge employed, the Belmont Stakes, today called "the test of the champion," must be considered one of the classics in this country and one that has played a definite part in our breeding sequences. Inaugurated in 1869, when Ruthless was the winner, a long parade of horses, with varying pedigrees, • clearly points out the Belmont Stakes as one of the great turf events in American annals. Lexington, the "blind hero." and often referred to as the greatest stallion of all time, is prominent in the pedigrees of the early winners of the Belmont Stakes and, also the Withers, Travers,.. Saratoga Cup and other races. While some winners of the Kentucky Derby carry his blood, the outstanding sire of the early running of the Churchill Downs classic was Leamington, the imported horse who eventually toppled Lexington from his throne as the premier sire of those early days. From the breeding standpoint, a race actually does not start with its inaugural running. The Belmont Stakes is an example. Although it was first run in 1867, it can be said to trace back to 1798, the year in which Diomed, first winner of the Epsom Derby, was sent from England to Virginia. Many other stallions came to our shores to exert their influence in our general breeding and, specifically, in the Belmont Stakes. Besides Leamington, the list included Glen-coe, Bonnie Scotland, Australian and others. Diomed, called a failure in stud in England, lived to the age of 31 and in the eight seasons he made in Virginia did more to improve the horse in this country than all other stallions previously imported. The dominance of his line did not end for three-quarters of a century. Traces to Diomed Lexington was a great-great grandson of Diomed. Foaled in 1850, Lexington was to lead the American sire list for 16 years, 14 in succession. No other horse in the past 100 years has come even close to that record. He had many famous sons and daughters, but suffice it to say here he was the first to sire four winners of the Belmont Stakes, General Duke, 1868; Kingfisher, 1870: Harry Bassett, 1871, and Duke of Magenta. 1878, the latter being considered one ofthe best Belmont winners before the turn of the century. Lexington had been in stud for 20 years before Leamington supplanted him as the leading sire in 1875, but the "blind hero" came back to lead the list in 1876 and 1878, with Leamington taking the honors in 1877, 1879 and 1881. That was one of the most remarkable eras in American thoroughbred breeding, for Bonnie Scotland, who had been pushed from pillar to post and from state to state after his arrival here, finally scaled the heights by leading the sires in 1S80 and 1882. Thus, for 22 years, from 1861 to 1882, inclusive, these three sires dominated American breeding and played a definite part in shaping the Belmont Stakes bead-roll. Books could be written about many horses who competed in the Belmont Stakes, but in an article of this length it is only possible ,to touch on the highlights. There were some episodes that could not be excluded in a review of the stake, especially in the years when the event was in its formative stages. The name of August Belmont, for* instance, came into the picture as early as the third running in 1869 when his pair, Fenian and Glenelg, ran one -two in the, race that was named for him. Glenelg was much the better of the pair, for this son of Citadel, who was imported in utero, became ttie leading sire in this country in four years, 1884, 1886, 1887 and 1888. Although second to his stable-mate, he was the first horse to race in the Belmont who later became a leading sire. Hanovers Accomplishments Even greater were the accomplishments of Hanover, son of the immortal Hindoo, who, it is claimed by many, was the greatest American horse of all time. Hanover was one of the most abused horses in racing, but despite the abuse he won the Belmont in 1887 and then went to the paddocks to become the leading sire for four successive seasons, 1895 to 1898. His son, Hamburg, sired Burgomaster, winner of the Belmont in 1906, and Prince Eugene, winner in 1913, while another son, Yankee, was the daddy of Joe Madden, winner in 1909. In our racing and breeding, there have been few more impressive sire-and-son combinations than Hindoo and Hanover. The latter, who raced under the silks of the Dwyer brothers, was the first known "nerved" horse to come into American racing. He was brilliant, in all that the word implies, but eventually, decomposition of the cartillage set in, following by gangrene, and he was mercifully destroyed, thus ending the career of a horse that many experts of the day said should never have been beaten. There is another angle in early American breeding that applies to the Belmont Stakes and all other races, .and the late Robert Ripley, in his "Believe It or Not," never recorded a stranger or more mysterious item. Horses had been brought to this country prior to the arrival of Diomed in Virginia and many came after him. Some failed and others made good. But, and it defies explanation, the three who were to establish lasting male lines all arrived within a period of three years.. Bonnie Scotland was brought here in 1857, Australian in 1858 and Eclipse in 1859. There has been some confusion in thoroughbred records about Eclipse — for some writers are prone to confuse him with the original Eclipse, who was the progenitor of the vast majority of race horses in the world today. Eclipse Foal of 1855 The Eclipse we refer to here was by Orlando and a foal of 1855. Four years later, hejwas brought to this country and was reputed to have introduced "speed" here. From Barbarity by Simoon, he begot Ruthless, the first winner of the Belmont Stakes and a member of the famed "Barbarous Battalion," which was completed by the trio of Relentless, Remorseless and Merciless. But he also sired Alarm, who was sometimes called "Flash." In 1872, Alarm established the American record of 1:42% for one mile. He was the sire of Panique, winner of the Belmont in 1884. His greatest son, however, was Him-yar, a phenomenal sprinter who, in 1878, suffered the most crushing defeat known in the long history of the Kentucky Derby. Himyar made amends in the breeding sheds, for not only did he sire Correction, the dam of Yankee, but he gave to the racing world the horse named Domino The Black Whirlwind "who was founder of one of .the most famous speed lines the world has eyer known. Dominos best son was Commando, winner of the Belmont Stakes in 1901 and sire of Peter Pan and Colin, winner of the Belmont in 1907 and 1908, respectively. Up to -the turn of the century, there %was much debate about whether Hanover or Commando was best of the Belmont winners, but regardless of that, they were two of the most successful horses to emerge from the winners circle, and pass their qualities on to their sons. As stated, Bonnie Scotland landed in this country two years before the arrival of Eclipse. For 15 years, Bonnie Scotland was given little opportunity as a stallion. Finally, he was sent to the famous Belle Meade Stud in Tennessee. Although in the twilight of his career, as the years of a stallion are numbered, he was the sire of George Kinney, winner of the Belmont in 1883, and Bourbon Bells, dam of Hanover, winner in 1887. His son, Bramble, was the sire of Ben Brush, founder of the male line of that name today. Ben Brush was the daddy of Delhi, winner in 1904, and Sweep, winner in 1910. Between the importations of Bonnie Scotland and Eclipse, Australian reached our shores in 1858 and here was a horse who founded the most impressive line known to the Belmont Stakes. Australian had three sons who were Belmont winners, Joe Daniels, 1872; Springbok, 1873, and Spendthrift, 1879. Spendthrifts son, Hastings, took Belmont honors in 1896 and he was a factor in making Spendthrift the countrys leading sire that year. Of unruly temper, and often vicious, Hastings made a marked impression on breeding in this Continued on Page Forty-Three Belmont Has Played Big Part in Breeding Pattern Immortal Lexington Sired Four Winners of Distance Classic Continued from Page Five country, for not only did he beget Master- man, winner iri 1902, but Fair Play, who ran second to the immortal Colin in the ✓renewal of 1908. • .When sent to stud, Fair Play was to become one of the most impressive stallions in the history of .the Belmont, in fact one of the greatest of Sires in the annals of American breeding. Domino founded our speed line and Ben Brush our middle-distance line, but it was Fair Play, a son of Hastings and imported Fairy Gold, by Bend Or, who established pur greatest staying line, and this is clearly reflected in the history of the Belmont Stakes,. When racing was stopped in New York State in 1910 and there was no sport, in 1911 and 1912, thoroughbred breeding was perilously close to extinction in this country. There was no market for thorough-, breds. Hundreds were sold as work horses, while others were shipped abroad to bring very small prices. When the gates of the New York racing parks were thrown open in 1913, the public was eager for the,1 revival. Though the breeders ranks had thinned out considerably, some of the veterans, and some newcomers, proceeded to rebuild. In those years, Star Shoot, an imported" - horse by Isinglass — Astrology, by Hermit, was to be our leading American sire and he led the list in 19U, 1912, 1916, 1917 and 1919. He sent forth uch a great pair of Belmont winners as Sir Barton in 1919 J and Grey Lag in 1921. But between Sir Barton and Grey Lag, the greatest American rider of all time was to carve his name on the Belmont roster; and this was in 1920 when Han o War defeated Donnacona. That was the first year in which Fair Play was to lead the American sire list, and it was just the opening of a brilliant chapter in the history of the Belmont Stakes and breeding of the present century. Following Man o War, Fair Play sent Mad Play, 1924, and Chance Shot, 1927, to the - Belmont winners circle. Those two horses played a major part in elevating their sire to the top of the list in those years. Chance Shot sired Peace Chance, who was a Belmont winner in 14; but two years previously, Chatterton, who was also a son of Fair Play, added another score for the Fair Play dynasty in the victory of Faireno. _ Mai; o War was Fair Plays greatest son and after his retirement to stud the American racing world keenly awaited the youngsters of this "Big Red," who had met only one defeat in his racing career. He began service in Kentucky as a four-year-old and no race horse since Salvator aroused such public enthusiasm. His success as a sire was immediate and sustained and in his first season he begot American Flag, winner of the Belmont Stokes in 1925. The following year lie sent Crusader to the Belmont winners circle and that horse was one of the winners who made him the leading sire of the year. Crusader, American Flag and other sons - J of Man o War were to come along, but although they had some success in stud it appeared for several years that none was within the shadow of Big Red, and there was a question of whether any would be capable of carrying on his male line. Then in 1937 War Admiral arrived to place a different aspect on the male line of the greatest of all American horses. Sir Barton was the first horse to win the "Triple Crown" — the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. In those years of the early 1920s, American racing and breeding was fast recovering from the Hughes shutdown a decade before. The feat of Sir Barton was not to be duplicated until 1930, when Gallant Fox had a brilliant three-year-old season, winning 08,275, the largest sum ever won by any horse, in one season up to that time. Gallant Fox was a son of Sir Gallahad HL, one of the most successful sires brought to these shores since the years of Leamington. Sir Gallahad HI. was ah able representative of the clan of Teddy. St. Germans, another imported stallion and a son of Swynford, brought another male line into the Belmont picture with the victory of Twenty Grand, one of the best horses of the century. From 1930 to 1940, the Teddy line was to be very prominent. Gallant Fox was sent to stud; and in 1935 his son, Omaha, joined the small "Triple Crown" list. The following year, Granville, another son of Gallant Fox, was a Belmont winner. It must be added, that Sir Gallahad m. also was the sire of the dams of Pasteurized .and Johnstown, Belmont winners in 1938 and 1939. Regardless of the many imported horses who were sending successful sons to the Belmont winners circle, the old American lines of Fair Play and Ben Brush were still in the picture. The big year for the male line of Man o War came when War Admiral won the "Triple Crown" in 1937. In later years, the hope was revived that a son of Big Red would carry on for him as an important branch of the Fair Play line. In 1938, Pasteurized, who was out of a Sir Gallahad m. marc scored for the American line of Ben Brush. The years from 1941 to 1946 developed three more "Triple Crown" winners in Whirlaway, 1941; Count Fleet, 1943, and Assault, 1946. These horses went separate ways, for Whh-laway is now in France and Assaults future is questionable as he proved a very shy breeder. Count Fleet, a son of Reigh Count, is one of the most impressive stallions in this country, and in theimpend-ing Belmont, he will be represented by Count Turf, winner of the Kentucky Derby, and also Counterpoint, winner of the Peter Pan. Shut Out, winnerof the Belmont in 1942, and Pavot, who took the honors in 1945, are showing promise of success in stud, but it is much too early to pass judgment on them. From 1946, when Assault was the winner, the Belmont has been won by Phalanx, Citation, Capot, and Middleground. Their future is, naturally, problematical. But, in reviewing the Belmont Stakes from its earliest renewals, it appears safe to say that some of the winners of the past six years will send successfel sons to this race which demands the last ounce of speed and stamina of those who enter its winners circle.

Persistent Link:
Local Identifier: drf1951061601_5_4
Library of Congress Record: