Two Grand Horses of Long Ago: Senator Joe Blackburns Recollections of Boston and American Eclipse, Daily Racing Form, 1907-12-12


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TWO GRAND HORSES OF LONG AGO. Senator Joe Blackburns Recollections of Boston and American Eclipse. . , - i "Race track devotees nowadays want quick action ; for their money," said Senator Blackburn of Ken- tucky, recently. "When I was a young man the ; betting proposition was subsidiary to the sport and was in the nature of side wagers between owners. Now racing has grown to be a game where , every one is trying to get the best of the book- j makers. I think every one who lovos the thorough- bred for what he is and what he can do, regrets . "that lie lias of late years become, to a large extent, . a tool of the gamblers. , "My father was among the first citizens of Kentucky who bred, trained and raced horses. Black- , burns Whip, whose Mood has blended so kindly , with trotters and thoroughbred, was lii property. Boston, sire of the immortal Lexington, died in my fathers stable, and the great and unbeaten Eclipse was in my fathers possession in the years 1S37 and 1S3S. These horses were the champions ; of their day and the greatest horses of their generation; they were not furlong sprinters, but four-milers. "It will hardly be believed in these days of palatial stables that while these valuable horses were in my fathers care, they occupied a Tery ordinary log stable through which the winds whistled on wintry nights and through which, the snow drifted on occasions. When Boston and Eclipse were brought to Kentucky they did not make the trip .in palace cars, as do the costly thoroughbreds of today; walking -was good enough for them, and .It was by walking every inch of the route that they reached their destination. "Boston caught cold on the way to Kentucky and went blind soon after his arrival. I was a small lad at the time and used to visit Bostons stable every morning to see him cared" for and walked by the colored groom. In the fall of 1S49, then seventeen years old, he began to grow decrepit from the effect of severe racing and duties in the stud and frequently had to bo helped to rise. When on his feet he seemed to be all right again and able to take his morning exercise. "Early one morning, in the year named, I slipped out of the house and down- to Bostons stable. The door was closed and fastened within. I hammered on it and clamored for admittance. The door was cautiously opened far enough to admit the passage of my body, when a black hand seized me by the arm and dragged me inside. I was no sooner In than the groom was out and the door fastened. I took the matter good-naturedly until my eyes became acustomed to the light, when I saw something that curdled the blood in my young veins. Boston was lying on his side in a corner of his stall, lifeless, and great splashes of blood were on the wall. In his dying struggle he had beaten his head against the logs. I screamed lustily for the groom, and, seeing he had carried the joke far enough, he came to my rescue. My life has been in danger a score of times since on the battlefield and elsewhere, but I was never quite so badly scared. " I presume I am among the very few men living who ever, saw Boston. He was the greatest race horse and race horse sire of his day and Ills descendants, are even now racing at Benning. He was bred by the late eminent jurist, John Wick-ham, of Richmond, Va., foaled in 1S33 and- was got by Timolcon, by Sir Archy, out of an own sister to Tuckahoe, by Balls Florizel, a horse that during his. turf career was never touched by whip or spur and was never beaten. The great-great-grandam of Boston was never fully traced. In his two-year-old form and while he was unbroken, he was sold to Nathaniel Rieves, of Richmond, Va.. for 00. "A peculiarity about him was that he could not be safely ridden with a spur. In his first race he irolted because his rider used a spur on him, and was distanced. He was never again ridden with a spur until he ran against Fashion, iu his old age, and was beaten. In 1839 he became the property of James Long of this city, for 12,000 and half tho purse "Boston was a chestnut horse, with a blaze in ills face and white stockings behind. He stood fifteen hands, three inches under the standard, but looked taller on. account of his prodigious size. He was a short-limbed horse, with unusually short canon bones. His eye, ear and nostril were fine, but his head was not what you would call pretty. His neck came out well from the shoulders, the latter being oblique, broad and muscular. His depth of chest was Immense and his throttle perfect. "His back was a prodigy of strength, as well as his loins, so that ten pounds extra weight was not felt by him at the end of a hard day. The muscular development of his arms and thighs was almost unparalleled. He ran close to the ground and was not a long strider. Usually he began a race without much show of spirit, running the first two or three miles with his head nearly on a level with his back. When he began to get warm and interested in the running his head was gradually elevated, and when he drew it up he set to work in earnest. Then you saw a sure-enough race horse, for no locomotive on four legs that tried was ever able to go the race with him. k "Eclipse was also a chestnut horse, and was foaled " nineteen years earlier than Boston, or to be exact, in 1S14. Eclipse was by Duroc, by imported Diomed, the latter being Bostons great-grandsirc; dam Millers Damsel, by Messenger, the great-great-grandsire of Hainblctonian 10, founder of the Hainbletonian family of trotters. He was bred by General Nathaniel Coles, of Long Island and his training commenced as a three-year-old. "He had a star on the forehead and his left hind foot was white some distance above the ankle. In height he was. about 15 hands 2 inches, but was built on a massive pattern. Ho was not a handsome horse, probably due to his Messenger blood through his dam." Duroc, his sire, was an exceedingly handsome horse. Eclipses action in front was heavy, and lie struck the ground heavy, dwelling a little, but the style and regularity with which lie brought up his haunches and the power witli which they propelled him forward, overbalanced all criticisms of his individuality and way of going. "His temper was good and he required a good deal of work, and in his running a good deal of whipping. The account of his great race with Henry, which, was virtually between the north and south, still thrills the blood of men who have an ounce of love for the thoroughbred in their hearts. Henry won by a head in the first heat, but Eclipse won the race. It is estimated that 25,000 people witnessed the race, and that over 00,000 in side bets changed hands. "Eclipse lived to be thirty-three years old and died at the farm of Jilson Yates, near Shelbyville, Ky." Washington Star.

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