History of American Thoroughbred, Daily Racing Form, 1922-11-04


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History of American Thoroughbred ScTcntli Installment. To draw a parallel as nearly as I can draw one I regard the old Virginian turf 1 prior to the fifteenth year at least, of the nineteenth century, as neither more nor less authentic than that of England up to the i time of English Eclipse. From the days when the sons and daugh- , ters of these noble animals began to run J upon the turfs of England and the tracks of America all is plain and on record, so that he who runs may read. : The first great excellence of what I con- sidcr the authentic recorded race horse of America, I ascribe to what I will call the , first grand post-revolutionary cross of Eng- lish with old Virginian blood, produced by . the importation of Diomed and Messenger and, a few years earlier, of Bedford, Med- 1 ley, Gabriel and Shark. The progeny of these horses were collateral here, with the Highflyers, Florizels, King ; Ferguses, "Whalebones, Waxys PotSos and . Beningboroughs across the water, at the time, and their posterity held similar relations and relative positions. The palmy time, then, of the turf in America I should state to have lain between the years of 1315 and 1845, the former date being a little earlier than its dawn and the latter a little later than the first symptoms of its decline. RACING SPIRIT RECEIVES CHECK. "Without asserting that the quality of the American thoroughbred began to fall after the latter date, I do maintain that the racing spirti received a severe check at about that tJme. This check threatened seriously to affect, if not destroy in toto, the American race horse, in spite of all his glories, all his excellencies and all his incomparable benefits conferred on the stock of the country at large. The wholesome and amicable rivalry of the northern and southern stables, with their in a greater or lesser degree distinctive families, was an unquestionable stimulus to breeders and told its tale in the high form of the racers which we used to see contending in the good days of 1330, under the auspices of such men as Johnson and Tay-loe, Van Mater, "Wade Hampton, Bingaman, Stevens, Livingston, Stockton, Tillotson, Jones, Gibbons and many more, as good as they, from all sections of the country. The great race of races, it is true, was one of the things bygone when I first trod the soil of America. The first American race horse upon which I set eyes, in the year ot my novitiate, was the champion Eclipse. The next his gallant competitor Sir Henry. Ariel, the most successful and enduring, perhaps, of all the progeny of the great northern conqueror, was withdrawn from the scene of his glories already, but it was my fortune to witness, on my entrance to the turf of Long Island, the splendid twenty-mile mare race, the prize for which was borne off by that magnificent and honest animal. Black Maria. Singularly enough that mare combines all the imported blood which I have named, together with the old Virginian strains of Giockfast, Fearnought, Yorick and the rest, having through her sire, American Eclipse, Diomed, Messenger, Bedford and Medley crosses and by her dam, Lady Lightfoot, Sir Archy and Shark crosses. GREAT MARES OF THE PERIOD. From that time forward, meeting after meeting, there was one constant and continued succession of good, nay! great horses on the turf, and meeting after meeting, year after year, spring and fall, from Long Island to New Orleans, there was one constant promise, and that promise made good, of fine sport for sportsmen. Those were the days of such mares as Trifle, Bonnets of Blue, Fashion, Peytona, Reel and many more second, if second, to none but the best of such horses as Medoc, by Eclipse Maid of the Oaks, by imported Expedition; g. dam, old Maid of the Oaks by Spread Eagle ; g. g. dam, the dam of Nancy Air, by Shark ; g. g. g. dam by Rockingham, g. g. g. g. dam by Gallant; g. g. g. g. g. dam by True "Whig ; g. g. g. g. g. g. dam by imported Reg-ulus, and g. g. g. g. g. g. g. dam by imported Diamond, an animal of singular beauty and one which was withdrawn from the turf in the prime of his performance and cut off by an unfortunate accident ero he had half fulfilled his promise as a stallion. Another great horse was Mingo, by American Eclipse Bay Belt, by Thorntons Rattler. The latter was by Sir Archy. His g. dam was the Cliffden mare, by imp. Cliff-den ; g. g. dam by Halls Spot, which was i by Halls imp. Eclipse ; g. g. g. dam by Hyder Aly, which was by Lindsays Arabian, the dam of Othello. Mingo was, to my mind, for shape, figure, stride and action, the race horse in the highest form that I have ever seen since I have been in America. He was as big as he was beautiful and as good as he was big. It - always appeared to me that this iriagnificent - animal never had half a fair chance on j our early one-mile round courses, which, it - must be admitted, are as much against "a long-striding, lengthy, railing galloper as they are in favor of a short, active, quick-gathering, compact animal. He was a good 1 winner and good performer, after all, though ho was often most indifferently ridden. 1 I- once saw him come in a winner in a four-mile - heat with his head pulled half round, . the snaffle drawn wholly through his mouth to the left and the rein acting as a bit. CLARIOX A GALLANT HORSE. Clarion, by Monmouth Eclipse, dam by r Oscar, was as beautiful and gallant a horse i as a man need look upon. Postboy, by Sir Henry Garland, by Old Duroc ; g. dam. Young Damsel, by Hamil-tonian ; g. g. dam, Millers Damsel, by imported Messenger; g. g. g. dam, by PotSos; ; g. g. g. g. dam by Gimcrack, etc, etc., was a good horse. He was supposed for a short t time to be a wonder, but was clearly overrated. - He was not by a long shot as good 1 a horse as Mingo. Of the latter it is asserted - that he was never beaten when in condition, an assertion perhaps, in this case, true, but in all cases easy to make and i impossible to disprove. He was beaten by 7 John Bascombe, which, although esteemed 1 prodigious, was only a good and not an i extra good race horse. John Bascombe was by Bertrand, which i was by Sir Archy Eliza, by Bedford ; dam i Gray Goose, the latter by imported Citizen ; ; g. dam Sally Sneed, by imported Buzzard ; ; g. g. dam Jane Hunt, by General Hamptons s Paragon ; g. g. g. dam by imported Figure . . 1 i , J : , . 1 ; . i - - j - 1 I- - . r i ; t - 1 - i 7 1 i i i ; ; ; ; s . . - l g. . S- S- dam Miss Slamcrkin, by imported jj AViidair; g. g. g. g. S- dam Delanceys im- j ported Cub mare. This is as good an American pedigree as s can easily be produced. He was a large, tall, rather leggy and decidedly light bodied C horse, but had fine action and was an easy goer. His points were for speed and :tut for staying a distance or carrying a weight j He beat the best horses of his year, Argyle and Postboy, but the year was not a crack s cue and, like many other horses which have been held cracks of the minute, he has . settled down into his proper place. It has been calculated that Boston and Fashion, in their great race, would have beaten Bascombe in his Postboy race by 240 yards. Wagner and Gray Eagle, I shall not here refer to more at large, leaving their pedi- grees arid descriptions to be noted hereafter, t as I have those of Eclipse and Henry. Ariel J and Flirtilla, Black Maria and the other , animals which participated in the great races I have judged desirable to record at length. Peytona was by imported Glencoe Giantess, by imported Leviathan; g. dam by Sir Archy; g. g. dam, Virginia, by Dare Devil; , g. g. g. dam, Lady Bolingbroke, by imported Pantaloon ; g. g. g. g. dam, Cades, by "Worm- leys King Herod ; g. g. g. g. g. dam. Prim- , rose, by Dove; g. g. g. g.. g. g. dam, Stella, by Othello ; g. g. g. g. g. g. g. dam, Taskers Selima, by the Godolphin Arabian. She was an enormous, dark red. chestnut . mave, standing full sixteen hands and three inches in height; she was deeply made in her heart place and had powerful, long-letdown hocks. Her barrel was so large that, standing directly in front of her, Porter . says, one could see her ribs on either side, i Her stride was enormous, said to cover twen- i ty-seven feet. She certainly made good run- 1 ning on several occasions and was a good winner. She was a most successful animal , to her owners, for whom she won upward , of 2,000 before her match with Fashion, by which she netted them 0,000 more. She had previously beaten Blue Dick with some ease and he was anything but a contemptible adversary. In her match with Fashion she won laurels which, like those of Bascombe, were for a moment thought to be perennial, though they were soon faded and trailed in the dust. The two heats were ; done in 7:39 and 7:154. PORTERS ANALYSIS OF PEYTOA. "Her immense stride and strength," says Porter, in one of his telling descriptions of a race, which no man who wields a pen can describe as he can when he is in the vein, "and her nice ideal of perpetual motion did the business. It is a matter of doubt with some whether Fashion ever saw the day when she could beat Peytona. Certainly Petonia not only outfooted her, but outlasted her. In our opinion, condition won the race. It is remarkable that, after so- fast a first heat, there should have been so little falling off as five and a half seconds in the second heat." I saw this race myself and I unquestionably was not one of those who doubted whether Fashion ever saw the day, etc. so far from it that I stood my small stake confidently on the return match at Camden a fortnight later when, on that far heavier and slower course Fashion, which had been kept constantly at hard work, never missing a gallop since the day of her defeat, fairly ! reversed the tables and won in two heats ! without ever being put to her speed, in 7:48 and 7:59. There is no doubt Fashions rider, having by order pulled her up and passed the winning post at a hand canter, could have distanced Peytona. After this race she was withdrawn from the turf, a fine animal and a good and honest mare, able to go the pace and stay the distance. Blue Dick was another prominent horse. He was by impoited Margrave, the dam being by Lance. He was a blue roan horse and a fairly good one, though not what one could fairly call a successful horsft or a good winner, for he was continually overmatched. "With Register of his own years it was a tough match, though Dick was the better horse. "With such an animal as Peytona he was clearly and indisputably overmatched and with Fashion he had not a show for it. But racers such as Fashion and her immortal rival, Boston, are not met with every day and it might even be said of those who ran against them what a distinguished statesman is reported to have said, "It is honor enough to have run a bad second to Andrew Jackson!" Could such a thing be possible as to recall the days that are fled and to put Fashion, Boston, Lecompte, Lexington and Pryor, if you please, all on the Union course together in the heydey of their blood and in their most blooming condition, at any age from three years old to aged, with northern weight for age. L for one, would be willing to risk my shot, in the first place, on old "Whitenose and the Jersey mare, and, in the second place, against any such time as that made over the New Orleans courses. During this same period there were other horses almost innumerable worthy of men- tion, among which it will not be invidious to name Duane, better perhaps than some which I have mentioned, Argyle, and the mares Miss Foote, Trifle, Gipsey and the famous Reel, by imported Glencoe, her dam imported Gallopade, by Catton, herself doubly famous as a distinguished winner and as the dam of the cracks par excellence of the day. PERIOD OF GREAT RACES. During the period I have here specified occurred all the great and time honored races of America with the exception of two or three events in the middle of the nine- teenth century which are to be ascribed to a different strain of blood, to a new school of breeding, whether for better or worse in the long run perhaps yet remains to be seen. Those great races which I esteem as worthy of immortality as ever was the match of Hamblctonian and Diamond or any other match race, if there ever were any other of yet greater fame, are those of American Eclipse and Sir Henry ; of Ariel, daughter of Eclipse, and Flirtilla; of Black Maria and the three mares known as the twenty-mile race ; of "Wagner and Gray Eagle, at the Oaklands course, Lexington, and of Boston and Fashion on the Union course. Long Island. Those, as the old Marshal Trivulciano said, who had fought in thirty-six pitched battles, yet had never seen a stricken field until he fought at Marignano, those were combats of giants, all the rest were childs play. Of those, the great events of the great turf campaigns of this country, I have been so fortunate as to procure accurate descriptions by the pens of eyewitnesses who will, by all true turfmen, be admitted the most competent to form accurate opinions and draw sound conclusions on all matters concerning this nobler sport than the Olympic games of old and whose pen paintings of such scenes have, long ago, been pronounced first and best by mouths of wisest censure. The first of these, the great race of Eclipse and Sir Henry, the time of which was so long the best, so long believed to be not only unapproached, but unapproachable together with the memoirs, pedigrees, performances" and description of the rival racers, is from the pen of one whom it is enough to name "The Old Turfman," Cadwalader C. Colden, indisputably the best authority in his day on all matters connected with the horse of good blood. From the same distinguished source is the memoir and pedigree of Ariel, the list of ter performances, and her almost unequaied race with Flirtilla. The twenty-mile race of Black Maria, with her memoir and performances, selected from the columns of the "Spirit of the Times," is understood to be by the brother of her late distinguished owner, that celebrated breeder, promoter and benefactor of the agricultural interests of this continent, Charles Henry Hall. The races of "Wagner and Gray Eagle, taken from the pages of the "American Turf Register" and "Sporting Magazine," are from the pen of "William T. Porter. I well remember, at the time, when this brilliant and graphic narrative and picture of events made its appearance, the general admiration with which it was hailed. By the editor of that formerly well known and world renowned journal, "Bells Life in London," it was immediately pronounced the perfection of turf writing, combining the absolute of strong horse-language and imagery with the entire absence of slang. If, critically speaking, I possess any judgment in regard to style and the artificial in composition, I should pronounce the Wagner and Gray Eagle contest report to be the best description of a race ever penned in any country or in any language. The Fashion and Boston match on tha Union course, from the columns of the "Spirit of the Times," is from the same hand also. The same clear narrative, quick observation and accurate decision are discernible in every line. This great event and grand struggle, in which the northern stables renewed tha laurels won in the conquest of the southern champion. Sir Henry, by the great Eclipse, brings me almost to the conclusion of tha period which I have determined upon as the palmy days of early American racing. It brings me complete to the decadence and downfall of the turf in the northern states in 1345. For what reasons it fell it would not be easy to state. Perhaps this would not be, for some reasons, the place in which to state it, if it were so. RECLETE OF BREEDING. It is sufficient that at the same moment, or nearly so, all the most liberal and energetic patrons of the turf withdrew their support from it, closed .their stables, disposed of their studs and ceased to breed, to keep or to import blood stock, vastly to the loss of the agricultural community. At the same time an unthinking, senseless, declamatory spirit of fanaticism, denouncing the breeding of blood stock racing as the worst, most dangerous and most destructive sort of gambling ran through the community and even took possession of tha legislatures. Race courses were put down and proscribed, while trotting courses, at which on the most moderate computation the opportunities for fraud are ten times greater, and where fraud was fifty times more generally practiced than on any race course, obtained a fixed position and a stand. Gentlemen and persons of means and education generally totally withdrew in thai northern states from the habit of breeding, keeping, riding or driving fast horses or, patronizing races at all, except as a mere spectacle to be visited as a theater, or a field day. Everything connected with tha northern turf fell into the hands of professional persons of greater or less respectability, some doubtless of the highest, soma of the most questionable, who practice it, of course, professionally, as a matter of emolument. To Be Continued.

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