Tommy Atkins – 1898 ch. c. by Masetto (GB) – Quesal by Himyar
Breeder: Maj. Thomas J. Carson
Owners: James R. Keene & Foxhall P. Keene
Trainer: James Rowe
RECORD: (9) 2-3-3 / $15,450
1st: Juvenile S. (5f-NSR,Morris Park), Neptune S. (6f,Brighton Beach)
2nd: Double Event #1 (5.5f,SHE), Double Event #2 (abt. 6f,SHE), Flatbush S. (7f,SHE)
3rd: Great American S. (5f,GRE), Tremont S. (6f,GRE), Futurity S. (170 ft. less than 6f,SHE)
By the imported Masetto (GB) and out of the Himyar mare Quesal, Tommy Atkins was a Dixiana Stud bred in all but name.
Falling into financial hardship, Dixiana owner Maj. Barak G. Thomas would disperse his stock and sell off the farm property in late November 1897. Included in the bloodstock dispersal of almost 500 head was the 9-year-old St. Simon (GB) stallion Masetto (GB) and the 11-year-old Himyar mare Quesal.
Masetto (GB) was a relatively unsuccessful racer in his native England, with his best performance coming by way of a third place finish in the Bradford Plate at Leicester. Said to be a handsome, rich brown horse that greatly favored his sire St. Simon (GB) in the head and neck, the young stallion was purchased by E. S. Gardner, Jr. of Avondale Stud in Gallatin, TN for $5,000. Gardner would also purchase the 22-year-old stallion Himyar for $2,500.
Quesal, a Dixiana homebred and great-grandaughter of the farm’s namesake, the influential mare Dixie, was a sweepstaker/handicapper for Richard Dwyer who would win nine races during her career. In foal to Masetto (GB) with the foal that would become Tommy Atkins, Quesal was purchased by Maj. Thomas J. Carson for $1,100.
While Dixiana would initially transfer hands to Jacob Sechler Coxley in November 1897, Quesal’s owner Maj. Carson would assume ownership of the property by early 1899. Consigned to a Sheepshead Bay paddock sale in June 1899, the Masetto (GB) – Quesal colt would go to Foxhall P. Keene for $4,500. Weighing in at 885 pounds at the time of the sale, he was reputed to be the largest yearling ever produced at Dixiana.
Following the sale, the Masetto (GB) colt, now named Tommy Atkins (a term for common soldiers in the British Army), was sent to the Keene training base at Brookdale Farm in Red Bank, NJ for early lessons, where he was held in enough high regard to be nominated for the Futurity Stakes of 1900.
Skipping lesser company, Tommy Atkins would make his career debut in the Juvenile Stakes (5f) at Morris Park on May 5. Faced with a full fourteen horse field, Tommy would set a new stakes record of :59 ¾ in defeating place and show finishers Bellario and Prince of Melrose.
“James R. Keene’s Tommy Atkins, a half brother to Trumpet, won with ease, coming away from the others when Spencer called on him at the end, but he ran green throughout, and his race was not at all an indication of his racing qualities. He ran the distance in 0:59 3/4, which is the fastest the Juvenile Stakes was ever run in, and was going strongly at the end, while Bellario and Prince of Melrose behind him were out to the last ounce.” (The New York Times, 05/06/1900)
“Tommy Atkins, by the Avondale sire, imp. Masetto, is thought by many good judges to be the best 2-year-old colt in the East.” (The Nashville American, 05/14/1900)
Off of his winning effort in the Juvenile S., Tommy would travel to Gravesend for the Great American Stakes (5f) on June 9, where hampered by a poor start and slow track conditions, he would finish third by a roughly a neck to Prince Charles and Prince Pepper.
“Tommy Atkins, the third horse, proved himself the best colt in the race by a remarkable performance. Starting last, he ran all around the field, and within a few strides would have won out. He was barely a neck behind Prince Pepper, as it was. James Rowe, Tommy Atkins’s trainer, was very angry after the race and said that on account of repeated unsatisfactory occurrences such as this he intended to cable J. R. Keene, who is in Europe, resigning his post as trainer because he claims that he cannot get fair play at the hands of the starter.” (The New York Times, 06/10/1900)
“In the opinion of shrewd students of form Tommy Atkins should have won the Great American and he lost no prestige by his defeat, as he showed phenomenal speed as soon as Spencer got him going. A good deal of light may be thrown on the subject next Saturday in the first running of the double event of $10,000, which is one of the opening features of the forthcoming Coney Island Jockey Club meeting at Sheepshead Bay. Practically all the best two-year-olds in training, except Cap and Bells, are engaged, and there will probably be a large acceptance, as special inducements are offered to any youngster capable of winning both divisions of the race.” (The Atlanta Constitution, 06/13/1900)
Following the Great American, interest turns to the first race of the Double Event series for 2-year-olds to be held at Sheepshead Bay on June 16.
“The Coney Island Jockey Club meeting will begin with the suburban day on next Saturday. … If the race should bring about a meeting between Tommy Atkins, Water Color, Black Fox, Handwork, and Bonnibert it should be an event worth going a thousand miles to see.” (The Atlanta Constitution, 06/12/1900)
In preparation for the Double Event, Tommy would contend the Tremont Stakes (6f) at Gravesend on June 13, finishing third by a little over a length to Blues and Prince Pepper.
A paddock sale was held at Gravesend on the same day as the Tremont, where Tommy’s yearling half-brother by Dr. MacBride, said to be a “very high-class colt,” would sell for $7,500 to Arthur Featherstone of Chicago.
“In the Tremont Stakes a good lot of 2-year-olds faced the flag, with Tommy Atkins the favorite. Now, Atkins in his last race, it is claimed, was treated badly by the starter. He had no such excuse today. Spencer was slow in getting his horse off and was shut out. Blues took the lead at the quarter and was never headed, winning from Prince Pepper by a length, with Tommy Atkins third by a neck.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 06/14/1900)
“Aside from the trial of Imp, the feature of the day’s sport was the run for the Tremont Stakes of $10,000, for which the Keene colt, Tommy Atkins, was a lively favorite. There have been all sorts of yarns to the effect that he had been beaten in previous races solely because he was not given a fair start with the others in the fields that have beaten him. The absurdity of this claim was made manifest yesterday, when with as fair a start as any of his competitors, he was outrun in the early stages of the journey. … The fact seems to be that Tommy Atkins is a very slow beginner, and is therefore at a great disadvantage in the races over shorter distances of ground. This race, it is true, was the longest the two-year-olds have been asked to run this season – six furlongs – but it was not far enough for Tommy Atkins, at that. He seemed to be just warming up to racing when the end of the route was reached. If it had been a mile be might have beaten Blues and he might not. There is ample room for a difference of opinion as to the relative merits of the two animals.” (The New York Times, 06/14/1900)
Three days later, Tommy would travel to Sheepshead Bay for the highly anticipated Double Event #1 (5.5f), where he would finish second by a length to the filly Tower of Candles.
“Tommy Atkins’s last two races at Gravesend caused more than a little argument and quite a lot of dissatisfaction, his trainer contending that unfair treatment at the start caused his defeats then. The race yesterday should set at rest any claim of exceptional quality for the colt. He had absolutely no excuse, for he was away well and was fairly outrun by M. Murphy’s smart filly, Tower of Candles, who, being quick to move, raced to the front at the start, and, with Tommy Atkins hanging at her side, led all the way, drawing away from the favorite on the stretch and winning very easily by a length. Tommy Atkins seemed to tire at the end and was stopping, but, vigorously ridden by Spencer, he managed to hang on long enough to get second place from R. W. Walden’s colt, Contend.” (The New York Times, 06/17/1900)
The Great Trial Stakes (6f) at Sheepshead Bay on June 30 would be the only out of the money finish in Tommy’s career. Finishing next to last in the field of eleven, and conceding seven pounds to the winner, the Great Trial would be won by another Keene entrant – the future Hall of Famer Commando. Future classic winner The Parader would take the place.
Coming off the worst performance of his career, Tommy would remain at Sheepshead Bay for the Double Event #2 (abt. 6f) on July 4. Over a course rated slow, Tommy would finish second to Elkhorn by two lengths, conceding fifteen pounds to the colt.
A move to Brighton Beach for the Neptune Stakes (6f) on July 28 would mark a return to winning ways for Tommy. Defeating place horse All Green by two lengths, chart notes read: “Tommy Atkins went to the front when called on and easily galloped past his field.”
Coming off of a win in the Neptune S., Tommy would next contest the highly anticipated Futurity Stakes (170 ft. less than 6f) at Sheepshead Bay on August 25.
Despite heavy rains the night prior, the track would come up fast and dry by the time the Futurity was run, with the well-regarded maiden Ballyhoo Bey equaling the stakes record of 1:10 (set by Ogden in 1896) in his winning effort over Olympian. Finishing third by 1 ½ lengths, Tommy had been assigned 129 pounds for the race, conceding 17 pounds to both colts.
In the Flatbush Stakes (7f) at Sheepshead Bay on September 1, where in a roughly ridden race, Tommy would finish second by a head to the Futurity winner Ballyhoo Bey.
Controversy surrounding the outcome of the race would begin almost immediately, with Tommy suffering a troubled trip, Ballyhoo Bey exiting the race severely cut down in the right foreleg, detractors proclaiming the Flatbush was not a truly run race, and a “white as death” Foxhall Keene calling for the stewards to be hanged.
“There was little delay at post. Smile went to the front and set a heart-breaking pace. Alard Scheck skimmed over the ground at his side, while one length away was Ballyhoo Bey, a length in front of Tommy Atkins. Around the turn into the stretch they came and still the speeding Smile held the lead. They straightened out for the run home, Smile next to the rail, then Alard Scheck laying against him. Out from behind shot Ballyhoo Bey, who came up almost on over terms with the leaders with just enough room between him and Alard Scheck for a jockey who wished to take a desperate chance to jam his horse.
Spencer seemed willing to take that chance. He sent Tommy Atkins into the opening. Suddenly a cry went up from the grand stand, for McJoynt had pulled Smile with seeming deliberations almost across the track. He jammed the horse into Alard Scheck, who came with a bump into Tommy Atkins, whose head was at his saddle girth. Tommy Atkins was thrown against Ballyhoo Bey on the outside. At the same time the sharp plated hoof of Tommy Atkins struck the near front foot of Ballyhoo Bey just above the hoof, cutting it to the bone.
For a moment every one of the 10,000 persons present held his breath, for it looked as of there would be a fall. Tommy Atkins staggered and went almost to his knees; Ballyhoo Bey was knocked off his stride. Both horses fell back, Ballyhoo Bey five lengths and Tommy Atkins ten. Sloan and Spencer went to work on their horses and got them going again. Sloan soon got Ballyhoo Bey in full motion. The son of Kingston fairly flew. Every stride that Ballyhoo Bey took was painful, but with the speed of his sire and the courage of his dam he raced on.
The crowd that had been shrieking hysterically forgot to yell. Tommy Atkins’ head was at Sloan’s leg – and then Ballyhoo Bey’s head shot past the post.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 09/02/1900)
Foxhall Keene, a man who held no love for William Collins Whitney, placed the blame for Tommy’s misfortune solely on Whitney’s Ballyhoo Bey, instead of the initial instigator, jockey Eddie McJoynt aboard Smile.
However, stewards did not allow Keene’s claim of foul against Ballyhoo Bey to stand, with steward F. R. Hitchcock stating that blame was solely on the shoulders of McJoynt, who was suspended for the remainder of the Sheepshead Bay meeting for his actions during the race.
The day following the Flatbush, James Rowe, trainer of Tommy Atkins, remained so upset at the outcome of the race that he announces he will put up $10,000 of his own money for a match race between Tommy Akins and Ballyhoo Bey.
The challenge is accepted by Whitney in the following letter sent to the Secretary of the Coney Island Jockey Club on September 4.
“The running of the Flatbush Stakes recently was unsatisfactory to nearly everyone. As the winner of the stake it was especially so to me. The circumstances of the race left in doubt which horse would have won in a true won race. It would be agreeable to me if you would retain from the winnings of my stable at this meeting the amount won by me in the Flatbush and arrange for a meeting between Ballyhoo Bey and Tommy Atkins at Morris Park and add this money for me to such stake as may be put up by the Westchester Association. The race to be seven furlongs and at equal weights.
If the event does not occur by the reason of the non-appearance at the post for any cause of Ballyhoo Bey you may retain this money for such fund applicable to disabled jockeys as we may agree upon.
This proposal does not call in question he decision of the race by the stewards. It simply assumes that the race was not truly run, which all admit. Very respectfully,
WM. C. WHITNEY.”
The challenge is initially rejected by the Keenes, who later reconsider and accept in the below letter sent by Foxhall Keene on September 14.
“New York, Sept. 14.– I cannot accept Mr. Whitney’s remarkably generous offer to race again for a stake already won by him, but I should be glad to run Tommy Atkins against Ballyhoo Bey for a purse, each owner to add $5,000, seven furlongs, 122 pounds each, if Mr. Whitney’s horse can be ready by the first week of the Morris Park meeting. I regret to be obliged to impose these conditions as regards date, but Tommy Atkins has important engagements abroad, and must be sent to England as soon as possible.
Despite the drama, the match race between Tommy and Ballyhoo Bey would never come to fruition. The Flatbush would ultimately be the final race of the year for both colts, with Tommy scheduled to race in England and France during the 1901 racing season.
On November 25, Tommy’s yearling half-brother by Dr. MacBride who had been so well-regarded at the Gravesend sale in June dies of pneumonia at Kenmore Farm.
With $15,450 in earnings, Tommy Atkins would end the year as the seventh highest earning 2-year-old of 1900, ranking only behind Commando ($40,862), Ballyhoo Bey ($40,240), Beau Gallant ($28,085), Bonnibert ($25,932), Alard Scheck ($17,656), and Bellario ($16,595).
While the original intent was for Tommy to arrive at the Keene’s base at Newmarket, England during the fall of 1900, his departure was delayed until January 1901. Expectations were high for the colt, and as a result he had been engaged for many of the year’s major races across England and France, including the Cambridgeshire Handicap, the Cesarewitch Handicap, the English Derby, the (unspecified) Gold Cup, the Grand Prix de Paris, the St Leger Stakes, and “all of the £10,000 stakes.”
Tommy would never make any of these engagements. He would develop pneumonia while in transit to England, and steadily grow worse, succumbing to complications in London on February 4.
Ballyhoo Bey would also develop pneumonia during the winter. Determined to have become a “roarer” upon recovery, the colt would not race as a 3-year-old. He would make an unsuccessful return to the track as a 4-year old in 1902, before being retired to stud by Whitney for the 1903 breeding season, where he would fail to leave a legacy.
Due to a number of personal and financial issues, the property and bloodstock owned by Maj. Carson would ultimately be dispersed, and it appears Maj. Thomas regained ownership of Tommy’s dam Quesal at some point.
Owing to poor health, Thomas would disperse his bloodstock in December 1905, at which time Quesal was purchased by trainer William “Billy” Lakeland for $1,100. Thomas would ultimately pass away in May 1906.
During the course of her breeding career Quesal would produce sixteen living foals, seven of whom (David Tenny II, Electioneer, Maximo Gomez, Quorum, Trumpet, Tommy Atkins, Trogon) were stakes winners.
Upon Quesal’s death in November 1911 at the age of 25, Lakeland stated that her hide was to be made into a rug, and that “No mare in the stud book has anything on Quesal… It made no difference what stallion Quesal was sent to, she always threw a winner, and mighty few mares have had a greater number of colts than this same sturdy daughter of a sturdy family.” (Daily Racing Form, 11/10/1911)
Tommy Atkins’ half-sister Query (1906 f. by Voter (GB)) was the dam of Problem (1914 f. by Superman), herself the dam of champion Friar’s Carse (1923 f. by Friar Rock), the dam of stakes winners War Kilt (1943 f. by Man o’ War) and War Relic (1938 c. by Man o’ War), as well as the 4th dam of champions Sword Dancer (1956 c. by Sunglow) and Roving Boy (1980 c. by Olden Times), 1984 Broodmare of the Year Hasty Queen (1963 f. by One Count), and ancestress of G1 winner Kinsale King (2005 g. by Yankee Victor), among too many others to name.
Of current note, Friar’s Carse shows up as the 9th dam of Japanese G1 winner Copano Rickey (2010 c. by Gold Allure (JPN)), who at the time of this post is tied for 16th in the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.