Sweep Vestal wins despite nonexistent support, Dec. 1934

“Charles Town Race Track, Dec. 17. – Turf history was written here in the mountains today. For the first time in the memory of the oldest turfmen, a horse won a race in this country and there was not a bet placed on his chances. In addition, the crowd of 3,000 saw a betting miracle when the winning payoff was made on the horse that finished second. It was Sweep Vestal, a 2-year-old daughter of Sweep, which came galloping to the finish line five lengths ahead of her field to cause the confusion.

The failure to post the mutuel prices caused the crowd to sense something unusual, while the mutuel officials scratched their heads and tried to recall a precedent. P. C. White, in charge of the department, made the decision to pay off on Tiny Miss, which finished second, just as if Sweep Vestal were not in the race.

A printed sign to that effect was displayed and the mutuel board soon showed Tiny Miss, $6.80, $3.20, $2.40; Sweep Vestal, $105.80, $7.60; Quick Wit, $2.60.

A $2 bet on Sweep Vestal would have brought the lucky better the sum of $1,318.50, which represents the entire mutuel pool minus the track and State “take” of 10 percent and a small amount of “breakage.” The mountains fairly shook with the alibis of those present. Almost everyone at the track had some sort of story which ended in “–and I didn’t play it.”

Meanwhile, the dream of a lifetime of horse playing was coming true for those who backed the win chances of Tiny Miss. For the first time a horse that officially finished second brought a first-end pay-off. Some few had already tossed away or torn up their tickets and there was a wild scramble and some anxious searching.

The incident was the subject of discussion at the track for the remainder of the day, but with bookmakers and those who bet with them, Sweep Vestal is apt to be a source of argument for years to come. Experienced betters say that the “bookies” will not pay off on either horse, and the best break a player can expect is his money back on Sweep Vestal.

Contend No Pay-Off
They contend that inasmuch as no price was given on Sweep Vestal there can not be a pay-off. The fact that the track paid the winning mutuel on Tiny Miss will not affect the books, they say. Others contend that Sweep Vestal’s winning price was the entire mutuel limit and that betters are entitled to the bookmaker’s limit, generally 20-1.

The fact remains that some longshot player could have read his crystal correctly, collected the small fortune and saved the mutuel department and the bookies some headaches.

Before the race, Sweep Vestal’s odds was displayed at 20-1. Just how the mutuel department arrived at that figure the crowd will never know.

Jockey Trenchard gave Sweep Vestal a “million-dollar ride.” The filly was away from the barrier slowly, but Trenchard allowed her to find her racing legs. Along the backstretch, she had only one horse, Quick Wit, beaten. There was no indication that she would be anything but last as Quick Wit suddenly began to move toward the first flight where Coal and Tiny Miss were battling for the lead.

Virtually Flies Along Stretch
On the swing for the stretch, Sweep Vestal virtually flew. Coal and Tiny Miss swung wide and through on the rail came Trenchard with the filly. Straightened out in the stretch, Sweep Vestal galloped to the front and Trenchard drew his whip. Unknown to the rider, Sweep Vestal opened up daylight on Tiny Miss at every stride and was given credit for a 5-length victory.”
(Walter Haight / The Washington Post, 12/18/1934)

Sweep Vestal chart (WP 1934.12.18)
The Washington Post, 12/18/1934

This race would mark the only win in Sweep Vestal’s twelve race career. She would run unplaced in all other starts.


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