1898: Frank B. Harper reflects on Ten Broeck

“It is very easy to see that of his horses Ten Broeck was [Frank B.] Harper’s favorite, although Longfellow, besides being a great race horse, was infinitely more successful in the stud, and his progeny has shed luster upon Nantura to a greater extent than that of Ten Broeck.

This favoritism is accounted for by the fact that Longfellow as already fully developed and had made his reputation during the lifetime of John Harper, while Frank Harper had ‘the raising’ of Ten Broeck, who was given to him as a suckling colt by his uncle.

‘Uncle John didn’t think much of Ten Broeck,’ said Mr. Harper. ‘He was an undersized colt, very awkward and mischievous. He had a way of humping down his back and crawling under the bar into the calves’ shed, where he would make way with all their feed. Uncle John came down to the stable one day for the purpose of making a gelding of him. I begged him to let the colt alone.’

‘Why should I?’ he asked.

‘Because, Uncle John,’ I replied. ‘I have been watching that colt in the pasture and he’s bound to make a race horse. When the colts run across the pasture he pushes a little ahead of the others every time.’

‘Well, you may have him, Frank, to do as you please,’ was his reply. ‘Maybe he will make you a little hack horse.’

‘He gave me at the same time a horse named Turner, by Endorser. I sold Turner and held on to Ten Broeck.

Ten Broeck’s first start was as a two-year-old at Louisville in 1874, and he was beaten by McGrath’s Aristides. He didn’t start any more until he was three years old, when he won his race at Lexington, and then he kept on winning. It kept the horsemen pretty busy in those days that Ten Broeck wasn’t going in. They didn’t hanker much after his company.

Yes, I guess his greatest race was the match contest for $5,000 a side between him and the California mare, Mollie McCarthy [sic], at Louisville in 1878, though it was a bad race. When they came to see me to arrange for the meeting they told me the Californians were going to bring a world of money here to put on that race. I sent them word to keep their money at home, that when the horses had gone two miles there wouldn’t be any race. The betting went on for weeks beforehand. They said there were 30,000 people at the track the day of the race. The horses ran neck and neck to the first quarter, Mollie gaining and finally leading in the home stretch. She kept up her pace around to the half mile post again, and presently the crowd saw Ten Broeck take the lead. On he flew, the mare making a desperate effort to regain her ground, but without avail. Mollie quit at the two-mile post and galloped the rest of the way. The excitement was terrific, and men rushed onto the track and nearly smothered Ten Broeck with caresses. I was caught up in the arms of the crowd and carried up and down the track, completely overpowered. I was naturally very happy over the result.

Ten Broeck could run longer and keep his wind than any horse that ever lived in the world. And I never saw him race when he was fit to run but once in my life, and that was when he beat a horse named Ad [sic], owned by J. B. Crouse, of Chillicothe, in a three-mile race at Louisville. Crouse took Ad [sic] East and won everything until he tackled Ten Broeck. When they had him run two miles some fellow hollered: ‘Ad [sic] has him agoing,’ but a moment later they saw Ten Broeck walk away from him, and he reached the stand fully an eighth of a mile ahead.

No horse ever had a kinder, better disposition, or approached as near to perfection as old Ten Broeck – he was that way all his life. Longfellow, too, was a good-tempered fellow. In a race you could ride either of them up to the string and they would stand there perfectly quiet and obedient while all the other hoses were frisking and cutting up. But the moment the drum tapped they were off.’ ” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 01/23/1898 & Louisville Courier-Journal, 01/30/1898)

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