1895: A visit to Castleton and Nursery Studs

“In my recent visit to the Blue Grass region of Kentucky, I enjoyed a ‘feast of fat things.’ The studs in the vicinity of Lexington spread to the enthusiast on thoroughbreds a table ‘fit for the gods.’

My first visit was to Castleton stud, about six and a half miles, by the Newtown pike, from the city of Lexington. Here I was kindly welcomed and hospitably entertained by Major Foxhall A. Daingerfield, who manages the stud for the Messrs. Keene. I found Maj. D. a thorough horseman, well equipped in horse lore, and a consummate judge of individuality.

The stud has suffered in the past season the calamity of the loss by fire of its stallion stable, in which conflagration the splendidly bred imported stallion, Kallicrates, by Hermit, out of ‘Isabel,’ by Plebian (the dam of High Havens and of St. Frusquin, the best two-year-old of ’95 in England and the first favorite for next year’s Derby); also, the wonderful colt Hyderabad, which was purchased by Mr. J. R. Keene from his trainer, Albert Cooper, for the princely sum of $30,000 cash. Major D. had the highest expectations of the result of mating this horse with the almost overbred English mares at Castleton.

Some of the choicest mares, native and imported, are now in foal to these lamented sires, and it is hoped and confidently believed, that their produce will twine laurel with the myrtle over the graves of their departed sires.

Of the stallions now on the farm, Tournament, the great race horse and winner (before the inauguration of a Futurity, in which a horse may win a fortune in a single race) of the magnificent sum of $108,255 in stakes and purses, is well entitled to the place of vantage accorded him by the management. Tournament is by Sir Mordred [sic] out of Plaything [sic] by Alarm. He is a brown horse, nearly or quite sixteen hands, perfectly balanced, of enormous muscular development, on the best of legs and feet, and withal a horse of marked individuality and intelligence of expression and the dignity of pose characteristic of the great horse.

His first crop of foals are weanlings, and if good looks and fine size and intelligence afford any guarantee of future greatness, he will establish himself early as a successful sire.

Next to Tournament, is the ch. horse St. Leonards by St. Blaize [sic] out of Belladonna. This horse, though unfortunate, has done enough on the turf to stamp him as a very high class. He is sixteen hands, and very handsome and well balanced, though perhaps inclined to too heavy flesh for a horse so short a time in the stud – the season of ’95 being his first.

This horse should have won the American Derby, and probably would have but for the unprecedented delay of an hour and forty-seven minutes at post, in which he was prominent in all but the breaks, and being slightly touched in the wind, his chances were much impaired, though he ran a good race and a close second to Boundless.

His breeding is of the best, and he is well enough thought of at the farm to risk some of the best mares to him; among them, the wonderful looking brood mare Editha (sister of Melton, winner of the Derby and St. Leger). With such opportunities as he has had in his first season, he should get a race horse his first year at the stud.

Next to St. Leonard [sic] comes Chorister, a good race horse, and very fast, having, in the Lea and Sound stakes, run the mile in 1:39 ¼ with 113 ½ pounds up – the fastest mile to its date on a circular track. Chorister is a bay horse, by Falsetto out of Addie C. by King Alfonso, second dam Aerolite (the dam of Spendthrift, Fellowcraft, etc.). He is fully sixteen hands high, and has developed into a horse of fine length. Viewed from behind, he has not quite the breadth that might be desired, and has perhaps a little more drooping quarters than we admire. His legs would be deemed a trifle long were he not of the Leamington male line. The defect being one typical of a great line, may well be overlooked. The first of his get are now weanlings, and very promising, being of good size and racy looking.

While the breeding of the mares has not been confined to the stallions in use on the farm, each of these stallions covered in 1895 a sufficient number of the great mares on the farm to enable him to show something of his powers as a sire from the crop to be foaled in the spring of 1896.

Of the incomparable lot of broodmares at Castleton, it is difficult to speak in terms of too high praise. Probably in no stud there is a richer bred lot of the same number. There were about seventy mares bred the past season, and nearly or quite all proved in foal. Where all are so good, it may be invidious to discriminate, but I may be pardoned for naming a few of those which most riveted my attention. Of the English mares, the ch. mare Editha (own sister to Melton) by Master Kildare out of Violet Melrose, Princess Iskra by Robt. the Devil out of Iskra by Maccaroni [sic], and Sundown by Springfield out of Sunshine by Thormanby, Bonnie Gal by Galopin out of Bonnie Doon, a daughter of the world renowned Queen Mary, and Orchis (sister in blood to Ormonde), all young mares and of conformation as impressive as their breeding, give some idea of the class of the English mares, which constitute about five-sixths of the mares at Castleton; while among the Americans are Belle of Maywood (dam of Tenny), Ella T. (dam of Tea Tray and Banquet), the fine race mare Blue Grass Belle, which, in addition to her own prestige on the turf, has the honor of being the sister to the great race mare, Modesty; Lady Invercauld, own sister to Burlington; Lucy Wallace, a typical War Dance in conformation, who has shown her value as a brood mare by producing Sparling, Wallace and Martha.

But to attempt even to enumerate the great mares on this farm would transcend present limits, so with a brief look at the foals of 1895, (the yearlings having been transferred, with few exceptions, to the training stables at Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach), I must pass to other scenes and pastures new.

Of the forty seen in one bunch (twenty colts and twenty fillies) in a fifty acre field, all were so attractive as to make selection difficult. Of the English colts, I fancied a brown colt by Sheen out of Katharine II [sic] by St. Simon, and a ch. colt by Goldfinch out of Musical Gem by Dan Godfrey, most, though a bay colt by Galopin out of Maid of Dorset by Dutch Skater is uncommonly attractive. I fancy, however, that the American colt by Falsetto out of Queenston (sister to Kingston), a black colt by the same horse out of Lucy Wallace, and a ch. colt by Duke of Magenta out of imp. Elsie, may give them trouble when they come to the post. Of the fillies, the Tournament-Blue Grass Belle, Tournament-Miss Mills [sic], Hanover-Princess Iskra, Tenny-Fair Vision, and the Fitzsimon-Princess Caroline are at present most impressive, though all are stout, and in point of size they generally exceed the average of Kentucky weanlings. Every animal on the farm seems in perfect health.

The equipment of this farm as to water supply, stabling, etc., has been greatly improved since my last visit, and its future as one of the greatest of American nurseries of thoroughbreds would seem assured. But speaking of nurseries, brings me to a contemplation of the property of August Belmont, situated one and a half miles from the city limits of Lexington, on the Georgetown pike. The farm stallions are Rayon d’Or by Flageolet out of Araucaria, Magnetizer by The Ill-Used out of Magnetism by King Fisher, Fiddle Sticks [sic] by Lexington out of Fillagree by Stockwell, and last, but far from least, the lion-hearted little race horse Badge by The Ill-Used, dam by Kentucky, son of Lexington.

All of the above are kept as private stallions, and from the present crop of foals and mares now in foal, I gather that Magnetizer and Rayon d’Or are the most highly thought of. Rayon d’Or is a red ch. full 16.3, and a toppy rangy horse, a little narrow across his buttocks and rather scant muscle in his lower thigh, which defects he rarely transmits to his progeny, however.

Magnetizer is a bay, with little white on right hind coronet and star; about 15.3, and a nice, smooth, compactly built horse.

Fiddle Sticks [sic] is a bay, with left hind and left forefoot white and small star; he is a good looking fellow, and will be more liberally patronized in the future.

Badge is about the biggest little horse I ever saw, and he is all horse; he has a nice, clean, intelligent head, good neck, grand shoulder, nice round barrel, quarters like a cart horse, and legs of iron and as clean as a penny.

The foals of ’95 number forty-two, and a grand lot they are. Princess (dam of His Highness, Prince Royal, etc.,) has a good looking ch. colt by Magnetizer, a ch. colt by Rayon d’Or out of a sister to Badge, is a good individual and fine size; and I liked especially a ch. colt by Rayon d’Or out of St. Bridget by St. Simon, but possibly the grandest weanling I have ever inspected is a ch. filly by Rayon d’Or out of Lady Margaret. I also saw a good ch. colt bred like (and not individually unlike) Potomac, being by St. Blaze [sic] out of Soubrette.

Of the seventy-one brood mares, some of the most celebrated are Princess, dam of His Highness; the good race mares Fides by The Ill-Used, Lady Margaret (dam of Margrave), Bliss, Woodvine, etc. Mr. Belmont has in person just inspected his place and stock, and returned to New York highly pleased and with bright visions of rich stakes already within his grasp.”
(The Southern Planter (Vol. 57, No. 1), January 1896)

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