1921: Great racers noted for their symmetry

“It has been remarked that the best thoroughbreds have had beauty of outline in addition to other attributes to make then notable among their kind. The good horse or mare as a rule looks the part, but there have been notable instances of animals utterly devoid of qualities one expects in the highest blood horse type racing with rare speed and courage. Many fine looking thoroughbreds have been seen in action in this country in the last twenty-five years. Some of them had a majestic quality, while others were faultless in point of physical perfection.

Nobody would think of denying Man o’ War a place among the good looking performers of the American turf, and yet his claims for distinction bulk largely on his noble, majestic bearing. His very countenance bespeaks his greatness, and yet the critics say he is too heavy in the forehand to conform to the standard of perfection. The fact that he is higher over the croup than at the withers robs his top line of the symmetry which is characteristic of Whiskbroom II [sic], one of the handsomest of all the thoroughbreds of the present day, or of Leonardo II, the best looking of the younger generation, despite his calf knees.

Those who have known the turf for the past quarter of a century speak of Salvator as their beau ideal. With his sparkling chestnut coat and white face and legs he was a model. The contrast between the son of Prince Charlie and his rival Tenny was startling, and it was difficult to realize that they were of the same tribe. Tenny was sway-backed to the point of deformity. He was heavy in the shoulder, and had the development of a quarter horse back of the saddle. The old saying that good horses come in all shapes and sizes was exemplified in his case with emphasis, for when in the mood Tenny was a sterling performer.

Troubador, for a big horse was a grand looking one, and in motion was a poem. Miss Woodford and her rival Freeland were both beauties, albeit the mare was a trifle masculine in type. El Rio Rey and his half brother Emperor of Norfolk were fine examples of the robust thoroughbred and Potomac was a handsome horse, though a trifle high on the leg.

Perhaps the greatest beauty of all the St. Blaise family was the lovely filly La Tosca, though the Nursery Stud has always been noted for the quality of its mares. Fides, Lady Primrose and others that could be mentioned had a smoothness of contour that was a delight to the eye. Kingston was truly made and beautifully balanced. His head was a trifle effeminate and he was over at the knees all his life, but up to the day he left the turf after winning upward of 90 races he was the type of a high mettled thoroughbred.

Hanover had a bold chestnut beauty of his own. Handspring and Hastings, though of different types, were good to look upon. Domino was not as prepossessing as Dobbins or Henry of Navarre, his greatest contemporaries, nor as many of his grand-note, notably Hippodrome. His greatest representative, taking turf and stud achievements both into consideration, the remarkable Commando, was distinctly coarse, breeding to the line of his Darebin dam. Emma C., Colin and Fair Play were both attractive, despite the former’s unsightly hock. As stallions Fair Play is the better looker; in fact he has been pronounced the best looking stallion in Kentucky. Peter Pan, though verging on the coarse side as a 3-year-old, has in the stud developed into a fine, robust type of the thoroughbred sire.

Among the mares of her day, Imp was noticeable. She had a rugged nature, which made her performances noteworthy. While not a great beauty, she was racy looking and pleasing to the eye. Firenzi was small, but she had quality, while Beldame and Hamburg Belle looked the great horses they were. Hermis and Irish Lad were unlike in type, though both were good to look at, the former as round as a butter ball, while the big horse attracted by his masculine quality. Pictures taken in France, especially one showing the horse with his former owner, that splendid type of sportsman, Herman B. Duryea, reveal Irish Lad as a fine specimen of the thoroughbred sire.

Sysonby and Artful, rivals as 2-year-olds, were each noted for their high quality, though the colt’s head had a plain look at times due to his being a trifle lop-eared. For power, the turf has seen few horses the equal of Sysonby, and his early death was a calamity to the breeding interests of this country. As a matter of fact, Mr. Keene had more than his share of bad luck when he lost Domino, Commando and Sysonby at the very outset of their periods of usefulness.

Broomstick, a neat colt on the small side when racing, has grown into a sturdy, handsome stallion, and, like Clifford, another fast horse, is a perfect type of the Bramble family. His daughter, Regret, was as handsome as she was fleet. Voter was not as fine looking as his best sons, notably Ballot and The Manager, each of which is conspicuous for finish. The great sprinter’s tail was set on very low and he was cloven like a ram, so great was the muscular development of his quarters.

In recent years Hourless was a conspicuous example of a good horse that looked the part. In the stud he has been praised by competent authorities. His old antagonist, Omar Khayyam, has developed to a point where he compels the admiration of those with an eye for beauty in the thoroughbred.

Cudgel, though a trifle long in the back, looked the great race horse he was. After a few years in the stud he should be a horse of great attractiveness. Sunbriar [sic] was always a perfect type of the blood horse, barring his faulty ankles, while the Macomber string boasted of a fine collection of stallions in Star Hawk, War Cloud and Star Master. Trompe la Mort is an unusually handsome horse.

Among last year’s crop of notables Man o’ War and Leonardo II have already been referred to. Inchcape was a smoothly turned juvenile, and those who have seen him this spring say he is a rare type. Tryster, a plain looking colt at first glance, improved with acquaintance last year, and he would not have to develop much in order to be classed among the good-lookers of 1921. Cleopatra, Prudery and Nancy Lee, among the fillies would command attention in any country. The former, which will be sadly missed from this year’s contests, has the greyhound quality of her dead sire, Corcyra.” (Louisville Courier-Journal, 04/03/1921)

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