Sept. 1869: Obituary of Herzog

“There is not a turfman in America who will not learn with sorrow and regret this morning of the death of the famous race-horse Herzog. This event took place about four o’clock yesterday morning at the stables of the Buckeye Race Course, near this city. The announcements which have appeared in the city papers for several days past have not altogether left the public unprepared for this intelligence.

On Tuesday last Herzog ran in the opening race of the Fall meeting at this course and won it. It was a sweepstakes race for three-year-olds for a purse of 81,000, and there were entered against him such horses as Versailles, Pompey Payne, Alta Vela and John Kilgour. The first heat was won by Versailles in 1:43 ¾, and Herzog came out third. Herzog then won the second and third heats in succession in 1:44 ¼ and 1:46 ½.

Hundreds of people had gone to the course to see the little king, and it was expected that he would make better time than he had ever made before. But it was evident to all who saw him, and who were familiar with horses, that he was not in good condition. He did not display either his usual spirit or activity, nor did his time come up to general expectation. That night he was taken sick with what appeared to be a severe cold or catarrh, but which afterward proved to be typhoid pneumonia.

But little hope was entertained for his recovery; and, notwithstanding he had the best veterinary aid the country afforded, he continued to grow worse, and yesterday morning the pride of the American turf ceased to exist. He died upon the scene which witnessed his great triumph. On the very day that he ran his last race, Major Thomas, his owner, was offered $10,000 for him, but he refused it. He valued him at $15,000, and would have taken that amount for him. Such was the reputation and fame of Herzog, that a slight sketch of him, and his history, may not prove uninteresting.

It was at the Spring Meeting of 1869, on the Buckeye Course, that Herzog made the celebrated time which has rendered him famous the world over. It was on the first day of the meeting. It was a sweepstakes race for three-year-old colts and fillies, for a purse of $300. The entries were Herzog, John McIntyre, Joe Shaw, Mickey Free, Barney Williams, Blarney Stone, Bonnie Scotland and Wilkes Booth. Herzog was the favorite against the field.

We append a description of the second heat of the race:

“Blarney Stone shot ahead at the drum tap and made a splendid burst for the first turn, but the mighty strides of the little favorite were too much for him, and in the second quarter he was second, in which position he was led, with the field straggling after into the third quarter. When they reached the fourth, Mickey Free brushed up, and in the home stretch, took his old place a second. But none could come up to the flank of the glorious winner, who passed under the string, after making the mile in 1:43 ½ – the fastest time on record.”

Herzog was owned by Major B. G. Thomas, of Lexington, Ky., the business manager of the Observer and Reporter, of that city. He was by Vandal, and was foaled in 1868. At the time of his death he was about three and a half years of age, and was a light-colored bay, full fifteen hands and two inches in height. There was no white about him, save a few white hairs in the forehead. He had a Vandal-Glencoe head, well set on a rather long neck, running into well inclined shoulders. He had great depth through the girth and heart, good barrel, and ribs back well. He possessed great length from the point of the hip to the whirlbone, thence to the ground. His limbs were clean and well set under him. He was a colt of exquisite action, being lithe and capable of a variety of action. When he was a foal he had the misfortune to lose the tips of his ears by frost, and but for this he would have been a handsome and striking horse.

The following pedigree shows him to have been a lineal descendant of the finest race of horses in the known world, and that he was truly what his owner claimed him to be – the best bred horse in America. The pedigree which Major Thomas has in his possession runs back into the year 1600:

First dam, Dixie, by imp. Sovereign; 2nd dam, Ex Mary, by Hamlet; 3d dam, imp. Vamp, by Langar; 4th dam, Wire, by Waxy; 5th dam, Penelope, by Trumpator; 8th dam, Prunelia, by Highflyer; 7th dam, Promise, by Snap; 8th dam, Julia, by Blank; 9th dam, Spectator’s dam, by Partner; 10th dam, Bonnie Lass, by Bay Bolton; 11th dam, by Darley’s Arabian; 12th dam, by Byerly Turk; 13th dam, by Tuffolet Barb; 14th dam, by Place’s White Turk; 15th dam, a Natural Barb Mare.

The time made by Herzog upon the Buckeye Course last spring was the fastest officially recorded time in the world. It is, perhaps, not generally known that in England and elsewhere no official record is kept of turf time. Wilkes’ Spirit says that the famous French horse Gladiateur, the winner of the Derby, made a mile in 1:39; but the statement has no official existence, and is not generally accepted. Even granting that Gladiateur did make the time accorded to him, it leaves Herzog second only to him, and at all events, in the turf annals of America Herzog will be credited with the fastest time.” (Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, 09/29/1869)


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