McWhirter (1874)

McWhirter (1874 ch. c. by Enquirer – Ontario by Bonnie Scotland (GB))
Breeder/Owner: Gen. Abraham “Abe” Buford II (Bosque Bonita Farm)
Trainer: Abraham “Abe” Perry (1876-1878); Raleigh Colston (Fall 1877)
Female Family 3

“Only when the last race is run, and the last thoroughbred horse shall be buried, will the name McWhirter be forgotten. Long after these events have happened will the children of unborn generations, far down the vale of time, relate the history of his glorious death, and thus excite the sympathetic admiration of eager listeners charmed to silence by the marvelous episode.” (The Spirit of the Times, as republished in the Louisville Courier-Journal, 07/15/1878)

“McWhirter was a very pretty chestnut, gracefully built, well proportioned, and his only fault, probably, was a lack of strength and large bones. He was nearly 16 hands high and worth about $3,000.” (St. Louis Republican, 06/06/1878)

“…if I can pass through the pearly gates of heaven in a chariot drawn by Enquirer and McWhirter, I would shout with great joy…” – Gen. Abraham Buford (The River Press (Benton, MT), 05/31/1882)

“To this day he [McWhirter] is cited as the most remarkable example of courage known in the history of the thoroughbred.” (Daily Racing Form, 04/14/1912)

By the Leamington (GB) stallion Enquirer and out of the Bonnie Scotland (GB) mare Ontario, McWhirter’s pedigree could cause one to think that he was a product of Belle Meade Stud; however, that is not the case. At the time of McWhirter’s foaling in 1874, both Enquirer and Bonnie Scotland had yet to arrive at the storied nursery.

A blood bay standing just over 16 hands, Enquirer (1867), by Leamington (GB) and out of the Lexington mare Lida, was a “high type thoroughbred” bred by H. F. Vissman of Louisville, KY.

Purchased for racing by Gen. Abraham Buford, Enquirer, who was named for the Cincinnati Enquirer, would only win one race (George Elliot S.) in three starts at the age of two. However, he would come into his own as a three-year-old, going undefeated in six starts (Citizens S., Continental Hotel S., Kenner S., Phoenix Hotel S., Robbins S., and an unspecified stake at Cincinnati) and earning around $20,800.

Continental Hotel S. (Republican Banner 1870.08.04)

Republican Banner (Nashville, TN), 08/04/1870

One of Enquirer’s sophomore races was the Continental Hotel Stakes, a series of one mile heats run at Long Branch, NJ (Monmouth) in August 1870. A bad start would cost Enquirer (listed as “Inquirer” in the chart at left) the first heat, and he would ultimately finish third behind winner Lynchburg, a highly-regarded Leamington colt who was also bred by Gen. Buford. During the second heat, Lynchburg would step in a hole, breaking a shoulder. Enquirer would subsequently win the final two heats with ease.

Note on Lynchburg: Following Lynchburg’s injury, a fundraising campaign spearheaded by the Long Branch Racing Association raised $4,000 for owner Major T. G. Bacon in order to help him recoup perceived losses from his out of commission colt, who was valued around $10,000 at the time of his accident. Lynchburg would ultimately survive his injuries and enter the stud.

The field for the Continental Hotel was rather extraordinary in regards to future impact on the breed, as in addition to Enquirer it included the Australian (GB) filly Maggie B. B. and the Lexington filly Susan Ann. This race wasn’t the first time that Enquirer and Maggie B. B. had faced off, but it was the first time that Susan Ann joined the fray. Maggie B. B. would foal the great Iroquois in 1878, and her influence as a broodmare is still felt today through the influence of her many daughters, while Susan Ann would foal the great racemare/broodmare Thora in 1878.

An ankle injury would necessitate Enquirer’s premature retirement to stud at the age of four (he would briefly attempt an unsuccessful comeback as a seven-year-old, finishing fourth in a two mile race at Lexington in September 1874), and he would spend the first nine years of his stud career at Gen. Buford’s Bosque Bonita Farm in Lexington, KY.

Enquirer was a impressive looking individual, and a write-up in the Lexington (KY) Press would elaborate on his physical type:

“A magnificent bay colt, standing fully sixteen hands high, with a slight star, and left hind foot white, extending almost half way to his hock; he has no other marks. Upon the first glance he is a leggy-looking colt, but as you approach him you find that his body is well in keeping with the length of his legs. Combining a wonderful structure of body with a most noble and majestic figure, he takes more after the dam side of the house of Lexington than his sire Imp. Leamington; he has a good head and neck, running into powerful and well-inclined shoulders; his length is great, and he appears to couple loosely, but with the hips and quarters, immense stifles and nerve, more length from the point of the hip to the whirlbone and thence to the back, we venture to say, than any horse on the turf; he stands high on his legs, but has a great deal more body than his sire; has good feet and legs, easy, graceful, and active, he cuts down all his opponents with his immense strides.”

Additionally, Enquirer’s physical measurements were reported by Sanders Dewees Bruce in the 1883 edition of The Horse-Breeder’s Guide and Hand Book as:

“16 ¼ hands high, girth 73 in., length of shoulder 29 ¾ in., circumference of arm 22 in., around the leg below the knee 9 in., from point of shoulder to turn of the buttocks 69 in., from point of hip to point of hock 38 ½ in., around the gaskins 18 in., and weighs 1,200 lbs.”

Enquirer would have immediate success in the stud for Gen. Buford, with his first crop including the outstanding colt Searcher (1872). His success would continue in successive crops, and by the time Enquirer was sold to Gen. W. G. Harding of Belle Meade Stud in Nashville, TN for $10,000 in June 1879, he had become known as “the greatest of living American stallions.”

Grave of Enquirer on the grounds of Belle Meade Stud. Photo: Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Grave of Enquirer on the grounds of Belle Meade. Photo: Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Shortly after Gen. Harding’s purchase of Enquirer, Pierre Lorillard reportedly offered Harding $18,000 for the horse. He would decline the offer, and Enquirer would continue his success at Belle Meade, siring Inspector B. (1883), among others.

Upon Enquirer’s death at Belle Meade in September 1895, it was written in the Nashville American that “It has long been an axiom of the American turf that ‘you never had an Enquirer beaten until the wire was reached.’ They are, almost without exception, game to the finish.”

His son McWhirter was the embodiment of this statement.

ONTARIO (1865)
Ontario (1865), by Bonnie Scotland (GB) out of the Monarch (GB) mare Lady Lancaster, was a stakes winning heat racer (Mobile Colt S.) bred by John Reber of Ohio, and raced by S. Leonard and E. A. Smith of Cincinnati, OH.

By all accounts, Ontario was an attractive individual, taking first premium in the class for Thoroughbred mares, three years and under at the 1868 St. Louis (MO) Agricultural and Mechanical Association Fair. At the same fair, her then fifteen-year-old sire Bonnie Scotland would win first premium for Thoroughbred stallions of any age, having already taken first premium in the class for Thoroughbred stallions, four years and over.

Ontario’s dam Lady Lancaster was a successful broodmare, with one of her noted foals being Ontario’s full brother Malcolm (1862). While a stakes winner on the track, Malcolm is best known today as the sire of the filly Marian (1871), herself the dam of El Rio Rey (1887), Emperor of Norfolk (1885), The Czar (1886), and Yo Tambien (1889), among others.

Pan Zareta (HOTC)

Photo of Pan Zareta as published in Hoofprints of the Century.

Owned by Gen. Buford by the time she produced her first foal in 1871, Ontario would pass through various hands during her breeding career, producing at least fifteen foals through 1889. In addition to McWhirter, she would later produce the Iroquois (GB) colt Rancocas (1887), himself the sire of Caddie Griffith (1901), the dam of Pan Zareta (1910).

Burnie Bunton - Worth 1902 (SDN-000633, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum)

Burnie Bunton at Worth Race Track (Chicago, IL), ca. 1902.
Photo: SDN-000633, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

Rancocas would have impact on the foundation of the American Quarter Horse, as in addition to the aforementioned Caddie Griffith, he would sire the sisters Burnie Bunton (1898) and Miss Anxious (1903), as well as the colt Booger Red (1905) (who was himself out of a half-sister to Burnie Bunton and Miss Anxious). All three mares would ultimately become foundation dams of the American Quarter Horse, with Booger Red becoming a foundation sire.

Owned by M. Byrnes of Eatontown, NJ at the time of her death, Ontario would pass away at Belle Meade Stud in late 1891 at the age of twenty-six. A full list of her progeny is located at the end of this post.


Named in honor of Captain A. J. McWhirter of Tennessee, the equine McWhirter was reportedly “about blind in his left eye and weak in his right.”

When the time came to begin his racing career, McWhirter joined the Buford string then under the guidance of successful African-American trainer Abe Perry. Horse and trainer would become tightly bonded, with Perry later stating that he thought more of McWhirter than he did of any person living. With the exception of a brief period during the fall of 1877 when it appears that the Buford horses were placed with Raleigh Colston, McWhirter would remain with Perry for the entirety of his career.

McWhirter - Colt and Filly S. (NYT 1876.05.12)

The New York Times, 05/12/1876

1876: (8) 3-1-2
McWhirter’s career debut came at Lexington in the Colt and Filly Stakes (aka Spring Sweepstakes) (5f) on May 11, 1876. Defeating an unnamed colt by Glen Athol and out of Susan Overton (who was later named Allen Pinkerton) for the win, McWhirter’s final time of 1:04 ¾  for the five furlong distance was the second fastest ever recorded at Lexington, falling only behind the time of 1:04 ½ set by Aristides.

Travelling next to Louisville for the Alexander Stakes (4f) on May 15, McWhirter would not repeat his previous winning effort, instead finishing second by three lengths to the Phaeton (GB) colt Lisbon. Gen. Buford was irate following McWhirter’s loss, and it was later reported that McWhirter was to be sold to an unknown party for $10,000 had he won.

Remaining at Louisville, McWhirter then finished third by approximately four lengths behind winner King Faro (Phaeton (GB)) in the Tennessee Stakes (6f) on May 19.

“Much difficulty was experienced at the start, a dozen false attempts having been made before the horses got off. The McIntyre entry and Buford’s McWhirter showed a disposition to lead, and by the time the horses did get off, the latter was killed, so far as the race was concerned.” (The Daily American (Nashville, TN), 05/20/1876)

McWhirter - HEADLINE Colt S. (LCJ 1876.09.13)

Louisville Courier-Jounral, 09/13/1876

McWhirter would then take a lengthy absence from the track, not returning to the barrier until the Colt Stakes (6f) at Lexington on September 12. After a poor start left him forty yards behind the others at the onset, McWhirter would gain ground to dead heat with King Faro for the win. The race was ultimately decided with the two colts dividing the purse.

Continuing on to the Louisville fall meeting, McWhirter followed up on his (co-)winning effort with a win over the Australian (GB) colt Baden-Baden in the Belle Meade Stakes (6f) on September 22. McWhirter’s winning time of 1:17 in the six furlong dash was reportedly a new stakes record.

Remaining at Louisville, McWhirter next ran in Grand Sweepstakes (1 mi.) on September 27, finishing third behind the filly Belle of the Meade (Bonnie Scotland (GB)) and Baden-Baden. On the same card, McWhirter’s five-year-old half-brother Kilburn (Ringmaster) would take the first race, winning two out of three heats in a one mile association purse.

McWhirter ran unplaced in two other races in 1876 – the Sanford Stakes (1 mi.) at Louisville on an unspecified date, and a second unknown race on/at an unknown date/location.

1877: (7) 4-1-1
McWhirter’s sophomore campaign commenced at Lexington with a third place finish behind the longshot War Dance filly Bradamante (aka Brademante) and Planet filly Classmate in the spring edition of the Phoenix Hotel Stakes (1 ⅛ mi.) on May 12.

Every expectation was on McWhirter to win the Phoenix Hotel, and when he did not:

“This race nearly broke Woodford county, whose citizens always come to the Lexington races enthusiastically in favor of some Woodford county horse. The defeat of McWhirter was a great blow to them, but no greater than it was to his owner, General Abe Buford, who stood out in the cooling-ground during the race; where he could see every step of the course. When he returned to the stand he did not look like a happy man.”
(Louisville Courier-Journal, 05/13/1877)

Remaining at Lexington, McWhirter regained the favor of his fans by winning a 1 ½ mile race on May 17 over Whisper (Planet) and Emma C. (Planet).

It was announced on May 18 that the six-year-old Phaeton (GB) horse Ten Broeck (already the holder of American records at three and four miles) would make two attempts against time at Louisville in the coming weeks – the first on May 24 in an attempt to break the one mile record, and the second on May 29 in an attempt to break the two mile record. Upon hearing of Ten Broeck’s upcoming schedule, Gen. Buford stated that McWhirter could beat Ten Broeck at one mile, and was displeased that his colt was not allowed to line up against the horse in the trial on May 24.

McWhirter’s third start of 1877 would come not against Ten Broeck, but instead against ten rivals in the third edition of the Kentucky Derby (1 ½ mi.) at Louisville on May 22. Never a threat in the race, McWhirter would finish fifth behind winner and familiar rival Baden-Baden, who took the race by two lengths over Leonard (Longfellow).

Two days later on May 24, Ten Broeck sets a new one mile record of 1:41 ¾ in his first trial at Louisville.

Baden-Baden, McWhirter, and Derby fourth place finisher Vera Cruz (Virgil) made a quick return for the Clark Stakes (2 mi.) at Louisville on May 28. Only in its third year of existence, the Clark was at the time restricted to 3-year-olds and considered to be a “sequel” to the newly established Kentucky Derby. It was not until 1902 that the Clark would be re-branded as a handicap for horses 3-years-old and up.

Drama would fill the pre-race festivities, as Derby winner Baden-Baden was sold to William Astor of New York for $12,500 ten minutes prior to the race. Baden-Baden would ultimately finish last behind the filly Hyena (Longfellow) in the four horse field.

McWhirter - HEADLINE Clark S. (LCJ 1877.05.29)

Louisville Courier-Journal, 05/29/1877

Despite being ten pounds overweight, McWhirter came running in the final half-mile to win the Clark by approximately eight lengths over Vera Cruz. His final time of 3:30 ½ in the race was a new American record, lowering the previous record set by the Lexington horse True Blue at Saratoga in 1875 (3:32 ½) by two seconds.

“Yesterday, when Gen. Buford’s horse McWhirter won the Clark Stake, a dash of two miles, in 3:30 ½, the fastest time ever made, the old soldier’s exuberant feelings so carried him away that he took the head of the gallant animal between his two hands and lovingly kissed him. A very young person on the Grand Stand exclaimed that ‘she would rather it was the horse than she that received the kiss.’ ” (The Daily American (Nashville, TN), 05/31/1877).

With Ten Broeck’s two mile race against time scheduled for the day after the Clark, McWhirter’s unexpected record added some additional excitement to the festivities, causing observers to question whether Ten Broeck would even be able to approach McWhirter’s extraordinary time.

HEADLINE - Ten Broeck 2 mile record (LCJ 1877.05.30)

Louisville Courier-Journal, 05/30/1877

The concern was unwarranted. With the largest crowd ever assembled at the Louisville Jockey Club cheering him on, Ten Broeck (racing against stablemate pace horses St. Louis for the first mile and Necy Hale [aka Neecy Hale] for the second mile) would lower McWhirter’s two mile record by three seconds (3:27 ½), becoming the sole American record holder for one, two, three, and four miles (with all records set at the Louisville track).

Despite no longer being an American record, McWhirter’s time of 3:30 ½ remained both the fastest two miles ever run by a 3-year-old and the fastest run under actual race conditions.

Following on the heels of his record setting effort in the Clark, McWhirter headed up to Chester Park in Cincinnati, defeating the Longfellow gelding Odd Fellow (aka Oddfellow) by three lengths to win the Ohio Derby (aka Cincinnati Derby) (1 ½ mi.) on June 2.  His time of 2:40 was reportedly a new stakes record.

With McWhirter in increasingly good form, Gen. Buford continued to maintain that in a race between McWhirter and Ten Broeck, McWhirter would win, and remained eager to set up a match between the two at Louisville later in the year, expressing that in his opinion, “running a horse against time on a smooth, solid track, with running mates, and putting a horse in a full field of starters to take the rough-and-tumble changes on the home stretch, are too [sic] vastly different things.” (Louisville Courier-Journal, 06/07/1877)

After five races in less than a month, McWhirter entered an extended absence from the track, not returning to the races until mid-September. Now under the temporary care of trainer Raleigh Colston, he made two starts in quick succession at Lexington, finishing second to Vera Cruz in a 1 ¼ mi. sweepstakes on September 17 and winning the fall edition of the Phoenix Hotel Stakes (1 mi. heats) on September 19.

His comeback would be short lived.

“Late intelligence leaves no doubt of the fact that McWhirter is broken down. He is hurt in the tendon of one of his forelegs, and will never be fit for service on the turf again. His race on Monday, when he slipped and fell against another horse, and the severe driving he was subjected to on yesterday, finished him.” (Cincinnati Commercial, 09/20/1877)

1878: (2) 0-1-0
McWhirter’s leg troubles would develop into a lingering problem, delaying his 4-year-old debut until the end of May. Following a second place finish to Solicitor (Enquirer) in the Galt House Stakes (2 mi.) at Louisville on May 24, it was decided that due to his continuing soundness issues, his next and final career start would be the Greeley Stakes (3 mi.) at St. Louis’ Cote Brilliante track on June 5.

“During the three days and nights previous to the race, Abe Perry, McWhirter’s trainer, was continually bathing his legs, both day and night, and it was very much feared that he would not be able to make the race. If he had held out during the race it would have been his last one anyhow, for Gen. Buford had determined to take him off the track.”
(St. Louis Republican, 06/06/1878)

On June 5, McWhirter, with his mane festooned with ribbons in the red and white Buford colors, took to the track for his career bow in the Greeley Stakes.

“The saddest and most heart-rending scene ever witness on any race-track in the world happened in the three-mile dash, yesterday, when McWhirter’s forelegs broke down on the back stretch while the third mile was being run.

McWhirter, Mahlstick, Red Bluff and Joe Rodes were the starters in the race, the former too soon taking the lead and keeping even neck and neck until after the three-quarter pole had been passed in the second mile. About midway between the three-quarter and eighth-mile posts McWhirter stumbled. Old horsemen standing near that part of the track knew immediately that the horse’s career on the race-course was ended forever, for it was only too evident that his foreleg had broken down. Mr. Geo. Cadwallader shouted for the rider to stop the horse, but with a persistence unexplainable he kept ahead, pushing McWhirter to his utmost speed, as was perfectly evident to all.

By the time the first quarter of the third mile had been reached McWhirter had dropped behind Mahlstick a length and a half, and when just entering on the back stretch he stumbled again, and before the half-mile post was reached, Joe Rodes had passed him, and Red Bluff was pretty close behind. Just about at the second turn Red Bluff was seen to pass McWhirter, and at the same time ran against him, throwing him down and sending the jockey into the dirt. A little further on, Red Bluff stumbled and fell down. As soon as Mahlstick and Joe Rodes had passed the judges’ stand, a great rush was made for that part of the track where McWhirter fell.

A most sickening sight met the eyes of the crowd as it gathered around McWhirter, who by this time was on his legs again, but only on two feet. The poor horse was hobbling around on the stumps of his forelegs, the limbs having become unjointed at the pastern joint; and the hoofs were hanging loose, joined to the legs by only a small portion of the skin. The jockey, Link, stood near the head of his horse, crying and saying that they “musn’t blame him for it; he didn’t know the horse’s legs were that way.”

It was decided immediately that the horse must be shot, and Officer Keeble, of the Fifth district, was detailed to the unpleasant job. When the officer pulled out his revolver, and placed the muzzle against McWhirter’s head, the poor dumb brute did not even wink; and when the shot was fired he only jumped a little with his forelegs, and the second shot did not affect him much more. Neither of these shots was placed where it should have been. But the third shot, near to the left eye, was evidently more painful than the first shots, and made the horse jump, and he finally started across the track, hobbling on the bare bones of his fore-legs.

It was then that the spectators turned away, sickened from the horrible sight, and quite a number cried out to the officer “to end his miserable job without any more blundering,” and he did, shooting the racer for the fourth time in the forehead. The horse reared on his hind legs and then fell down, but not dead by any means. He laid on the ground kicking for several minutes, and when hauled away a few moments afterward was still alive.

As soon as he was down a number of jockeys and stable boys gathered around with pocket-knives in their hands and began to cut off little bunches of his mane and tail for mementoes, but the officer did not allow them to make very many hauls of the long chestnut hair. The celebrated racer rests under an elm tree in the southeast corner of the grounds, near the track, where in after years, they said he could hear the other racers speeding over the track which was his death-bed.

From all that can be learned of the unfortunate affair, it seems that McWhirter’s right foreleg broke down when he stumbled the first time, and the other leg when he stumbled the second time. He ran nearly a quarter of a mile after the second leg broke down before the bones broke through the skin, and then he ran about a quarter on the bare bones before Red Bluff ran against him. Such a spirit of gameness could only be exhibited by a thoroughbred horse, and not many of them would do the same thing.

Some time last fall one of McWhirter’s forelegs became weakened in some of the fall races, and since that time everything possible has been done to give strength to the affected limb and it is thought that by too much attention being given to one leg the weakness in the other was not noticed. Although the colt did not exhibit any signs of lameness, it was known to those familiar with him that his career on the race course would necessarily be very short.

During the three days and nights previous to the race, Abe Perry, McWhirter’s trainer, was continually bathing his legs, both day and night, and it was very much feared that he would not be able to make the race. If he had held out during the race it would have been his last one anyhow, for Gen. Buford had determined to take him off the track.

McWhirter was a very pretty chestnut, gracefully built, well proportioned, and his only fault, probably, was a lack of strength and large bones. He was nearly 16 hands high and worth about $3,000. He was not insured. In the Clark stakes at Louisville last fall he made two miles in 3:30 ½, and he has beaten Solicitor in 3:34. He also ran in the Cincinnati Derby and made a mile and one-half in 2:40 ½ .

Abe Perry, Gen. Buford’s trainer, feels the loss very much as he was strongly attached to the pretty chestnut colt from having been with him so long and given him so much attention. After the accident yesterday Perry sat around the stables, looking as though he had lost his best friend, and in conversation he said he thought more of McWhirter than he did of any person living. Gen. Buford, too, was very much affected by the loss and it is certainly a very said affair to all.” (St. Louis Republican, 06/06/1878)


“The bones of the legs were not broken, but the tendons gave way and both the legs slipped from their sockets at the fetlock joint.” (The Galveston (TX) Daily News, 06/11/1878)

The tale of McWhirter’s horrific final moments would not remain solely within the confines of the track, but rather was published in newspapers across the United States, enshrining his memory in the public consciousness.

“The death of McWhirter at St. Louis in the presence of 8,000 ladies and gentlemen while gallantly doing his master’s will, under circumstances that sent a thrill of pain keenly and directly to every one who witnessed the sickening scene, and almost as sensibly to the whole nation as the electric fluid conveyed the sad tidings to every section of the Union of his giving up his life in the midst of fidelity to duty, carried with it none of the mortifying regrets that must be felt by every true turfman when contemplating this unfortunate affair.

McWhirter left the arena upon which he had acted so prominent and so brilliant in part amid such a halo of glory, gathering, as he went, a diadem about his name, thickly set with jewels far richer than ever decked the brow of prince or impelled respect for monarch. We joined thousands in the earnest, almost prayerful hope, to be spared another spectacle so cruel, so sad, so lamentable, so torturing. But it was like the dying of a soldier, a great soldier in the storm of battle, struggling for the ascendancy of liberty, for victory in the name of justice, and, though he breathes no more, though the brilliancy of his triumphs are over, though he has passed into history, the name he bore is as immortal as the love of the people, for the sport of kings shall be lasting.

Only when the last race is run, and the last thoroughbred horse shall be buried, will the name McWhirter be forgotten. Long after these events have happened will the children of unborn generations, far down the vale of time, relate the history of his glorious death, and thus excite the sympathetic admiration of eager listeners charmed to silence by the marvelous episode.” (The Spirit of the Times, as republished in the Louisville Courier-Journal, 07/15/1878)

Upon later reports, McWhirter was buried at the head of the Cote Brilliante track, beside an oak tree on the north side of Page Boulevard, about 200 feet west of King’s Highway in St. Louis. Following the track’s closure, McWhirter’s resting place would quickly be lost to the ages until the spring of 1895, when one story indicates his skeleton was unexpectedly uncovered by excavators digging a cellar on the site in preparation for the construction of a home. Research was conducted into the potential identity of the remains, which was positively identified as being that of McWhirter. His grave was then exhumed and reportedly moved “east.”

However, an alternate story indicates that McWhirter’s remains were merely relocated a short distance from his initial burial site, if they were even relocated at all.

McWhirter’s death in June 1878 would be the first in a string of personal tragedies for Gen. Buford. Having already lost his son William seven years prior, Gen. Buford’s wife Amanda would pass away at Bosque Bonita in February 1879 following a long illness.

In mid-March 1879, it is reported that in the coming months Gen. Buford planned to sell Bosque Bonita and disperse his stock. Shortly after the sale announcement, news arrives that Gen. Buford’s brother, Col. Thomas Buford was charged with the March 26 assassination of Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge J. M. Elliott in Frankfort, KY. Gen. Buford, whose financial situation was already in precarious waters due to a speculation habit, spends a sizable amount in his brother’s defense. Following an acquittal following a sentence to life in prison, Col. Buford was confined to the Central Lunatic Asylum in Anchorage, KY.

Despite announcing the imminent dispersal of his stock and lands in March 1879, it is not until March 1881, with his financial difficulties mounting, that Gen. Buford sells the heavily mortgaged Bosque Bonita to D. A. Lyons for $30,000.

Following on the heels of the sale of Bosque Bonita, Gen. Buford’s racing stock was dispersed in a March 23 vendue at Lexington. Included among the horses offered were McWhirter’s full siblings McHenry (1875) and Lizzie McWhirter (1879), who sold for $130 and $1,300, respectively. Other notable horses up for bid on the day included the 7-year-old Enquirer mare Mannie Gray, who was acquired by Barak G. Thomas of Dixiana for $725. Mannie Gray would become a successful broodmare, foaling Correction, Domino, and the prolific broodmare Lady Reel, among others.

Upon the sale of Bosque Bonita, Gen. Buford moved to the home of his nephew D. O. Buford in Louisville. While there would find comfort in religion, becoming baptized in February 1882, and shortly thereafter renounced the sport of horse racing.

Upon the news of Gen. Buford’s baptism, his pastor Dr. Yancey spoke with the Louisville Courier-Journal regarding Gen. Buford’s newfound feelings towards the turf:

“He still thinks that racing can be carried on legitimately and not inconsistent with moral or religious principles. But he says that as it is now conducted on all public courses it is abused and coupled with abominations which are destructive of its true objects. I don’t think he will ever be seen on the track again. I shall counsel him against it.”

In May 1882, Gen. Buford takes to the pulpit and states his own feelings on the matter in a lecture titled “Church and the Turf” at the Campbell Street Christian Church in Louisville, KY, elaborating on his feelings towards the conflict between Christians and gambling, and the difficult position the sport of horse racing was put in as a result.

Regardless of his sudden change of heart towards racing, Gen. Buford retained great fondness for his previous charges, stating:

“My earthly career is drawing rapidly to a close, and my great aim now is to win the race for eternal life; and, as you have before said, if I can pass through the pearly gates of heaven in a chariot drawn by Enquirer and McWhirter, I would shout with great joy…”
(The River Press (Benton, MT), 05/31/1882)

Ultimately, Gen. Buford’s renunciation of the turf was short-lived. While speaking with a reporter of the Louisville Courier-Journal in July 1882 regarding the recent success of his former racer, the Enquirer colt Goodnight (a full-brother to Mannie Gray), he unexpectedly changes his tone.

“Speaking about this victory, it was a handsome one. Goodnight is a fine animal. I tell you, young man, I have had some of the grandest horses in the world,” continued the General, as he led the thermometer a few lengths.

“How was it you said Goodnight was beaten at St. Louis?”

“That was the race with Lord Murphy. McLaughlin, Dwyer’s rider, pulled him, because his boss had money on the other horse. Why, Goodnight finished the mile in 1:42, and was as far ahead of Lord Murphy as that house across the street is from where we stand. Why, another length and he would have shut him out.”

The reporter remarked that, after all there was some very fine sport in horse racing.

A reflective look came into the old General’s eye, and then he broke out suddenly, “I’m going back to the turf. Yes, I will have to go back; I can’t keep away from it. I tell you I am going to own a fine horse, and that very shortly.”

“Are you going to leave the church?”

“Leave the church?” italicised the General; “leave it? Why, bless your soul, no. Why should I? A man can own a fine horse, and run him, too, and go to heaven.”

Gen. Buford wastes no time returning to the turf following his proclamation in July 1882, serving as a judge at Louisville in September and at Memphis in October. While in the Bluff City, Gen. Buford receives notification that his brother Tom had escaped from lockup, reportedly heading for Indiana.

In November, Gen. Buford ceases his affiliation with the sporting publication Turf, Rod, and Gun, stating his intentions to launch a Christian turf paper tentatively named the Christian Turfman and Farmer. However, he would instead take charge of the Southern Bureau of Dunton’s (Chicago) Spirit of the Turf.

Time would pass with Gen. Buford’s financial and personal burdens continuing to weigh heavily on his soul. With things too much to bear, he would commit suicide on June 9, 1884, while visiting his nephew Benjamin T. Buford in Danville, IN.

The following letters were found with Gen. Buford’s body:

“DANVILLE, Ind., Monday A. M.

B. T. Buford:
DEAR SIR: Be not affrighted. I have no home to go to, and prefer death to any further struggle with life. My cross is too heavy; I can’t keep it out of the dust. Send my body to my brother, J. H. Buford, Lexington, KY., and may God have mercy on my bewildered soul. My troubles and those of my unfortunate brother Tom have driven me mad.

Beside the letter was the following, scribbled out on a bit of paper:

My financial troubles have driven me to despair. Have lost my only chance to retrieve my unfortunate brother and self, and the future is too dark for me to struggle against any further. I want my body sent to Lexington, KY. My dear friends there will put it away alongside of my dear wife and boy. Peace to all the world, and may God have mercy on my troubled soul.
A. BUFORD” (The New York Times, 06/10/1884)

Later that month, Col. Tom Buford was apprehended after ten months on the run and returned to confinement, where he would remain until his death of chronic dysentery in February 1885.

Ontario was an extremely fertile mare, producing at least fifteen foals through 1889. She would pass away at Belle Meade Stud in late 1891 at the age of twenty-six.

1) Kilburn (1871 ch. g. by Ringmaster)
Winning heat racer.

2) McCreary (1872 ch. c. by Enquirer)
Aka McCreery. Ran in the first edition of the Kentucky Derby (was pulled up after a half-mile). Following retirement, stood at stud for James B. Prather in Marysville, MO. Died April 10, 1880 of a ruptured blood vessel.

3) Curiosity (1873 b. f. by Enquirer)
Owned by Ayres and Sutcliffe of Albany, NY, then by R. W. Walden of Middleburg, MD. Died at Walden’s farm during the last week of April 1879 after foaling a dead foal by Harry Clay.

4) McWhirter (1874 ch. c. by Enquirer)
Record aforementioned.

5) McHenry (1875 ch. c. by Enquirer)
Aka T. McHenry. Winner. Upon the sale of his sire Enquirer in 1879, McHenry was named by Gen. Buford to take his place at stud at Bosque Bonita. Sold by Buford at auction March 23, 1881 to D. L. Bohn of Labelle, MO for $130.

6) McGregor  (1876 ch. c. by Enquirer)
Aka Grayson.

7) Marshal McDonald (1878 (Mar. 31) b. c. by Enquirer)
Aka Marshall McDonald or McDonald. Sent to England by owner J. R. Keene, where he raced over both flat and hurdles. Won the All Ages Stakes at Sandown Park on September 6, 1881, where he was sold out of the race for ₤325.

8) Lizzie McWhirter (1879 ch. f. by Enquirer)
Winner. Sold by Buford at auction March 23, 1881 to P. G. Speth of Louisville, KY for $1,300. Died 1884.

9) McElroy (1880 b. c. by Enquirer)
Owned by J. A. Grinstead until sold at auction May 1, 1882 to R. W. Preston for $325. Died 1886.

10) Heva (1882 ch. f. by Mortemer (FR))
Owned by William Astor (Ferncliff Stud) from unknown date to October 1890 when sold at auction (in foal to imp. Kingston) for $1,150 to W. A. Engeman of Brighton Beach, NY.

11) Hercules (1883 ch. c. by Mortemer (FR))
Steeplechaser bred by Pierre Lorillard (Rancocas Stud). Won jump races at Monmouth in August 1887 and at National Jockey Club (Washington, DC) in October 1888. Was owned by J. H. McCormick, then by Peter Small of Toronto, ON by 1893.

12) Hypasia (1884 ch. f. by Mortemer (FR))
Stakes filly bred by Pierre Lorillard (Rancocas Stud). Later sold to A. F. Walcott of New York, NY for $3,500 in February 1886. Dead by 1889.

13) Heyday (1886 b. c. by Iroquois)

14) Rancocas (1887 ch. c. by Iroquois)
Damsire of Pan Zareta; influential in the foundation of the American Quarter Horse. Died 1904.

15) McKeever (1889 b. g. by Iroquois)

Note: The American Stud Book reported Ontario as barren in 1877, 1881, 1885, and 1888.

Cousin (1949)

Cousin (1949 b. c. by Priam (FR) – My Auntie by Busy American)
Breeder: Coldstream Stud (Elmer Ellsworth Dale Shaffer)
Owner: Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt
Trainers: William C. “Bill” Winfrey (in the United States) and Gerald Balding, Sr. (in England)
Female Family 9

‘This horse isn’t what you would say crazy,’ says his trainer, Bill Winfrey. ‘He is what you would say contrary.’ … ‘I’ve been working with horses a great many years,’ Winfrey said. ‘I rode them 20 years ago. I’ve seen all kinds of actors, but nothing like Cousin.’ … ‘We don’t tell this horse when to run,’ Winfrey says. ‘He tells us.’ (The Washington Post, 04/28/1952)

Record (in United States): (13) 6-1-1 / $95,400
1st: Great American S. (AQU,6f), Flash S. (SAR,5.5f), Saratoga Special (SAR,6f), Hopeful S. (SAR,6.5f)
2nd: Grand Union Hotel S. (SAR,6f)

Record (in England, on flat/grass): at least (4) 0-1-1
Record (in England, over jumps): at least (4) 2-1-1
Total earnings: at least £307
2nd: Arlington Stakes (NBY,1 mi.)

Bred by E. E. Dale Shaffer’s Coldstream Stud, Cousin was from the first North American crop of the Pharis (FR) horse Priam (FR) and the final foal produced by the Busy American mare My Auntie.

PRIAM (FR) (1941)
Priam, by the Pharos (GB) son Pharis (FR) and out of the Asterus (FR) mare Djezima (FR), was a 2-year-old champion in France and multiple stakes winner in England and France before retiring to stud in his native France in 1947. Dam Djezima was out of the Durbar (FR) mare Heldifann (FR), a full sister to Durban (FR), the dam of noted racehorse and sire Tourbillon (FR). As such, expectations were high for the success of Priam in the breeding shed.

Priam would stand at stud for one year in France before being purchased in 1948 as part of a four-horse French stallion syndicate formed by William G. Helis, Sr., Henry Knight, Charles W. Moore (Circle M Farm), Ed S. Moore, E. E. Dale Shaffer (Coldstream Stud), Isabel Dodge Sloane (Brookmeade Stable), and Warren Wright (Calumet Farm), and exported to the United States. The other three stallions included in the syndicate were Adaris (FR) (1936), Goya (FR) (1934), and Hierocles (FR) (1939).

Known as Priam II in the United States, he would begin stud duties at Almahurst Farm, where in addition to Cousin, he would sire the stakes winning gelding Landlocked (1950) and the ill-fated stakes winning/track record-setting Troilus (1956).

Priam’s lasting influence would come not as a sire of sires, but as a broodmare sire. From his first North American crop would come daughter Trojan Lass (1949), the dam of future Reine-de-Course Alabama Gal (1957), herself the dam of stakes winner and sire Gummo (1962) as well as stakes winner and producer Spearfish (1963), the dam of graded stakes winner King’s Bishop (1969) and group winner and producer Gaily (1970).

Daughter Secret Valley (1956), a half-sister to Reines-de-Course On the Trail (1964) and Java Moon (1970), would foal graded stakes winner Triumphant (1969) and his full sister Secret Promise (1964), herself the dam of multiple stakes producing daughters Necessity (1970), True Reality (1973), and Away From Home (1978). True Reality’s daughter Lara’s Star (1981) is the dam of stakes winner Starry Dreamer (1994), herself the dam of current leading sire War Front (2002) and his half-brother Ecclesiastic (2001).

MY AUNTIE (1933)
My Auntie, by the stakes winning North Star (GB) stallion Busy American (1919) and out of the Leonardo II mare Babe K. (1924), was a full sister to stakes winner Busy K. (1934). Babe K. would produce four foals (all by Busy American) on the U.S. mainland before being sent to Puerto Rico. My Auntie would have moderate success on the track, racing from the ages of two to five while earning $7,775 on her way to a record of (36) 10-9-1, including a third place finish in the first edition of the Arkansas Derby in 1936.

While Busy American and Leonardo wouldn’t exactly set the world on fire in the stud, My Auntie was a product of the influential Tea’s Over/Toggery female line, and upon retirement to the breeding shed would become a highly successful broodmare herself – producing four stakes winners (Carolina Queen, Cousin, Johns Joy, and The Doge) and one stakes placed horse (Moretto) in eight foals. All eight of her foals would race, with seven winners. A full list of her progeny is included at the end of this post.

A photo of My Auntie’s (since moved) grave at Coldstream Stud as taken by Barbara Livingston is viewable here.

Babe K. was by the stakes winning Sweep stallion Leonardo II (1918) and out of the Fair Play mare Cri de Coeur (1918). Cri de Coeur was out of the Rock Sand (GB) mare Toggery (1909), thus a full sister to Mlle. Dazie (1917), the dam of champion Jamestown (1928 c. by St. James).

Toggery was out of the Hanover mare Tea’s Over (1893), making her a half-sister to the champion King Eric brothers Dick Welles (1900) and Ort Wells (1901). Both Dick Welles and Ort Wells would later enter the stud, with Dick Welles siring champion and Hall of Fame inductee Billy Kelly (1916). Toggery was also a half-sister to Tea Enough (1911 f. by Ogden (GB)), the third dam of classic winner Hoop Jr. (1942), as well as a full sister to Tea Biscuit (1912), dam of the ill-tempered stakes winner Hard Tack (1926 c. by Man o’ War), himself the sire of champion and Hall of Fame inductee Seabiscuit (1933) and stakes winning filly Sea Snack (1943), among others.

Both Cri de Coeur and Toggery were later named Reines-de-Course for their influence on the breed. Additional Reines from the immediate family include Albania (1933), Precious Lady (1952), Questar (1955), and Tudor Jet (1964).

My Auntie would pass away shortly after Cousin’s birth on March 1, 1949, leaving him to be bottled fed until a nursemare could be located. The orphaned colt, later named Cousin in tribute to his mother, became a “petted” and spoiled colt, and it was believed that his early handing attributed to the attitude problems that would plague his racing career.

“One of the first hints that Cousin might not be an altogether normal horse came when he was a yearling. That was one night when a farm watchman looked up from his papers and saw the horse standing in his room.” (The Washington Post, 04/28/1952)

As part of the Coldstream consignment to the 1950 Keeneland July yearling sale, Cousin was purchased by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt for $20,000, ultimately entering the tutelage of future Hall of Fame trainer William C. “Bill” Winfrey.

The $32,000 sales topper at that year’s yearling sale was a bay Jet Pilot – Crepe Myrtle colt, a half-brother to champion filly Myrtle Charm (1946), grandson of champion filly Myrtlewood (1936), and through shared fourth dam Frizette (1905), a distant relation to Cousin’s sire Priam. Later named Jet Jewel, he would fail to win a race in six starts; however, despite his lack of success on the track, he would enter the stud, siring the ill-fated champion colt Jewel’s Reward (1955).

JUNE 1951
Debuting in five furlong maiden at Belmont Park on June 11, Cousin made an inauspicious debut, finishing a non-threatening fifth in the twelve horse field. His second attempt would come in a 5 ½ furlong dash at Aqueduct on June 23, where this time, showing an affinity for the sloppy going, he would score a front running four length victory over Town Ghost.

Cousin - AQU maiden chart (NYT 1951.06.24)

The New York Times, 06/24/1951

JULY 1951
Remaining at Aqueduct, he would next contest the Rosebank Purse (5.5f) on July 3, where he would again make a front running effort in defeating Brer Fox by a nose, with favored Primate a half-length back in third.

Cousin - photo Rosebank Purse (NYT 1951.07.04)

The New York Times, 07/04/1951

Cousin - headline Great American S. (NYT 1951.07.10)Stepping up to stakes competition, Cousin would win the Great American Stakes (6f) at Aqueduct on July 9 by a hard fought nose over Mixture, who himself finished only a neck in front of Pintor. Cousin would drift out in the stretch, something that would become common for the rest of the season. Ridden by Nick Combest, the Great American would be the only start in Cousin’s thirteen race U.S. career where he was not piloted by Eric Guerin.

Heading to Saratoga for the summer meeting, Cousin would next contest the Flash Stakes (5.5f) on August 6. Modestly placed at the half-mile, he would drift out in the stretch before collaring leader Duke Fanelli to win by 4 ½ lengths.

This day would be of note for a couple of reasons, as the turnstiles would not only record the highest weekday attendance (16,692) to that point in the track’s 87 year history, but it would also mark the grand opening of the National Museum of Racing.

Cousin - Flash S. photo (NYT 1951.08.07)

AP Wirephoto as published in The New York Times, 08/07/1951

“Cousin, starting for the fifth time and winning his fourth straight, started his advance from sixth place. He and his running mate were on the outside on the turn, and Cousin went even wider in the stretch. It’s his custom to do a drift-out, and he didn’t break with the custom in gaining his second stakes success.” (James Roach / The New York Times, 08/07/1951)

After again drifting out in the stretch, Cousin would win the Saratoga Special Stakes (6f) by two lengths over Old Ironsides on August 18, and then contest the Grand Union Hotel Stakes (6f) on August 25, where after stumbling at the break, he would run wide before closing in the final stages to finish second by a length to Tom Fool.

“Cousin’s owner was supposed to go to the wedding of one of his wife’s sisters at Southampton tomorrow. The big horse race has made him change his plans. Quote from Vanderbilt: ‘At the moment I’m more concerned about a Cousin than a sister-in-law.’ ” (James Roach / The New York Times, 08/25/1951)

Cousin - Grand Union Hotel S. photo (NYT 1951.08.26)

The New York Times, 08/26/1951

Despite Cousin’s achievements at Saratoga, his success had not come without some difficulty.

“But it was obvious last summer that Alfred Vanderbilt’s crack 2-year-old colt, Cousin, didn’t like the main track at Saratoga. He sulked whenever he had to train there.

One morning Vanderbilt stood watching Cousin in his works when Jock Whitney sidled alongside him. Alfred shook his head in disappointment.

‘I guess Cousin just doesn’t like the track,’ he sighed.

‘I guess not,’ agreed Jock. Then he brightened. ‘Here’s a suggestion, Alfred. As long as your colt doesn’t like this track, why don’t you bring him over to our track to train?’

“Thanks, Jock,” said Alfred. ‘I think I will.’

So Vanderbilt brought Cousin over to the private Greentree track for his works and the colt sharpened quickly. A few days later Cousin met Tom Fool in the classic Hopeful Stakes and vanquished him to the vast dismay of the generous Jock Whitney, who owns him in partnership with his sister, Mrs. Charles S. Payson.

‘That was a most remarkable victory, Jock,’ said Alfred in amusement afterward as he and Jock were kidding each other about their colts. ‘It was remarkable because I didn’t dare give Cousin a speed workout while he was on your track. Every time I’d tinker with the notion of sneaking one in, I’d glance down toward your house and all I could see was the early morning sun glinting on field glasses. It was so blinding that I figured your entire household was watching Cousin work.’

‘A lot of good it did,’ ruefully commented Jock.”
(Arthur Daley / The New York Times, 01/10/1952)

While Cousin would defeat rival Tom Fool by 1 ¼ lengths in the Hopeful Stakes (6.5f) at Saratoga on September 1, the cracks in his mental armor would begin to show, and the race would ultimately mark the beginning of the end for the colt’s career. He reared in the starting gate, tossing jockey Eric Guerin to the ground, then broke slowly before gaining on leader Tom Fool in the stretch, overtaking the Menow colt by 1 ¼ lengths for the win. Although the track was officially listed as good, the jockeys stated the track was wet and “greasy.” Cousin, who had previously demonstrated an affinity for off tracks, would wear mud caulks up front for the race, while Tom Fool, said to be a “bad mudder,” would wear steel plates all around.

Cousin - photo Hopeful S. (NYT 1951.09.02)

AP Wirephoto as published in The New York Times, 09/02/1951

“Cousin, a fast-stepping bay colt carrying the Cerise and White diamonds of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, turned on the speed in the stretch today to win the $62,900 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga and stamp himself as the prospective Eastern two-year-old champion.” (The Washington Post, 09/02/1951)

Following his successful stand at Saratoga, Cousin would make a return to Belmont. He had performed poorly in his one and only start at the track back in June, and his next two starts at the facility would decidedly prove that he was not a horse for Big Sandy’s course.

“Cousin had a mind of his own, and obstinate one, and he grew bored with racing after winning the Great American, Flash, Saratoga Special, and Hopeful Stakes. He rebelled against the subtlest direction and at the end of the season, Vanderbilt was asked how the colt was doing: ‘Well, we got him all the way around the track the last two times we tried, so I guess you’d say he was doing fine.’ ” (The Blood-Horse Golden Anniversary Edition: A Second Quarter-Century of American Racing and Breeding, 1941 through 1965)

Cousin would open the month of October with a start in the Anticipation Purse (6f) on October 1. Despite only being a “purse” race, the Anticipation Purse fielded a robust field of sixteen, including leading 2-year-old Tom Fool and the up-and-comer Hill Gail. Leaping “almost straight up in the air” at the break, Cousin would lag behind, only beginning to make a run at the stage of the race when his chances of winning were gone. He would finish seventh, far behind winner Hill Gail and place horse Tom Fool.

Less than a week later, Cousin would line up against nine rivals in the 62nd running of the Futurity Stakes (6.5f) on October 6. Cousin, veering in slightly at the break, would never be a factor in the race, finishing eighth. Tom Fool would take the race by ¾ of a length over Primate. Hill Gail, who also had trouble with the break, and then drifted wide during the early stages, would finish fourth.

“ ‘He just didn’t run; he had no excuse,’ said Guerin of Cousin, the conqueror of Tom Fool in the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga Springs on Sept. 1.” (James Roach / The New York Times, 10/07/1951)

Following the Futurity, Cousin is reportedly taken out of training due to anemia.

The twenty-four horse Vanderbilt stable, including Bed o’ Roses, Cousin, and Next Move, arrive at Santa Anita Park for the winter.

Tom Fool is named Champion 2-Year-Old Colt of 1951 by the Daily Racing Form, the Thoroughbred Racing Association, and the Turf and Sport Digest. Additional year-end honors went to Rose Jet (Champion 2-Year-Old Filly), Counterpoint (Champion 3-Year-Old Colt and Horse of the Year), Kiss Me Kate (Champion 3-Year-Old Filly), Hill Prince (DRF/TRA-awarded Champion Handicap Horse), Citation (TSD-awarded Champion Handicap Horse), Bed o’ Roses (Champion Handicap Mare), and Oedipus (TRA-awarded Champion Steeplechaser).

The Experimental Free Handicap weights for 2-year-olds of 1951 are released, with Tom Fool topping the scales at 126 lbs. Cousin is tied with Oh Leo and Primate as co-second highweights at 123 lbs.

A bit of history is set with Tom Fool’s handicap highweight. As his sire Menow was himself the highweight in 1937, it would mark the first time both father and son had topped the list.

MARCH 1952
The Vanderbilt horses return to Belmont Park in preparation for their spring campaigns.

Cousin photo (NYT 1952.03.20)

The New York Times, 03/20/1952

APRIL 1952
Having been away from the starting gate since early October, Cousin’s first start as a 3-year-old comes in a six furlong allowance at Jamaica on April 7. Despite being an allowance, the field was stakes caliber, with the six-horse field including old rivals Tom Fool and Primate, and the stakes winners Armageddon, Master Fiddle, and One Throw. Demonstrating better form than his last two races of the prior season, Cousin would finish third behind winner Tom Fool and place horse Primate by approximately two necks.

Cousin - photo JAM alw (NYT 1952.04.08)

The New York Times, 04/08/1952

Cousin - JAM alw chart (NYT 1952.04.08)

The New York Times, 04/08/1952

Off of his encouraging performance in the allowance, Cousin’s next start was the Wood Memorial (1 ⅛ mi.) at Jamaica on April 19. His start in the race was all but a certainty, as during a gate schooling session two days earlier, Cousin reared, caught one leg on the front of the gate, fell, and became trapped until the gate crew could wheel the contraption away. He was ultimately none the worse for wear from his escapade, and upon being freed and uprighted, would continue his workout, galloping an easy mile and a half around the track.

Wood Memorial day would get off to a good start for owner Alfred Vanderbilt, trainer Bill Winfrey, and jockey Eric Guerin, as they would team up to win the second race with their maiden colt Native Dancer. Going off as the ⁷⁄₅ favorite, the gray colt would defeat Putney in the five furlong race by 4 ½ lengths, installing himself as the favorite for the Youthful Stakes (5f) on April 23 – a race he would ultimately win by six lengths as the ⁹⁄₁₀ favorite.

Chart - Native Dancer maiden (NYT 1952.04.20)

The New York Times, 04/20/1952

Despite their success earlier in the day, by the time the Wood Memorial (1 ⅛ mi.) arrived, the trio’s luck would begin to falter. Similar to his performance back in the Anticipation Purse back in October, Cousin was never in contention in the race, only making a run once his chances of winning were over. Despite closing in on then leader Tom Fool by roughly sixteen lengths in the last 500 yards, he would only manage to finish eighth in the fourteen horse field. Master Fiddle would defeat the seemingly invincible Tom Fool by a neck for the win, with Pintor another half-length behind in third.

Previously having been contested at 1 mile and 70 yards (1925-1939) and 1 1⁄₁₆ miles (1940-1951), the 1952 edition of the Wood Memorial was the first edition of the race to be contested at the now customary 1 ⅛ miles.

Following the Wood Memorial, Cousin headed to Churchill Downs for an expected start in the Kentucky Derby on May 3. However, he had other plans, and much like his display at Saratoga last summer, would flat out refuse to work over the track. As a result, Winfrey would start the ornery colt in the Derby Trial (1 mi.) on April 29 as a fitness builder in preparation for the race. The Derby Trial looked to be shaping up with an interesting field, as in addition to Hill Gail and the wild card Cousin, the field was to include the maiden colt Gift Silver (who would ultimately be scratched).

(1) “Temperamental Cousin, the Alfred G. Vanderbilt hopeful, refused to extend himself in a mile workout, being timed in 1:43 ⅗. Trainer Bill Winfrey said, however, that he planned to run Cousin in the [Derby] trial.” (Los Angeles Times, 04/28/1952)

(2) “Cousin is in the [Derby] Trial because he has refused to take anything more than light exercise in trials. Yesterday Trainer Bill Winfrey worked with him for an hour before he coaxed the contrary colt into taking a leisurely run around the track.

In the recent Wood Memorial at Jamaica, Cousin refused to run till the field went around the second turn. Then, from last place, he made up sixteen lengths on the leader in the last 500 yards. He finished eighth.

Quote from Winfrey, ‘He took a careful look around, made sure he had no chance to win – and then he ran.’

A dozen persons were watching Cousin do some grass-eating on the back stretch this sunny morning. A latecomer asked the trainer if Cousin had been behaving himself.

‘Yes, sir,’ said Winfrey, with a wry grin, ‘he walked good.’

Last year Cousin won the Flash Stakes, the Saratoga Special and the Hopeful Stakes. On a non-mulish day he’s one of the top 3-year-olds in the land.” (James Roach, The New York Times, 04/29/1952)

In the Derby Trial (1 mi.), Cousin – who would show himself to be a bad actor in the post parade – would finish last in the nine horse field, approximately 42 lengths behind winner Hill Gail, whose winning time of 1:35 ⅗ would take ⅕ of a second off the track record set by Whirling Dough in 1951.

“The same state of affairs had to endure for Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt’s unpredictable Cousin, the one relation who drives Vanderbilt to the verge of madness. Cousin is liable to win the Derby by a city block or take it into his silly head to vault over the infield fence and nibble on the grass. He doesn’t need a capable trainer like Bill Winfrey. He needs a keeper.” (Arthur Daley / The New York Times, 04/30/1952)

Cousin - Derby Trial chart (NYT 1952.04.30)

The New York Times, 04/30/1952

(1) “A crowd of 18,000 saw Hill Gail give his fine performance and also saw A. G. Vanderbilt’s Cousin, one of the better regarded colts, sulk his way right out of the Derby picture. Cousin, ridden by Eric Guerin, finished a bad last, altho he broke well from the gate after holding up the parade to the post with a show of temperament.” (Maurice Shevlin / Chicago Daily Tribune, 04/30/1952)

(2) “The Trial knocked at least four candidates (Turks Cap, Kingly, Brian Boru and Shag Tails) out of the Derby, and almost certainly eliminated Alfred Vanderbilt’s colt Cousin, who once again did not choose to run. He finished last, more than forty lengths behind Hill Gail.

‘Nothing is wrong with Cousin except between his ears,’ said his trainer, Bill Winfrey.” (James Roach / The New York Times, 05/01/1952)

MAY 1952
Due to his continued lack of cooperation, Cousin is withdrawn from contention from the Kentucky Derby. The Derby Trial would ultimately be his final start in the United States.

“Bill Winfrey, the disappointed trainer of the disappointing Cousin, will leave Louisville tomorrow, not even waiting for the Derby. Vanderbilt fled right after the Derby Trial.

‘Yes, Cousin is a bitter disappointment,’ acknowledged Winfrey, the ex-marine. He sighed. ‘Cousin just doesn’t want to do what I want him to do. He has more natural ability than most, but what good is it? I suppose I should just leave him there in the barn, but I’m afraid he’ll show up at Belmont.’

There is nothing more aggravating on the turf than to have a talented colt like Cousin who is just too ornery and sulky to run.” (Arthur Daley / The New York Times, 05/02/1952)

On May 3, Hill Gail would win the Kentucky Derby (1 ¼ mi.) by two lengths over Sub Fleet, becoming only the third horse in history behind Black Gold in 1924 and Citation in 1948 to take the Derby Trial/Kentucky Derby double.

JULY 1952
“Cousin, the bad acting colt that the Alfred Vanderbilt stable refused to start in the Kentucky Derby after a miserable performance in the Derby Trial, is in training again but Trainer Bill Winfrey is keeping his fingers crossed. Cousin is a paradox if there ever was one. He can run, but he won’t run. Light training he’ll take, but when they give him serious drills he sulks. He was a fine stakes winner at 2, ran a good race in his first start this year and then turned on his temperament. Winfrey is one of the nicest and most placid trainers in the sport of horse racing, but what Cousin has done to him shouldn’t happen even to a pork barrel Democrat.” (Paul Lowry / Los Angeles Times, 07/20/1952)

“A Florida poll gives ‘bust-of-the-year’ honors to Alfred Vanderbilt’s colt Cousin.” (Paul Lowry / The Los Angeles Times, 12/14/1952)

Following Cousin’s disastrous 3-year-old campaign, Alfred Vanderbilt sends him to England in late 1952. Now under the care of thoroughbred trainer and champion polo player Gerald Balding, Sr. it was hoped that the quiet setting of Balding’s stable, located near the town of Devizes, would help to settle Cousin’s temperament.

“The unpredictable Cousin was finally sent to England. He disgraced the Vanderbilt colors and gave Trainer Bill Winfrey gray hair by refusing to run in the Kentucky Derby Trial last spring. He wouldn’t start him in the Derby. Bill believes English training may get the colt over his screwball tendencies.” (Paul Lowry / Los Angeles Times, 12/21/1952)

Interestingly enough, there was already a distant connection between horse and trainer, as Gerald Balding’s brother Ivor had purchased Cousin’s half-brother The Doge as a yearling at auction in 1943.

Racing as Cousin II in England, his record as published in The Blood-Horse Golden Anniversary Edition: A Second Quarter-Century of American Racing and Breeding, 1941 through 1965, was listed as follows; however, it should be treated as incomplete.

Record (in England, on flat/grass): at least (4) 0-1-1
Record (in England, over jumps): at least (4) 2-1-1
Total earnings: at least £307

Cousin - Arlington S. chart (The Sunday Times, 1953.10.04)

The Sunday Times (London), 10/04/1953

Research indicates Cousin ran or was entered in at least the following races in England:
• March 9, 1953: Entered in the Novices’ Hurdle (2 mi.) at Wye.
• September 12, 1953: 3rd to Carino (GB) and Reprimand in a 1 mile, 60 yards race at Alexandra Park.
• October 3, 1953: 2nd to Novarullah (GB) in the Arlington Stakes (1 mi.) at Newbury.
• October 27, 1953: Ran unplaced in the Limekiln Stakes (1 ¼ mi.) at Newmarket.
• November 12, 1953: Ran unplaced in the All-Aged Consolation Plate (6f) at Manchester.
• December 7, 1953: 2nd to Pommel in the Newport Novices’ Hurdle (Div. 1) (2 mi.) at Wolverhampton.
• September 19, 1954: Possibly entered in unspecified race at Taunton.

Cousin would reportedly injure himself in a jump race in England in the spring of 1955 and be euthanized.


Moretto (1940 dkb/br. g. by Bull Dog (FR))
Record: (55) 6-4-8 / $11,477 in five years of racing (1942-1946)
• At 2 (1942): 2nd Maplewood S.
• At 3 (1943): 3rd Spanish Fort Claiming S.

Boston Doge photo (NYT 1955.03.27)

Photo of Boston Doge
The New York Times, 03/27/1955

The Doge (1942 – 1965 br. c. by Bull Dog (FR))
• Purchased for $10,000 as a yearling by Ivor Balding (a brother of Gerald Balding, Cousin’s eventual trainer in England).
• Assigned 118 lbs. in the 1945 Experimental Free Handicap for 2-year-olds of 1944 (handicap highweights Free For All and Pavot were assigned 126 lbs.).

Record: (91) 25-14-13 / $156,015 in five years of racing (1944-1948)
• At 2 (1944): 1st Sanford S., Endurance H.; 2nd Eastern Shore H., Richard Johnson S.; 3rd Sagamore S., Walden S., Albany H.
• At 3 (1945): 1st Capital H., Laurel S.; 2nd Janney H., Ritchie H.; 3rd Kent S., Diamond State S.
• At 4 (1946): 1st Camden H., Susquehanna H.; 2nd Atlantic City Inaugural H.; 3rd Jennings H., Pageant H.
• At 5 (1947): 1st Laurel S., Valley Forge H., Quaker City H.; 2nd Janney H.; 3rd Camden H.

The Doge sired 225 foals (203 starters with 167 winners, 13 black type, and $3,999,684 in total earnings / AEI 1.65), including stakes winner and Hall of Fame inductee Swoon’s Son (sire of champion filly and Hall of Fame inductee Chris Evert), stakes winners/track record setters Dogoon and Pointer, and stakes winner Boston Doge (sire of champion mare Old Hat), among others.

Amita (1944 dkb/br. f. by Bull Dog (FR))
Record: (12) 1-3-1 / $4,115 in one year of racing (1946)

Proud Reward (1945 dkb/br. c. by Reaping Reward)
Record: (34) 3-1-6 / $7,500 in four years of racing (1947-1950)

Johns Joy (1946 – 1972 b. c. by Bull Dog (FR))
• Purchased for $32,500 at the 1947 Keeneland July yearling sale, with purchaser John A. Kinard, Jr. “prepared to go higher if necessary.”
• Was the highest priced Bull Dog (FR) yearling sold at auction in 1947.
• Assigned 119 lbs. in the 1949 Experimental Free Handicap for 2-year-olds of 1948 (handicap highweight Blue Peter was assigned 126 lbs.).
• The Johns Joy Purse (2f) for 2-year-olds was run at Fair Grounds beginning in 1952.

Record: (54) 19-10-5 / $192,613 in four years of racing (1948-1951)
• At 2 (1948): 1st Duncan F. Kenner S., Hawthorne Juvenile H., Kentucky Jockey Club S.; 2nd Breeders’ Futurity; 3rd Prairie State S.
• At 3 (1949): 1st Sequoia S., Yerba Buena S., Cavalcade H., Motor City S., Toro H.; 2nd Blue Grass S., Tanforan H.; 3rd American Derby, Frontier S.
• At 4 (1950): 1st Le Compte H.
• At 5 (1951): 1st Churchill Downs H.-NTR, Myrtlewood H.-NTR, Drexel H.; 3rd Skokie H., Clark H.

• ETR at Arlington (1948): 5 ½ furlongs in 1:04
• Washington Park (08/22/1949): 1 mile in 1:34 ⅕ in the Toro Handicap, which was at the time the fastest mile ever recorded by a 3-year-old. Time was ⅕ of a second off of the track/world record set by 4-year-old Coaltown in the Whirlaway S. at Washington Park on August 13, 1949.
ETR at Tanforan (1949): 1 ⅛ mi. in 1:50
NTR at Churchill Downs (04/28/1951): 7 furlongs in 1:22 ⅘ in the Churchill Downs H. Lowered the record of 1:23  set by Distinction in 1921.
• ETR at Arlington (06/18/1951): 6 furlongs in 1:09 ⅕ in the Myrtlewood H. Equaled record set by Carrara Marble in 1949.

Johns Joy sired 432 foals (383 starters with 318 winners, 46 black type winners, and $9,908,320 in total earnings / AEI 2.07), including Rare Relish (dam of Grade 1 winner Miss Huntington and Group 3 winner Black Sulphur), Happy Flirt (dam of English champion Flirting Around, himself the sire of South African champion and sire Wolf Power (SAF)), and stakes winner Our Joy, among others.

Uncle Bim (1947 b. g. by Bimelech)
Record: (11) 0-0-0 / $170 in one year of racing (1951)

Carolina Queen (1948 dkb/br. f. by Bull Dog (FR))
• Purchased for $12,100 as a yearling.
• Assigned 112 lbs. in the 1951 Experimental Free Handicap for 2-year-olds of 1950 – was the fourth highest weighted filly behind Aunt Jinny (114 lbs.), How (114 lbs.), and Flyamanita (113 lbs.). Handicap highweight Uncle Miltie was assigned 126 lbs.

Record: (22) 3-0-1 / $34,630 in three years of racing (1950-1952)
• At 2 (1950): 1st Marguerite S.

Cousin (1949 b. c. by Priam (FR))
Record aforementioned.

Sofala (1898)

Sofala (1898 ch. f. by Balgowan – Apozea by Bishop)
Breeder/Owner: Barney Schreiber (Woodlands Stud, Missouri)
Trainers: Dick Williams and Felix Carr
Family 23-b

“There are two propositions about Sofala. Either she is an equine wonder or there are no good 2-year-olds at San Francisco. She has shown that nothing there can be classed with her. She is Miss Woodford, Firenzi, Thora, Yo Tambien, and Imp all in one so far as the Pacific coast is concerned…”

Record: (18) 12-2-1
1st: Gebhard S. (170 ft. less than 6f,OAK), Western S. (5f,TAN)

NTR and world 2YO record at Tanforan (01/19/1900): 3f in :35 ½.
NTR at Tanforan (02/24/1900): 4f in :48

Winner of 12 of her first 14 starts, all of which were run before April 15 of her 2-year-old year, including six starts in the month of January.

Sofala - photo (SF Call 1900.04.15)

The San Francisco Call, 04/15/1900

A homebred for Barney Schreiber’s Woodlands Stud (Bridgeton, MO), Sofala was a “medium-sized,” “racy-looking, well made youngster” by the stakes winning Strathmore horse Balgowan and the first foal out of the Bishop mare Apozea.

Balgowan ad (DRF 1903.11.22)

Daily Racing Form, 11/22/1903

Balgowan was a multiple stakes winner (incl. Hyde Park S., Kentucky Central H., Maxwell House H., Merchants H., Peabody Hotel H., Saratoga S., Southern Hotel S.) who passed through several hands during his racing career before being purchased by Schreiber in late 1894. While Schreiber’s initial intent was for the then 6-year-old Balgowan to join his racing string in California, the horse was ultimately retired to Woodlands for stud duties in the spring of 1895, where he would remain until his death in September 1908.

In addition to Sofala, Balgowan would sire the handicapper Gus Heidorn (1901 b. c. o/o Charmion by Tyrant) and the filly Sylvia Talbot (1900 ch. f. o/o Parolee by Panique), a stakes winner who would set a track record for 6 ½ furlongs (1:19) at Washington Park at the age of three.

Apozea (aka Apoza, Spozea, Spozia) was purchased by Schreiber for $210 as an unbroken and untried 2-year-old at auction in late June 1896. Out of the Vauxhall mare Patricia, Apozea was a half-sister to 1891 Kentucky Derby winner Kingman (by Glengarry (GB)), a race in which the aforementioned Balgowan would finish second.

In a “farcical race” that was said to be “tame, flat and uninteresting” and won in “selling plater time,” Kingman’s final time of 2:52 ¼ (over a track rated slow) holds the honor of being the slowest Kentucky Derby (then at 12 furlongs) winning time in history. A multiple stakes winner during his career, Kingman would pass away at the age of five leaving no produce.

Apozea would race at least once as a 2-year-old, finishing last of nine in a five furlong dash at St. Louis in late August 1896 before being bred to Balgowan in the spring of 1897. Sofala was the first foal for the then 4-year-old Apozea, who would ultimately produce at least ten foals, including three full siblings to Sofala: Charles Green (1903 ch. g.), Alice Collins (1906 b. f.), and Louise B. (1908 b. f.). While all three were winners, none would duplicate their sister’s success.

Sofala, stabled with Schreiber’s string in Northern California, debuted in a three furlong allowance at the newly constructed Tanforan on January 6, defeating the Masetto colt Rathgar by four lengths over a slow track.

She would quickly return to competition, defeating the Red Iron filly Lillie Diggs by three lengths in a three furlong dash on January 13, and then best the Fitz James colt Sig Levy by a head in another three furlong dash on January 15. She would bear out in the stretch in the win against Sig Levy, this was later attributed to “mouth trouble.”

Despite being undefeated in three starts, Sofala’s next start came in a three furlong selling race at Tanforan on January 19. Defeating old maiden foe Rathgar by two lengths, her final time of :35 ½ was not only a new track record, but a new world record for 2-year-olds at the distance.

Tanforan 1908 (Hamilton Henry Dobbin)

Tanforan Racetrack, 1908
Photo by Hamilton Henry Dobbin, preserved by the California State Library.

Leaving the confines of Tanforan for nearby Oakland, Sofala would suffer the first loss of her career in a 3 ½ furlong allowance on January 25, finishing second by a half-length to the Duncombe (GB) gelding Dunfree. Five days later, the two would face off again at Oakland in a 3 ½ furlong allowance on January 30, with Sofala this time turning the tables on her conqueror, registering a two length win over Dunfree.

Oakland Race Track

Oakland Race Track (Emeryville, CA) just prior to or following the 1907 Burns Handicap, won by Kercheval.
Photo preserved by the Library of Congress.

Returning to Tanforan, Sofala would suffer the second loss of her brief career in a 3 ½ furlong allowance on February 12, finishing second to the Bassetlaw (GB) gelding M. F. Tarpey by two lengths.

“The filly is believed to have been a trifle short when M. F. Tarpey beat her, due to the fact that she had just recovered from a slight cold which forced her trainer to let up on her for two weeks.” (Daily Racing Form, 03/07/1900)

Her next start at Tanforan on February 24 would mark a successful step up in distance to four furlongs. Once again turning the tables on her conqueror, Sofala would defeat M. F. Tarpey by four lengths in a track record setting time of :48.

She would return to Oakland three days later, defeating the Mariner (AUS) colt Count Hubert by two lengths in a four furlong allowance on February 27.

MARCH 1900
Remaining at Oakland for the month of March, Sofala would register a five length win over the Buckmaster filly Lucidia in a 4 ½ furlong allowance on March 1 and score a two length win in heavy going over the St. Andrew (GB) gelding Andrattus in a four furlong allowance on March 10.

“Sofala’s half mile in 50 ¼ seconds with 118 pounds up, over a heavy track at Oakland last Saturday stamps the Balgowan filly as one of the greatest racing machines of her age ever seen on the American turf. She handled her big impost like the stake filly that she undoubtedly is, and spread-eagled her field, winning under all kinds of wraps from Andrattus and Intrada, both of whom were in receipt of big weight. Andrattus and Intrada were returned winners in their previous starts.” (Daily Racing Form, 03/16/1900)

Sofala would end the month with a five length win over the Crescendo colt Impromptu (aka Impeto) in a 4 ½ furlong allowance at Oakland on March 31.

“Sofala’s victory on Saturday makes her tenth one in twelve starts, and the little miss enjoys the honor of being the only two-year-old in history that has ever won ten races before the first of April. She won with 120 pounds up, as easily as she won with 112 at the opening of the season. … Sofala will be shipped east in about ten days. Sofala comes from the great Gallopade family, whence comes Prioress, winner of the Czarewitch of 1857, and Starke, the only American horse that ever won the Goodwood cup.” (Los Angeles Times, 04/02/1900)

APRIL 1900 Headline - Gebhard (SF Call 1900.04.08)
Running against a strong wind and a 125 lb. impost, Sofala would take the Gebhard Stakes over Oakland’s Futurity course (170 ft. less than 6 furlongs) on April 7 by two lengths over old rival Dunfree. Chart notes from the race proclaimed that Sofala “is probably the greatest filly ever seen in California.”

“When Barney Schreiber’s crack piece of racing bric-a-brac, Sofala, started for the Gebhard it was with many misgivings on the part of Felix Carr and Dick Williams, Barney’s two trainers. Felix had a dread of the “hoodoo” thirteenth start, while Dick said Schreiber ought to be arrested for starting a young two-year-old with all that weight up. Barney himself was like a nervous “scrapper” waiting for the gong. He finally consulted Judge Joe Murphy, who probably told the St. Louis man she would strike just as hard game in an ordinary purse race. If it didn’t help her it certainly did not hurt the filly’s selling price any.” (San Francisco Call, 04/14/1900)

“And besides all that, Barney has a filly that sets one wondering. There are two propositions about Sofala. Either she is an equine wonder or there are no good 2-year-olds at San Francisco. She has shown that nothing there can be classed with her. She is Miss Woodford, Firenzi, Thora, Yo Tambien, and Imp all in one so far as the Pacific coast is concerned, and we must wait till she comes East and tackles the now unknown quantities here before we can properly gauge her.

But, leaving her repeated victories out of the question, she is still a thing to be wondered at for the nerve she has shown. Young as she is and of a sex that is rarely hardy, she has already run and won more races than are indulged in by many first-class horses. English trainers say that no stake horse should be asked to go to the post more than ten times in a season, yet here is a 2-year-old filly that has passed that limit in the first three months of the year, and the real season of her racing is not yet upon her.

She is entered in the stakes about here and will start if fit, and it will be an interesting thing to watch her career throughout the summer after the grueling that she has had since the 1st of January at San Francisco. Schreiber’s winning at the coast tracks amount to $20,000, Bannockburn, Sofala, and Forte being mainly responsible for the golden harvest.” (Charles E. Trevathan / Chicago Daily Tribune, 04/08/1900)

“Sofala holds the world’s record, so far as early racing goes. No other two-year-old in the world has ever won eleven races before the 1st of July, let alone the 10th of April.” (“Hidalgo” / Los Angeles Times, 04/09/1900)

Returning to Tanforan for the first time since late February, Sofala then took the Western Stakes (5f) on April 14 by a length over the Rousseau gelding Diderot.

“She has shown enormous speed, the ability to carry high weights with ease and has found any route she has been asked to traverse easily within the compass of her power. What more could an owner desire? Barney Schreiber facetiously writes that she is “rotten,” but she is as the apple of his eye.” (Daily Racing Form, 04/18/1900)

Through April 14, Sofala had earned a remarkable twelve wins and two seconds in fourteen starts, and the comparisons between the filly and Golden Rule, the great California 2-year-old of the previous year, begun to grow.

MAY 1900
“Barney Schreiber’s two-year-old filly Sofala will be sent East from San Francisco to Chicago, and she may possibly come to the metropolitan tracks. The filly has won twelve out of the fourteen races in which she has started, and her owner things her the best two-year-old of the year. There have been other fillies like Sofala that were thought to be the best of their years – May Hempstead, for instance – and when they were called upon to meet fair two-year-olds in the middle of the season they were found wanting. Sofala has been raced so much so early in her career that she is bound to suffer from it. May Hempstead was just such a filly, and received the same sort of treatment, with the result that she was practically worthless last season.” (The New York Times, 05/02/1900)

Sofala and the rest of the Schreiber string arrive in St. Louis on May 15.

“The phenomenal success of Barney Schreiber’s great two-year-old filly, Sofala, who was bred in St. Louis county, has been the biggest kind of an advertisement for Missouri. She is beyond a doubt one of the best youngsters ever bred in this country, and the fact that she comes from Missouri proves conclusively that this state is capable of producing just as good race horses as Kentucky or Tennessee.” (Daily Racing Form, 05/16/1900)

While entered in a highly anticipated race against the Russell filly Miss Bennett – the “western” phenom with four wins, two track records, and another track record equaled in five starts at Little Rock (Clinton Park) and Memphis (Montgomery Park) – in the Debutante Stakes (4.5f) at St. Louis on May 19, Sofala would scratch out of the race, with Schreiber citing both poor physical condition following her journey and the toll heavy rains had on the track’s condition.

With the Debutante field then reduced to three, Miss Bennett would take the Debutante by six lengths over the Loyalist (GB) filly Clorita.

“Barney Schreiber did not start Sofala in the Debutante stakes at St. Louis and said before the race: “My filly has not been right since her long journey across the Rocky Mountains. She has been off her feed, and I have been compelled to borrow some California hay from Captain Hackett, owner of Yellow Tail, and mix it with our Missouri hay to induce her to eat. It will be an impossibility to get her ready for Saturday’s race, and it would be an injustice to her, myself, the association and the public to think of starting her. She will be ready later on, and when she does start, I want the public as well as myself to think that she is fit to win.” (Daily Racing Form, 05/20/1900)

JUNE 1900
Sofala would again be scratched from a 4 ½ furlong allowance at Harlem on June 9, with this time Schreiber citing the nine horse field size as a disadvantage.

“The reason I did not start Sofala Saturday is that the field appeared a little large for her,” said Barney Schreiber. “The filly is a nervous animal, and although she was fit for a race, I concluded that nothing would be gained had she run. I would like to have it made public that her nervousness alone was the cause of her being scratched.”” (Daily Racing Form, 06/10/1900)

Despite his stated reason for the scratch, Sofala was experienced with larger fields, as three of her twelve wins back in California had come in nine horse fields. She also had a second place finish in a twelve horse field.

After much delay, Sofala’s first start outside of California would ultimately occur in a 4 ½ furlong allowance at Washington Park on June 23. Finishing third by about five lengths to the Faraday colt Criterion and the Hindoo colt Alard Scheck, it would be the worst performance of her young career.

Remaining at Washington Park, Sofala would finally meet up with Miss Bennett in the Lakeside Stakes (5f) on June 26. The highly anticipated race would not live up to the hype, as Sofala would finish sixth in the nine horse field, well behind winner Miss Bennett, who would defeat Esher (GB) filly Lady Schorr by two lengths.

Headline - Lakeside S. (SF Call 1900.06.27)

“Barney Schreiber refused to be consoled last night over the poor showing made by Sofala. He says he does not want to do Caywood any injustice, but cannot believe the filly ran anything like her race. Caywood, he says, failed to follow his instructions to keep at work on Sofala, who is inclined to loaf. “I know that Sofala can beat all those horses,” exclaimed Schreiber, “and will bet she can if they ever meet again.”” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 06/27/1900)

“Sofala finished fifth after having shown no speed. The California filly is undoubtedly far short of her far Western form. Saturday’s race, instead of helping her, probably hurt her. Owner Schreiber was exasperated at her performance and seemed to blame Caywood. He even declared he was willing to bet $5,000 that his filly could defeat Miss Bennett.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 06/27/1900)

Returning to St. Louis, Sofala would finish last of seven in the Turf Congress Handicap (6f) on June 30, well behind winner Lady Shorr, who would defeat the Charade colt Ampere by five lengths in the heavy going.

“They tell me she acted badly before the race. She cut up while being saddled in the paddock, and Jockey Ruiz says she gave starter Bruce some trouble at the post. This satisfies me that the filly was not right, for she never before acted sour or mean. I shipped her from Chicago to St. Louis the night before the races, and I guess the trip didn’t do her any good.” (Barney Schreiber as quoted in the St. Louis Republic, 07/02/1900)

JULY 1900 Headline - Schreiber barred (CDT 1900.07.04)
In early July, Barney Schreiber is barred from Washington Park as a result of the “inconsistency” of his horses Fly By Night and In Shot.

Prior to his arrival at Washington Park, Fly By Night had run a number of unremarkable races at Harlem and Hawthorne. In his first start at Washington Park, Fly By Night would finish up the track in a 1 ⅛ mile race, despite going off as the betting favorite. However, two days later he would win the Oakwood Handicap (1 ⅛ mi.) handily at odds of 7-1. That same day, the 2-year-old filly In Shot would also display a reversal in form when winning at high odds.

The stewards at Washington Park ultimately ruled that Schreiber’s suspension was to run only through the rest of the track’s race meeting, which was to conclude at the end of the month.

The events at Washington Park were not the first time Schreiber horses had come under scrutiny in recent months. In November 1899, trainer Dick Williams was suspended alongside jockey Jack Ward by decision of the California Jockey Club due to the strange reversal of form of Schreiber’s horses Aluminum and Forte during the Oakland meeting. The stewards recommended revocation of the two’s licenses; however, Williams’ license was later reinstated.

Sitting on the sidelines for the month of July, the next (and what would ultimately be the final) start of Sofala’s career came in a 5 ½ furlong allowance at Saratoga on August 2. After being “practically left at the post,” she would finish last in the eight horse field, with the Luke Blackburn colt Luke Ward defeating the Belvidere colt Bellario by one length for the win.

Following her poor performance at Saratoga in August, Sofala was sent to Schreiber’s Woodlands for a rest. On the morning of October 25, she was turned out in company with the 3-year-old St. George (GB) filly Nance O’Neil, “a worthless race horse that Mr. Schreiber has been trying to sell all season.” Shortly after the two fillies were turned out, a kick from Nance O’Neil rendered Sofala “badly crippled.” Tetanus would soon set in, and despite receiving all care available, Sofala would pass away in agony during the evening of October 28.

Despite his prior feelings towards Nance O’Neil, Schreiber would ultimately not rid himself of the filly following the accident, instead breeding her to Balgowan in the spring of 1901. He would retain the mare for the rest of her life.

Nance O’Neil would produce at least five foals for Schreiber, the most notable being the continent trekking Balgowan filly Tavora (1903), who would race for eight years, retiring in 1912 with a record of (152) 26-19-12 and $8,790 in earnings. In late November 1911, Schreiber would disperse his bloodstock in a sale at Mexico City, where upon arrival at the sales grounds from Missouri, the 14-year-old Nance O’Neil (in foal to Sain (GB)) would drop dead unexpectedly in the sales paddock.

Theen (1935)

Theen – 1935 br. f. by Sickle (GB) – Potheen by Wildair
Breeder/Owner: Warren Wright, Sr. (Calumet)
Trainer: Frank (F. J.) Kearns
Family 8-c

Record: (5) 2-1-0 / $16,680
1st: Arlington Lassie S. (6f,AP)

Referred to as “a tomboyish looking filly,” Theen was a first generation Calumet homebred by Sickle (GB) out of the Wildair mare Potheen, a daughter of the champion mare Rosie O’Grady, whom Warren Wright of Calumet had purchased at auction from H. P. Whitney in 1930.

Sickle (GB), out of the Chaucer (GB) mare Selene (GB), thereby making him a full brother to Pharamond (GB) and a half-brother to the yet-to-be-foaled Hyperion (GB), would spend his formative years in England, accruing a record of (10) 3-4-2 including three stakes wins before being imported to the United States in 1929 for stud duty at Joseph E. Widener’s Elmendorf Farm.

Rewarded with a stellar book of mares from the beginning, Sickle would immediately have success in the stud, with his first U.S. crop producing the outstanding mare Jabot, herself later becoming the dam of champion Counterpoint.

Sickle’s 1935 foal crop would have remarkable success, as in addition to the stakes winning Theen, he would produce stakes winner Cravat (a full brother to Jabot), Champion 3-Year-Old Stagehand, and English stakes winner Unbreakable, himself the sire of Champion Sprinter of 1947 and sire Polynesian. Sickle would ultimately lead the North American sire lists in 1936 and 1938.

At the time of Theen’s birth in 1935, the 7-year-old Potheen was merely a young, promising broodmare. However, by the end of the next decade, Potheen would end her career as the 1947 Broodmare of the Year, as in addition to the stakes winning Theen, she would foal major stakes winner Pot O’Luck (by Chance Play) in 1942 and champion and Hall of Fame filly Bewitch (by Bull Lea) in 1945.

Potheen (alongside immediate family members Cherokee Rose, Erin, Liz F., Rosie O’Grady, Rowes Bud, and Royal Rose (GB)), were later named Reines-de-Course for their contributions to the breed.

JUNE 1937
Theen’s racing career would be abbreviated, encompassing five starts across 6 ½ weeks from June 30 to August 14. Based at Arlington under the tutelage of Calumet’s trainer Frank Kearns, Theen was entered in a five furlong maiden race at Arlington on June 30. She would finish second in her debut to the Jean Valjean filly Mighty Sweet, having been “all but left” at the start.

JULY 1937
Racing back one week later, Theen would win a five furlong maiden event at Arlington on July 7 by six lengths in :58 ⅘. The chart notes read: “Theen, away well and sent into command with a rush, sustained throughout and was only mildly shaken up in the stretch.”

Theen maiden chart (CDT 1937.07.08)

Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/08/1937

Theen Lassie workout headline (CDT 1937.07.15)Following her decisive maiden win, Theen was pointed towards the Arlington Lassie Stakes (6f) on July 17. In preparation for the race, she would work six furlongs in 1:13 ⅘ on July 14, leading trainer Kearns to proclaim “Theen is the little lady to beat in the Lassie” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/15/1937).

Theen’s backers were compensated for their confidence when she defeated Inhale in the Arlington Lassie by a half-length in 1:11 ⅘. In third was another Sickle filly, Well Rewarded.

Theen’s win in the Arlington Lassie was the merely the first in a series for the matriarchal line of Rosie O’Grady, as Theen’s half-sister Bewitch would capture the race in 1947, with Thunder Bertie doing the same in 1998.

Theen Arlington Lassie chart (CDT 1937.07.18)

Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/18/1937

Theen Arlington Lassie photo 1 (CDT 1937.07.18)

Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/18/1937

Theen Arlington Lassie photo 2 (CDT 1937.07.18)

Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/18/1937

Following her win in the Arlington Lassie, Theen would travel to Saratoga in preparation for the major eastern juvenile stakes. She would make two starts at Saratoga in the month of August – the Schuylerville Stakes (5.5f) on August 5 and the Spinaway Stakes (6f) on August 14. Failing to improve upon her form shown at Arlington, she would finish fourth of eleven behind Creole Maid, Jacola, and Merry Lassie in the Schuylerville and ninth of fifteen in the Spinaway, won by Merry Lassie.

In addition to their on track fortunes, Theen’s opponents in the Schuylerville and Spinaway would ultimately carry that good luck on to the breeding shed.

Creole Maid, by Sickle’s full brother Pharamond, would win the Coaching Club American Oaks (11f) of 1938, later foaling major stakes winner/track record setter Natchez (by Jamestown) in 1943.

Jacola, a half-sister to major stakes winner and Hall of Famer Johnstown, would be named the Champion 2-Year-Old filly of 1937. From the immediate family of Gallorette and Omaha, once retired to the breeding shed Jacola would continue the family tradition of producing champions, foaling Phalanx (by Pilate) in 1944, who would become Champion 3-Year-Old of 1947. Jacola is also an ancestress of the stakes winning Jester stallion Reflected Glory, himself the sire of major stakes winner and champion Snow Chief, among others.

Merry Lassie would foal the Johnstown filly Laughter in 1941, herself the dam of the Bimelech stallion Hilarious.

Retired following the Spinaway, Theen was assigned 108 lbs. in the Experimental Free Handicap of 1937. Menow was named the 126 lb. highweight on the scale, with Jacola the highest ranked filly at 116 lbs.

Bred to the Broomstick stallion Halcyon in the spring of 1938, Theen would have a long career in the breeding shed, producing fourteen foals from 1939 to 1958. Ultimately, none of her foals would show the brilliance of her siblings or granddam.

Hallie T. (1939 br. f. by Halcyon)
Record: Unraced

Sun Theen (1941 ch. c. by Sun Teddy)
Record: (12) 2-1-2 / $3,635 in 4 years of racing (1943, 1945, 1948-1949)

Sheer Luck (1942 ch. f. by Chance Play)
Record: (37) 4-7-4 / $11,750 in 4 years of racing (1944-1947)

Linwood Theen (1943 br. f. by Sun Teddy)
Record: (6) 0-0-0 / $0 in 2 years of racing (1946-1947)

Speed Play (1944 ch. c. by Chance Play)
Record: (43) 4-6-6 / $98,55 in 4 years of racing (1946-1949)

Armored (1945 dkb. c. by Sir Gallahad (FR))
Record: (8) 2-0-0 / $4,200 in 1 year of racing (1949)

Bearing Clear (1946 b. c. by Bull Lea)
Record: (33) 3-4-5 / $9,130 in 3 years of racing (1948-1950)

Bern Lass (1949 b. f. by Bernborough (AUS))
Record: Unraced

Romaneen (1951 br. f. by Roman)
Record: (11) 1-4-1 / $6,975 in 2 years of racing (1953-1954)

Herb’s Choice (1952 br. c. by Heliopolis (GB))
Record: (11) 0-3-0 / $2,200 in 4 years of racing (1954-1956, 1959)

Preen (1953 blk. f. by Roman)
Record: (33) 2-8-6 / $9,080 in 3 years of racing (1955-1957)

Queen Theen (1954 b. f. by Roman)
Record: Unraced

Bill’s Melody (1956 br. g. by Priam (FR))
Record: (33) 2-3-3 / $4,391 in 4 years of racing (1958-1959, 1961-1962)

My Best (1958 blk. c. by Cosmic Bomb)
Record: (26) 1-2-3 / $4,110 in 5 years of racing (1960-1964)

Tommy Atkins (1898)

Tommy Atkins – 1898 ch. c. by Masetto (GB) – Quesal by Himyar
Breeder: Maj. Thomas J. Carson
Owners: James R. Keene & Foxhall P. Keene
Trainer: James Rowe

RECORD: (9) 2-3-3 / $15,450
1st: Juvenile S. (5f-NSR,Morris Park), Neptune S. (6f,Brighton Beach)
2nd: Double Event #1 (5.5f,SHE), Double Event #2 (abt. 6f,SHE), Flatbush S. (7f,SHE)
3rd: Great American S. (5f,GRE), Tremont S. (6f,GRE), Futurity S. (170 ft. less than 6f,SHE)

Tommy Atkins - photo (Outing Vol. XXXVI)

Photo: W. H. Rowe. “Two-Year-Old Racing in America and the Two-Year-Olds of 1900.” Outing: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine of Sport, Travel, and Adventure. Vol. XXXVI. Apr.-Sept. 1900: 671. Print.

By the imported Masetto (GB) and out of the Himyar mare Quesal, Tommy Atkins was a Dixiana Stud bred in all but name.

Falling into financial hardship, Dixiana owner Maj. Barak G. Thomas would disperse his stock and sell off the farm property in late November 1897. Included in the bloodstock dispersal of almost 500 head was the 9-year-old St. Simon (GB) stallion Masetto (GB) and the 11-year-old Himyar mare Quesal.

Masetto (GB) was a relatively unsuccessful racer in his native England, with his best performance coming by way of a third place finish in the Bradford Plate at Leicester. Said to be a handsome, rich brown horse that greatly favored his sire St. Simon (GB) in the head and neck, the young stallion was purchased by E. S. Gardner, Jr. of Avondale Stud in Gallatin, TN for $5,000. Gardner would also purchase the 22-year-old stallion Himyar for $2,500.

Quesal, a Dixiana homebred and great-grandaughter of the farm’s namesake, the influential mare Dixie, was a sweepstaker/handicapper for Richard Dwyer who would win nine races during her career. In foal to Masetto (GB) with the foal that would become Tommy Atkins, Quesal was purchased by Maj. Thomas J. Carson for $1,100.

While Dixiana would initially transfer hands to Jacob Sechler Coxley in November 1897, Quesal’s owner Maj. Carson would assume ownership of the property by early 1899. Consigned to a Sheepshead Bay paddock sale in June 1899, the Masetto (GB) – Quesal colt would go to Foxhall P. Keene for $4,500. Weighing in at 885 pounds at the time of the sale, he was reputed to be the largest yearling ever produced at Dixiana.

Following the sale, the Masetto (GB) colt, now named Tommy Atkins (a term for common soldiers in the British Army), was sent to the Keene training base at Brookdale Farm in Red Bank, NJ for early lessons, where he was held in enough high regard to be nominated for the Futurity Stakes of 1900.

MAY 1900
Skipping lesser company, Tommy Atkins would make his career debut in the Juvenile Stakes (5f) at Morris Park on May 5. Faced with a full fourteen horse field, Tommy would set a new stakes record of :59 ¾ in defeating place and show finishers Bellario and Prince of Melrose.

“James R. Keene’s Tommy Atkins, a half brother to Trumpet, won with ease, coming away from the others when Spencer called on him at the end, but he ran green throughout, and his race was not at all an indication of his racing qualities. He ran the distance in 0:59 3/4, which is the fastest the Juvenile Stakes was ever run in, and was going strongly at the end, while Bellario and Prince of Melrose behind him were out to the last ounce.” (The New York Times, 05/06/1900)

“Tommy Atkins, by the Avondale sire, imp. Masetto, is thought by many good judges to be the best 2-year-old colt in the East.” (The Nashville American, 05/14/1900)

Tommy Atkins - 1900.05.05 Juvenile S. chart (DRF 1900.05.06)

Daily Racing Form, 05/06/1900

JUNE 1900
Off of his winning effort in the Juvenile S., Tommy would travel to Gravesend for the Great American Stakes (5f) on June 9, where hampered by a poor start and slow track conditions, he would finish third by a roughly a neck to Prince Charles and Prince Pepper.

“Tommy Atkins, the third horse, proved himself the best colt in the race by a remarkable performance. Starting last, he ran all around the field, and within a few strides would have won out. He was barely a neck behind Prince Pepper, as it was. James Rowe, Tommy Atkins’s trainer, was very angry after the race and said that on account of repeated unsatisfactory occurrences such as this he intended to cable J. R. Keene, who is in Europe, resigning his post as trainer because he claims that he cannot get fair play at the hands of the starter.” (The New York Times, 06/10/1900)

“In the opinion of shrewd students of form Tommy Atkins should have won the Great American and he lost no prestige by his defeat, as he showed phenomenal speed as soon as Spencer got him going. A good deal of light may be thrown on the subject next Saturday in the first running of the double event of $10,000, which is one of the opening features of the forthcoming Coney Island Jockey Club meeting at Sheepshead Bay. Practically all the best two-year-olds in training, except Cap and Bells, are engaged, and there will probably be a large acceptance, as special inducements are offered to any youngster capable of winning both divisions of the race.” (The Atlanta Constitution, 06/13/1900)

Tommy Atkins - 1900.06.09 Great American S. chart (DRF 1900.06.10)

Daily Racing Form, 06/10/1900

Following the Great American, interest turns to the first race of the Double Event series for 2-year-olds to be held at Sheepshead Bay on June 16.

“The Coney Island Jockey Club meeting will begin with the suburban day on next Saturday. … If the race should bring about a meeting between Tommy Atkins, Water Color, Black Fox, Handwork, and Bonnibert it should be an event worth going a thousand miles to see.” (The Atlanta Constitution, 06/12/1900)

In preparation for the Double Event, Tommy would contend the Tremont Stakes (6f) at Gravesend on June 13, finishing third by a little over a length to Blues and Prince Pepper.

A paddock sale was held at Gravesend on the same day as the Tremont, where Tommy’s yearling half-brother by Dr. MacBride, said to be a “very high-class colt,” would sell for $7,500 to Arthur Featherstone of Chicago.

Tommy Atkins - 1900.06.13 Tremont S. chart (DRF 1900.06.14)

Daily Racing Form, 06/14/1900

“In the Tremont Stakes a good lot of 2-year-olds faced the flag, with Tommy Atkins the favorite. Now, Atkins in his last race, it is claimed, was treated badly by the starter. He had no such excuse today. Spencer was slow in getting his horse off and was shut out. Blues took the lead at the quarter and was never headed, winning from Prince Pepper by a length, with Tommy Atkins third by a neck.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 06/14/1900)

“Aside from the trial of Imp, the feature of the day’s sport was the run for the Tremont Stakes of $10,000, for which the Keene colt, Tommy Atkins, was a lively favorite. There have been all sorts of yarns to the effect that he had been beaten in previous races solely because he was not given a fair start with the others in the fields that have beaten him. The absurdity of this claim was made manifest yesterday, when with as fair a start as any of his competitors, he was outrun in the early stages of the journey. … The fact seems to be that Tommy Atkins is a very slow beginner, and is therefore at a great disadvantage in the races over shorter distances of ground. This race, it is true, was the longest the two-year-olds have been asked to run this season – six furlongs – but it was not far enough for Tommy Atkins, at that. He seemed to be just warming up to racing when the end of the route was reached. If it had been a mile be might have beaten Blues and he might not. There is ample room for a difference of opinion as to the relative merits of the two animals.” (The New York Times, 06/14/1900)

Three days later, Tommy would travel to Sheepshead Bay for the highly anticipated Double Event #1 (5.5f), where he would finish second by a length to the filly Tower of Candles.

“Tommy Atkins’s last two races at Gravesend caused more than a little argument and quite a lot of dissatisfaction, his trainer contending that unfair treatment at the start caused his defeats then. The race yesterday should set at rest any claim of exceptional quality for the colt. He had absolutely no excuse, for he was away well and was fairly outrun by M. Murphy’s smart filly, Tower of Candles, who, being quick to move, raced to the front at the start, and, with Tommy Atkins hanging at her side, led all the way, drawing away from the favorite on the stretch and winning very easily by a length. Tommy Atkins seemed to tire at the end and was stopping, but, vigorously ridden by Spencer, he managed to hang on long enough to get second place from R. W. Walden’s colt, Contend.” (The New York Times, 06/17/1900)

Tommy Atkins - 1900.06.16 Double Event chart (DRF 1900.06.17)

Daily Racing Form, 06/17/1900

The Great Trial Stakes (6f) at Sheepshead Bay on June 30 would be the only out of the money finish in Tommy’s career. Finishing next to last in the field of eleven, and conceding seven pounds to the winner, the Great Trial would be won by another Keene entrant – the future Hall of Famer Commando. Future classic winner The Parader would take the place.

Tommy Atkins - 1900.06.30 Great Trial S. (DRF 1900.07.01)

Daily Racing Form, 07/01/1900

JULY 1900
Coming off the worst performance of his career, Tommy would remain at Sheepshead Bay for the Double Event #2 (abt. 6f) on July 4. Over a course rated slow, Tommy would finish second to Elkhorn by two lengths, conceding fifteen pounds to the colt.

A move to Brighton Beach for the Neptune Stakes (6f) on July 28 would mark a return to winning ways for Tommy. Defeating place horse All Green by two lengths, chart notes read: “Tommy Atkins went to the front when called on and easily galloped past his field.”

Tommy Atkins - photo (Nashville American 1900.08.19)

The Nashville American, 08/19/1900

Tommy Atkins - 1900.07.04 Double Event chart (DRF 1900.07.05)

Daily Racing Form, 07/05/1900

Tommy Atkins - 1900.07.28 Neptune S. chart (DRF 1900.07.29)

Daily Racing Form, 07/29/1900

Coming off of a win in the Neptune S., Tommy would next contest the highly anticipated Futurity Stakes (170 ft. less than 6f) at Sheepshead Bay on August 25.

Despite heavy rains the night prior, the track would come up fast and dry by the time the Futurity was run, with the well-regarded maiden Ballyhoo Bey equaling the stakes record of 1:10 (set by Ogden in 1896) in his winning effort over Olympian. Finishing third by 1 ½ lengths, Tommy had been assigned 129 pounds for the race, conceding 17 pounds to both colts.

In the Flatbush Stakes (7f) at Sheepshead Bay on September 1, where in a roughly ridden race, Tommy would finish second by a head to the Futurity winner Ballyhoo Bey.

Controversy surrounding the outcome of the race would begin almost immediately, with Tommy suffering a troubled trip, Ballyhoo Bey exiting the race severely cut down in the right foreleg, detractors proclaiming the Flatbush was not a truly run race, and a “white as death” Foxhall Keene calling for the stewards to be hanged.

Tommy Atkins - Flatbush S. chart (NYT 1900.09.02)

The New York Times, 09/02/1900

“There was little delay at post. Smile went to the front and set a heart-breaking pace. Alard Scheck skimmed over the ground at his side, while one length away was Ballyhoo Bey, a length in front of Tommy Atkins. Around the turn into the stretch they came and still the speeding Smile held the lead. They straightened out for the run home, Smile next to the rail, then Alard Scheck laying against him. Out from behind shot Ballyhoo Bey, who came up almost on over terms with the leaders with just enough room between him and Alard Scheck for a jockey who wished to take a desperate chance to jam his horse.

Spencer seemed willing to take that chance. He sent Tommy Atkins into the opening. Suddenly a cry went up from the grand stand, for McJoynt had pulled Smile with seeming deliberations almost across the track. He jammed the horse into Alard Scheck, who came with a bump into Tommy Atkins, whose head was at his saddle girth. Tommy Atkins was thrown against Ballyhoo Bey on the outside. At the same time the sharp plated hoof of Tommy Atkins struck the near front foot of Ballyhoo Bey just above the hoof, cutting it to the bone.

For a moment every one of the 10,000 persons present held his breath, for it looked as of there would be a fall. Tommy Atkins staggered and went almost to his knees; Ballyhoo Bey was knocked off his stride. Both horses fell back, Ballyhoo Bey five lengths and Tommy Atkins ten. Sloan and Spencer went to work on their horses and got them going again. Sloan soon got Ballyhoo Bey in full motion. The son of Kingston fairly flew. Every stride that Ballyhoo Bey took was painful, but with the speed of his sire and the courage of his dam he raced on.

The crowd that had been shrieking hysterically forgot to yell. Tommy Atkins’ head was at Sloan’s leg – and then Ballyhoo Bey’s head shot past the post.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 09/02/1900)

Foxhall Keene, a man who held no love for William Collins Whitney, placed the blame for Tommy’s misfortune solely on Whitney’s Ballyhoo Bey, instead of the initial instigator, jockey Eddie McJoynt aboard Smile.

However, stewards did not allow Keene’s claim of foul against Ballyhoo Bey to stand, with steward F. R. Hitchcock stating that blame was solely on the shoulders of McJoynt, who was suspended for the remainder of the Sheepshead Bay meeting for his actions during the race.

The day following the Flatbush, James Rowe, trainer of Tommy Atkins, remained so upset at the outcome of the race that he announces he will put up $10,000 of his own money for a match race between Tommy Akins and Ballyhoo Bey.

The challenge is accepted by Whitney in the following letter sent to the Secretary of the Coney Island Jockey Club on September 4.

“The running of the Flatbush Stakes recently was unsatisfactory to nearly everyone. As the winner of the stake it was especially so to me. The circumstances of the race left in doubt which horse would have won in a true won race. It would be agreeable to me if you would retain from the winnings of my stable at this meeting the amount won by me in the Flatbush and arrange for a meeting between Ballyhoo Bey and Tommy Atkins at Morris Park and add this money for me to such stake as may be put up by the Westchester Association. The race to be seven furlongs and at equal weights.

If the event does not occur by the reason of the non-appearance at the post for any cause of Ballyhoo Bey you may retain this money for such fund applicable to disabled jockeys as we may agree upon.

This proposal does not call in question he decision of the race by the stewards. It simply assumes that the race was not truly run, which all admit. Very respectfully,


The challenge is initially rejected by the Keenes, who later reconsider and accept in the below letter sent by Foxhall Keene on September 14.

Tommy Atkins - Keene match headline (CDT 1900.09.15)

Chicago Daily Tribune, 09/15/1900

“New York, Sept. 14.– I cannot accept Mr. Whitney’s remarkably generous offer to race again for a stake already won by him, but I should be glad to run Tommy Atkins against Ballyhoo Bey for a purse, each owner to add $5,000, seven furlongs, 122 pounds each, if Mr. Whitney’s horse can be ready by the first week of the Morris Park meeting. I regret to be obliged to impose these conditions as regards date, but Tommy Atkins has important engagements abroad, and must be sent to England as soon as possible.


Despite the drama, the match race between Tommy and Ballyhoo Bey would never come to fruition. The Flatbush would ultimately be the final race of the year for both colts, with Tommy scheduled to race in England and France during the 1901 racing season.

On November 25, Tommy’s yearling half-brother by Dr. MacBride who had been so well-regarded at the Gravesend sale in June dies of pneumonia at Kenmore Farm.

With $15,450 in earnings, Tommy Atkins would end the year as the seventh highest earning 2-year-old of 1900, ranking only behind Commando ($40,862), Ballyhoo Bey ($40,240), Beau Gallant ($28,085), Bonnibert ($25,932), Alard Scheck ($17,656), and Bellario ($16,595).

While the original intent was for Tommy to arrive at the Keene’s base at Newmarket, England during the fall of 1900, his departure was delayed until January 1901. Expectations were high for the colt, and as a result he had been engaged for many of the year’s major races across England and France, including the Cambridgeshire Handicap, the Cesarewitch Handicap, the English Derby, the (unspecified) Gold Cup, the Grand Prix de Paris, the St Leger Stakes, and “all of the £10,000 stakes.”

Tommy would never make any of these engagements. He would develop pneumonia while in transit to England, and steadily grow worse, succumbing to complications in London on February 4.

Ballyhoo Bey would also develop pneumonia during the winter. Determined to have become a “roarer” upon recovery, the colt would not race as a 3-year-old. He would make an unsuccessful return to the track as a 4-year old in 1902, before being retired to stud by Whitney for the 1903 breeding season, where he would fail to leave a legacy.

Due to a number of personal and financial issues, the property and bloodstock owned by Maj. Carson would ultimately be dispersed, and it appears Maj. Thomas regained ownership of Tommy’s dam Quesal at some point.

Owing to poor health, Thomas would disperse his bloodstock in December 1905, at which time Quesal was purchased by trainer William “Billy” Lakeland for $1,100. Thomas would ultimately pass away in May 1906.

During the course of her breeding career Quesal would produce sixteen living foals, seven of whom (David Tenny II, Electioneer, Maximo Gomez, Quorum, Trumpet, Tommy Atkins, Trogon) were stakes winners.

Upon Quesal’s death in November 1911 at the age of 25, Lakeland stated that her hide was to be made into a rug, and that “No mare in the stud book has anything on Quesal… It made no difference what stallion Quesal was sent to, she always threw a winner, and mighty few mares have had a greater number of colts than this same sturdy daughter of a sturdy family.” (Daily Racing Form, 11/10/1911)

Tommy Atkins’ half-sister Query (1906 f. by Voter (GB)) was the dam of Problem (1914 f. by Superman), herself the dam of champion Friar’s Carse (1923 f. by Friar Rock), the dam of stakes winners War Kilt (1943 f. by Man o’ War) and War Relic (1938 c. by Man o’ War), as well as the 4th dam of champions Sword Dancer (1956 c. by Sunglow) and Roving Boy (1980 c. by Olden Times), 1984 Broodmare of the Year Hasty Queen (1963 f. by One Count), and ancestress of G1 winner Kinsale King (2005 g. by Yankee Victor), among too many others to name.

Of current note, Friar’s Carse shows up as the 9th dam of Japanese G1 winner Copano Rickey (2010 c. by Gold Allure (JPN)), who at the time of this post is tied for 16th in the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

Hauca, Perida & Thingumabob

Hauca – 1936 ch. f. Wise Counsellor – Fire Boat by Big Blaze
Breeder/Owner: Glen Riddle Farm (Samuel D. Riddle)
Trainer: G. Conway

Record: (5) 3-1-0 / $2,255
ETR at Suffolk Downs (06/21/1938): 5 furlongs in :58 ⅘

Owned and bred by Sam Riddle, Hauca was a daughter of champion Wise Counsellor and the first foal out of the Big Blaze mare Fire Boat. Fire Boat was unraced, having been bred to Wise Counsellor as a 2-year-old.

Thingumabob – 1936 b. c. Boojum – Refine by Ormondale
Breeder: C. V. Whitney
Owner: Manhasset Stable (Joan Whitney Payson and Mrs. Charles S. Payson)
Trainer: William Brennan

New York Times, 08/12/1938

Thingumabob following his win in the 1938 Arlington Futurity. Photo: The New York Times, 08/12/1938.

Record: (3) 2-0-0 / $31,810
1st: Arlington Futurity (6f,AP)

Bred by C. V. Whitney and owned by Mrs. C. S. Payson’s Manhasset Stable, Thingumabob was a son of the speedy Whitney-bred stallion Boojum. Boojum, by John P. Grier, was a precocious sort who counted the Hopeful Stakes among his three wins as a juvenile, and “whose blazing speed was too much for the strength of his legs. Boojum broke down after a fine 2 year old campaign and was retired to the Whitney stud.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/28/1938)

Following retirement to the breeding shed, Boojum would sire thirty-two foals at stud, one of them being the bay colt out of the young Ormondale mare Refine, later named Thingumabob.

Among others, Refine would later produce the Mahmoud (FR) filly Miss Mood (1944), who is of current relevance as the 7th dam of champion and current leading 3-year-old American Pharoah (2012 b. c. by Pioneerof the Nile).

Perida – 1937 b. f. Chance Shot – Black Queen by Pompey
Owner/breeder: Joseph E. Widener
Trainer: P. Coyne

Record: (3) 2-0-0 / $4,950
1st: Fashion S. (4.5f,BEL)

Owned and bred by Joseph Widener, Perida was the second foal out of the young Pompey mare Black Queen, herself the only foal produced by the champion mare Black Maria prior to that mare’s premature death in 1932.

It was an ill-fated line, as Black Queen’s first foal, the Polymelian (GB) filly Black Polly (1936), would produce only two foals before her premature death in 1942. One of those foals was the classic winning champion Polynesian (1942 br. c. by Unbreakable).

Hauca, Perida, and Thingumabob did not share pedigree, owner, trainer, or competition, and aside from sky high expectations, at first glance may not seem to have much in common. However, all three are forever linked as a result of the circumstances of their respective demises.

Saratoga – the graveyard of favorites, indeed.

MAY 1938
Under the tutelage of trainer William Brennan, the 2-year-old Thingumabob had garnered notice for his speedy works at Belmont Park, including a four furlong work in :48. Entered in a 4 ½ furlong maiden race at Belmont on May 10, Thingumabob would cover the sloppy going in :54⅖, winning by six lengths under Eddie Arcaro. Future stakes horse T. M. Dorsett would finish seventh in the field of fourteen.

JUNE 1938
The 2-year-old Hauca would make her debut at Belmont Park on June 1 in the Graceful Purse (5f). Racing greenly, she would finish second to Sun Girl by 1 ½ lengths. Five days later at Aqueduct, she would win a maiden event on June 6 by four lengths in 1:00 ⅗.

Hauca’s third and final start for the month of June would come at Suffolk Downs, where in a winning effort on June 21 she would equal the track record for five furlongs, running the distance in :58 ⅘.

JULY 1938
After a lengthy break, Thingumabob was shipped to Arlington Park in late July in preparation for the Arlington Futurity (6f) on July 30. While at Arlington, his athleticism in the mornings caused the maiden winner’s bandwagon to continue to grow.

“That he will be the favorite was made evident yesterday morning when he turned in the most sensational trial of the Futurity training period on the Arlington Park Course. Apparently as much at home in this going as he is over a fast track, he splashed mud in all directions while he breezed a half mile in the spectacular muddy track time of 48 seconds. He had stepped the first quarter in :22 ⅖ and the three-eighths in 35 seconds.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/29/1938)

Now at Saratoga, Hauca would win a 5 ½ furlong allowance on July 29 by four lengths, clocking a time of 1:07 in the muddy going.

Thingumabob, again under the guidance of Eddie Arcaro, would take the Arlington Futurity on July 30 by five lengths in 1:12. No Competition would finish second, with Hants third.

“Not once during the race did Arcaro use his whip. Soon after he passed the finish line he hit Thingumabob one crack with it just to keep the bay son of Boojum-Refine from pulling up too suddenly. Thingumabob not only scored one of the easiest victories in the history of the Futurity but many horseman acclaimed him as the best looking juvenile ever to win it.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/31/1938)

Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/31/1938

Thingumabob winning the 1938 Arlington Futurity. Photo: Chicago Daily Tribune, 07/31/1938.

Thingumabob - 1938.07.30 A Futurity chart (NYT 1938.07.31)

The New York Times, 07/31/1938

Following his win in the Arlington Futurity, Thingumabob would make a quick turnaround for the Sanford Stakes (6f) at Saratoga on August 11. Rumors swirled about Thingumabob, with railbirds saying that not only had insurance on the promising juvenile had been upped from $10,000 to $50,000, but that the Paysons had turned down a $200,000 offer for the colt.

“Classed with El Chico and Ariel Toy as one of the nation’s foremost juveniles, Thingumabob broke well and was coming up fast on the inside when the field went into the far turn. Here Ariel Toy swerved over. Suddenly the favorite faltered and the leg snapped. Jockey Eddie Arcaro took him around the bend and dismounted. Examination showed the leg had broken clean just above the ankle and there was no hope of saving the colt.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 08/12/1938)

Los Angeles Times, 08/12/1938

Ariel Toy would finish first by a length over Birch Rod. He was later disqualified “partly because of what happened on the back stretch, and partly because of Ariel Toy’s bearing out just at the finish. …He was handled by Eddie Arcaro, who stated after the accident that he was not bothered by Ariel Toy. This makes the disqualification the more mysterious. Wayne Wright, rider of Birch Rod, lodged no claim.

Thingumabob started a trifle slowly, well back of the flying Ariel Toy, and was rushed up along the rail by Arcaro in an effort to save ground. Arcaro then ran into what is known on the race track as “an open switch.” Hardy, rider of Ariel Toy, “closed the switch” by bearing over toward the fence. This forced Arcaro to take back. In snatching Thingumabob back out of full stride, when the colt was just getting up steam in earnest, he may have stepped in a hole.

It is a fact that Thingumabob did not break down until after Ariel Toy had gone completely over to the fence and begun to draw off. Whether or not Ariel Toy actually bumped Thingumabob is a matter for the patrol judge on duty at that point. He made no such statement that could be gained by the press.” (The New York Times, 08/12/1938)

New York Times, 08/13/1938

The next day, the Saratoga stewards rendered the following verdict placing blame solely on Ariel Toy’s jockey, Lee Hardy.

“The racing stewards at Saratoga, after a long and detailed investigation, today charged Lee Hardy, veteran jockey, with causing the accident which resulted in the destroying of Mrs. C. S. Payson’s highly regarded two-year-old Thingumabob, during the running of the Sanford Stakes yesterday.

As the result the 30-year-old Lexington, Ind., rider was suspended for the remainder of the meeting, which ends August 27, and an additional ten racing days and his case referred to the Jockey Club for further action.

On the report of the patrol judges stationed at the point of the accident, the stewards charged Hardy with deliberately crossing in front of Thingumabob and causing interference. Eddie Arcaro, up on Mrs. Payson’s colt, was forced to take up sharply, which is believed to have caused Thingumabob to break his leg.

In their ruling the stewards said an inspection revealed marks on the rail where the accident occurred. A subsequent examination of the body of the horse showed a shoe to have been pulled half off the left fore foot, a severely-grabbed left quarter and badly torn ligaments in the right fore leg.

Ariel Toy, Hardy’s mount, also was disqualified from first money for swerving in front of Trailer and Birch Rod, ridden by Raymond Workman and Wayne Wright, respectively, in the stretch run. Birch Rod, a rank outsider, was awarded the purse.” (The Washington Post, 08/13/1938)

On August 13, two days after the Sanford, Hauca would make her stakes debut in the Spinaway Stakes (6f). With three wins in four starts and a track record equaling effort to her name, she was instilled as the favorite for the race.

New York Times, 08/14/1938

“Thanksgiving won the historic Travers before 20,000 at Saratoga today as tragedy struck for the second time within three days. Samuel D. Riddle’s Hauca, favorite for the Spinaway, secondary feature, suffered a broken leg at the far turn, and had to be destroyed. The accident happened at almost the precise spot where Thingumabob suffered a broken leg on Thursday.

The stewards grounded [Jocky] Lee Hardy following the Thingumabob accident and this afternoon issued the following statement in the Hauca case: “Jocky [sic] Samuel Renick is suspended for the remainder of the meeting and ten additional racing days, effective Tuesday, Aug. 16, and his case referred to the jocky [sic] club. Renick’s suspension was the result of crossing over and causing Hauca to fall.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 08/14/1938)

MAY 1939
Perida would debut at Belmont Park in a 4 ½ furlong maiden event on May 11, defeating Small World and future Reine-de-Course mare Thorn Apple by 1 ½ lengths in :53 ⅗.

Perida - Fashion (NYT 1939.05.14)

Wasting no time, she would return to the starting gate two days later in the Fashion Stakes (4.5f), winning her stakes debut by three lengths over Us in :52.

After an extended break following her win in the Fashion S., Perida’s next start would not come until the Spinaway Stakes (6f) at Saratoga on August 19. Despite having been away from the starting gate since mid-May, she would be named the favorite for the race.

Perida - Spinaway (NYT 1939.08.20)

“In the $10,000 Spinaway, Perida, the favorite, broke her leg and was destroyed. The accident occurred soon after the start of the six furlong sprint and near the spot where the fleet filly Hauca met her end in the same race last year. Other two year olds have come to grief at approximately the same spot, notably Thingumabob, another casualty of 1938.” (New York Times, 08/20/1939)