Horses of Yesteryear

Photo of champion Longstreet, ca. 1891

Photo of retrospective 1891 Horse of the Year Longstreet (1886 b. c. by Longfellow – Semper Idem by Glen Athol (GB)), as published in The Illustrated American (Vol. VIII, No. 86, for the week ending 10/10/1891).

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November 1929: Obituary of Rose of Sharon

Photo of champion Rose of Sharon (1926 br. f. by Light Brigade (GB) – Rosa Mundi by Plaudit) as published in John Hervey’s Racing in America 1922-1936, written for The Jockey Club.

“VERSAILLES, Ky., Nov. 8. – The American thoroughbred breeding industry and the turf in particular suffered an almost irreparable loss here today when former Senator Johnson N. Camden’s champion filly of the year, Rose of Sharon succumbed to pneumonia.

A winner in ten of her fourteen starts, which included two seconds, a third and unplaced but once, the prepossessing 3-year-old daughter of Light Brigade – Rosa Mundi, was believed destined to rank with Princess Doreen, My Dear and other great stars of her sex had it not been for her untimely end.

Rose of Sharon’s victories during the present year came in the Ashland, Kentucky, Pimlico and Illinois Oaks, Potomac Handicap and Chicago Test, the latter event a race Mike Hall is alleged to have ducked when connection learned of the filly’s nomination.

Her earnings for the year amounted to $64,069. She went amiss at Laurel about two weeks ago and Trainer Dan Stewart immediately threw her out of training. It was during the trip westward that she contracted the fatal pneumonia.

Rose of Sharon did not start as a 2-year-old but made her record in the 3-year-old class. Rose of Sharon was the only filly ever to have won the Four Oaks. Her last win was in the Potomac Handicap. The filly started in fourteen races, finished first ten times, second twice, third once and was unplaced once. Her winnings totaled $64,069.” (The Washington Post, 11/09/1929)

Chart of the week: Beau Purple defeats Kelso and sets course record in the 1962 Man o’ War Stakes

Beau Purple defeats Kelso in the 1962 Man o’ War Stakes (12fT) at Belmont Park, 10/27/1962. Photo as published in Belmont Park, 1905-1968 (The New York Racing Association, 1968).


“The simple tactic of going to the front and staying there all the way resulted in victory once more for Jack Dreyfus’s Beau Purple yesterday.

The New York Times, 10/28/1962.

The 5-year-old son of Beau Gar, overlooked in such illustrious company as Kelso and Carry Back, thrilled a getaway-day crowd of 33,026 at Belmont Park by winning the mile-and-a-half Man o’ War Stakes by two lengths in record-breaking time.

A field of 12 competed in the $114,800 race, including a pair of campaigners from France. Bill Boland, riding Beau Purple, didn’t get a look at any of his opposition as he sped along in first place.

Finishing second was the highly favored Kelso. It was just these two at the finish, for the third horse, The Axe II of the Greentree Stable, was 6 ½ lengths farther back. Carry Back was fifth, back of Wise Ship.

Carrying 126 pounds in the weight-for-age test, Beau Purple covered the distance on the soft turf in 2 minutes 28 3/5 seconds. This knocked 3/5 of a second off the track mark made by Amber Morn as a 4-year-old, under 118 pounds, two years ago. In contributing the upset, Beau Purple rewarded his packers with a $43.30-for-$2 payoff in the straight wagering.

Beau Purple’s opposition, or rather the trainers of his opposition, refused to believe the “book” on the Dreyfus colt. He has a history of going to the font and staying there, contrary to all expectation.

He did the same thing in the Suburban Handicap, when he upset Kelso, and in the Brooklyn Handicap, when he finished well ahead of the fourth-place Carry Back. And last week, in the Gold Cup at Hawthorne, he did it again, on a sloppy track.

His fractions in the Man o’ War were 0:34 4/5, 0:49, 1:14 2/5 and 1:39 1/5. The one big “knock” against Beau Purple was that he had never been on the turf before, but he demonstrated that any footing suits him.

Ismael Valenzuela, aboard Kelso, contributed an even enough performance after getting away in fifth place. He gradually picked up those in front of him and when the field reached the stretch he had only Beau Purple to beat. The favorite players had only the smallest hope that Kelso could do it, though, for Beau Purple was moving with assurance and gave no indication of weakening approaching the wire.

As for Carry Back, he did not do any better than the betting board indicated he would. Sent off at 9 to 1, this 4-year-old colt owned by Mrs. Katherine Price moved in the pack all the way, improving only from seventh to fifth and just failing to get into the purse payoff. He was ridden by Johnny Rotz.

The winner’s share of the purse was $47,620. Kelso, as the runner-up, earned $22,960 for his owner, Mrs. Richard du Pont. A 5-year-old gelding, Kelso was the horse of the year for 1960 to 1961. The other purse payoffs were $11,480 to The Axe II, who was ridden by Bill Hartack, and $5,740 to Wise Ship, who was guided by Heliodoro Guistines.

Raymond Guest, the owner of the English Derby winner, Larkspur, made the presentation of the trophy to Dreyfus, while Boland and Hal Jerkens looked on. Jerkens is the 32-year-old trainer who has been so successful with Beau Purple. Dreyfus, 48, is the head of an investment firm.

The race was started from the gate, with all the contestants leaving from it. Val de Loir, one of the two French representatives, propped at the getaway, but managed to wind up in 10th place, ahead of Nasomo and Monade.

The last-named entrant, a 3-year-old filly, is also a French import. The order of finish after Carry Back was Honey Dear, Guadalcanal, T. V. Lark and Harmonizing.

Boland gave a plain enough description of Beau Purple’s performance: “I just let him run early and he went to the lead like he likes to do. He was going easy on the backstretch and into the far turn. I hit him coming into the stretch when Kelso came along and I thought Kelso would eat him up. But I kept hitting him and he kept running and Kelso never got there.”

Jerkens said: “Boland knew the horse and I left it up to him what to do out there.”

Dreyfus and Jerkens said that they would be glad to send Beau Purple into the Washington, D. C. International at Laurel on Nov. 12, “if he is invited.” There is no reason to believe that the horse will not be asked to the $125,00 race.

Beau Purple’s 1962 record shows eight victories in 19 starts, with earnings of $342,205. The 5-year-old horse is a Kentucky home-bred, whose mare was Water Queen.”
(Joseph C. Nichols / The New York Times, 10/28/1962)

Photos of Singing Wood, ca. 1936

Just a few photos of the multiple stakes winning/placing Royal Minstrel (GB) horse Singing Wood, winner of $126,090 in five years of racing (1933-1937).

Photo of then 5-year-old Singing Wood at Santa Anita Park taken shortly after he won the Santa Margarita Handicap (7f) in January 1936. Photo: Los Angeles Daily News Negatives Collection, Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

Photo of then 5-year-old Singing Wood at Santa Anita Park taken shortly after he won the Santa Margarita Handicap (7f) in January 1936. Photo: Los Angeles Daily News Negatives Collection, Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

Undated photo of Singing Wood as published in John Hervey’s Racing in America, 1922-1936, privately published for The Jockey Club.

January 1937: Boxthorn recovers from bowed tendon, is promoted from Class C to Class A handicaps

Photo of Boxthorn (1932 br. c. by Blue Larkspur – Doreid (FR) by Galloping Simon (GB)) as published in the Los Angeles Times, 11/01/1936.

“Graduation ceremonies, slightly modified as far as the popular concept is concerned, were in order at Santa Anita yesterday. Ed Janss’ Boxthorn was promoted from a Class C to a Class A horse in Mr. Racing Secretary Webb Everett’s latest book on graded handicaps.

Boxthorn never was a Class C thoroughbred from the time Col. E. R. Bradley attempted to win his fifth Kentucky Derby with the Blue Larkspur colt in 1935, but Boxthorn bowed a tendon that summer and went out of circulation.

The chances being only one in twenty that a horse ever recovers from such an ailment to become a topnotcher again, you cannot hold it against Mr. Everett that in the first issue of his grades Boxthorn was found with the C boys and girls.

And in addition to the fact that he hadn’t run for eighteen months Boxthorn was purchased by Janss to become a stallion on his Conejo ranch. He was going into stud. He was supposed to be through with the race track.

But what does this $5000 bargain do but thrive on our “unusual” Southern California weather. He gets to running like the dickens again, wins a Class C six furlongs by six lengths in 1:11 over a dull track, and follows this up with an easy victory in the $3500 San Felipe Handicap, beating some of the best horses at the track. Time, 1:23 3/5 for seven furlongs.

So in the third issue of the graded handicap list which Everett changes periodically Boxthorn has gone to the top of the list occupied by only fourteen others at Santa Anita – Accolade, Firethorn, Indian Broom, King Saxon, Mr. Bones, Ned Reigh, Red Rain, Rosemont, Seabiscuit, Singing Wood, Stand Pat, Time Supply, Top Row and Where Away.

Boxthorn, which has come out of his two races in splendid condition, will now be pointed for one more engagement before his test in the $100,000 added Santa Anita Handicap on February 27.

The $7500 San Antonio Handicap, a mile and one furlong race, will be the test of Boxthorn’s route running ability.

As a 3-year-old the former Bradley color bearer never indicated a desire to go beyond a mile. He raced rankly in the Kentucky Derby after setting some of the early pace, and in the Preakness he was away out in front until the field moved around the far turn. He had nothing left for the last quarter.

After that the Bradley connections placed him in sprint races, and he did well, his best score being made in the Commonwealth Stakes. It was following this victory that he bowed a tendon and returned to the Idle Hour Farm. But now that he’s older Trainer Grayson Philpott believes Boxthorn will run farther.” (Paul Lowry / Los Angeles Times, 01/26/1937)

March 1899: Obituary of Tremont

Tremont, known in his racing days as ‘The Black Whirlwind,’ is dead at Belle Meade. In some unaccountable manner, he broke his stifle Thursday, and yesterday when the veterinarian looked at him, it was decided best that he be destroyed to put him out of his misery.

Tremont, was bred at Elmendorff [sic] stud, by the late Daniel Swigert,  and was by Virgil, son of Vandal, out of Ann Fief, by Alarm. He ran eleven races as a 2-year-old, winning them all, and earning the title given him above. Early in his 3-year-old career and before he had faced the flag, he developed a ring-bone. He was the property of the Dwyers, and his career had been such a phenomenal one that Mr. Swigert paid $25,000 for him and took him back to Kentucky. At the Elmendorff [sic], disposal sale, some years later, Gen. Jackson bought the unbeaten stallion, paying $17,500 for him. Since that time he has been domiciled at Belle Meade.

Tremont’s get were numerous, but the best of them were Dogonet [sic] and Lovelace. El Telegrafo also gave promise at one time of being a wonder.

The dead stallion was of a highly nervous temperament. He was almost unmanageable, often kicking his barn until he was exhausted. It is presumed he met with the accident which cost him his life during one of these tantrums.” (The Nashville American, 03/04/1899)