News of Yesteryear

1836: Racing for big cotton at Natchez

“A quarter of a million dollars is the most money ever put up for two horses to race for. This sum was wagered at Natchez, Miss., in 1836, Walker Thurston matching his horse Rodolph against Hon. J. F. Claybourne’s mare Susan Yandell for 2,500 bales of cotton aside, it being equal to $250,000. Susan Yandell had a walkover for the money, as Rodolph took sick shortly before the time set for the contest.” (The Daily American (Nashville, TN), 06/14/1890)


Accounting for inflation, $250,000 in 1836 is roughly equivalent to $5,540,000 in 2016.

Susan Yandell would go on to become the sixth dam of the Salvator colt Savable, who landed his own big cotton in winning the $58,400 Futurity Stakes in 1902.

Photo of Savable as published in Outing (Vol. XLII, No. 2), May 1903.

The finish of the 1902 Futurity Stakes, won by Savable by a nose over Lord of the Vale.
Photo as published in Munsey’s Magazine (Vol. XXVIII, No. 2), November 1902.

Chart (and photo) of the week: 27-horse field at Belmont, August 1945

On August 7, 1945, the fourth race at the wartime Saratoga at Belmont meeting masqueraded as a cavalry charge when twenty-seven colts and geldings took to the starting gate for a 5 ½ furlong maiden event.

The race was won by Top Flight’s cousin Our Bully (Bull Lea), who scored by a half-length over Uncle Mac (Rhodes Scholar (FR)), with Count Fleet’s full brother Count Speed (Reigh Count) next back in third.

The New York Times, 08/08/1945

27-horse maiden race at Belmont Park (08/07/1945), won by Our Bully.
Photo available from historicimages.com (Part number: nes42227).

August 1930: Visitors barred from seeing Man o’ War, Bubbling Over, North Star (GB) due to fire risk

“LEXINGTON, Ky., Aug. 2 (AP) – The most popular horse in the world, Man o’ War, will receive no more visitors until Kentucky’s drought is ended. Danger of dried grass in the famed thoroughbred’s pasture being ignited from carelessly thrown cigarette stubs was given as the reason for the order, issued by Miss Elizabeth Daingerfield, manager of Faraway Farm.

A recent fire at Colonel E. R. Bradley’s Idle Hour Farm, which destroyed a barn, caused a similar rule to go into effect there. Bubbling Over, Derby winner, and imp. North Star 3d, leading sire until Man o’ War captured his laurels, have been permitted no callers for a week.”
(The New York Times, 08/03/1930)

July 1930: Enthusiasts in autos follow Gallant Fox to the track when training at Saratoga

“SARATOGA SPRINGS, N. Y., July 28. – James Fitzsimmons, trainer of Gallant Fox, William Woodward’s 3-year-old champion, has a new problem on his hands because of the popularity of the colt.

At first the number of visitors to the stall caused it to be roped off, as too many folks wanted to talk to the horse. Then Fitzsimmons built a light wooden railing at a greater distance from the stall. Now his flivver, which he uses when going out early in the morning for training, is followed by a long line of autos. They all want to see Gallant Fox gallop.

Many are lay folks who cannot tell Gallant Fox from a lead pony and ask Fitzsimmons innumerable questions. But thus far they have gotten courteous answers, for Fitzsimmons, who is known far and wide as Sunny Jim, is as good-natured as trainers come.”
(The New York Times 07/29/1930)

May 1917: Old Rosebud’s half-brother Mars Cassidy dies under suspicious circumstances

“The stewards to-day issued a ruling barring from the turf C. R. Anderson and R. Holcomb, the former the owner of the horse Mars Cassidy and the latter the trainer. Mars Cassidy died early this morning and an investigation by the officials followed. The horse started in the seventh race Tuesday and when he went to the post he appeared like a wild horse. He ran a disgraceful race, finishing last beaten off.

The ruling is as follows:
“C. R. Anderson, owner and R. Holcomb, trainer, are ruled off the turf under the provisions of rule 202, Kentucky Racing Commission. Should the owner decide to make a bona fide sale of the horse of the stars Bars and Stars to anyone in good standing he can do so.”

Veterinarians worked until far into the night with Mars Cassidy, but to no avail. He was a useful horse during his racing career, having a number of stakes and handicaps to his credit. He was capable of running six furlongs in 1:12, and his most recent good race was when he beat Chalmers on last Saturday.” (Louisville Courier-Journal, 05/10/1917)


“Lexington, Ky., May 9. – Mars Cassidy, the five-year-old half-brother of Old Rosebud, by Ogden out of Ivory Bells, died early this morning as a result of the drugs administered to him before the closing race yesterday, and as a consequence C. R. Anderson and R. Holcomb were this afternoon ruled off the turf by Presiding Judge Thomas J. Clay. The horse raced in the name of R. M. Anderson, who is not here and a brother of C. R. Anderson.

The death of the horse has aroused against the practice of doping horses, which took the form this afternoon of a declaration on the part of one who has influence at Frankfort that he will ask Governor Stanley to back a bill at the next session of the Legislature making it a felony, punishable by confinement in the penitentiary, for the administration of drugs to horses with a view to stimulating them for racing purposes, or the reverse of that. It further has served to bring out strongly the need of a veterinarian at each track, whose sole duty shall be to inspect all horses entering the paddock for each race.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 05/10/1917)


“Lexington, Ky., May 11. – C. R. Anderson, owner of Mars Cassidy, the race horse, which died at the Kentucky Association track Tuesday night, who was arrested on a charge of cruelty to animals, was dismissed this morning on the charge by Justice W. A. Ahern. Only three witnesses were examined. They were James P. Ross, superintendent of the association; Lon McCarty, executive secretary of the Humane Society, and Dr. James T. Shannon, veterinarian.

Supt. Ross testified that he saw the horse at different times during the night being led about the ground and that when he went to the stable after the horse’s death, Anderson said: “Mr. Ross, some one has got to my horse and doped him.” Evidence of the other witnesses was insufficient to connect any one with giving stimulants to the horse.”

As a result of the horse’s death the racing stewards ruled Anderson and the trainer, R. Holcomb, off the turf.” (Louisville Courier-Journal, 05/12/1917)

March 1890: No cold blood for ‘brush wonder’ Creole

“About the best of the half-breeds is the horse Creole, now owned by J. M. Brown. He belonged to R. W. Clayton, of Louisiana, and a year ago was only known as a quarter horse. He was beaten here in a quarter once for a fortune, but Captain Jack Hardy, who knew something about sprinters, picked Creole out as the fastest quarter performer on the continent. Brown & Hardy dickered for the animal and got him for $1,500. Had Captain Hardy lived Creole would by this time have lost or won a gold mine running against some of the flash-light stock at Enterprise, Miss., and elsewhere. Brown trained Creole like his other horses and found that he could go almost any distance. He sprinted three-quarters in 1:14 ¾ in a race the other day, and the ‘touts’ say he has worked a mile fast. Perhaps he is another of these modern instances which are thorns in the sides of the turf theorists.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 03/02/1890)


Creole headline (Cincinnati Enquirer 1890.03.15)“NEW ORLEANS, March 10, 1890. …
Creole, the horse I wrote to you about last week, continues to be the principal subject of discussion at the track. He has run some good races with big weight up, and it is evident that his capacity has not yet been tested. The most practiced eyes among the horsemen refused to believe that he is ‘cold-blooded,’ and it seems that they are right, although he is regularly entered ‘Coldeck-unknown.’

The report was that he is by Uncle Jeff. Yesterday I was introduced to an old man named Carroll Jones, of Cavo River, Natchitoches Parish, La. He looks like a distinguished old Frenchman or Spaniard, but it is said that he belonged to one of the great Louisiana families before the war. Now he has a snug cotton plantation of several hundred acres, and raises horses besides running races all around in this vicinity. Creole was among his horses. The old man says he trained Lecompte for his race with Lexington, and has handled many fine horses, but never had one he liked better than this same Creole. He has beaten every thing he ever ran across, not only as a runner, but as a trotter. His daughter drove the animal in a buggy race and won handily.

Last winter he brought Creole here for the purpose of making some matches but did not do much owing to constant rains. The only time he did make a race he was inducted to put up a boy he did not know, and the boy, not Creole, lost the money. Besides the inclement weather, he grew ill here and spent considerable money, so that when he visited home his wife set her foot down upon his turf proclivities. He also thought to stay at home is best and so sadly determined upon parting with his favorite, selling him to R. W. Clayton for $500. It was a good thing for Clayton, for he received $1,500 from J. M. Brown for the animal. Brown is satisfied, too, for the horse has already won considerable for him at this meeting.

Jones says Creole is a thoroughbred, can go a fast mile, and was foaled at Mansfield, La., nine years ago. He is by a horse by Boston, the sire of Lexington, out of a mare by Stonewall Jackson, a son of Lexington. Before the war Louisiana was full of the finest thoroughbred horses in the country. They were sent into the interior and scattered about during the struggle and many were never traced. Many an old backwoods horse is of royal blood, only chance does not discover its quality in many instances. The believers in blood, however, will be glad that Creole has been found out.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 03/15/1890)


“The horse Creole, who has been running at New-Orleans and who is one of the very best of the lot there, has been supposed to be a half-bred, his pedigree being given as by “Cold Deck, dam unknown.” Now a man named Carroll Jones of Natchitoches Parish, La., comes to the front and claims to have bred the horse. He says he is by Uncle Jeff, a son of the great Boston, out of a mare by Stonewall Jackson, a son of Lexington. He says Creole was foaled at Mansfield, La., nine years ago, and that he knows the pedigree to be correct. The trainers down that way believe the story, and say that no horse that can run like Creole can possibly have cold blood in his veins.”
(The New York Times, 03/17/1890)