The 1925 season one of the most disappointing in the history of the U.S. Thoroughbred

“From every conceivable angle the turf season of 1925 was one of the most disappointing in the history of the thoroughbred sport in this country. The year did not develop one outstanding champion and in the class of horseflesh, such as it was, there was no vestige of form.

American Flag, the three-year-old son of Man o’ War, and Pompey, the son of Sun Briar and Cleopatra, were awarded class honors in the three-year-old and two-year-old divisions, respectively. They seemed worthy of such distinction. Samuel Riddle’s great Man o’ War colt, in what little racing he did, had all the others of his class almost as badly whipped as had his illustrious sire during his three-year-old and last campaign. He won the Belmont, third and last of the $50,000 spring three-year-old classics, in a common gallop, yet in time that equaled the Belmont Park track record for the distance.

Yet the fact that American Flag broke down while at Saratoga showed he was a thoroughbred with a fault, which could not be said of his sire. Certainly he was not pounded down in racing. No three-year-old had a milder campaign.

Generally the three-year-olds were a common lot. Silver Fox, of the Rancocas Stable, showed real promise early in the season, but against opposition scarcely up to mediocre ability. The Preakness and the Kentucky Derby, $50,000 stakes that preceded the Belmont, were both won by rank outsiders that would have paid in box car numbers had they not been parts of fields with better horses. Strange to say, both of these horses belonged to Gifford A. Cochran.

Clarence Kummer rode Coventry in the Preakness. This horse was a cripple when he went to the post, and indeed did break down in the stretch, but he was so far in front at the time Kummer was able to whip him home. As a matter of fact, Coventry never would have been so far out in front but for a bad jam at the paddock turn caused by Johnny Maiben with Maid at Arms that piled up and eliminated all the dangerous ones of the field.

Gifford A. Cochran, who took the Preakness with Coventry, also won the Kentucky Derby with Flying Ebony, which he entered at the last moment to provide a ride for Sande. Flying Ebony was right that day and won on merit. But the fact that the horse showed little else all season proves what a rather poor lot the three-year-olds were – bar only American Flag.

Pompey clinched his right to the title in the juvenile division by winning both the Hopeful and the Futurity. He was somewhat lucky not to be disqualified in the Futurity, for he plainly crowded Canter, which in turn crowded Chance Play. Pompey seemed straight at the end of this seven furlongs, though he looks to be a stayer and should be dangerous in the long three-year-old classics of next spring.

Canter is a good colt though an unfortunate one. He looked a real champion in winning the Pimlico Futurity and he looked a champion in Kentucky earlier. Bubbling Over in the Pimlico Futurity could not hold a long lead safe from Canter and proved a sprinter solely. Haste ran such a race in the Futurity.

Mad Play was the champion of the sprinters and a champion that stood out prominently in a poor lot. Of course this is taking nothing away from the game little horse of the Rancocas stable. He usually was burdened with staggering weight, but always he would run as courageously as any horse that ever wore plates.

Samuel D. Riddle, who earned such fame with Man o’ War a few years ago, was the leading money winner among the owners. His success was due solely to the get of Man o’ War and particularly to American Flag’s $50,000 in the Belmont.

Mortensen was the leading jockey of the year. But the real sensation in the riding line was the spectacular come-back of Jockey Earl Sande.” (New York Herald Tribune, 12/27/1925)

1925: Belmont Stakes Entries Show Absence of Many Good Horses

3YOs lack test (Washington Post, 1925.05.24)“Neither the Preakness revival at Pimlico, nor the fifty-first Kentucky derby running at Churchill Downs determined the 3-year-old championship of 1925. Nor will the Belmont revival June 13, notwithstanding ten or a dozen of the smartest 3-year-olds of American racing, will gallop one mile and three furlongs in the Belmont over the biggest course in the United States for a purse of $50,000 and they will be fitter than the participants in the Preakness and Kentucky derby were.

Three-year-old championships are rarely, if ever, decided in springtime. And the coming Belmont could not possibly serve as the determinative test of 1925, if they were, because the Belmont can not possibly attract all of the formidable bidders for this season’s crown.

Gifford A. Cochran’s Kentucky derby winner, Flying Ebony, is not a Belmont eligible. Coventry, the Negafol colt with which Mr. Cochran won the Preakness to his own surprise and the astonishment of his astute trainer, William Duke, is in the Belmont, but it is questionable whether he will start…

Walter J. Salmon’s fine imported Devonshire is not a Belmont eligible. Neither is Edward Riley Bradley’s Blue Warbler, the crack 3-year-old filly of the West…”
– The Washington Post, 05/24/1925