Gravesend

Chart (and photo) of the week: Superman wins the 1907 Brooklyn Handicap

Chart: New York Daily Tribune, 05/21/1907. Note that Superman won the race “cleverly.”


PHOTO - Superman Brooklyn H. (HW Vol. LI No. 2632 1907.06.01)

Superman (1904. ch. c. by Commando – Anomaly (GB) by Bend Or (GB)) wins the 1907 Brooklyn Handicap at Gravesend.
Photo by N. W. Penfield as published in Harper’s Weekly (Vol. LI, No. 2632), 06/01/1907.


“Started as a forlorn hope, in the face of conditions that seemed overwhelmingly against him, Superman won the Brooklyn Handicap in one of the most remarkable races that a three-year-old ever ran against mature horses. Confronted by a track deep in mud and slush, going to which Superman had shown a strong dislike, James R. Keene, owner of the colt, abandoned all hope of a victory when he arrived at the Gravesend race course yesterday afternoon, and, though Superman had been trained especially for the big event and his stable had considered his chances second to no horse engaged up to the time of the rain Sunday night, Mr. Keene gave orders for Superman to be scratched.

James Rowe, trainer of the Keene stable, alone of the Keene establishment, remained undismayed, however, and to his urgent appeal and argument that in spite of the heavy going, Superman had a good chance, because of his class and perfect racing condition, Mr. Keene yielded, after the report was already in circulation that Superman would not start, and the colt remained in the Brooklyn field, to make turf history by a performance that ranks with the most brilliant victories for the great handicap.

Superman ran a splendidly trained and courageous colt, and, fighting through a long, hard struggle, won the big prize after looking hopelessly beaten six furlongs from the finish. Gallant as was Superman’s effort, Mr. Keene put the victory in a new light to horsemen when he paid tribute to the skill of Jockey Walter Miller, who rode the victor.

Superman ran a superb race under conditions that tried his courage as severely as his speed, and his victory was the sweetest to his owner and breeder of all the four triumphs that have been earned by Keene horses in the Brooklyn Handicap.

The race proved disappointing in everything else than the achievement of Superman, for the condition of the track was such that the field originally announced to start was badly cut up by scratches, and the very conditions that caused the best of the older horses to be scratched induced owners to add two horses which were supposed to be favored by the heavy going. The rain in the night, followed by more rain in the morning at Gravesend, left the course with a surface of liquid mud covering an under stratum of sticky loam, and the trainers of six of the horses named on the programme had only to glance at the track to decide that their horses should remain in the stable. Among the horses scratched were Arcite, though favorite for the Kentucky Derby, passed that race by on account of a muddy track; Dandelion, and Tokalon, the Brooklyn Handicap winner of a year ago. Other horses scratched were Salvidere, Accountant, and Blandy, the six withdrawals reducing the original field of fifteen to nine.

It was known early, however, that because of the mud Trainer Henry McDaniel had decided to add Good Luck to the Brooklyn field, and it was in no sense a surprise when August Belmont’s three-year-old gelding Okenite, always at home in muddy going, was another added starter, bringing the number of runners up to eleven. In spite of the popular interest in the great race, the rule put in force at Belmont Park of holding back the official announcement of the starters until ten minutes before the time set for the race was observed, and all the horses had been through their warming-up gallops and were in the paddock again before the crowd knew what were to be the starters and who the riders were.

The ten minutes rule for betting resulted in a terrific crush in the rings, but even in the limited time permitted for speculation there were some quick changes in the ruling odds, Go Between, Suburban winner of a year ago, which was the opening favorite, being backed down, while on their reported dislike to the mud the three-year-olds Superman and Sewell both went back in the betting. The speculation in the meantime uncovered two “tips” in Buttling and both the Western horse Beacon Light, both of which were heavily backed as good things, Buttling starting second choice to Go Between, while Beacon Light, against which was as long a price as 100 to 1 was laid, went to the post at 30 to 1, though layers were not eager to offer that price.

The warming-up moves were of a perfunctory nature, because of the deep going, but most of the better-backed and more prominent horses cantered through the stretch. Go Between attracting the most attention because of his known ability to race well in mud, and his conspicuous place in the betting.

The parade to the starting post was made with Sewell absent, Sewell, by special permission, having been led to the post in advance of the field. Go Between, the top weight, led the line to the post, the other horses following in the order of the weights, except for the added starters, of which Good Luck was the rear guard. In the chute, at the head of the stretch, the starting point for the mile and a quarter, the horses took their positions with rare docility, and were abreast and facing the barrier, ready for the send-off, so quickly that the start was made with the watching crowd unprepared for it. The Winter campaigner Nealon had the rail, with Okenite next to him, Go Between, Sewell, Buttling, Oxford, Beacon Light, Good Luck, Flip Flap, and Beauclere ranging out in that order from the inside and Superman on the extreme outside.

The barrier was lifted to a perfect start within a few seconds after the horses reached the post, and the field went away as one horse, Superman being the first to break the line and show in front, with Okenite second, Beacon Light third, Nealon fourth, and the others well bunched, with Beauclere last. In the same order they came to the stand the first time at a swift pace in spite of the mud, and a struggle on even at that early stage of the contest, Superman going on to hold the track, while Okenite rushed after him in a desperate effort to wrest the lead from him, Beacon Light in the meantime racing out just behind Okenite, with the same wish for the first place.

Mud showered on the trailers, as the leaders began the first turn opposite the paddock, Superman swinging to the rail there, and Okenite being forced to go around him, while Beacon Light hung just at their heels. Around the turn to the back stretch Superman and Okenite raced as if they already were finishing, and as Okenite, outrunning Superman, showed his head in front as they rounded into the back stretch there arose first a murmur, then a shout, that Superman was beaten. The Keene colt actually was sprawling in the heavy and slippery mud and Okenite drew away from him and went on clear in front as the run through the back stretch was began, and then, as Miller took hold of Superman to steady him, Beacon Light went past and then Nealon showed before the Keene colt.

Still further back on the trailers Superman went in the run down the back stretch, but he never dropped out of his place, though Okenite, Beacon Light, and Nealon went further and further away from him in the run to the far turn, while Go Between, far back in the crowd, and running in the deepest part of the mud on the rail, already looked beaten and out of the contest, along with Buttling and Sewell. Going to the far turn, Nealon made a move for the lead and swiftly closed on Okenite and Beacon Light, the three horses running lapped as they rounded the turn, with Superman still fourth, and for the remainder of the race these were the only contenders.

The three horses in front were struggling on still lapped, when in the middle of the turn Superman began to pick up the pacemakers again, and then, coming to the second run through the stretch, shot up and joined in the contest anew, at the moment that Okenite weakened and began to fall back. As Okenite went back there still were three horses abreast, and Superman was one of the three. Nealon showed in front for just a moment, then gave place to Superman, which, going around on the outside, was in front as the horses straightened out for the final run down the straight.

In that move the Keene horse brought both Nealon and Beacon Light to the last resort, the whip and under the punishment the older horses hung beside him for the next furlong. Then Superman began to draw away. It took his best effort though, and, hard ridden to within a stride or two of the post, Superman came on and won a gallant race by a length from Beacon Light, with the tired Nealon third.

The time of the race was 2:00, exactly the same figure which was made when Conroy, in 1901, racing for the same owner, and in a blinding rainstorm, earned the distinction of being the first three-year-old to win a Brooklyn Handicap, though Superman is the third three-year-old now that has won the big event. The fractional time showed a singularly good pace, a killing rate of speed, in fact, for such going, as the first quarter was done in 0:23 3-5, the three furlongs in 0:35 4-5, the half mile in 0:48 1-5, the five furlongs in 1:01 1-5, the six furlongs in 1:14, the seven furlongs in 1:28, and the mile in 1:42.” (The New York Times, 05/21/1907)

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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

AUGUST 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.

SEPTEMBER 1900
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,

WM. C. WHITNEY.”

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.

FOXHALL KEENE.”

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.

NOVEMBER 1900
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.

DECEMBER 1900
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).

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1901
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.

OTHER
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.

The Butterflies: A Sterling Good Filly

The Butterflies – 1892 br. m. by Sir Dixon – Mercedes by Melbourne Jr.
“In the name of goodness how good is that filly of yours, Mr. Hyland?” … “I’m sure I don’t know sir, I’ve never been able to make her do her best yet.”

Breeder: Clay & Woodford (KY)
Owner: David Gideon and John Daly (through 07/1895); David Gideon (from 07/1895)
Trainer: John J. Hyland

Occasionally referred to in print as simply “Butterflies.”

Record (possibly incomplete): (9) 6-1-0 / at least $55,890
1894: 1st Futurity S. (NSR-5.75f,SHE)
1895: 1st Gazelle S. (1 1/8 mi.,GRE), Fall H. (abt. 6f,SHE)
NSR in the Futurity S. (08/25/1894): 5.75f in 1:11

(Retrospective) Champion 2-Year-Old Filly of 1894 and Champion 3-Year-Old Filly of 1895


Purchased for $1,800 as a yearling by David Gideon and John Daly, The Butterflies (by Sir Dixon by Billet (GB)) was a three-quarters sister to major stakes horses Runnymede (1879) and Barnes (1880), themselves both by Billet (GB). Barnes was referred to as “almost a great racehorse” in his day, and was actually the subject of this post.

“The Butterflies was named after the successful comedy in which John Drew played for so many months last season. Charles Frohman, Mr. Drew’s personal manager, and “Dave” Gideon are warm personal friends. After the Brooklyn Handicap Mr. Gideon took Mr. Frohman over to his stables and showed him his horses. Then he told the theatrical manager that he might name any of the two-year-olds. “This one I am going to name myself,” said Gideon, pointing out the pretty filly that won such a great race and won him a fortune last Saturday. “She is being worked for the Futurity, and I am going to call her ‘The Butterflies.’ I like the play of that name. I think she’s a winner too.” So the filly was named The Butterflies.” (The New York Times, 08/29/1894)

The Butterflies

1894: (3) 3-0-0 / $54,690
(Retrospective) Champion 2-Year-Old Filly of 1894
1st: Futurity Stakes (NSR-5.75f,SHE)
NSR in the Futurity S. (08/25/1894): 5.75f in 1:11

The Butterflies would prove to be chronically lame throughout her career, and it was uncertain if she would make it to the track as a 2-year-old. While her 2-year-old campaign would ultimately be an abbreviated one, it would be nothing short of brilliant.

Debuting in a five furlong race at Gravesend on May 27, The Butterfiles would win “pulled up” by four lengths over Philomena in the nine horse field. Her final time was 1:03 ½.

“The stable turned loose a good one in The Butterflies, by Sir Dixon, out of Mercedes, in the fifth, for 2-year-old fillies. The Butterflies and Philomena, belonging to “Counselor” Bill Brieu, went to the post on equal terms at 8 to 5. The Butterflies won slowed down to a walk from Philomena and the Keene’s Handmaid.” (Chicago Tribune, 05/29/1894)

Her next start would come in a five furlong sweepstakes at Morris Park on June 4, where she defeated Ridicule by three lengths in a final time of :59 ¼.

As mentioned, The Butterflies would be plagued by lameness during her career, and was said to be “a trifle sore” the day following her win at Morris Park. However, a match race with the 2-year-old Galore (GB) filly Gutta Percha was proposed, and trainer John Hyland said at the time that The Butterflies would be fit to complete. However, the match race was declared off a few days later.

Following a six furlong workout at Saratoga in 1:14 ¾ on August 19, “Dave Gideon says The Butterflies is the fastest filly in the world, and has nothing to beat if she gets to the post. She is under suspicion, but showed no sign of lameness after the work today.” (Chicago Tribune, 08/20/1894).

Yet, the next day, “It is now said the great filly, The Butterflies, cannot be gotten to a race again, and she will therefore not be seen in the Futurity.” (The Daily American (Nashville, TN), 08/20/1894).

If there ever were a horse for the old weather adage “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” to apply, it was The Butterflies.

The Atlanta Constitution, 08/26/1894“She can justly claim to be the queen of the two-year-old world. Her victory is one that will live long in the minds of all who saw it. It will be years before any colt eclipses the time.” (The Atlanta Constitution, 08/26/1894)

Even though her soundness was suspect and she would leave the track “in distressed condition,” The Butterflies would win the Futurity Stakes (5.75f) at Sheepshead Bay on August 25. Following a forty-seven minute delay at the starting line and running “in the teeth of a half gale,” The Butterflies would defeat Brandywine by a head and become the first filly to win the race. Her final time of 1:11 was a new stakes record, taking 1 1/5 seconds off of the previous record of 1:12 1/5 set by Morello in 1892.

“Brandywine, who got off in the rear ranks, and who was unable to get through until the last furlong of the race was in progress, then made his effort. Clayton sent Brandywine after The Butterflies like a shot from a cannon. Griffin saw his danger and began to urge his sterling good filly. She responded to the last gasp. It was plain to all practiced eyes that The Butterflies was tiring fast. The terrific strain was telling. Step by step and inch by inch, amid a breathless silence, Brandywine closed up the streak of daylight that was between them. He was running strong and good. The Butterflies was wavering. Her rider begun to lash her, and the excitement was intense. Griffin fought like a young demon, and the wonderful courage of the filly alone staved off defeat. Brandywine managed to get his nose to her withers, but could get no further before the all-important line was crossed, and the Futurity of 1894 went on record as having been won by The Butterflies by a neck from Brandywine.” (The Atlanta Constitution, 08/26/1894)

“The Butterflies bids fair to follow the other Futurity winners into bad racing luck. She is none too sound. Potomac and Morello did the best of the stake winners. A singular fatality seems to follow them. Perhaps it is the result of the screwing up they receive as 2-year-olds.” (Chicago Tribune, 08/27/1894)

The day after the Futurity, “Gideon & Daly’s great filly, The Butterflies, galloped this morning as though she had not been obliged to run the race of her life Saturday to win the Futurity. She is still considerably gaunted and nothing severe is asked of her. She may be given a couple of easy races before being retired for the season.” (Chicago Tribune, 08/28/1894)

The cause of The Butterflies’ unsoundness is revealed when “David Gideon, the half owner of the great daughter of Sir Dixon and Mercedes, was speaking about her recently. The trouble with her leg undoubtedly, he says, a rupture of the sheath of the tendon not far below the knee. The rupture caused a thickening which for a time puzzled every one as to its cause and nature. It is one of the standing wonders of the turf that Butterflies stood a preparation for the Futurity. Her period of sharp training for the big event was in reality short of three weeks by about a couple of days. In other words, she was only half trained when she went to the post. She won but with little to spare, but what would she have done had Mr. Hyland been able to give her steady “prep?” (Los Angeles Times, 02/04/1895)

In late August, it was announced that upon her eventual retirement, The Butterflies would be bred to Gideon and Daly’s stakes winning/champion stallion His Highness (by The Ill-Used (GB)), himself the Futurity winner of 1891.

On September 1, The Butterflies’ yearling full-brother (who was never named) was sold to Ike Thompson for $3,500 at the Sheepshead Bay paddock sale.

Following her win in the Futurity S., two match races were proposed for The Butterflies – the first by Oliver Belmont between her and his stakes winning 2-year-old St. Blaise (GB) colt Brandywine, with the second between her and the stakes winning 2-year-old Himyar gelding Harry Reed. Neither of these races would come to fruition, and the Futurity S. would ultimately be The Butterflies’ third and final start of 1894.

Chicago Daily Tribune, 12/30/1894

In just three starts, The Butterflies (with $54,690 in earnings) ended 1894 as the highest earning 2-year-old filly ever in the United States, breaking the previous record set by Sallie McClelland in 1890 by $121.

1895: At least (6) 3-1-0 / $1,200
(Retrospective) Champion 3-Year-Old Filly of 1895
1st: Gazelle Stakes (1 1/8 mi.,SHE), Fall H. (abt. 6f,SHE)

“Butterflies stands out by herself, a wonderful filly, and there is no estimating how good she might have been had she only been sound. Nobody does know, as it is. After she had won in a canter in fast time at Morris Park her very clever trainer, John J. Hyland, replied to a query of, “In the name of goodness how good is that filly of yours, Mr. Hyland?” with a shake of the head and the statement, “I’m sure I don’t know sir, I’ve never been able to make her do her best yet.” At the time it looked as if Hyland was joking, but there is no doubt he was speaking the literal truth.” (Los Angeles Times, 02/04/1895)

“The Butterflies, three-year-old bay filly, Sir Dixon-Mercedes. Winner of last year’s Futurity. She has made all the improvement that could be expected. Her legs, which were weak last year, seem to be stronger, though still bandaged. So far, she has done the little work that has been asked of her without difficulty, but whether she can stand the strain of hard training and the still greater strain of a race is as yet an unanswered question.” (The Evening World (New York, NY), 04/06/1895)

“David Gideon reports that the horses at the Holmdel Farm are doing splendidly, but are, if anything, a little backward in their training. …Ramapo looks well, and The Butterflies is apparently as sound as ever, but Mr. Gideon says that when she is asked to real hard work she may give way under the strain.” (New York Daily Tribune, 04/11/1895)

The Butterflies would make her 3-year-old debut on May 17 at Gravesend in a 1 1/16 mile sweepstakes, where on a day reported to have been “bitter cold,” she would finish second by two lengths to Owlet. She would follow up on the effort with a 1 ½ length win over California in the Gazelle Stakes (1 1/8 mi.) on May 25. Her final time for the Gazelle S. was 1:59 ½.

While The Butterflies had raced successfully in quick succession, her unsoundness again began to plague her.

New York Times, 05/29/1895

“Ramapo won the opening race in a romp, and Gideon & Daly also captured the Gazelle S. for three-year-olds with The Butterflies. The latter was sore in her ailing leg both before and after the race, and does not act as if she was going to stand a hard campaign, a hard fact which is greatly regretted by horsemen.” (The New York Times, 05/19/1895)

On May 28, The Butterflies’ yearling full sister (later named Sister Stella) was sold to John Bowen of Paris, KY for $2,100 at the Runnymede yearling sale.

The Butterflies’ next start would come in a five furlong sweepstakes at Sheepshead Bay on June 15, where she would defeat Rey del Carrares, half-brother to Yo Tambien, by a half-length in :59 4/5. She would then be entered and subsequently scratched from a 5.5 furlong race at Sheepshead Bay on June 18, as it was feared her legs were not strong enough to stand the race.

The Butterflies - Gideon Daly sale (NYT 1895.07.16)

On June 25, it was announced that the racing partnership of David Gideon and John Daly would be dissolved, and all horses in training would be sold. While their racing partnership was to be dissolved, they would still co-partner on breeding operations at their Holmdel, NJ farm. The dispersal sale was held at Sheepshead Bay on July 15, where Gideon would be an active bidder on the day, including purchasing The Butterflies back for $7,000. The highest priced horse of the sale was the 2-year-old Spendthrift – Cinderella (GB) colt Hastings, who went to Blemton Stable for $37,000.

The Butterflies’ fourth start of 1895 would come in the Fall Handicap (abt. 6f) at Sheepshead Bay on August 24. Carrying 107 lbs., The Butterflies would win by a head over Domino (130 lbs.), who was conceding 24 lbs. to the filly. Her win in the Fall H. was a bit surprising, with not even her owner confident in her chances in the race. “Dave Gideon, though not fancying his own filly, The Butterflies, did not believe that Domino could handle his heavy impost, backing Rubicon, about whom there was a strong tip.” (The New York Times, 08/25/1895)

Five days later, The Butterflies would finish fifth in the Ocean H. (1 mi.) at Sheepshead Bay on August 29. In a position to win, “The Butterflies fell back from third to last place on the backstretch, but there was no accident or interference, and her temporary collapse was supposed to be due to the fact that her game leg pained her and caused her to lessen her speed.” (The New York Times, 08/30/1895). Henry Young would win, with Bellicoso second, and Rey del Carreres third.

Her next start would come in a one mile handicap sweepstakes at Sheepshead Bay on September 5. Conceding 31 lbs. to the winner Paladin (87 lbs.), she would finish fourth.

It was announced on September 20 that Gideon’s house trainer John Hyland and first call jockey Henry Griffin had been secured by August Belmont beginning with the 1896 racing season. Gideon was unable to match the price Belmont offered the duo.

The sweepstakes on September 5 is The Butterflies’ last confirmed race for 1895; however, it is possible she did make additional starts that I am unable to locate.

IN RETIREMENT:
Following her retirement, several stakes/handicap races were run in The Butterflies’ honor:

  • The Butterflies Stakes (4f, 2YO fillies, $750 added) was run at Queen City (Newport, KY) in at least 1897 (won by Lizzie Cavalier).
  • The Butterflies Handicap (6.5f) was run at Emeryville (near San Francisco) in at least 1906 (won by Lizaro).
  • The Butterflies Handicap (1 mi., 3YO&Up, $600 added) was run at Sheepshead Bay in at least 1908.

On 10/24/1899, the Holmdel, NJ farm of Gideon and Daly where The Butterflies was stabled would catch on fire. The Butterflies (in foal with the His Highness filly later named Futurita), was one of sixteen horses to survive the fire. In all, twenty-seven horses would perish.

The Butterflies, whose career in the breeding shed was said to have “been a whole chapter of accidents,” was the dam of at least five foals:

Hyland (1899 b. c. by His Highness)
Sold as a yearling to J. E. Madden for $6,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Sheepshead Bay paddock sale in July 1900.

Futurita (1900 b. f. by His Highness)
Sold as a yearling to James R. Keene for $8,750 at the Fasig-Tipton Sheepshead Bay paddock sale in June 1901.

“Another high priced yearling that has proved a rank failure is Futurita, by His Highness-The Butterflies, by a Futurity winner out of a Futurity winner. Of this grandly bred young filly the highest expectations were entertained. Yet she was fortunate to win her only brackets in lowly company at Aqueduct, and then at the tail end of the season.” (Daily Racing Form, 11/25/1902)

Dam of: Butterflies (1916 by King James), 4th dam of Italian stakes winning stallion Semipalatinsk (1978 by Nodouble). Sire in Queensland. Through Butterflies, Futurita is the ancestress of champion Crozier (1958).

Vanquisher (1901 ch. c. by His Highness)

Her Majesty (1902 b. f. by His Highness)
Sold as a 4-year-old to W.L. Powers for $1,500 at Fasig-Tipton KY (11/26/1906) in the Gideon dispersal.

Lepido (1904 b. c. by Silver Fox)

The Butterflies, along with daughter Her Majesty, were sold at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky on 11/26/1906 to W. L. Powers for $1,500 each. “Mr. Gideon has lost interest in breeding since the death last winter of his stallion His Highness, which died in Kentucky from pneumonia contracted on the cars en route from New Jersey. Mr. Gideon had to ship his horses to Kentucky when he rented Holmdel Farm to Edward R. Thomas.” (Daily Racing Form, 11/11/1906)

The Butterflies was reportedly in foal to Star Shoot for a foal of 1908, but this foal’s status is unknown: “David Gideon’s famous mare, The Butterflies, the first filly to win the Futurity, is believed to be in foal this season to Star Shoot. She has only sent one winner to the races, her stud career so far having been a whole chapter of accidents.” (Daily Racing Form, 11/09/1907)

The Butterflies - DRAWING