Pimlico Cup

Chart of the week: Altawood wins the 1924 Pimlico Cup in a blinding snowstorm

The Washington Post, 11/16/1924.


“Running right back to his victory in the Bowie handicap last Tuesday, Altawood, bearing the scarlet and white striped colors of J. E. Widener, the Philadelphia sportsman, was a galloping winner yesterday in the sixth annual renewal of the Pimlico cup, the feature of the closing-day program, which was run off in a snowstorm for the first time in the history of the sport in Maryland.

The Belair stud’s Aga Khan, who was beaten a head by Altawood in the Bowie, finished second to him again yesterday though he was whipped more decisively. The Lilane stable’s Sunsini was third, while the Salubria stable’s My Own, the only other starter, who essayed the 2 ¼ mile journey, was pulled up at the head at the head of the stretch and finished a bad last.

The storm, which began with a drizzling rain in the early morning, became so heavy during the early part of the afternoon that it was impossible to distinguish colors in the backstretch or at the upper turn during the first three races, but it had abated somewhat by post time for the feature event and the subsequent races and the crowd, which was exceptionally large considering the mean weather, had no trouble following the running during the rest of the day.

The rain and snow left the track in a treacherous state of mud and slush, which the favorites for the most part had difficulty in negotiating, though in the races where there was any semblance of class the choices ran through it all right.

The Pimlico cup was run in much the same fashion as the Bowe except that Johnny Maiben allowed Sunsini and My Own to make the pace instead of going to the top with Aga Khan as he did on that occasion, while Ivan Parke, as usual, dropped Altawood in behind his field.

They maintained this order for the first mile and a half with Marinelli steering Sunsini wide all the way in the better going, as he has no particular fondness for mud. At the far turn there was a general closing up and My Own bore out almost to the middle of the track before Babin could straighten him out, while Aga Khan and Altawood moved up on the leader.

Circling the bend it was apparent that Altawood would be the winner as he was running at Aga Khan’s throat latch with Parke still having him under restraint. As they swung into the stretch he bounded away from the Omar Khayam colt without trouble to go on to a three-length victory, without ever being fully extended.

Aga Khan ran his customary honest race, and had no trouble trimming the tiring Sunsini for the place. There was some who contended that if Maiben had not made the pace in the Bowie with him he would have beaten Altawood yesterday’s performance convinced them that he is no match for the son of Master Robert – Crestwood Girl over a distance of ground.

After bearing out on the far turn, My Own ran almost to the outside fence at the head of the stretch and finished next to the rail with Babin easing up. It was at first thought that he had broken down by William Brooks, his trainer, announced that he had pulled up sound. The presence of My Own in the race occasioned no little surprise as his aversion to anything but a hard track is known to all. His trainer was against starting him, but Admiral Cary T. Grayson, owner of the Salubria stable, insisted on it.

“I know he can’t run in the mud, but maybe he can in a snowstorm,” said the Admiral, and My Own was sent to the post.

Altawood paid 1 to 2 in the mutuels and his victory was worth $7,950 to Mr. Widener. Aga Khan earned $2,00 by running second, Sunsini $1,000 and My Own $500. Mr. Widener bought Altawood about a month ago at a reported price of $40,000 and his triumphs in the Bowie and Pimlico cup have already netted him about half that sum. If he continues to go on next year, there is no question but that he will prove a big bargain for the Quaker City sportsman.”
(Harry Stringer / The Washington Post, 11/16/1924)

The Pimlico Cup: Miss Grillo first, the rest nowhere

In October 1945,  the filly Miss Grillo (ARG), a longshot at odds of 26-1, would defeat favored colt Rico Monte (ARG) by a hard fought neck in the Gran Premio Nacional (2500m) at Buenos Aires. The two horses caught the eye of Argentinian-born trainer Horatio Luro, a man who knew a good horse when he saw one, and both were soon purchased (Miss Grillo for $20,000 on behalf of Mrs. Barclay Douglas – aka the late Josephine Hartford Bryce – of the Mill River Stable and Rico Monte for $35,000 on behalf of William Arnold Hanger) by Luro for a U.S. campaign.

Miss Grillo - 1947 Pimlico Cup headline (NYT 1947.11.14)The rivalry between Miss Grillo and Rico Monte would cross hemispheres, and having finished second by eight lengths to Rico Monte in the 1946 edition of the Pimlico Cup (2 ½ mi.), Miss Grillo (with her stablemate absent from the starting gate) would make the 1947 edition her own, winning by 40 lengths in 4:29 ⅘ over a “dull” track.

“It was on the second entrance into the stretch that Miss Grillo took the lead. With a mile to go the 5-year-old mare was three lengths in front of Calvados. With six furlongs left, she was ten to the good. Midway through the backstretch the last time she was twenty on top. The gap kept widening the rest of the way, finally reaching forty.”
(James Roach / The New York Times, 11/14/1947)

As they approached the finish line, jockey Conn McCreary stood up in the stirrups and gave a hearty wave to the crowd. By the time last place horse Shivaree had crossed the finish, Miss Grillo was halfway around the clubhouse turn and preparing to turn back to collect accolades.

PHOTO - Miss Grillo 1947 Pimlico Cup winPhoto: The Blood-Horse Golden Anniversary Edition: A Second Quarter Century of American Racing and Breeding, 1941-1965

1947 Pimlico Cup chart (NYT 1947.11.14)Chart of the 1947 Pimlico Cup, held on 11/13/1947 at Pimlico Race Course (The New York Times, 11/14/1947).
Note: This race is erroneously listed as being the fifteenth running, it should be the sixteenth.

A 40 length win would be the highlight of a career for many a racehorse, but Miss Grillo would return to the scene of her remarkable achievement to record an even more remarkable triumph.

Winning the 1948 Pimlico Cup by 1 ½ lengths over Flying Missel, Miss Grillo’s time of 4:14 ⅗ would shave two full seconds off the previous world record set by Golden Myth at Ascot on June 5, 1922 and lower the Pimlico track record (set by by Megogo in the 1944 Pimlico Cup) by 5 ⅖ seconds.

Miss Grillo - 1948 Pimlico Cup headline (NYT 1948.11.13)“Miss Grillo was coupled in the betting with J. de Atucha’s Bois Joli as the Trainer H. A. Luro entry. Bois Joli was used as a pacemaker and collapsed after doing that job for most of a mile. During this stage McCreary on Miss Grillo, Henri Mora on Flying Missel and Carson Kirk on Pilaster were restraining their mounts.

Miss Grillo was first to move. Walter M. Jefford’s Loyal Legion had supplanded Bois Joli in front. McCreary gave his mare the gun and she overtook Loyal Legion in noble fashion. The crowd expected the mare to draw far out, as was the case in the 1947 renewal.

However, Flying Missel and Pilaster rallied and went after the 6-year-old. McCreary went to a drive and it is well that he did. Flying Missel on the outside and Pilaster on the inside both packed punch in the early stretch. But approaching the wire, Miss Grillo turned on more steam and there was a daylight gap between her and her rivals going into the wire.”
(Walter Haight / The Washington Post, 11/13/1948)

1948 Pimlico Cup chart (WP 1948.11.13)Chart of the 1948 Pimlico Cup, held on 11/12/1948 at Pimlico Race Course (The Washington Post, 11/13/1948).
Note: They ran so fast that Flying Missel and Pilaster each apparently split into two.

The Pimlico strip was playing fast on Cup day, as two other track records would fall in addition to the record set by Miss Grillo. Royal Governor would lower the track record for 1 1/16 mi. (set by Capot earlier in the meeting) by ⅕ of a second to 1:42 ⅖, while Chains would lower the record for 1 ⅛ mi. (set by Watervale in the 1911 Preakness Stakes) by ⅕ of a second to 1:50 ⅘.

On another note, runner-up Flying Missel would claim a world record himself in 1949, setting a new world record for 2 1/16 mi. (3:32 ⅘) in the Daingerfield Handicap at Jamaica on November 15, 1949, lowering the previous record of 3:33 ⅖ set by Eurasian in the 1945 edition of the race. His record would in turn be lowered by Royal Castle (3:30 ⅖) in the 1950 Daingerfield, a race in which Flying Missel would run second.