July242014
October 20, 1923 - Belmont Park
Two-time American champion and eventual Hall of Fame member Zev, with legendary jockey Earl Sande up, waits patiently for the start of his match race with Epsom Derby winner Papyrus
The race itself, known as “The International”, was unique for it’s time. It marked the first time that an Epsom Derby winner had faced a Kentucky Derby winner, and it was the first time that a major European horse had crossed to America for a match race. Promoters of the event went all out for it, charging seven times the normal ticket price, and selling the rights to film the race to Pathe for a reported $50,000
The hype worked, and fans turned out in plenty. It was not a full house, the bad weather and high ticket prices driving some away, but the infield was packed. The track itself was a sea of mud, but some eager fans had camped out since the early morning 
As for the race, it was generally accepted to have been disappointing. Many British fans felt that their horse was at a huge disadvantage following his transatlantic voyage, combined with the fact that he had never raced on dirt before. Further, Papyrus had been equipped with ordinary racing plates, while Zev wore special “mud caulks”. Predictably, Zev skipped over the track to win by five lengths, while Papyrus struggled miserably through the stretch. 
In another remarkable first, fans who had missed the race in person were able to view the film in theaters, some as soon as the next day. Pathe had set up 30 cameras around the track, and they edited the film the evening following the race.The first official showing of the film took place in New York on Sunday evening, and it was soon distributed worldwide. (The entire 20-minute film can viewed here)
The First International was a triumph for the American horse, but all agreed that it was not a true test. In the words of sports writer N. W. Baxter: “This was a triumph, but it was not the sort of thing to bring men’s hearts into their mouths, not make their spirits rise. The contest lived up to neither expectations nor the occasion”

October 20, 1923 - Belmont Park

Two-time American champion and eventual Hall of Fame member Zev, with legendary jockey Earl Sande up, waits patiently for the start of his match race with Epsom Derby winner Papyrus

The race itself, known as “The International”, was unique for it’s time. It marked the first time that an Epsom Derby winner had faced a Kentucky Derby winner, and it was the first time that a major European horse had crossed to America for a match race. Promoters of the event went all out for it, charging seven times the normal ticket price, and selling the rights to film the race to Pathe for a reported $50,000

The hype worked, and fans turned out in plenty. It was not a full house, the bad weather and high ticket prices driving some away, but the infield was packed. The track itself was a sea of mud, but some eager fans had camped out since the early morning 

As for the race, it was generally accepted to have been disappointing. Many British fans felt that their horse was at a huge disadvantage following his transatlantic voyage, combined with the fact that he had never raced on dirt before. Further, Papyrus had been equipped with ordinary racing plates, while Zev wore special “mud caulks”. Predictably, Zev skipped over the track to win by five lengths, while Papyrus struggled miserably through the stretch. 

In another remarkable first, fans who had missed the race in person were able to view the film in theaters, some as soon as the next day. Pathe had set up 30 cameras around the track, and they edited the film the evening following the race.The first official showing of the film took place in New York on Sunday evening, and it was soon distributed worldwide. (The entire 20-minute film can viewed here)

The First International was a triumph for the American horse, but all agreed that it was not a true test. In the words of sports writer N. W. Baxter: This was a triumph, but it was not the sort of thing to bring men’s hearts into their mouths, not make their spirits rise. The contest lived up to neither expectations nor the occasion”

3PM
3PM
4-year-old Brit-bred colt Malicious leads home the field of the 1965 Aqueduct Stakes. Directly behind him come lightly-regarded Pluck and 1965 Co-Horse of the Year Roman Brother.
The Aqueduct Stakes was meant to be the race that finally pushed 8-year-old gelding Kelso over the $2 million mark in earnings. Instead, Kelso “was never in contention”, and finished fourth. It was only the ninth time in 61 races that Kelso had finished out of the money.

4-year-old Brit-bred colt Malicious leads home the field of the 1965 Aqueduct Stakes. Directly behind him come lightly-regarded Pluck and 1965 Co-Horse of the Year Roman Brother.

The Aqueduct Stakes was meant to be the race that finally pushed 8-year-old gelding Kelso over the $2 million mark in earnings. Instead, Kelso “was never in contention”, and finished fourth. It was only the ninth time in 61 races that Kelso had finished out of the money.

2PM
Dominator, a colt from the second crop of Secretariat, stretches his legs

Dominator, a colt from the second crop of Secretariat, stretches his legs

2PM

R.I.P. Dance With Fate

So, so sad to hear about this one. Dance With Fate, in addition to being absolutely gorgeous, was a promising talent. His fatal accident occurred while he was in training for Saturday’s San Diego Handicap, in which he was to face older horses. We will never know the full extent of what he could have done, but we will always remember this beautiful, brave boy

Trainer Peter Eurton: “Words can’t express what we’re feeling right now. With an extremely heavy heart, we report Dance With Fate was unable to survive his injuries.”

July232014
Being born in the same year as a legend of the sport is a tough lot for a young horse. The year 1945 was especially bad, with the coming of both Citation and Coaltown, but it was in that year that a blaze-faced, long-legged chestnut colt named Billings was born 
Billings was bred by R. W. McIlvain, and born on his Walmac Farm in late March, 1945. He was immediately a standout, both for his pedigree and striking good looks. Sired by Epsom Derby winner *Mahmoud and out of a maiden *Sir Gallahad III mare named Native Gal, his pedigree included at least five stallions which had led the sire lists in America. Though his immediate distaff line was unimpressive, his third dam had been a Classic-level racer in France in the early 1920’s.
In July of 1946, the yearling Billings was given into the care of Hunter Moody, a Lexington trainer specializing in trotters, in the belief that breaking a young colt under harness “improves his disposition and his manners, and…develops a good mouth.” There he stayed for a month before he began his race training with trainer Howard “Babe” Wells.
Mr. McIlvain was an owner who hated to push his juveniles too much, and this was no exception. What little there was of Billings’ juvenile season occurred entirely in Chicago in the last half of July, 1947. He made his debut as the favorite in a maiden race at Arlington on July 18, but he finished second after a slow start. His next race was much improved, and he cantered to a six-length score on July 23. In his final two-year-old race, the Elementary Stakes at Washington Park, he was outdistanced by an up-and-comer named Citation, though he did beat future Santa Anita Derby winner Salmagundi for second
Billings’ brief season, where he never finished worse than second and had competed well in stakes company, convinced his owner that he was a quality colt. In the interim between ‘47 and ‘48, Billings was sent to Columbia to begin spring preparations under Max Hirsch, though it was well understood that the colt would be returned to Wells in the spring. Both Hirsch and McIlvain, who frequently visited his budding star, had high opinions of the handsome colt 
Billings made his season debut on April 10, a six-furlong a Keeneland, and he was the favorite. That he won was not singularly impressive, given that the rest of the field consisted mostly of maidens and claimers, but his time of 1:11 1/5 was considered a good clip. After this, it was on to his first stakes race of the year, the Blue Grass. Just as in the Elementary Stakes the year before, Billings was again helpless against a “Calumet Comet”, this time in the form of Coaltown. He “ran second most of the way, and finished there”. He was nearly three lengths ahead of hardy stakes-winning gelding Shy Guy, and Coaltown had run a track record for the nine furlongs.
Billings next met both Citation and Coaltown, as well as other stars of the track, in the Kentucky Derby. Pinched back at the start, Billings nevertheless moved up through the field until there were only three horses in front of him. He was unable to reel them in, however, and he finished a respectable fourth behind Citation, Coaltown, and My Request. Directly after the Derby, he was entered in the Crete Handicap at the Lincoln Fields meet at Washington Park, and there he threw in an uncharacteristic clunker, ending up seventh. 
Following these three losses, Billing then won two straight. He started by winning a mile allowance on May 22, in which he beat future Classic winner Papa Redbird. That was a prep race for the 1 1/8 miles Peabody Memorial, nine days later. Coupled with Eagle Look, and sent off at 2-5, Billing scored his first stakes victory. He sat off the pace and went after the leaders on the stretch turn, gained the lead in mid-stretch, and then held off a late rally by Shy Guy to win by 3/4 lengths. 
His next race was more than a month later, and this was a six-furlong allowance at Arlington. He was the favorite, but it was not his preferred distance, and he faded back to seventh after bleeding in the stretch. The bleeding kept him out of training, and again put a gap in his season.
Billings made his best grab at greatness at the Hawthorne meeting in September 1948. His long absence from the track saw him start at 16-1 for his return race, the Hawthorne Speed Handicap, on September 11. It was a thrilling battle, with Billings sitting back in mid-pack and making a late charge to beat good stakes performer Carrarra Marble by a neck, despite giving him seven pounds. 
A week later, Billings started in the Hawthorne Season Handicap, at 1 1/16 miles. Carrying 116 and giving everything in the field weight by scale, he dogged the lead of California Derby winner May Reward, then “ran over him and won easily by five lengths.” Future champion sprinter Delegate was in third.
In keeping with his steady rise in quality, his next race was his biggest. The 1945 Hawthorne Gold Cup boated a field including veteran gelding Sun Herod, Argentinean import Colosal, and Hollywood Gold Cup winning mare Happy Issue (it ought to be noted that Happy Issue was well past her prime at this point, being 8 years old). Carrying 122 pounds, Billings was away slowly. With a quarter-mile to go, he “came fast under pressure to yoke the leading Happy Issue”, and went away to win by 1 1/4 lengths from Sun Herod. Happy Issue, who had “swerved out under punishment” in the stretch, finished third but was disqualified to fourth for interference. 
Running his fourth race at Hawthorne, Billings nearly went undefeated. In the Charles W. Bidwell Memorial Handicap, he carried 128 pounds against Sun Herod, carrying 126. Billings “caught and brought down” Sun Herod in the stretch, but he was passed by the unheralded gelding Oration, who won by a nose. Jockey Mel Peterson, on Billings, lodged a claim of foul after the race, saying that Oration had lugged in on Billings in the stretch. The claim was disallowed
Billings was quick to recover from this loss, and on the last day of the meet, he took the Illinois Owners Handicap. He was eligible for the race because McIlvain was a legal resident of Illinois, but that clause eliminated most of the competition. He carried 128 pounds and was the 1-2 favorite, and he won “under a light hold” by 1 3/4 lengths
Billings was retired at the end of 1948, at sent to Spendthrift Farm for stud. His first major winner, the colt Midafternoon, came from his second crop. Midafternoon was a stakes winner at 4 and 5, and his biggest claim to fame was defeating Nashua in the 1956 Metropolitan Handicap. Jockos Walk, from his fourth crop, was another stakes winner, mostly at Jamaica in the late 1950’s. From a later crop came good steeplechaser Gramatam

Being born in the same year as a legend of the sport is a tough lot for a young horse. The year 1945 was especially bad, with the coming of both Citation and Coaltown, but it was in that year that a blaze-faced, long-legged chestnut colt named Billings was born 

Billings was bred by R. W. McIlvain, and born on his Walmac Farm in late March, 1945. He was immediately a standout, both for his pedigree and striking good looks. Sired by Epsom Derby winner *Mahmoud and out of a maiden *Sir Gallahad III mare named Native Gal, his pedigree included at least five stallions which had led the sire lists in America. Though his immediate distaff line was unimpressive, his third dam had been a Classic-level racer in France in the early 1920’s.

In July of 1946, the yearling Billings was given into the care of Hunter Moody, a Lexington trainer specializing in trotters, in the belief that breaking a young colt under harness “improves his disposition and his manners, and…develops a good mouth.” There he stayed for a month before he began his race training with trainer Howard “Babe” Wells.

Mr. McIlvain was an owner who hated to push his juveniles too much, and this was no exception. What little there was of Billings’ juvenile season occurred entirely in Chicago in the last half of July, 1947. He made his debut as the favorite in a maiden race at Arlington on July 18, but he finished second after a slow start. His next race was much improved, and he cantered to a six-length score on July 23. In his final two-year-old race, the Elementary Stakes at Washington Park, he was outdistanced by an up-and-comer named Citation, though he did beat future Santa Anita Derby winner Salmagundi for second

Billings’ brief season, where he never finished worse than second and had competed well in stakes company, convinced his owner that he was a quality colt. In the interim between ‘47 and ‘48, Billings was sent to Columbia to begin spring preparations under Max Hirsch, though it was well understood that the colt would be returned to Wells in the spring. Both Hirsch and McIlvain, who frequently visited his budding star, had high opinions of the handsome colt 

Billings made his season debut on April 10, a six-furlong a Keeneland, and he was the favorite. That he won was not singularly impressive, given that the rest of the field consisted mostly of maidens and claimers, but his time of 1:11 1/5 was considered a good clip. After this, it was on to his first stakes race of the year, the Blue Grass. Just as in the Elementary Stakes the year before, Billings was again helpless against a “Calumet Comet”, this time in the form of Coaltown. He “ran second most of the way, and finished there”. He was nearly three lengths ahead of hardy stakes-winning gelding Shy Guy, and Coaltown had run a track record for the nine furlongs.

Billings next met both Citation and Coaltown, as well as other stars of the track, in the Kentucky Derby. Pinched back at the start, Billings nevertheless moved up through the field until there were only three horses in front of him. He was unable to reel them in, however, and he finished a respectable fourth behind Citation, Coaltown, and My Request. Directly after the Derby, he was entered in the Crete Handicap at the Lincoln Fields meet at Washington Park, and there he threw in an uncharacteristic clunker, ending up seventh. 

Following these three losses, Billing then won two straight. He started by winning a mile allowance on May 22, in which he beat future Classic winner Papa Redbird. That was a prep race for the 1 1/8 miles Peabody Memorial, nine days later. Coupled with Eagle Look, and sent off at 2-5, Billing scored his first stakes victory. He sat off the pace and went after the leaders on the stretch turn, gained the lead in mid-stretch, and then held off a late rally by Shy Guy to win by 3/4 lengths. 

His next race was more than a month later, and this was a six-furlong allowance at Arlington. He was the favorite, but it was not his preferred distance, and he faded back to seventh after bleeding in the stretch. The bleeding kept him out of training, and again put a gap in his season.

Billings made his best grab at greatness at the Hawthorne meeting in September 1948. His long absence from the track saw him start at 16-1 for his return race, the Hawthorne Speed Handicap, on September 11. It was a thrilling battle, with Billings sitting back in mid-pack and making a late charge to beat good stakes performer Carrarra Marble by a neck, despite giving him seven pounds. 

A week later, Billings started in the Hawthorne Season Handicap, at 1 1/16 miles. Carrying 116 and giving everything in the field weight by scale, he dogged the lead of California Derby winner May Reward, then “ran over him and won easily by five lengths.” Future champion sprinter Delegate was in third.

In keeping with his steady rise in quality, his next race was his biggest. The 1945 Hawthorne Gold Cup boated a field including veteran gelding Sun Herod, Argentinean import Colosal, and Hollywood Gold Cup winning mare Happy Issue (it ought to be noted that Happy Issue was well past her prime at this point, being 8 years old). Carrying 122 pounds, Billings was away slowly. With a quarter-mile to go, he “came fast under pressure to yoke the leading Happy Issue”, and went away to win by 1 1/4 lengths from Sun Herod. Happy Issue, who had “swerved out under punishment” in the stretch, finished third but was disqualified to fourth for interference. 

Running his fourth race at Hawthorne, Billings nearly went undefeated. In the Charles W. Bidwell Memorial Handicap, he carried 128 pounds against Sun Herod, carrying 126. Billings “caught and brought down” Sun Herod in the stretch, but he was passed by the unheralded gelding Oration, who won by a nose. Jockey Mel Peterson, on Billings, lodged a claim of foul after the race, saying that Oration had lugged in on Billings in the stretch. The claim was disallowed

Billings was quick to recover from this loss, and on the last day of the meet, he took the Illinois Owners Handicap. He was eligible for the race because McIlvain was a legal resident of Illinois, but that clause eliminated most of the competition. He carried 128 pounds and was the 1-2 favorite, and he won “under a light hold” by 1 3/4 lengths

Billings was retired at the end of 1948, at sent to Spendthrift Farm for stud. His first major winner, the colt Midafternoon, came from his second crop. Midafternoon was a stakes winner at 4 and 5, and his biggest claim to fame was defeating Nashua in the 1956 Metropolitan Handicap. Jockos Walk, from his fourth crop, was another stakes winner, mostly at Jamaica in the late 1950’s. From a later crop came good steeplechaser Gramatam

8PM

“Seattle Slew has such powers of propulsion one is tempted to think your Aunt Gertie could ride him and win.”
-Ray Kerrison, New York Post

Seattle Slew has such powers of propulsion one is tempted to think your Aunt Gertie could ride him and win.”

-Ray Kerrison, New York Post

July222014
9PM
8PM
Owner/breeder Joseph E. Widener leads his colt Hurryoff after winning the 1933 Belmont Stakes 
Lightly regarded going into the race, Hurryoff had been in fact offered in a claiming race a few weeks prior. He won this, and another minor race, which prompted his connections to enter him in the Belmont, to “see how he would turn with acknowledged stars of the turf”. Unfortunately, the field came up rather light in terms of “stars”, as both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners, Broker’s Tip and Head Play, were missing. The main competition was future Withers Stakes winner The Darb, and Hurryoff was sent away at 12-1 odds
Initially, Hurryoff ran exactly as a longshot would. He sat well back, and was last in the field of 8 through the half-mile. According to the chart, he “improved his position steadily and…finished gamely”. Hurryoff wore down the front runners to grind out a two-length score, with Nimbus in second and Union (a grandson of Man o’ War) in third
It was the first and last big win of Hurryoff’s career. He was retired at the end of the year, with a record of three wins from only seven starts. Following a decade-long tradition, Widener donated Hurryoff to the Jockey Club Breeding Bureau, where he was used in the Cavalry Remount Service 

Owner/breeder Joseph E. Widener leads his colt Hurryoff after winning the 1933 Belmont Stakes 

Lightly regarded going into the race, Hurryoff had been in fact offered in a claiming race a few weeks prior. He won this, and another minor race, which prompted his connections to enter him in the Belmont, to “see how he would turn with acknowledged stars of the turf”. Unfortunately, the field came up rather light in terms of “stars”, as both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners, Broker’s Tip and Head Play, were missing. The main competition was future Withers Stakes winner The Darb, and Hurryoff was sent away at 12-1 odds

Initially, Hurryoff ran exactly as a longshot would. He sat well back, and was last in the field of 8 through the half-mile. According to the chart, he “improved his position steadily and…finished gamely”. Hurryoff wore down the front runners to grind out a two-length score, with Nimbus in second and Union (a grandson of Man o’ War) in third

It was the first and last big win of Hurryoff’s career. He was retired at the end of the year, with a record of three wins from only seven starts. Following a decade-long tradition, Widener donated Hurryoff to the Jockey Club Breeding Bureau, where he was used in the Cavalry Remount Service 

7PM
The “Chocolate Soldier” Equipoise, in training for the inaugural Santa Anita Handicap in early 1935 
At 7 years old, “Ekky” was attempting to beat Sun Beau's career earnings record. His connections determined the new Santa Anita Handicap to be a fitting final race for their soldier, and if he won it he would also have the record. Though defeated in two prep races, he was sent off as the favorite, carrying the high weight of 130 pounds. Sadly, the fairy tale ending was not to be. Equipoise “simply wouldn't run”, according to his jockey, and he finished 7th

The “Chocolate Soldier” Equipoise, in training for the inaugural Santa Anita Handicap in early 1935 

At 7 years old, “Ekky” was attempting to beat Sun Beau's career earnings record. His connections determined the new Santa Anita Handicap to be a fitting final race for their soldier, and if he won it he would also have the record. Though defeated in two prep races, he was sent off as the favorite, carrying the high weight of 130 pounds. Sadly, the fairy tale ending was not to be. Equipoise “simply wouldn't run”, according to his jockey, and he finished 7th

July202014
12PM
horseracingconfessions:

My favourite mares are Rachel Alexandra and Goldikova. In my opinion they’re two of the best mares to ever have raced

*Best mares of the 21st Century

horseracingconfessions:

My favourite mares are Rachel Alexandra and Goldikova. In my opinion they’re two of the best mares to ever have raced

*Best mares of the 21st Century

July192014

"HERE IS THE THRILLING FINISH OF THE 89TH RUN FOR THE ROSES WITH CHATEAUGAY EDGING NEVER BEND, CANDY SPOTS
Ohio-owned Thoroughbred entered final turn  with burst, swept to outside, turned on speed and surprised rivals to pay $20.80”

Photo and caption from Toledo Blade - May 5, 1963

"HERE IS THE THRILLING FINISH OF THE 89TH RUN FOR THE ROSES WITH CHATEAUGAY EDGING NEVER BEND, CANDY SPOTS

Ohio-owned Thoroughbred entered final turn  with burst, swept to outside, turned on speed and surprised rivals to pay $20.80”

Photo and caption from Toledo Blade - May 5, 1963

9PM
Morning at Delaware Park, circa 1952

Morning at Delaware Park, circa 1952

← Older entries Page 1 of 924