Racing History Blog

Historical horse profile: Black Maria

Posted Jan 28, 2022

Three-time champion won both the Kentucky Oaks and inaugural Whitney

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

Black Maria didn’t exactly set the racing world on fire when she made her career debut at Saratoga on Aug. 5, 1925. In a 5½-furlong maiden event, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Black Toney was never a factor, finishing last in the field of 10, beaten 16 lengths. It was an inauspicious unveiling to say the least. After being defeated twice more at the Spa in the next 10 days, Black Maria broke her maiden on her fourth attempt. She was then trounced in the Hopeful Stakes, finishing ninth of 14, to conclude her juvenile summer at Saratoga with a lone victory in five outings. There would be better days ahead … much better.

Sam Hildreth: The wild life of a racing legend

Posted Dec 14, 2021

Hall of Fame trainer was one of the sport’s most interesting personalities

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

Even in thoroughbred racing, a sport long known for its stranger-than-fiction characters, Sam Hildreth was considered a wild man. He also happened to be one hell of a trainer — one of the best ever. As a conditioner of racehorses, it is well chronicled Hildreth had few peers. He was North America’s leading trainer in earnings nine times, won seven editions of the Belmont Stakes, seven runnings of the Brooklyn Handicap, and five renewals of both the Metropolitan and Suburban handicaps.

An old Kentucky legacy: The mighty Longfellow and Ten Broeck

Posted Nov 29, 2021

Hall of Fame members from Nantura Stock Farm were among the best of the 19th century

By Brien Bouyea 
Hall of Fame and Communications Director 
Longfellow and Ten Broeck, two of the most accomplished and celebrated American racehorses of the 19th century, will forever be linked even though they never crossed paths on the racetrack during their remarkable careers. Representing the Harper family’s Nantura Stock Farm, located near Midway, Kentucky, Longfellow and Ten Broeck had few peers during their respective runs of dominance in the 1870s. Longfellow, known as the “King of the Turf,” came along first, winning 13 of his 16 starts from 1870 through 1872. Ten Broeck, meanwhile, made his debut in 1875 and won 23 of his 29 races. He reeled off 15 consecutive victories at one point and set six American records at distances ranging from one to four miles by the time he retired in 1878. Both Longfellow (1971) and Ten Broeck (1982) were eventually elected to the Hall of Fame.

Sande was a Dandy: Hall of Famer was one of the most accomplished jockeys of all time

Posted Oct 28, 2021

Earl Sande won nine Triple Crown races in his remarkable career

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

Throughout the 1920s — an era commonly referred to as the Golden Age of Sports — Earl Sande occupied a place alongside Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden, and Red Grange in the pantheon of America’s most revered athletes. Hailed by many as the greatest jockey of his time, Sande won nine Triple Crown races, including a sweep of the series in 1930 with Gallant Fox. He piloted some of the greatest racehorses of his era and was a favorite among scribes of the day, immortalized as the “Handy Guy” by newspaperman Damon Runyon. Sande later enjoyed success as a trainer and was enshrined in the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class of 1955.

Old Rosebud: Hall of Famer was a record-setting Kentucky Derby winner

Posted Sep 28, 2021

Beloved gelding set seven track records during a remarkable career that featured multiple comebacks

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director
In a remarkable and unique career that spanned almost a decade, Old Rosebud displayed a fierce competitive nature and the courage of a champion time by overcoming a series of significant injuries to become one of the greatest racehorses in the annals of the American turf.

Assault: Against all odds

Posted Aug 25, 2021

Seventy-five years ago, Assault proved the doubters wrong by sweeping the Triple Crown in a style all his own

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

America’s seventh Triple Crown winner was the first to be bred and foaled beyond the borders of the blueblood breeding ground of Kentucky. In the southern part of Texas, at the sprawling King Ranch — a farm with more acreage than the state of Rhode Island — Assault entered the world on March 26, 1943. There were no prognostications of greatness for the smallish chestnut colt, especially after he stepped on something sharp, purportedly a surveyor’s stake, which pierced his right front foot and resulted in deformation and a permanent limp at a walk or trot.

Clarence Kummer: A quiet path to greatness

Posted Aug 10, 2021

Best known for his association with Man o’ War, Hall of Fame jockey Clarence Kummer wasn’t as flashy as some of his contemporaries, but his achievements guaranteed his status as one of the elite riders of the 1920s

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director
At the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, the American sports scene was entering a nicknamed era of its own — the Golden Age. Baseball had Babe Ruth, who was swatting home runs at a prodigious rate and dizzying turnstiles throughout the country. In the boxing ring, heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey was on par with the Bambino as a drawing card and public idol. Baseball and boxing were joined by thoroughbred racing as the decade’s most popular sports. In 1920 — when Ruth crushed a record 54 homers and Dempsey walloped Billy Miske and Bill Brennan in the early days of his four-year reign as champ — Man o’ War was decimating all his competition on the racetrack during an undefeated 11-race campaign. In the irons aboard Man o’ War for nine of those victories was a little-known member of the Hall of Fame, 21-year-old Clarence Kummer.  

Historical horse profile: Irish Lad

Posted Jul 14, 2021

Champion 2-year-old of 1902 brought Harry Payne Whitey and Herman B. Duryea to prominence in American racing

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director 

Harry Payne Whitney was just starting to dabble in thoroughbred racing when he purchased the promising colt Irish Lad in partnership with Herman B. Duryea in the spring of 1902. Bred by H. Eugene Leigh, Irish Lad was sold to John E. Madden as a yearling in the fall of 1901 for $2,550. Madden meticulously prepared Irish Lad for the races and received a healthy return on his investment when he resold the horse to Whitney and Duryea for $17,500.

Ruthless: First Belmont belonged to a filly

Posted Jun 2, 2021

Hall of Famer also won the 1867 Travers Stakes

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director 
Ruthless was exactly what her name suggested she was. The most accomplished of the famed “Barbarous Battalion,” Ruthless earned her high place in racing history by winning the first edition of the Belmont Stakes in 1867 at Jerome Park and the fourth running of the Travers later that summer at Saratoga.

Survivor: Forgotten star of the first Preakness

Posted May 12, 2021

A crowd of 12,000 was on hand at Pimlico Race Course in 1873 for the first running of one of America’s most iconic races

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

The Preakness Stakes was first contested in 1873, six years after the inaugural Belmont Stakes, and two years before the maiden running of the Kentucky Derby. It was a time of healing in America. The country was slowly being stitched back together both physically and emotionally during the Reconstruction period in the aftermath of the Civil War. Thoroughbred racing was on the ascent and playing a significant role in the new America. State officials in Maryland — which had a distinguished racing history and traced its Jockey Club’s origins to 1743 — desired a piece of the post-war turf action.


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