Arthur B. "Bull" Hancock, Jr. and William Woodward, Sr. elected to the Hall of Fame as Pillars of the Turf
Arthur B. “Bull” Hancock, Jr. and William Woodward, Sr., two of the most important and respected individuals in American thoroughbred racing during the 20th century, have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame as the 2016 Pillars of the Turf selections.
The Pillars of the Turf category is designated to honor individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to thoroughbred racing in a leadership or pioneering capacity at the highest national level. Candidates must be deemed to have represented the sport with indisputable standards of integrity and commitment through disciplines such as breeding and ownership, innovation, philanthropy, promotion and education. Hancock and Woodward join previous Pillars of the Turf selections August Belmont II (2013), Paul Mellon (2013), E.R. Bradley (2014), E.P. Taylor (2014), Alfred Vanderbilt II (2015) and John Hay Whitney (2015) in the Hall of Fame.
Hancock and Woodward will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 12 along with the racehorses Rachel Alexandra, Tom Ochiltree and Zenyatta; jockeys Ramon Dominguez and Wayne Wright; and trainer Steve Asmussen. The ceremony will be streamed live on the internet at www.racingmuseum.org from Fasig-Tipton at 10:30 a.m.
Hancock (1910-1972), who grew up on Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., graduated from Princeton University in 1933. He served in the Army Air Corps from 1941 through 1945 before taking over Claiborne when his father became ill in the late 1940s. Hancock then built upon an already grand foundation, expanding the farm from 2,100 acres to roughly 6,000, to make Claiborne arguably the most important thoroughbred farm in the world.
For 15 consecutive years, from 1955 through 1969, Hancock stood America’s leading sire at Claiborne. Then in 1972, the year of Hancock’s death at the age of 62, Round Table reinstated the farm as home of the leading sire. The top stallions at Claiborne during Hancock’s era included Nasrullah, Princequillo and Bold Ruler. Hancock also acquired for stud other internationally influential horses such as Nijinsky II, Ambiorix, Damascus, Sir Ivor, Tom Rolfe and Forli. In an example of the farm’s consistent excellence under Hancock’s leadership, Claiborne raised at least one champion each year from 1952 through 1972, including five years when the farm raised as many as four divisional champions. Six of the divisional champions of 1957 were earlier foaled at Claiborne: Nadir, Bold Ruler, Bayou, Dedicate, Round Table and Neji. Hancock bred and raced the champions Moccasin, Nadir, Doubledogdare and Bayou.
Thirty-two champions that raced for outside clients were foaled at Claiborne during Hancock’s era, including Hall of Fame members Kelso, Buckpasser, Nashua, Forego, Bold Ruler, Round Table, Riva Ridge and Cicada, as well as standouts Dedicate, Numbered Account, Bald Eagle, Ridan, Hoist the Flag and First Landing, among others. Hancock had a long-standing partnership arrangement with William Haggin Perry, whereby half of each Claiborne foal crop raced in Perry’s silks and half in Claiborne’s. Hancock also bred four European champions while at Claiborne, including Nureyev and l’Arc de Triomphe winner Ivanjica. Claiborne was America’s top breeder in earnings in 1958, 1959, 1968 and 1969 under Hancock’s direction.
Overall, Hancock bred 112 stakes winners in the Claiborne name, while also serving as an adviser to several prominent outside clients, including the Phipps family and William Woodward, Sr. Hancock had the distinction of being the first working horseman to be elected to The Jockey Club. He was also president of the American Thoroughbred Breeders Association and vice president of the American Thoroughbred Owners Association. Hancock was a key figure in the merger of those two organizations in 1961 into the present-day Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).
In addition, Hancock was a director and trustee at Keeneland and a director of Churchill Downs, where he was one of the dozen who purchased controlling interest in the track to avoid a conglomerate takeover. He also was a member of the Kentucky Racing Commission, a director of the Grayson Foundation and a founding member and director of the Thoroughbred Breeders of Kentucky, in which role he played a part in establishing the American Horse Council.
Woodward (1876-1953), who was born in New York City, became interested in racing during his youth, as he attended the Belmont Stakes with his father as early as 1888. Even though he graduated from Harvard Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1901, Woodward decided not to pursue a career as an attorney. Instead, he opted to travel abroad, becoming the secretary to Joseph Choate, the United States ambassador to England. Returning to America in 1903, Woodward’s financial career led him to become president of Hanover National Bank in 1910 when his uncle, James T. Woodward, died. Along with receiving controlling interest in the bank, Woodward inherited the historic Belair Mansion and Stud in Maryland from his uncle.
In 1925, Woodward joined Claiborne Farm’s Arthur B. Hancock, Sr. and business moguls R.A. Fairbairn and Marshall Field to purchase Sir Gallahad III for $125,000. The import quickly became a prolific stallion in America, topping the sire list in 1930, 1933, 1934 and 1940. Sir Gallahad III sired a total of 60 stakes winners, of which nine were bred by Woodward, including the equine masterpiece Gallant Fox, winner of the 1930 Triple Crown. Gallant Fox in turn sired a second Triple Crown winner for Woodward, 1935 winner Omaha.
Along with his Triple Crown winners, Woodward won the Belmont Stakes three additional times in the 1930s with Faireno (1932), Granville (1936) and Johnstown (1939). Of his five Belmont winners, only Johnstown — a private purchase from Arthur Hancock, Sr. — was not bred by Woodward. Gallant Fox, Omaha, Granville and Johnstown were all elected to the Hall of Fame. After his fifth Belmont win, Woodward appeared on the cover of Time magazine’s Aug. 7, 1939 issue.
Overall, Woodward bred 101 stakes winners, including seven American champions (Gallant Fox, Faireno, Happy Gal, Omaha, Granville, Vagrancy and Nashua). He also bred four European champions (Foxbrough, Hycilla, Black Tarquin and Prince Simon). Woodward-owned horses enjoyed considerable success in England, winning races such as St. Leger Stakes, Ascot Gold Cup and Epsom Oaks. Woodward’s string in England was so successful that he was the second-leading owner there in 1937. Following his considerable success in the 1930s, Woodward bred and raced the champion Vagrancy in the following decade. The champion 3-year-old filly and champion handicap female in 1942, Vagrancy added the Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama Stakes, Ladies Stakes, Pimlico Oaks, Test Stakes and Delaware Oaks to Belair’s impressive trophy collection.
Along with his breeding and racing exploits, Woodward was a central figure in the sport’s leadership. From 1930 through 1950 he served as chairman of The Jockey Club. He was also instrumental in establishing the Coaching Club American Oaks and played a role in the development of the Grayson Foundation. During his time with The Jockey Club, Woodward, who was highly respected in England, convinced that country’s racing leaders to repeal the Jersey Act, which for generations kept many American horses out of the General Stud Book as purebred thoroughbreds. In 1950, Woodward was elected as an honorary member of the British Jockey Club. Woodward was also a connoisseur of sporting art. His collection of more than 50 paintings of horses and racing scenes was donated to the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Woodward died in 1953 at the age of 77. Prior to his death, however, Woodward bred one final legendary racehorse, Nashua. Campaigned initially by his son, William Woodward, Jr., Nashua was a standout 2-year-old in 1954 when he won the Futurity, Hopeful and Grand Union Hotel stakes. He was even better as a sophomore, winning the Preakness, Belmont, Florida Derby, Arlington Classic, Wood Memorial, Dwyer, Jockey Club Gold Cup, as well as an historic match race with Swaps, to be named Horse of the Year. He later became the fifth horse bred by William Woodward, Sr. to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
A committee of racing industry experts and historians, under the guidance of chairman D.G. Van Clief, comprise the Pillars of the Turf Selection Committee. The members include Van Clief, Edward L. Bowen, Christopher Dragone, Jane Goldstein, Ken Grayson, Jay Hovdey, G. Watts Humphrey, Leverett Miller, Bill Marshall, Bill Mooney, Mary Simon, D.G. Van Clief, Michael Veitch and Gary West.