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Equipoise (2)a.jpg

Equipoise (Keeneland-Cook)
Induction Year: 
Harry Payne Whitney
Harry Payne Whitney, C. V. Whitney
Freddy Hopkins, Thomas J. Healey
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


Known as “The Chocolate Soldier,” the popular and gritty Equipoise was an outstanding 2-year-old and later became a top handicapper for three seasons during the 1930s even though he battled chronic foot ailments throughout his career.


Equipoise was bred by Harry Payne Whitney, who campaigned him through the majority of his 2-year-old season in 1930. Whitney, however, died late in the year and his son, C. V. Whitney, took over his father’s racing interests with Equipoise as the first horse to run in his name.


Equipoise was an immediate standout, winning the Keene Memorial, National Stallion, Juvenile, Great American, Pimlico Futurity and Eastern Shore Handicap as a 2-year-old for trainer Freddy Hopkins. His best performance of juvenile season came in the Pimlico Futurity when he defeated Twenty Grand and Mate after being left at the post, grabbing a quarter and running out of his shoes. A headline in a Baltimore paper called it the “Most Spectacular Race in a Decade.”


“When he was right, I don’t know of a horse that could handle him except maybe Exterminator,” Hopkins said years later. “He could sprint, go two miles. Wet or dry, it made no difference.”


Equipoise raced only three times as a sophomore as he battled a quarter crack. He had an easy win at Havre de Grace to start the year, was pulled up in the Chesapeake Stakes and finished fourth in the Preakness.


As a 4-year-old in 1932, Equipoise established himself as one of the greats. Regularly carrying top weight, Equipoise won the Hartford Handicap, Metropolitan Handicap, Toboggan Handicap, Stars and Stripes Handicap, Arlington Gold Cup, Wilson Stakes, Havre de Grace Handicap and Whitney Handicap. He won seven in a row at one point and finished the year with a record of 10-2-1 from 14 starts and earnings of $107,375. In the Delavan Handicap at Arlington Park, a prep for the Stars and Stripes, Equipoise defeated Jamestown by three lengths and set a world record of 1:34⅖ for one mile.


Tom Healey took over Equipoise’s training in 1933 and the horse continued to thrive. Although purse money was significantly diminished because of the depression, Equipoise still banked $55,760 by winning seven of nine starts, including repeats in the Metropolitan and Wilson, as well as victories in the Saratoga Cup, Arlington Handicap, Suburban Handicap and Hawthorne Gold Cup. He carried 135 pounds in the Arlington, won the Suburban under 132 pounds and carried 26 pounds more than the runner-up in the Metropolitan.


As a 6-year-old, Equipoise won the Philadelphia and Dixie handicaps and the Whitney Gold Trophy at the United Hunts meet. He raced three times in 1935 as a 7-year-old without a victory before being retired with a career record of 29-10-4 from 51 starts and earnings of $338,610.


Equipoise sired only four crops in a short stud career before his death, producing 12 percent stakes winners. In 1942, he topped the sire list when his progeny earned $437,141. Equipoise died Aug. 4, 1938 at the age of 10. His greatest son, Shut Out, won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1942.