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Maximilian Hirsch

Maximilian Hirsch
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   Max Hirsch was born in Fredericksburg, Texas in 1880. He got into racing by riding Thoroughbreds in local fairs during his youth. Hirsch was noticed by John A. Morris and he went to work at the Morris ranch. Hirsch rode Quarter Horses there, but when he was 12 he stowed away in a shipment of racehorses bound for Baltimore. He officially became a jockey at age 14 and won 123 races before weight gain forced him into training.

   Hirsch trained his first winner in 1902 with a horse named Gautama in New Orleans. He went on to train primarily for King Ranch, saddling Kentucky Derby winners Bold Venture (1936), Assault (1946), and Middleground (1950). Both Assault and Middleground were sons of Bold Venture. Hirsch won the Preakness with Bold Venture and Assault. The latter also won the Belmont Stakes to sweep the Triple Crown. Hirsch also saddled Belmont winners Vito (1928), Middleground (1950), and High Gun (1954).

   Statistics are incomplete from Hirsch’s early years as a trainer, but from 1909 through 1968, Hirsch saddled the winners of 1,933 races with purse earnings of $12,203,270.

   Other notable races won by Hirsch include the Travers Stakes (2), Suburban Handicap (3), Arlington Classic (3), Jockey Club Gold Cup (2), Wood Memorial (2), Jersey Derby (3), Metropolitan Handicap (2), Pimlico Special, and Arlington Handicap.

   Hirsch was not slowing down toward the end of his career. In fact, he was the leading money-winning trainer in New York during 1968 with earnings of $914,356. His last winner, a 4-year-old named Heartland, won the feature at Aqueduct about eight hours before Hirsch died of a heart attack in 1969.

   Hirsch passed his love of Thoroughbreds on to his children. Two of his sons, including Hall of Famer Buddy Hirsch, became trainers, and his daughter, Mary McLennan, was one of the first women to obtain a trainer’s license. Upon his father’s death,Buddy Hirsch took over as head trainer for King Ranch.

   Max Hirsch was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1959.