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Roamer

Roamer.jpg

Roamer (NMR Collection)
Roamer
Induction Year: 
1981
Foaled: 
1911
Breeder: 
Clay Brothers
Owner: 
Woodford Clay; Andrew Miller
Trainer: 
French Brooks; Jack Goldsborough
Sire: 
Knight Errant
Dam: 
Rose Tree II
Damsire: 
Bona Vista
Career Years: 
1913-1919
Starts: 
98
First: 
39
Second: 
26
Third: 
9
Earnings: 
$98,828.00

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Bio

Gifted with extraordinary speed and weight-carrying ability, Roamer was one of the most accomplished, durable and popular racehorses of his era. An unplanned mating between a farm teaser and a blind mare produced the unlikely success story of the legendary gelding.

 

Roamer’s sire was Knight Errant, the teaser at Runnymeade Farm near Paris, Ky. According to legend, Knight Errant jumped a fence and consummated his mating with Rose Tree II, a 14-year-old blind mare.

 

A 15.2-hand bay, Roamer made his debut on May 1, 1913 with a five-length victory at 4½ furlongs at Lexington. After eight starts, which included two more wins, Roamer was sold to Andrew Miller for $2,500. Thereafter, Roamer carried the Miller colors of cardinal, white sash and black cap for 90 races and was trained by Jack Goldsborough. Roamer proved to be a solid prospect as a 2-year-old, compiling a record of 4-6-1 from 17 starts and earning $8,480. His most significant victory of the year was the Saratoga Special.

 

Roamer became a star as a 3-year-old, setting track records in the Carter Handicap, Travers Stakes (winning by 10 lengths) and three other stakes. He covered nine furlongs in 1:43⅗ in the Washington Handicap to establish an American record for the distance. Roamer was regarded as Horse of the Year for 1914, compiling a record of 12-1-2 from 16 starts and earning $29,105.

 

“The truly great racehorse appears infrequently,” began the American Racing Manual’s recap of 1914. “At least one such graced the racing of 1914. Andrew Miller’s Roamer displayed all the qualities that appear in the makeup of a star of the first magnitude: Amazing speed, as well as the ability to carry high weight and stay over any route were demonstrated publicly time and again by this splendid grandson of the great Australian racer and sire, Trenton. There has never been in this country such a remarkable exhibition of speed of the highest order as he gave at Laurel in the Washington Handicap, when carrying 124 pounds, he made the astounding record of 1:43⅗ for a mile and an eighth and ran the first mile in 1:36⅗ without being urged to do his best at any part of the race.”

 

The top-weighted handicapper of 1915, Roamer won the Queens County Handicap, Brookdale Handicap, Saratoga Handicap, Merchants’ and Citizens’ Handicap, Saratoga Cup, Havre de Grace Handicap and the National Handicap that year. He equaled the track record at Aqueduct in the Brookdale, set a track record in the Havre de Grace and won the Saratoga Handicap by 10 lengths under 128 pounds.

 

Roamer won only once as a 5-year-old, the Yonkers Handicap, but he was best of the handicappers, assigned top weight in each of the six handicaps in which he finished second. As a 6-year-old in 1917, Roamer was regarded behind only Old Rosebud among the handicappers. He won his second Saratoga Handicap that year (defeating Old Rosebud) and equaled another track record at Aqueduct.

 

In top form as a 7-year-old in 1918, Roamer won the Queens County Handicap under top weight, tied the track record in winning the Empire City Handicap and won his third Saratoga Handicap. In winning the Saratoga Handicap, Roamer covered 1¼ miles in 2:02⅕, which set another track record. It marked the 10th time Roamer had set or equaled a track record.

 

Clamor then arose for Roamer for an attempt at Salvator’s mile record of 1:35½, set on a straight course against time in 1890. On Aug. 21, 1918 at Saratoga, Roamer became the first horse to run a mile in less than 1:35. Racing away from his pacesetter, Roamer flew around Saratoga’s two turns in 1:34⅘, a new American standard.

 

“He has more track records than any other horse that has sported silk in this country at any period and has dazzled and thrilled thousands by his matchless speed and dauntless courage,” reported the Thoroughbred Record.

 

Roamer showed his age as an 8-year-old in 1919. He made six starts, winning only the Yonkers Handicap for his 24th stakes win on July 26, 1919. It was also his 39th and final career victory. On Dec. 31, 1919, Miller suffered a heart attack and died. A few hours later, Roamer slipped on ice in his paddock at Arthur Schutt’s farm in New Jersey and had to be euthanized.

 

Roamer won at distances from 4½ furlongs to 1¾ miles and set or equaled 11 track records in New York and Maryland. He was undisputed champion at ages three and four and top class at five, six and seven. Years later, Goldsborough was asked about great horses: “In my opinion there were only two great horses — Man o’ War and Roamer.”

 

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