What’s New…

Man o’ War to skip the Kentucky Derby, 1920

Many historians have identified the late 1910s as the moment when the Kentucky Derby began its upward trajectory towards it current standing as the most famous race in North America and, arguably, the world. The evolution to becoming America’s most prestigious race had moments that makes its present place in time anything but inevitable … Read full post >>


The Long, Strange Post-Racing “Career” of the Racehorse Sysonby

Few horses in the history of thoroughbred racing can boast a career like Sysonby. Even fewer can boast a post-racing career like the Hall of Fame runner owned by the legendary James R. Keene … Read full post >>


Trifecta of Kentucky Derby winners in a “Fall Classic” at Pimlico, 1918

Before the Breeders’ Cup, horse racing in the fall was different. Before the so-called “world championship” of thoroughbred racing, big races at the end of the year were not as hyper-focused around a prescribed singular event. Instead, the location for significant races … Read full post >>


Stromboli: Samuel Hildreth’s Favorite Horse

An often repeated debate arises when a former horse of high quality works their way down the class ladder into the claiming ranks. We had a worst case scenario happen with the tragic end … Read full post >>


Thoroughbred Racing Masterpiece Now an E-book

While doing some research last night, I stumbled across something that I wanted to share. I found that Jimmy Breslin’s Sunny Jim: The Life of America’s most Beloved Horseman James Fitzsimmons is now available as an e-book … Read full post >>


The Dwyer Brothers according to Samuel Hildreth, 1926

Last week, Belmont Park hosted the Dwyer Stakes which is named for the famed brothers, Phil and Mike, who owned one of the most successful racing stables of the 1880s. The Dwyer Brothers story is well known. Owners of a butcher shop in Brooklyn, they began buying racehorses in the 1870s … Read full post >>


Hollywood Park’s Opening Day, 1938

On July 14th, Hollywood Park will run its final day of summer racing ever. At the end of the year, 75 years after opening, all racing operations will cease at the California track. The racing oval at Hollywood is marked by a slew of legendary runners including Seabiscuit, Citation, and Affirmed. It hosted the first ever Breeders’ Cup in 1984 and has carded a plethora of important stakes races over the years … Read full post >>


The Brooklyn Handicap, 1904

The Brooklyn Handicap will be run today in its new position on the New York racing calendar as a Friday feature a day before the Belmont Stakes. The Brooklyn Handicap, run for the first time in 1887, once stood among America’s most significant stakes races … Read full post >>


Belmont Park, “Consecrated to racing,” 1937

The value of the land at Hollywood Park is why its owners decided its history as a race track will end in 2013. Think about that as you read this 1937 piece about Belmont Park from Turf & Sport writer O’Neil Sevier … Read full post >>


Whirlaway’s Kentucky Derby, 1941

In retrospect, all Triple Crown winners were born to be great. However, if we rewind to April and May of 1941, Whirlaway was just another 3-year-old who was, in the parlance of handicappers, “hard to figure” … Read full post >>


Kentucky Derby points and the last Derby shocker

Count me as a fan of the new Kentucky Derby qualifying point system that replaced graded stakes earnings as the measure to qualify for America’s greatest race. When a two-year-old winning a race in Vinton, Louisiana in November qualifies him (or her) for the Kentucky Derby the following May, its safe to say the system is broken. As we approach the 139th Derby … Read full post >>


Pittsburgh Phil’s Thoughts on the Pari-mutuel Machines

In 1948, Horace Wade wrote an article titled “Uncle Phil’s Boy” for the Turf and Sport Digest about James McGill. McGill, a lifetime “racetracker”, was close to eighty years old working in California and Chicago as a racing official at the time of the articles publication … Read full post >>


A Bookmaker’s Operation 1937

Among the pages of the Turf and Sport Digest from December 1937 is a valuable description of a bookmaking operation at the end of an era. It was written just prior to the widespread adoption of the pari-mutuel system in New York, the last significant place where bookmaking was tolerated at America’s racetracks … Read full post >>


Broadcasting the Kentucky Derby, 1935-1936

This week’s focus is on an article that was written in 1935 by Turf and Sport columnist Jimmy Loftus. It offers rare insight into the content of early Kentucky Derby broadcasts and, even more interesting, it talks about how race fans reacted to the relatively new experience of listening to the race. As we often find when looking at the past, not much has changed … Read full post >>


“Native Dancer looks beaten to me!” The Kentucky Derby, 1953

Last week I came across a review of the 1935 radio broadcast of the Kentucky Derby in the pages of the Turf and Sport Digest. This got me thinking about where the early recordings of the Derby (first broadcast in 1925) might be archived or if they still existed anywhere. … Read full post >>

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