What’s New…

“Incapable of being dull”: Joe Palmer’s obituary, 1952

Readers of this site know my affection for the legendary racing writer Joe Palmer. I recently received a generous gift of a 1952 edition of the American Race Horse, the first published without Joe Palmer since 1944 who died on October 31st 1952 … Read full post>>


Dickie Jenkins memoir about the mighty Kelso now online

It’s been awhile since I posted to Colin’s Ghost but I have a good excuse! I have been working on a manuscript authored by Kelso’s long time exercise rider Dickie Jenkins. I am thrilled to finally make it available … Read full post>>


Book Review: Sports Betting and Bookmaking: An American History

Sometimes a book comes along that quickly earns a permanent place on your reference shelf … Read full post>>


The incredible story behind Clem McCarthy’s first Kentucky Derby broadcast

Clem McCarthy became the most popular voice of horse racing broadcasts in the first half of the 20th century. His gravelly, machine gun delivery endures to this day as a stereotype for racing announcers … Read full post>>


Watch the 1930 Florida Derby from Hialeah Park

Back in 2011, I wrote an article about the original Florida Derby(s) that pre-dated the one currently run in the great Sunshine State. The history of the current edition of the race at Gulfstream Park began in 1952 and has been run there every year since … Read full post>>


Watch Clem McCarthy call the 1930 Kentucky Derby

One of the best moments when doing historical research comes when a source inspires this thought: “I can’t believe this exists!” I had one of these moments recently while researching the 1930 Kentucky Derby … Read full post>>


Gallant Fox’s forgettable Kentucky Derby, 1930

An argument about the merits of “great” horses tends to follow a script with points and counterpoints repeated and delivered with little variation no matter the name of the animals in question … Read full post>>


Theodore Walton: The original racetrack “Plunger”

Race fans reading about the exploits of big-time gamblers in daily papers at the turn of the 19th century were likely familiar with a gambler named Theodore Walton … Read full post>>


Travers Stakes Day, 2015

After a tumultuous decision making process followed by a near disaster at the eleventh hour, I was lucky to find myself heading north towards Saratoga for Travers Day … Read full post>>


The first Washington Park Race Track in Chicago

This Saturday I will be attending my first ever Arlington Million Day in Chicago. I’m really looking forward to it as it has always been one of my favorite days on the racing calendar. The upcoming trip to the Windy City made me think of a piece I recently found by legendary race writer John Hervey (aka ‘Salvator’ and Chicago resident for much of his life) about the first Washington Park on the city’s South Side … Read full post>>


“American Pharoah is finally the one!”

I have a feeling I wasn’t the only racing fan who had these thoughts in quick succession when American Pharoah pulled away from Frosted in the stretch at Belmont Park on June 6th: “He’s gonna do it….I can’t believe it.” I still can’t believe it … Read full post>>


Happy Belmont Stakes Day 2015!

Here we go again! For the second year in a row we wake up on Belmont Stakes day with a chance for a Triple Crown … Read full post>>


Eddie Arcaro’s Formula for Belmont Stakes Success

In 1968, Daily Racing Form writer Joe Hirsch interviewed jockey Eddie Arcaro. In the interview — available in full online at the University of Kentucky — Hirsch asked Arcaro: “Was there any Belmont [Stakes] that you should have won that you didn’t?” Arcaro answered very cooly: “No. Not, Belmonts.” That certainly sounds like a man with no regrets during his twenty-one career attempts in the big Triple Crown race in New York… Read full post>>


The Kentucky Derby Crowd, 1930 to 1946

I thought it might be interesting to look at crowd estimates through the pages of the Daily Racing Form (and other sources) starting in 1930 until the Kentucky Derby (un)officially reached the six figure mark of 100,000 in 1946….Read full post>>


‘Sunny Jim’ Fitzsimmons and the Kentucky Derby experience

There are few people in racing history I love more than Jim Fitzsimmons. Mr Fitz – as he was respectfully called – spent a lifetime at the racetrack. Starting as a stable hand for the Dwyer Brothers in the 1880s, he rose up the ranks to become one of the most revered trainers in American racing history by the time of his death in 1966…Read full post>>


Salvator: Folk Song of the Turf, 1890s

I spent a lot of time over the last month reading the work of racing historian John “Salvator” Hervey as it appeared in the Daily Racing Form in the 1920s. I have been down this road before but have come nowhere near exhausting the great writer as a source…Read full post>>


A Message from the Colin’s Ghost Home Office

It’s been awhile since I checked in with a new article here at Colin’s Ghost…Read full post>>


The First Kentucky Derby Winner to Race in Pennsylvania, 1876

California Chrome is not the first Derby winner to run in the great state of Pennsylvania. That distinction goes all the way back to 1876 when Vagrant won the Grand Exposition Stakes at the long forgotten Point Breeze Race Track in Philadelphia… Read full post>>


The Triple Crown “Great Ones,” 1919-1948

I have been hunting for a copy of Kent Hollingsworth’s The Great Ones, a classic work of horse racing history, for many years. A few weeks back, I saw a copy on e-bay and put in my bid. I am happy to report that I have finally nabbed my paper white whale … Read full post >>


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… 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 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 >>

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 >>