Apr 21st 2009 12:12 am |
Sometimes interesting things just fall into your lap. I received an email from Ron Micetic – a reader who has a large and significant collection of rare race programs. One of his most prized programs is from War Admiral’s maiden race which took place at Havre de Grace in north east Maryland. He kindly sent me the digital images seen here (click for detailed view).
This, of course, peaked my curiosity so I pulled out my copy of Ed Bowen’s outstanding work on The Admiral for the Thoroughbred Legends series.
By 1936, when War Admiral hit the track, hopes that his sire, the immortal Man o’ War, would produce the next great colt had faded. Sixteen years after retiring from racing, most would have said Man o’ War had not lived up to expectations at stud. While siring 28% stakes winners in his first five crops, his production dropped off significantly in subsequent years.
War Admiral learned to be a racehorse at owner Samuel Riddle’s training center in Berlin, Maryland. When he was ready to race, War Admiral was sent to Havre de Grace. The Havre de Grace track – just a few hundred yards from the Chesapeake Bay – opened in 1912 and hosted a slew of important races. Racing in the small Maryland town attracted horses of great stature including War Admiral’s daddy in 1920.
On April 25th 1936, War Admiral broke his maiden in the opening race on Philadelphia Handicap Day at the track affectionately known to locals as “The Graw.”
This is how Walter Haight described War Admiral’s win in the opener:
“A first-time starter, War Admiral, battled Sonny Joe, another first-time starter, to a nose decision in the opening dash for juveniles. The winner, a son of Man o’ War, ran Romney Royal into defeat and then had enough left to outlast Sonny Joe, a Vanderbilt youngster. Ground Oak was third in the field of ten. War Admiral, ridden by Jockey Moose Peters, paid $17.”
War Admiral returned to Havre de Grace during his two year old season to win the Eastern Shore by five lengths. He started his historic three year old year at “The Graw” winning an allowance race and the Chesapeake Handicap before his Triple Crown sweep.
One last interesting tidbit about the program: You will notice that “C. Hanford” rode Romney Royal in the race that started War Admiral’s great career. This is quite possibly Carl Hanford – future trainer of Kelso. According to Steve Haskin’s book on Kelso, Hanford was a jockey in Maryland during this period.
SOURCES, NOTES, AND OBSERVATIONS
“Black Gift, at 19 to 1, Wins Graw Handicap”, Washington Post, April 26, 1936
A big thank you to Ron Micetic who provided scans of the Havre de Grace program used here. If you happen to have a copy of a program from Whirlaway’s maiden win at Lincoln Fields or Citation’s first win at Havre de Grace, Ron would be a motivated buyer. Send me an email and i’ll put you in touch.
If the weather is OK, I will be at the Atlantic City Race Course on Friday. I have some old ads from the once beautiful track that I will post this weekend. In the meantime, check out this article on the ACRC from last year.
THANKS FOR READING AND GOOD LUCK!