New York Racing, 1905

Apr 27th 2010 02:39 pm |

Cover of The Illustrated Sporting News, 3 June 1905

Amidst all of the Derby hoopla, Belmont Park will open for its spring meet on Friday.  As I have said in this space before, Belmont is one of my favorite tracks.  Like all racing fans, annual markers on my calendar are linked to big races and opening days.  This year, Belmont opens on Friday and Delaware Park on Kentucky Derby day — a trifecta of racing holidays packed in two days.

While I was at Keeneland Library a few weeks ago, I browsed through a periodical called Illustrated Sporting News. The short-lived and hard to find magazine contained a number of images of New York racetracks. I copied about two dozen from 1905 and, as I was preparing this post, I wondered about the annual racing calendar in New York that year. Of course, 1905 is the first year of racing at Belmont Park. In addition to Belmont, New York had six other racetracks, five within what is now the city limits of New York City.

For as long as I have been a racing fan the Aqueduct-Belmont-Saratoga cycle has made up the whole of New York’s racing year. But in 1905, the racing calender in New York look like this:

Aqueduct – April 15 to April 24
Jamaica – April 25 to May 3
Belmont Park – May 4 to May 24
Gravesend – May 25 to June 14
Sheepshead Bay – June 15 to July 4
Brighton Beach – July 5 to July 29
Saratoga – July 31 to Aug 23
Sheepshead Bay – Aug 25 to Sept 9
Gravesend – Sept 11 to Sept 23
Brighton Beach – Sept 25 to Sept 30
Belmont Park – Oct 2 to Oct 14
Jamaica – Oct 16 to Nov 1
Aqueduct – Nov 2 to Nov 15

In 1905, New York had seven race tracks, with thirteen race meets, hosting the best racing in the country. If you look at a list of significant horses during this era, the majority competed at one of these seven race places. The images that I found, just in browsing through the 1905 issues of the Illustrated Sporting News, attests to the popularity and importance of racing in New York:

The filly Tanya wins the 1905 Belmont Stakes. The first time the race was held at Belmont Park. The image isn't reversed, they ran the "wrong" way at Belmont in 1905.

Tanya, Hildebrand up, winner of the 1905 Belmont Stakes

The betting ring at Gravesend Racetrack on Brooklyn Handicap day, 1 June 1905

The field stand at Sheepshead Bay on Suburban day, 15 June 1905

Beldame after winning the Suburban at Sheepshead Bay, 15 June 1905

Sheepshead Bay, 4 July 1905

The field stand at Sheepshead Bay, 4 July 1905

The story about July 4th racing at Sheepshead Bay included this photograph with the caption: "Where horses played no part - automobiles of spectators"

Racing at Jamaica Racetrack, 16 October 1905

The betting ring at Aqueduct, 1905

Entrance to the Aqueduct Racetrack, 1905

For a historic maps showing the locations of three of these New York tracks visit:

All of the images above are in the public domain so please use them as you wish.

Jockey Club Stewards Award Racing Dates,” The Evening World, 17 February 1905

In my rush, to copy the images above, I kept very bad notes on citations. I know they are all from issues of the Sporting News Illustrated from 1905 but don’t know the exact issue. The publication is hard to find and was only published for three years (as far as I can tell). It covered all sports but had racing related stories and images in all the issues I viewed.

I’ll be at beautiful Delaware Park on Saturday to enjoy some live racing and to watch the big race from Churchill.

Hope to do one more Kentucky Derby related post this week…


Filed in Aqueduct racetrack,Beldame,Belmont Park,Belmont Park inaugural meeting,Belmont Stakes,betting rings,gambling,Gravesend racetrack,Jamaica racetrack,New York racing history,Sheepshead Bay racetrack,Tanya,thoroughbred racing history

12 Responses to “New York Racing, 1905”

  1. Superfecta says:

    Great stuff – love Tanya’s Belmont! If only more were digitized…

  2. I would have loved to be in that Sheephead Bay grandstand, Independence Day, 1905

    I had an inkling that NYC had several smaller tracks but that racing calendar
    sure raised my eyebrows. I wonder if there was infighting for the annual racing dates.

    And speaking of DelPark, I will make the trek this year. I think I have a good read on Maria Virginia Pascual.

    So let’s get it on and have a Happy Derby Day everyone. 😉

  3. Helene Conway says:

    AWESOME – I am your greatest fan – I love the photo of Beldame – I’m certain you are aware of the Widner Collection of photos from that era – the book which I purchased from displays a fraction of the collection…

    separately I will be sending you a copy of a print/engraving of a horse recording a win at Jamiaca in 1886…

  4. Bob B says:

    Excellent. I’ve been to four of the tracks. Time has diminished the sport.

  5. Deborah R says:

    Thanks for doing the research and providing these photos… all terrific stuff.

  6. Jim says:

    Fantastic pics. What great shots of history…

  7. GoIrish says:

    I’m curious as to where these tracks were and what is there now.

    Are we going to get a Monmouth Park entry this year? Opening day = 5/22.

  8. AlC says:

    You can see 3 of them here

    Gravesend is the egg shaped one in northern Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay is to the south and a few blocks east and Brighton is the trapazoidal one that has the letters “IS” inside it. Not sure what the small oval just to the west was. Wish it was that way now as I live right in the middle of the 3

  9. White Camry says:

    Check out how widely scattered they were at the 1905 Belmont finish.

  10. walter says:

    really enjoyed pictures. First trip to Aqueduct 1960 at the old Belmont when still a wooden track also 60-61. If you have any sites like this with harness racing would appreciate info. Have RR memorial with Fred Hudson. tks w

  11. Gayle says:

    Hi, great site. My grandfather was a jockey here at times from 1904 to 1913. His name was Alton Gordon Ramsey. Just looking to see where he raced.

  12. Debbie says:

    Hi. My Great Uncle was Eugene Hildebrand who rode Tanya to victory 1905. This is the first time I have seen the photo of he and Tanya together and the finish line of the race. Thank you so much for posting all of these photos. Great and so interesting. Actually my uncle was the winningest jockey in 1904, with more wins then there had been in all the previous years of racing by far. And, he rode many of the great horses, Artful for one, another Hall of Fame filly. I wish I knew more about the actual day of racing at Belmont 1905. Thanks so much. Debbie