Gallorette and the Delaware Oaks, 1945

Jul 6th 2010 10:05 pm |


On Saturday, Delaware Park will host the Delaware Oaks for three-year-old fillies. The race was run for the first time in 1938 and this weekend will be the 59th running. Many great fillies count the Delaware Oaks among their victories, but none were greater than Gallorette, who won the race in 1945.

In the words of Kent Hollinsworth, Gallorette was “nice but nothing spectacular” as a two-year-old. In her first seven starts at three, she began to flash the greatness to come.

In her three-year-old debut at Jamaica Racetrack, she beat the boys in a six furlong sprint — the field included eventual Kentucky Derby winner, Hoop Jr. She followed that start with a second place finish in a division of the Wood Memorial. She moved back to restricted company (that is, against her own gender) after the Wood, winning the Acorn and Pimlico Oaks before shipping to compete in the Delaware Oaks.

Don Reed of the Baltimore Sun filed this report on the Thursday feature at Delaware Park, June 28, 1945:

“Gallorette, Maryland-bred daughter of Challenger 2d and Gallette, who races for William L. Brann, of Walkersville, Md., convinced 10,776 persons here today she’s queen of the present crop of 3-year-old fillies.

“She scored in easy fashion in the seventh running of the nine-furlong Delaware Oaks, traveling the distance in 1:51 over a fast track under 119 pounds, which included Jockey Eddie Arcaro. At the end she was three lengths clear of William Helis’s Elpis as the latter turned back Col. C.V. Whitney’s Monsoon by half a length for the place…

“…This was [Gallorette’s] fourth triumph in five starts this season and her total winnings now have reached the highly respectable total of $41,740.

“Despite the fact that Gallorette finally won in such handy fashion, the Oaks was an interesting race to watch. The two outsiders set the pace around the first bend, with Gallorette and Elpis close by. These two moved into one-two positions in the backstretch, where Monsoon, away slowly, had come along enough to reach contention.

“Both Elpis and Monsoon were close enough to constitute threats on the final bend, but entering the home lane, Arcaro and Gallorette moved away from them in fine style, and it was all over. Monsoon gained on Elpis in the late stages, but missed second by half a length.”

About a week after Gallorette’s win in Delaware, the Associated Press had this in a story titled “Gallorette Blazing Hot Trail in the East”:

“With the colt division in an inconsistent jumble, it may well be Gallorette, Louis B. Mayer’s Busher, or some other filly again topping the three-year-old ranks before 1945 is over…

“…Georgie Woolf, who rode Gallorette in the Pimlico Oaks, said afterward, significantly ‘Here was a better race than Polynesian’s (winner of the Preakness that same day) and when Gallorette starts meeting the colts later in the year, have a ticket on her.'”

After winning the Delaware Oaks, she went back to facing the boys two weeks later in the Dwyer Stakes where she finished second. She followed that with a win in the Empire City at Jamaica against the colts. It was the last win of her three-year-old season.

Until her retirement at the end of 1948, Gallorette ran most of her races in unrestricted company. Of her seventy-two career races, fifty-five were against males — she had twenty-one wins and finished in the top three fifty-four times. She consistently ran against the best males of her era: Armed, Stymie, Assault, Pavot, and Polynesian, to name a few. Her most significant wins came in the Met Mile and the Brooklyn, Carter, and Whitney Handicaps. She retired as the all-time  female money winner with earnings of $445,535.

In 1955, Gallorette was voted the best filly or mare of all-time in a poll of members from the American Trainers Association. She was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1962.

While we are lucky to have Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta to watch in 2010, caution needs to be given before we call either of them the greatest filly or mare of all-time — neither will match Gallorette’s record or the level of competition she faced on a regular basis. In fact, with the overly-cautious campaigns that dominate modern throughbred training, we’ll likely never see another one like Gallorette. If anyone wants to call her to the greatest race mare ever, you won’t get an arguement from me.


“Gallorette Wins Easily,” The Baltimore Sun, 29 June 1945

“Gallorette Blazing Hot Trail in East,” The Miami News, 6 July 1945

Image of Gallorette is from Kent Hollingsworth, The Great Ones (Bloodhorse, 1970)

Last week’s post was a bit of a “throw-out race” for me. I had the number of Round Table’s turf losses wrong (two not one) and the whole premise of the post (Presious Passion’s attempt to win a third UN) proved moot when he wasn’t entered in the race. The post has since been updated. Oh well, I was due for a bounce…


Filed in Delaware Oaks,Delaware Park,Gallorette,thoroughbred racing history

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