Feb 16th 2011 07:46 pm |
The great thing about writing for Colin’s Ghost is there’s always something to write about and, sometimes, the ideas fall right into my lap. Over the weekend, while researching a “Ten Things” post for Hello Race Fans, I found a wikipedia page for a horse named Tippity Witchet.
I have a great affection for the old war-horses like Kelso and Exterminator but Tippity Witchet, while not in the same class as those two, beats them by “open lengths” in the endurance category. Tippity Witchet ran for twelve years and started 266 times and won 78 races — he finished in the top three a total of 172 times!
In searching various newspaper archives, it seems that old Tippity has been forgotten by the horse racing public — considering his epic career he not only deserves to be remembered but might even deserve a place in Racing’s Hall of Fame.
Below are few sources from over 50 years ago that provide some perspective on the long career of Tippity Witchet.
When trainer Harry E. Brown, who campaigned horses for the Prince of Wales, died in 1959, the Daily Racing Form wrote he was “best known for his Tippity Witchet, one of the truly iron horses of all time.” Brown claimed the horse at least twice and owned him when he retired. He was one of nine different owners, and counted himself, along with Preson Burch and Max Hirsch, among Tippity’s many trainers.
Long time Chicago trainer, Burley Parke, reminiscing about the good old days, told a DRF reporter in 1964: “The best small horse I ever saw was Tippity Witchet. He could do everything and was as hard as iron and as durable as they come.”
The most detailed summary of Tippity Witchet’s career comes from a New York Times article announcing his retirement on March 3, 1929:
“The average race-horse is counted a good performer if he can be called upon for three or four years of hard service on the turf, but Tippity Witchet, a sterling little gelding, has just run his last race after twelve seasons of steady campaigning. He is the 14-year-old son of Broomstick and the St. Simon mare Lady Frivoles, and had been steadily racing since 1917. He pulled up lame after his last race, which he ran at Tijuana.
“This old veteran, of scarcely more than pony size, started 266 times and won seventy-eight races. He was second fifty-two times and forty-two times finished third for a total of $82,241 in purses. His earning for the past three years were nearly $15,000. Now he is entering retirement as a lead pony for the Ramona Stables, owned by H.E. Brown, and thus some activity will be afforded him, as it is presumed that complete idleness would be detrimental after such a long racing career.
“Bred by H.P. Whitney, Tippity Witchet won fourteen races during his first season on the turf in 1917. Meeting all comers everywhere. Tippity carried on East, West, North, and South, first in the best company and finally among the platers [claimers]. A game and honest horse, he was considered one of the best in training in his younger days and many great thoroughbreds, now long since retired or dead, bowed to him at one time or another in his career.
“Since his initial start, made at Bowie Md., on April 2, 1917, Tippity Witchet has carried all sorts of weights and raced all distances on most of the leading tracks of the country. He changed hands twelve times, and as a twelve-year-old he won twelve races…”
Tippity Witchet won a total of seventeen stakes. Unfortunately, none of these carried the prestige of the Kentucky Derby or Jockey Club Gold Cup. Even so, his record of endurance and the astounding feat of finishing in the top three in 65% of his 266 races makes him a worthy candidate for Racing’s Hall of Fame. Horses such as these should be honored and remembered and there is no better place to do so then the beautiful building on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs.
SOURCES, NEWS, AND NOTES
“A Fourteen-Year-Old Horse Ends Long Racing Career,” New York Times, 3 March 1929
“Ex-trainer Harry Brown Dies in California,” Daily Racing Form, 4 May 1959
“Trainer Burley Parke Recalls his Early Days at the Track,” Daily Racing Form, 27 June 1964
Tippity Witchet past performanaces from a race Kenilworth Race Track, Daily Racing Form, 30 June 1928
Thanks for reading and good luck!