Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

10 Years Ago: June 2011

Charles Town’s all-time leading trainer Jeff Runco reached the 3,000-win milestone – but that was only part of his story. With wife Susan, the Runcos – both former jockeys – maintained a busy schedule as owners of Coleswood Farm, breeders, and auction buyers and sellers, in addition to running the stable. “Susan does the mares, babies, layups that are getting legged-up on the machine, young horses – just everything that goes on here,” said Jeff. “As well as the accounting, office work, payroll, taxes, workers’ comp. . .” Stable stars over the years included graded stakes-winning millionaire Researcher, who captured the first two runnings of the Charles Town Classic, and homebred Sea Rescue, winner of the previous year’s West Virginia Breeders Classic.

25 Years Ago: June 1996

The Maryland timber season was full of surprises, and one of those most surprised was Billy Meister, trainer and rider of “quintessential underdog” Hello Hal, winner of the 100th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup. Five started in the race, including defending champ Buck Jakes and rising star Welter Weight, winner of the Grand National the week before, but coming up to the final fence only two remained. Florida Law and Johnny Bosley held a clear lead until the gray bobbled and lost his rider at the 22nd fence. From there it was clear sailing for Jay Griswold and Doug Croker’s Club Hal Stables colorbearer Hello Hal; Bosley remounted and finished second. For Meister, it was his third win in the timber classic, after which he noted: “These things happen; that’s the Hunt Cup.”

50 Years Ago: June 1971

With the Olympics a year away, 21-year-old Bruce Davidson, a graduate of McDonogh School in Pikesville, Md., was attempting to make the United States Equestrian Team’s Olympic squad.

Over the previous two years, USET coaches received applications from up to 160 aspiring three-day event riders. From those, 15 to 20 rookie riders were invited to the USET headquarters in Gladstone, N.J. Only Davidson and twin brothers James and David Powers from Massachusetts remained.

75 Years Ago: June 1946

The largest crowd in Maryland turf history – 42,000 – turned out at Pimlico for the Preakness, and they poured $2 million through the windows, the first time the betting figure had ever been reached. King Ranch’s Kentucky Derby winner Assault held off Lord Boswell for the win. Humphrey Finney gave his account for May 11: “A great crowd was out at Old Hilltop today, and a fine race they saw. Assault got knocked about a bit and seemed straight as a string at the finish, but the important thing was, it was his nose that was in front at the end. Pimlico makes every attempt to make the best of its antiquated facilities, but the number of people who would like to have a bet and won’t face the jam on a big day is large. It will be a great day when the place is finally modernized or moved.”

10 Years Ago: May 2011

Six veteran buyers of 2-year-olds – active trainers Tim Hills, Rodney Jenkins, Robert “Butch” Reid and Rick Violette; retired trainer and bloodstock advisor Greg Gilchrist; and bloodstock agent Joe Brocklebank – each with major success stories from the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale, shared their thoughts about juvenile sales when asked such questions as their priorities in selection, how important are the works, and do they rely on the repository.

25 Years Ago: May 1996

Longtime The Washington Post racing columnist Andy Beyer, widely acknowledged as the guru of Thoroughbred handicapping, sat down with Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred editor Tim Capps to share his thoughts on the state of racing. The first question asked: “There has been a story around for years that you left Harvard just before final exams as a senior. Is it true?” Said Beyer: “It’s fundamentally true. I was 100-1 in my Chaucer exam anyway, so when it fell on the day of the Belmont Stakes it was a good excuse. . .”

50 Years Ago: May 1971

“Few horses and riders ever have managed to make those four grinding miles and 22 difficult timber fences of the Maryland Hunt Cup look easy,” led the Maryland Horse coverage of Landing Party and owner/rider Dr. John R.S. Fisher’s second victory in the famed race. Winning by 10 lengths in 8:42, they cut a fifth of a second off the legendary Jay Trump’s course record. The top three finishers of the race had all been previous winners – Landing Party in 1969, Haffaday in 1968 and Morning Mac in 1970.

75 Years Ago: May 1946

Timber racing returned after a four-year hiatus (forced by the war), and Stuart Janney Jr.’s Winton picked up where he left off: sweeping Maryland’s big three – the My Lady’s Manor, Grand National and Maryland Hunt Cup – for the second time.


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