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 Looking Back

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

75 Years Ago: April 1944

cover of April 1944Mrs. Stuart S. Janney Jr. and her ladies’ hunter, 1942 Maryland Hunt Cup winner Winton, appeared on the cover of the magazine. For the second year in a row, the Hunt Cup would not be run because of the war.

An announcement noted that the Maryland Horse Breeders Association’s annual meeting would be held May 2 at Pimlico’s clubhouse – the date was earlier than usual, due to the fact that the races were to be run on the new wartime schedule. It also noted that “under the present condition it was not thought wise to hold the MHBA Annual Yearling Show.”

In a list of Maryland foals, Country Life Farm reported its American Flag mare Lady Glory produced a colt in March to the cover of Case Ace, and was going back to the same sire.

The mare was a regular visitor to Case Ace, who stood at Joseph M. Roebling’s Harmony Hollow Stud in New Jersey, as seven of her 11 foals were by the *Teddy stallion. Her foal of 1944, named Lady’s Ace, finished second in the Louisiana Derby. Her next two Case Ace foals were stakes winners Mr. Ace and Raise You, the latter gaining immortality as the dam of champion and influential sire Raise a Native.

50 Years Ago: April 1969

Allaire duPont and E.P. Taylor announced plans to encourage breeders to Maryland’s Chesapeake City area of St. Augustine. The two Thoroughbred leaders envisioned St. Augustine as a breeding hub of the highest quality that would also preserve the landmarks, charm and history of the area. The two sponsored the first edition of a monthly newsletter titled The St. Augustine Post and were moving forward with expansion of their own operations.

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25 Years Ago: April 1994

The 100-year anniversary of the first running of the Maryland Hunt Cup was celebrated, with Margaret Worrall digging up nuggets of history about the race that was created when “one zealous group of foxhunters challenged a neighboring coterie of similar competitive spirits to determine whose foxhunting horse could jump the best and run the fastest.” The race was open to members of the Elkridge Foxhunting Club and Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, racing colors were worn, the distance was approximately 4 miles over natural hunting country with no artificial obstacles, and the winner received a silver cup.

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10 Years Ago: April 2009

Greg and Rick Sacco

• The Saccos were a family of horsemen with deep roots New Jersey. Trainer Gregg Sacco was gearing up for the new season at Monmouth Park, and writer Ryan Goldberg noted the family tradition: “Sacco gets sentimental because Monmouth Park is home; more pointedly, his family history is inextricable from the place. Gregg, 43, and brother Rick, 42, are third-generation New Jersey horsemen. Their father and three of his brothers were trainers and breeders; one was a jockey. The Saccos have been at Monmouth since it opened in Oceanport in 1946 and have trained a winner every decade.”
The Sacco brothers had a successful collaboration with another well-established New Jersey family, the Brunettis. John Brunetti had hired Rick for a management job at Hialeah in the early 1990s and Rick eventually went on to manage Brunetti’s Red Oak Farm in Florida. Nearly half of Gregg’s stable of 50 horses were Red Oak runners.
The Saccos and Brunettis continue to have successful relationship – Gregg Sacco sent out the Red Oak Stable-bred Mind Control to win the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga last summer and has the colt on the Triple Crown trail after a win in the Jerome Stakes on New Year’s Day.
• Legendary rider Louis “Paddy” Neilson III sat down with Joe Clancy to recall a career that included a record 21 Maryland Hunt Cup mounts and three victories over four decades.
“The Maryland Hunt Cup is very old, has a long and illustrious tradition,” said Neilson. “Everybody that’s had anything to do with it from a riding standpoint feels a very close personal relationship with that race. People have very clear memories of that race. Ask anyone who rode in it, and it’s a defining moment of their life. In my personal world, there’s not anything quite like it.”
Neilson won his first Hunt Cup with Haffaday in 1968; his second on Burnmac in 1974; and got his third aboard Uncle Merlin in 1989.
• Charles Town celebrated the landmark ride of Barbara Jo Rubin, who became the first female jockey to win a race against men at a nationally recognized race track 40 years earlier, on Feb. 22, 1969. The track honored Rubin, 60, with a dinner party and a race named in her honor. On hand were three of the jockeys who raced against her that evening: Phil Grove, Alan Williams and Dallas Hedge.
n Edward P. Evans’ promising 3-year-old Quality Road was quickly ascending the ranks of the best of his generation after taking Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in his stakes debut and only third start.
The son of Elusive Quality had been offered as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale, but failed to reach his reserve and was bought back by Evans for $110,000. The colt was not initially nominated to the Triple Crown on an oversight by his trainer, Jimmy Jerkens, and would be a late nominee.
• Breeder/owner Robert Meyerhoff and trainer Richard “Dickie” Small had a rising star on their hands as the 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid colt Richard’s Kid got his fourth win in his last five starts in the John B. Campbell Handicap at Laurel, his stakes debut. The bay came from 18 lengths out of it to catch Bullsbay and win by a length.
It had taken Richard’s Kid time to develop. He didn’t get his first win until his fifth start, and only won two of his first nine attempts. He was consistent, however, finishing third or better in 10 of his 13 outings.

10 Years Ago: March 2008

Northview PA in Peach Bottom was ready for its first breeding season, having completed an eight-stall stallion barn, 20-stall broodmare barn, breeding shed and office, and fencing around much of the 177 acres that used to be corn fields in fertile Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. First-year stallion Fairbanks, a son of Giant’s Causeway, was joined by Congressionalhonor, Love of Money, Medallist and Partner’s Hero for Northview’s new venture.

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25 Years Ago: March 1993

“He is Mr. Clark to everybody on the race track except the really old hands like Buddy Raines and George Mohr and Alfred Vanderbilt. The number who called him Henry was reduced by one with the passing of Bernie Bond a year ago,” wrote Jack Mann about the legendary Hall of Fame trainer Henry Clark, who turned 90 in January with little fanfare. “. . . but Mr. Clark saw no reason to make a fuss about it anyway,” Mann added.

 

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50 Years Ago: March 1968

• Famed mystery writer Dick Francis visited Maryland to interview members of the steeplechase world for his newspaper column for London’s Sunday Express. Accompanied by his wife Mary, the writer touched all the major steeplechase strongholds in Maryland. So comfortable were those he spoke with, that it was noted “the most reticent of the Great Ones commenced to talk.”

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75 Years Ago: March 1943

• Purses for the abbreviated Maryland spring meet to be held at Pimlico were announced and were higher than the previous year (from $20,000 to $22,000 per day), due in large part to the lineup of stakes offerings that included the Preakness (worth $50,000), Dixie and Chesapeake.

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