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 Looking Back

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

When 2-year-old Maryland-bred filly At Arms Length was to be sold by the estate of her breeder, E. Taylor Chewning, at a November Belmont Park horses of racing age sale, trainer Eddie Gaudet urged his client Fendall Clagett to buy her. Even though she boasted a solitary win at Timonium in her four starts, Clagett purchased the filly privately from Chewning’s son Taylor for $15,000, and immediately bumped into Israel “Izzy” Cohen, who went in for half. Three months later Clagett and Cohen owned a multiple stakes winner.

At Arms Length won Liberty Bell’s Heirloom Handicap in January and two weeks later captured Pimlico’s Flirtation Stakes. Clagett had known At Arms Length’s dam, having stood the filly’s sire Nashver at his Larking Hill Farm, and remembered Chewning offering the mare – described by Clagett as an “absolute nut” – for $1, which was promptly turned down. “I told him: ‘Mr. Chewning, I think the world of you and your family. But one present I really don’t need is a one dollar broodmare.”

The best horse ever bred by Maryland Racing Commission member Chewning, At Arms Length would later win Pimlico’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and counted the Kentucky Oaks among her stakes placings as she earned $107,562 in 18 starts. One of the leaders of her division, she succumbed to colitis-X and laminitis at New Bolton Center that August.

  • Mary McLennan, wife of former racing secretary Charles J. McLennan, daughter of Hall of Fame trainer Max Hirsch, and the first licensed woman trainer (in 1934), bred her first stakes winner when the 3-year-old Maryland-bred gelding Royal J.D. won Liberty Bell’s Allegheny. After more than 20 years of breeding horses, the McLennans no longer had horses at their Welcome Here Farm in Glyndon, Md., after a shortage of farm help forced them to sell.

    “With her husband retired and her broodmares sold, Mrs. McLennan finds life today a far cry from those days of frenzied activity when Charlie wrote races at Pimlico, Laurel, Havre de Grace, Hialeah. . . and when her father, the great, remarkable Max Hirsch, sent her horse after horse to turn out on the farm. . . ” wrote Snowden Carter. “Oh, I might get back into it,” she responded. “But it’s a lot easier when you have youth on your side.”

    Mary McLennan can be found featured in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s current “Women in Racing” exhibit.

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