Looking Back

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

The 100-year-old history of Laurel Park was celebrated. The track held its first race meet Oct. 2, 1911. “Born during a dark period in racing annuals, Laurel Park has experienced youthful exuberance, footloose and exciting matches, classic international elegance and graceful maturity – a journey through time to rival any literary epic.”

From the early days that saw owner James Butler and promoter and manager Matt Winn turn Laurel into a battleground for racing’s greatest performers, to the vision of John Schapiro to put Laurel on the world map, to the optimism and inventiveness created by Frank De Francis, Laurel made its mark on the racing landscape. Longtime racing writer and historian Joe Kelly shared a few of his memories that included German trainer Adrian von Borcke, Schapiro and pumpkin pies, Mickey Rooney making commercials to promote the track, and Soviet jockey Nikolai Nasibov – all part of the track’s remarkable history.

  • A Hall of Fame for industry leaders was proposed in an editorial by Cricket Goodall, who noted the first inductees should include John Schapiro. The man was behind the Washington, D.C., International – “imagined it, made it happen, fostered and promoted it until it became the stuff of legend.” The International was a one-of-a-kind race that was an inspiration, and ultimately a template, for the Breeders’ Cup.

    Two years later the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame initiated the Pillars of the Turf to honor individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to Thoroughbred racing in a leadership or pioneering capacity at the highest national level. While numerous track operators have been named, Schapiro has yet to be included.

  • Monmouth’s Haskell Day card was a stakes bonanza, and Edward P. Evans’ homebred filly Quiet Giant was one of the most impressive winners when taking the Lady’s Secret Stakes by nearly 7 lengths. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Virginia-bred daughter of Giant’s Causeway and half-sister to Horse of the Year Saint Liam recorded her third stakes win of the year.

    In her next start, her last, she captured the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher by 5 widening lengths before being sold that November at the Evans’ dispersal for $3 million as a broodmare prospect. She was bred the next year to Candy Ride (Arg), the resulting foal being Gun Runner, 2017 Horse of the Year, six-time Grade 1 winner and earner of nearly $16 million.

  • Hall of Fame trainer Carl Hanford passed away at his Delaware home at the age of 95. A former jockey from a famous family of riders – his brother Ira “Babe” Hanford won the Kentucky Derby as an apprentice aboard Max Hirsch-trained Bold Venture – Carl turned to training in the late 1930s and had a top filly named La Corredora in the 1950s, before being asked by Allaire duPont to be the personal trainer for her Bohemia Stable. He began working with one of duPont’s homebreds, 3-year-old Kelso, in 1960. Kelso was named Horse of the Year five times, and retired as the world’s leading earner with $1,977,896 after winning 39 of 63 starts, including 31 stakes. He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1967, the year after his retirement. Hanford said of his own induction into the Hall of Fame, “I’m here because of one horse and one horse only.”

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