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 Looking Back

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

The fall Maryland racing schedule remained clouded due to wartime restrictions and “lack of action by the Maryland Racing Commission,” reported Don Reed. Attracting entries for the fall stakes were in jeopardy, if there were any fall stakes to be run.

The only half-mile track operating during the summer was Hagerstown, conducing a 10-day July meeting. 

“Maryland’s ‘regulars’ are pretty scattered now,” continued Reed, “what with the Delaware Park meeting off for the duration. Some are racing their charges in New York, a good many are in New England. . .”

It was expected that a number of horsemen would head to Garden State Park, set to open its second season with a 50-day meet starting in July. Garden State listed a dozen stakes, topped by the Jersey, Trenton and Vineland Handicaps, each $10,000-added.

Another wartime casualty was the Maryland Horse Breeders Association’s yearling show, which had been held at Pimlico the previous 11 years. Transportation and labor problems left no other option.

And publiciation of The Maryland Horse was becoming that much more challenging when associate editor Priscilla Fuller, filling in for editor Humphrey Finney (who was working for the war effort in Florida), married Sgt. Jack Menzies and moved to the midwest. “Meanwhile it is planned that The Maryland Horse shall carry on as best it can.”

Humphrey Finney returned home for a week’s leave and never slowed down, heading to Pimlico (more than once), Belmont Park, farms in Maryland and Virginia, plus Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

 

He was back at Pimlico on May 8 and wrote in his Editor’s Saddle-Bag:

Preakness Day, and a grand day to boot. The crowd poured in early. From far and near they got here, by some means or other. . . It was a great gathering, there to watch a colt race, whose measure is hard to make. Just how great a horse Count Fleet is, only time will tell. At present there does not seem to be a horse in the country to warm him up. 

Johnny Waters Day was held at Pimlico to honor the local war hero who was being held captive in Germany. Lt. Col. John Knight Waters was a sportsman who loved horses and horse racing, played sports at Boys’ Latin School and Johns Hopkins University, and entered the cavalry after West Point before horse troops were mechanized. 

General Dwight D. Eisenhower provided a tribute to the soldier and background on events in Tunisia, which led to his capture. Among those at Pimlico were Waters’ wife Beatrice, the daughter of Gen. George S. Patton. 

Waters was eventually released and became a four-star general. His story while imprisoned was well chronicled after the war, including the botched attempt by his father-in-law to break him and other prisoners of war out of Germany under Task Force Baum. Waters died in 1989 at age 82. 

Discovery’s daughter Too Timely, owned and bred by King Ranch, appeared on the magazine’s cover after winning the Coaching Club American Oaks. She was the latest stakes winner for the Sagamore Farm stallion who ranked as one of Maryland’s top sires.

 

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