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Original Issue


A Thoroughbred racing quiz to test the ingenuity and add to the knowledge of the $2 bettor and the armchair expert

? When did Thoroughbred racing begin in the U.S.?

•The first horses were imported into the colonies about 1625, and it is assumed that soon after, the new owners began racing their purchases against one another to determine which was the best horse. No horses were kept specifically for racing, however, until after 1700. The first race track in the colonies was probably Newmarket at Hempstead, New York. In 1665 Governor Richard Nicolls announced that races were to be held there each spring and fall "not so much for the divertissement of youth as for encouraging the bettering of the breed of horses, which through great neglect hath been impaired." The horses that participated in these first races were not blooded. In fact, the three stallions from which all Thoroughbreds descend—Byerly Turk, Darley Arabian and Godolphin Arabian—had not even been born at this time.

? a) What is the origin of racing silks? b) Which owner has the oldest set of colors registered in the U.S.?

•a) In 1762 17 men (six dukes, five earls, a marquis, a viscount, a recently made lord, a knight and two commoners) decided to register individual colors with the Jockey Club at Newmarket, England. They conceived the idea so that they could distinguish their horses more easily during the running of a race, b) Howell Jackson's colors are considered the oldest in the U.S. They are solid maroon and were first used by members of his family about 1825.

? Which is the oldest recognized racetrack still in operation in the U.S.? "

•Saratoga. Its first meeting, only four days long, was held in 1864. General Grant was still fighting the Civil War on opening day, but he attended the second meeting in 1865, less than four months after Appomattox. A gambler, politician and ex-heavyweight fighter, John Morrissey, was the guiding force behind the track, and among the directors at that time was Leonard Jerome, Winston Churchill's grandfather. Saratoga's first president was a New York sportsman, William R. Travers, in whose honor a stake was run at the first meeting.

? There have been many match races in the U.S. since colonial days. Name some of the most famous.

•In 1788, the year before his inauguration, George Washington ran his stallion, Magnolia, against a roan colt owned by Thomas Jefferson. The winner of the match, held in Alexandria, Va., was Jefferson's colt. In 1822 the owner of the champion of Virginia, Sir Charles, challenged the owner of the best horse in New York, American Eclipse. Sir Charles broke down in the race, and American Eclipse was an easy winner. The next year the South challenged again with a horse named Henry. Sixty thousand people watched the race, which was held on the Union Course on Long Island. Henry won the first four-mile heat, but American Eclipse won the second and third heats and collected the $20,000 purse. In 1845 Peytona beat Fashion in their first match, but Fashion reversed the decision two weeks later. In 1920 Man o' War beat a lame Sir Barton at Kenilworth Park in Windsor, Ontario. Three years later, in an international match at Belmont Park, the Kentucky Derby winner Zev defeated Papyrus, the Epsom Derby winner. Papyrus, who was smooth-shod, slipped and slid on the muddy track and was badly beaten. In 1938 the handicap champion, Seabiscuit, from California, defeated the East's War Admiral at Pimlico, and in 1942 Alsab won by a nose over Whirlaway at Narragansett. The last match that drew nationwide attention was in 1955, when Nashua, the best in the East, defeated Swaps, the pride of the West, at Washington Park in Illinois.

? Which trainer has won the most races in his career?

•Hirsch Jacobs, who saddled his first winner at Pompano, Fla. on Dec. 29, 1926, has won over 3,000 races—far more than any other trainer in history. Jacobs, now 58 years old, raced pigeons before turning to horses. He first won fame as the developer of Stymie, and more recently as the trainer of the 1960 2-year-old champion, Hail to Reason.