So who was this Wood guy, anyway?

The New York racing calendar is full of races named for the men instrumental in bringing the sport to life in our state. The roles in racing history of Belmont and Travers, Jerome and Dwyer are well documented, and these men leave an easy-to-follow trail for contemporary race fans to follow. Not so Mr. Eugene…

A filly on the Derby trail: Cicada in 1962

Before Secretariat, there was Cicada. A decade before Secretariat became the first colt in 25 years to win the Triple Crown, Christopher Chenery (father of Helen) campaigned a filly who was setting her own records. At two, Cicada started 16 times, winning eleven races and never finishing worse than third; among her victories that year…

“It is now post time”: Fred “Cappy” Capossela

There is no sound more exciting to the racetrack customer than the trenchant, nasal exclamation of “They’re off!” by Fred Capossela. With this brief expression, the New York track announcer sums up the promise of clamorous jockeys, flailing whips and eager-to-race horses springing from the starting gate. (Tuite) Capossela was NYRA’s track announcer for 37…

Who Was Hollie Hughes?

It was in 2008 that I first made the historical acquaintance of Hollie Hughes, a man who devoted himself to and made a life in horse racing, a man as closely linked to one of racing’s first families as anyone could be. In 2008, I wrote of Hughes and of Sanford Farm, the place where he…

Remembering Jimmy Winkfield

The sport of horse racing is the only instance where the participation of blacks stopped almost completely while the sport itself continued—a sad commentary on American life…Isaac Murphy, so highly admired during his time for his skills and character, would have been ashamed of his sport.  –Arthur Ashe, quoted by Edward Hotaling in They’re Off!…

The Birth of Aqueduct’s Inner Track

As the inner track opens for the 2013 winter meet, a look back into the archives, for how this unique racing surface came to be: It was nearly 70 degrees in New York yesterday; warmer temperatures and delayed darkness have many of us thinking spring. And for New York racing fans, there is no surer…

A Toast to John Morrissey

 “A large concourse of people, including a host of the fashionables in carriages, turned out on Monday to enjoy the sport and excitement of the Races on the Saratoga Course.” Those words appeared in The Daily Saratogian on Aug. 4, 1863, the day after the first day of the first Saratoga meeting, the anniversary of…