Travers Day, 1910

I’ve spent a good part of this summer immersed in 1910, in the racing meet a century ago. Saratoga was scheduled to race that year for 21 days; in the middle of the meet, three days were added, because when Saratoga ended, so too would racing in New York.

Gambling had been under attack for years in this state, and by August of 1910, the laws had become so onerous that the downstate tracks declined the race dates allotted to them. The Futurity was scheduled to be run by the Coney Island Jockey Club at the Sheepshead Bay track, so three days from the Coney Island meet were transferred to Saratoga so that the Futurity could be run.

Much of the racing coverage in August 1910 was somewhat lachrymose, but the mood on August 13th was anything but, at least according to the New York Times:

Saratoga was at its best to-day, and not since the passage of the laws against betting has the racing association been graced by such a crowd as thronged the course. It was a crowd of fashion and beauty, and every available place on the grand stand, lawns, clubhouse balconies, and paddock was thronged with beautifully gowned women and well-dressed men.

The card was the most varied that has ever been offered by any racing association this season, and from the first race to the last on the long programme the sport was all that could have been wished for.

The races carded were, in order: a maiden two-year-old; the Shillelah Steeplechase Handicap; the Saratoga Special; the Travers; the Hunters’ Steeplechase (for five-year-olds and up); the Officers’ Army Service Cup; and a selling race, “gentlemen riders’ handicap.”

Eight horses took to the track for the Travers, including Ocean Bound, the filly who had won the Alabama eight days earlier and who had beaten the boys, including Travers starter Dalmatian, in the Swift at Sheepshead Bay in June.

Dalmatian was trained by Samuel Clay Hildreth, the nation’s leading owner and trainer, and he came to Saratoga expected to win. Again from the Times:

Dalmatian, in winning the latest running of the rich stake, only verified what was pretty well established during the meeting of the Empire City Racing Association at Yonkers, that he is far away the best three-year-old of the year.

Dalmatian came away “with ridiculous ease” in the stretch, “to win in hand by four or five lengths.”

Quite a day for Mr. Hildreth, as his Novelty had won the coveted Saratoga Special a race before. He would go on to be leading owner and trainer for a second consecutive year.

Despite the apocalyptic plight in which New York racing found itself a century ago, it was able to celebrate on Travers Day 1910. I can remember several Travers day in recent memory over which various dark clouds hung – bankruptcy, corruption investigation, franchise uncertainty – but it appears that both literally and figuratively, the sun will shine on Travers Day 2010.

More about Samuel Clay Hildreth and Novelty here, in an article I wrote for the Saratogian.

And while I am self-promoting: I’ll be on Capital OTB-TV this Sunday morning with Tom Amello and Nick Kling. You need an account to watch it online, but if you’re in the area, tune in to channel 12 around 10:30.

Other recent publications:

A Saratogian column on Allen Jerkens and the new H. Allen Jerkens Saratoga Training Title.

A profile of Tammy Fox, partner of trainer Dale Romans and exercise rider for First Dude.

A full list of Saratogian publications is here.

Source for this post:

Dalmatian Takes Travers Stakes.” New York Times. August 13, 1910.

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