“In 1903…a skinny, pleasant lad of 15 applied for a job at the Sanford Stud Farm in Amsterdam, N.Y. His name was Hollie Hughes and he was taken on as a night watchman.” — Red Smith, “Some Reflections on a Horseman”
Hughes’ name is practically a byword for Sanford Stud Farm, the racing and breeding operation near Saratoga that gives its name to Saratoga’s historic Sanford Stakes, first run in 1913.
Hughes didn’t get his race until much later — 1979 — when he was in his early 90s. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973, he talked a year later to Sports Illustrated‘s Frank Deford about his 1916 Kentucky Derby winner, George Smith. He’d become Sanford’s trainer two years before that win, and he was still training Sanford horses nearly 60 years later.
“Hollie Hughes is not the oldest Derby survivor,” wrote Deford. “But in a special way Hollie Hughes’ antiquity counts most because he is still doing precisely what he was doing on May 13, 1916: he is training horses for Sanford Stud.”
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