“Brothers from the other side of the tracks”: Brooklyn’s Dwyers Make Their Mark on Racing

For thirty years and more there was hardly a great race run in which one of their horses did not figure conspicuously. They were a city-bred pair, but they possessed an instinctive knowledge of horses and a talent for management that made them formidable from the beginning of their career.

William H.P. Robertson, The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America

They were Brooklyn boys through and through, the Dwyer brothers; they lived in the borough in what is now known as Park Slope, and their butcher shop was at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court St., then as now, the heart of downtown Brooklyn. And the track that they helped bring into existence, Gravesend, was one of three in Brooklyn in the late 19th century.

It was that butcher shop that got them into horse racing. According to a February 1950 article in the Milwaukee Sentinel, August Belmont was one of their customers, and one day, he offered to sell them a horse. Her name was Rhadamanthus, and soon Phil and Mike Dwyer’s specialty became not selling cuts of beef, but purchasing horses with a proven record on the track, horses that would remunerate them with purse money, but as importantly, particularly in Mike’s case, with gambling winnings.

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library

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