This Week In History: An American In Newmarket, Extremely Light Jockeys, And 1860 Match Races - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

This Week In History: An American In Newmarket, Extremely Light Jockeys, And 1860 Match Races

Lexington and an unnamed man, possibly Ten Broeck from appearances. Photo courtesy Keeneland Library

 While the first edition of This Week In History took us to 1973, this week's edition goes back to asomewhat more distant past.

A flip through an old copy of the Spirit of the Times is a rabbit hole into another world. The publication was launched in 1831 and was originally designed to appeal to upper-class gentlemen of leisure and sport. As such, it covered early American sports with a sprinkle of satire and theater reviews.

(Subsequent publications that are typically thought of as racing pubs took a similar tactic for some time, with old copies of The Morning Telegraph charting both the finer details of racing stables and Broadway reviews/Hollywood gossip. If you're someone who, like me, grew up watching Turner Classic Movies alongside a love of horses, those are quite fascinating.)

The Spirit had dedicated sections at various times to horse racing, rowing, boxing, cricket, cockfighting, angling, and early precursors to track and field, as well as the earliest days of football. At one point, speed skating was even included.

The Spirit covered racing not only in the States, but also in England, which at the time set the tone for the sport.

In November 1860, the paper printed an account of the Newmarket Houghton meeting, which ran its first edition in 1770. For Americans, there was a familiar name in the results list – Richard Ten Broeck. You may know him as the owner of the racehorse Lexington, who was one of the first superstars of the sport in America.

As detailed by Kim Wickens, author of a new book on Lexington, Ten Broeck was also one of the early originators of bringing American-bred horses to compete in England. His first “invasion” as many reporters called it, did not go well – he brought Lecomte, Pryor, and Prioress over in 1855. Lecomte and Pryor died soon after and Prioress had difficulty with the English racing style. Though it must seem counter-intuitive to modern racing fans, Wickens writes that British racing was then more speed-favoring than American distance contests, and were more commonly one or two miles instead of the four miles Ten Broeck's horses were accustomed to.

After his horses were beaten consistently for a couple of years, Ten Broeck had a breakthrough in 1857 when he put Prioress in the Cesarewitch Stakes at Newmarket. The race was run in two heats, and Ten Broeck kept the filly fresh and warm in between. She won the race and he collected on a 1000-to-10 bet he made on his horse.

Three years later, Ten Broeck was still there and sent two horses to the post at Newmarket. One was Pedlar, who seems to have been British-born and of little distinction. He cross-entered a plate race and a selling handicap and started in the selling handicap, where he finished off the board.

The terms for the selling handicap dictated that the horses would win $75 and the winner would be sold for $1,000 afterwards “if demanded” – adding a dimension of risk/reward beyond what we see in modern American claimers.

The plate saw horses from ages three to six run against each other, with weight assignments ranging from 99 pounds to 122. In Pedlar's race, two horses carried a scant 92 pounds.

Ten Broeck's other runner at the Houghton meet was Umpire, who faced off with Tom Bowline in a match race worth $5,000. The match was at a very modern seven furlongs, with Umpire (the 5-2 favorite) making quick work of Tom Bowline.

Umpire, then three years old, was more distinguished than his British-born stablemate. He was born in the States and was a son from one of the last crops of Lecomte. Though he may have initially been a great hope for Ten Broeck to finally conquer the British classics, he hadn't managed it at the time of his Newmarket Houghton start. He ran a disappointing seventh in the Derby at Epsom, and weakened in the 1860 St. Leger at Doncaster.

The Derby proved an embarrassment to Ten Broeck in more than one way. A report from the Daily Racing Form recalls “eccentric nobleman” Lord Glasgow, who was “fond of making freak bets,” approaching Ten Broeck before the race and, knowing the contest would be tantalizing for Ten Broeck, bet him 500 guineas he could not whistle God Save the Queen as horses passed the post. Ten Broeck managed to keep the tune (presumably with a shaky chord or two) en route to another defeat in one of his most esteemed stakes.

Umpire continued on however. He won the 1863 Queen's Stand Stakes (now known as the Group 1 King's Stand) three years after his November appearance against Tom Bowline. Ten Broeck had sold Umpire by then, but in later Daily Racing Form features the horse's success was credited mostly to him. Umpire raced until the age of seven in England before retiring to a stud career in which he sired both racehorses and hunter/jumpers.

Ten Broeck's efforts paved the way for other American owners to try their horses in England, including Pierre Lorillard, who was the first American owner to win a British classic with Iroquois in the Epsom Derby in 1881, and James R. Keene, whose Foxhall became the first American horse to win the Grand Prix de Paris and the Ascot Gold Cup.

The Paulick Report thanks the Keeneland Library staff for their assistance in the research process for this and many of our other features.

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