Racing History Blog

Celebrate the holiday season with some "Christmas Cookies"

Posted Nov 28, 2022

A selection of photographer C. C. Cook's holiday greeting cards is on display at the National Museum of Racing

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director 

Charles Christian Cook, known in horse racing circles as C. C. Cook or “Cookie,” earned acclaim as one of the sport’s iconic early photographers. In a career that spanned from the early 1900s to his retirement in 1947, Cook captured American racing legends such as Man o’ War, Gallant Fox, Seabiscuit, and Citation, among others. He was also known for his exceptional images of jockeys, trainers, and owners, as well as track scenes.

The remarkable journey of Edward D. Brown

Posted Nov 27, 2022

Born into slavery, Brown became one of racing’s most consummate horsemen, earning a spot in the Hall of Fame

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

Whether it was caring for them, riding them, or training them, racehorses were Ed Brown’s life. His passion for those activities — and his incredible proficiency at them — garnered Brown a lasting legacy as one of America’s finest and most accomplished horsemen.

Secretariat was superior from the start

Posted Oct 11, 2022

Fifty years ago, Secretariat announced his presence with authority during a juvenile season for the ages

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

Before he achieved immortal status in 1973 by winning the first Triple Crown in 25 years —setting records that still stand in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes en route to becoming a cultural phenomenon — Secretariat was already a superstar thanks to an extraordinary 2-year-old season.

Historical horse profile: Purchase

Posted Sep 1, 2022

Owned and trained by Hall of Famer Sam Hildreth, Purchase won eight stakes in 1919 — including a walkover in the inaugural Jockey Club Stakes — and defeated America’s first Triple Crown winner

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

Twenty-five horses who have been enshrined in the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame have won the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup, which will be contested for the 104th time this Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. Five of those horses — Nashua, Shuvee, Slew o’ Gold, Skip Away, and Curlin — won the race in back-to-back years en route to the Hall. The immortal Kelso dwarfed them all, winning the Gold Cup five consecutive times from 1960 through 1964. Although the Jockey Club Gold Cup has been an important factor in the careers of numerous Hall of Famers, it has also been won by several other outstanding racehorses whose legacies have been overshadowed by the titans of the sport. One such example is Purchase, who won the inaugural edition of the race in 1919 — albeit via a walkover — when the contest was known as the Jockey Club Stakes.

Tales of the famous Travers canoe

Posted Aug 23, 2022

Its origin remains a bit of a mystery, but Saratoga’s famous infield vessel is essential to the track’s storied history

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director 

Like many of the romanticized stories associated with Saratoga Race Course, the legend of the omnipresent canoe that takes up residence in the track’s infield lake has some gaps in its mythology that are unlikely to ever be filled in.

Walter Miller: A flash of lightning

Posted Jul 22, 2022

Walter Miller’s reign as America’s top jockey was a brief one, but few have ever done it better

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director 

At the age of 16, Walter Miller was without question the greatest jockey in America. By the time he was 20, however, Miller’s meteoric career was all but finished. Although his run of dominance was fleeting, Miller made a significant enough historical impression to earn inclusion in the National Museum of Racing’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1955.

The hard ride of Bill Hartack

Posted May 3, 2022

Hall of Fame jockey was one of the greatest of all time, but his extreme competitiveness wasn’t always endearing to those around him

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

By the summer of 1959, Bill Hartack had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, led all North American jockeys in wins three times and earnings twice, and was so highly regarded that he was already in the Hall of Fame. He was 26 years old — and was just getting started.

Historical horse profile: Black Maria

Posted Jan 28, 2022

Three-time champion won both the Kentucky Oaks and inaugural Whitney

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

Black Maria didn’t exactly set the racing world on fire when she made her career debut at Saratoga on Aug. 5, 1925. In a 5½-furlong maiden event, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Black Toney was never a factor, finishing last in the field of 10, beaten 16 lengths. It was an inauspicious unveiling to say the least. After being defeated twice more at the Spa in the next 10 days, Black Maria broke her maiden on her fourth attempt. She was then trounced in the Hopeful Stakes, finishing ninth of 14, to conclude her juvenile summer at Saratoga with a lone victory in five outings. There would be better days ahead … much better.

Sam Hildreth: The wild life of a racing legend

Posted Dec 14, 2021

Hall of Fame trainer was one of the sport’s most interesting personalities

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

Even in thoroughbred racing, a sport long known for its stranger-than-fiction characters, Sam Hildreth was considered a wild man. He also happened to be one hell of a trainer — one of the best ever. As a conditioner of racehorses, it is well chronicled Hildreth had few peers. He was North America’s leading trainer in earnings nine times, won seven editions of the Belmont Stakes, seven runnings of the Brooklyn Handicap, and five renewals of both the Metropolitan and Suburban handicaps.

An old Kentucky legacy: The mighty Longfellow and Ten Broeck

Posted Nov 29, 2021

Hall of Fame members from Nantura Stock Farm were among the best of the 19th century

By Brien Bouyea 
Hall of Fame and Communications Director 
Longfellow and Ten Broeck, two of the most accomplished and celebrated American racehorses of the 19th century, will forever be linked even though they never crossed paths on the racetrack during their remarkable careers. Representing the Harper family’s Nantura Stock Farm, located near Midway, Kentucky, Longfellow and Ten Broeck had few peers during their respective runs of dominance in the 1870s. Longfellow, known as the “King of the Turf,” came along first, winning 13 of his 16 starts from 1870 through 1872. Ten Broeck, meanwhile, made his debut in 1875 and won 23 of his 29 races. He reeled off 15 consecutive victories at one point and set six American records at distances ranging from one to four miles by the time he retired in 1878. Both Longfellow (1971) and Ten Broeck (1982) were eventually elected to the Hall of Fame.


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