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Thomas Hitchcock, Sr.

Thomas Hitchcock, Sr.
Induction Year: 
Nov. 12, 1860, Old Westbury, N.Y.
Sept. 30, 1941, Old Westbury, N.Y.
Career Years: 

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The captain of America’s first international polo team, Thomas Hitchcock is referred to by racing historians as the father of American steeplechasing.


After graduating from Oxford in 1884, Hitchcock enjoyed international acclaim as a standout polo player until turning his attention to jumpers in 1895. His all-green colors were carried by Hall of Famer Good and Plenty to victory in the 1906 American Grand National under 170 pounds. Hitchcock won the Grand National again in 1938 with Annibal. In the years between, he conditioned such stars as Bangle, Amagansett, Yemasee, Salitta, Ossabaw, and Cottesmore.


A member of The Jockey Club and one of the founders of Belmont Park, Hitchcock also had success as a flat trainer, as evidenced by his work with Salvidere, the champion juvenile male  of 1906 when he won the Saratoga Special and Adirondack Stakes, among others.


Hitchcock was instrumental in the development of Aiken, S.C., as a training center. He purchased numerous cheap weanlings in England and developed them as top steeplechasers at Aiken. He also was prominent in the development of several amateur riders, including future Hall of Famers Pete Bostwick and Rigan McKinney.


Following his death in 1941, a dispersal sale of Hitchcock’s horses included Elkridge, a future Hall of Fame steeplechaser. His son, Thomas Hitchcock, Jr., became arguably America’s greatest polo player of all time.