Oscar Wilde.

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to attract attention, by his performances on the turf, to the
value of his sire; and as a progenitor he must be accorded a place
in the first rank of all trotting sires. This horse was bred by
Colonel Harry Felter, Newburgh, New York, was foaled 1856,
and was got by Hambletonian out of the fast road mare Dolly
Spanker. (This mare was afterward registered on what seemed




/



hambletontan's sons and geandsons. 385'

excellent evidence as by Henry Clay, out of a daughter of Baker's
Highlander, but more recent investigation has thrown serious
doubt upon this pedigree, the subject being fully discussed in
the chapters in this work on "The Investigation of Pedigrees.")
After the travail that brought the little brown colt into the
world, Dolly Spanker died, and the orphaned youngster, like
Andrew Jackson, owed his life to woman's kindly care. He was.
fed by the women of the farm on Jamaica rum and milk sweet-
ened with sugar, and soon grew lusty, though he was always an
undersized horse, never much, if any, exceeding fifteen hands in
height, though he was so stoutly and compactly made that he
gave the impression of being larger than he really was. He was
of that order that has been paradoxically described as "a big
little horse." In color he was a very dark brown, and his flanks
and muzzle shaded into a deep tan, or wine color. From a de-
tailed description of him published in the Spirit of the Times in
1862, I extract the following:

" He is about 15.1, but all horse. . . . His traveling gear is just what it
should be — muscular shoulders long strong anus, flat legs, splendid quarters,
great length from hip to hock, and very fine back sinews. He stand- higher
behind than he does forward, a formation we like. . . . He is very wide
between the jaws. . . . His coat is fine and glows like the rich dark tints
of polished rosewood. . . . His temper i-i kind. We had the pleasure of
seeina him at his work, and unless we are greatly mistaken he will make an
amazingly good one. He has a long and easy way of going, striking well out
behind and tucking his haunches well under him."

Though from the fact that this writer stated that Wilkes "was
as handsome as Ethan Allen," we might suspect him of a tendency
to "paint the lily," it will be noted that this was written before
the horse had any great reputation to speak of, and it may be
accepted as a substantially correct description as far as it goes.
In describing his action Charles J. Foster wrote that "his hind
leg when straightened out in action as he went at his best pace re-
minded me of that of a duck swimming." He was then the prop-
erty of Z. E. Simmons, who had purchased him as a three-year-
old for 13,000, and another horse.

George Wilkes, or Robert Fillingham, as he was first named,
was a trotter from colthood. At four years old he was matched
against Guy Miller, but his party paid forfeit, the reason there-
for being afterward alleged that they found Fillingham pos-
sessed of so much speed that they decided to "lay for bigger



286 THE HORSE OF AMERICA.

game." The late Alden Goldsmith, a most competent judge, saw
the colt trot at this time and then thought he was the fastest
horse he had ever seen. He won a race in August of his five-
year-old year, taking a record of 2:33, and the next year sprang
into wide fame hy defeating the then popular idol, Ethan Allen,
in straight heats, over the Union Course, the fastest heat being
in 2:24f. In October of that year he started in harness against
General Butler, under saddle. Though Butler was no match for
George Wilkes in harness, with a saddle on his back, and Dan
Mace in the saddle, he was almost unbeatable in his day, but it
took him four heats to beat Wilkes, who forced him out in the
first heat in 2:21^, a record he never after surpassed. Then
William L. Simmons and John Morrissey matched Wilkes against
Butler, two-mile heats to wagon, the latter having previously
beaten the great George M. Patchen a heat in record-breaking
time under similar conditions. In preparation for that match
George Wilkes was sent a trial over the Centerville Course, con-
cerning which there has been much discussion and probably
much romance. Charles J. Foster wrote thus:

" It was a close, sultry day and the stallion was short of work. . . . He
went the two-mile trial and I have no doubt it was faster than trotter ever had
before, or has since, in any rig. But it ' cooked his mutton,' as the saying is,
and for a long time he was George Wilkes no more."

It is said that ever after this trial, whatever it may have
been, George Wilkes Vvas inclined to sulk in his races. He raced
with fair success in 1863 and 1864, and at the beginning of 1865
was classed among the very best out. He was sent against Dex-
ter and Lady Thorn, being beaten by both; but in 1866 he twice
defeated Lady Thorn, the last time in a notable wagon race over
Union Course in 2:27, 2:25, 2:26f . Afterward in the same year Lady
Thorn defeated Wilkes in four successive races, and she beat him
again in their only meeting the following year, but in 1868 he
defeated the mare in a hard-fought race, she winning the first
and second heats and making the fourth heat dead. George
Wilkes made his record of 2:22, October 13, 1868, over the Nar-
ragansett Course at Providence in a winning race with Khode
Island and Draco. He was kept on the turf with indifferent suc-
cess until 1872, racing frequently against Lucy, Lady Thorn,
and American Girl, all of whom outclassed him, at least in
the afternoon of his racing career. Just how fast a trotter



hambletonian's sons and grandsons. 287

Oeorge Wilkes was it is impossible definitely to determine,
so many and varying have been the representations on that
point. It has been claimed that he went a quarter in
twenty-nine seconds to an eighty-five pound wagon. William L.
Simmons some years ago stated that of his own knowledge
George Wilkes trotted a mile and repeat as a six-year-old at the
•Centerville Course in 2:19^, 2:18^, and that Sam McLaughlin
"drove him a half-mile to wagon over Union Course in 1:04^.
These statements I give for what may be deemed their worth,
contenting myself with the remark that it is safe to conclude
that George AVilkes would have trotted well within the 2:20 mark,
if he had been managed with a view to bringing out his highest
racing capacity, instead of being handled solely for the purpose
•of smart betting and match-making manipulations.

George Wilkes was taken to Lexington, Kentucky, by William
L. Simmons, his owner, in 1873, and in his declining years made
a reputation so great in the stud that his brilliant turf career is
almost forgotten. After having trotted against the best in the
country for twelve successive years, proving his fitness in the
fiery ordeal of turf contest, he, in the nine remaining years of his
life, fulfilled the purpose of his being, and demonstrated the
truth of heredity by getting trotters in plenty able to do and
outdo what he had in his day done.

George Wilkes got a few foals before going to Kentucky, of
which the most notable was May Bird, 2:21, the first trotter to
bring him reputation as a sire. Of the others got in the North,
Young Wilkes, 2:28^, a sire of some reputation, and Wilkes
Spirit, who also figures in the table of sires, are the only ones to
earn places in the records. Early in the eighties George Wilkes
began to assume high rank as a sire. May Bird, Kentucky Wilkes,
Prospect Maid, So So, Joe Bunker and others bringing him into
prominence. Every year added to his roll of honor and soon he
was among the leaders. Blue Bull had surpassed Hambletonian
in the number of trotters to his credit in the 2:30 list, but at the
olose of 1886 George Wilkes was even with the Indiana sire, in
1887 he passed him, and for some seasons led all sires of 2:30
performers. George Wilkes got seventy-two trotters and eleven
pacers to acquire standard records, of which the most noted were
Harry Wilkes, 2:13i, Guy Wilkes, 2:15^, and Wilson, 2:16^; and
ninety-four of his sons and eighty-one of his daughters have
produced, as shown in the table of Hambletonian's sons, 1801



288



THE HOESE OF AMERICA.



standard performers. The following table embraces the sons:
of George Wilkes that have twenty or more standard performers-
to their credit:



LEADING SONS OP GEORGE WILKES.



Name.



RedWilke? 2:40

Onward, 2:25i

Alcantara, 2:23

Bourbon Wilkes

Si.nmons, 2:28

Wilton, 2:19i

JavBird. 2:31f

Alcvone,2:27

Guy Wilkes, 2:15i

Anibassadc . 2:21J

Gainbetta Wilkes, 2:26.

Baron Wilkes, 2:18

Adrian Wilkes

Wilkes Boy, 2:24i

Young Jim

Brown Wilkes, 2:214. . .
Young Wilkes, 2:28^...
Favorite Wilkes, 2:24^.

Woodford Wilkes

Wilkie Collins

Lumps, 2:21

The King, 2:29i

Jersey Wilkes . .



1874
1875
1876
1875
1879
1880
1878
1877
1879
1875
1881
1S82
1878
1880
1874
1876
1868
1877
1882
1876
1875
1874
1881



xn



127
120
98
67
64
61
57
55
52
48
48
47
38
37
37
32
29
23
23
21
20
20
20



62

64

29

14

13

3

10

27

10

8

11

6

6

2

11

5

6

7

1

5

3






41

32

15

12

6

4

10

9

5

3

6

7

7

3

19

1

3

6

4

1

10



OT3 a


3 S






»-OX!


p.


T3 o q


C °


ti t; es


^2 «J


■^ 03 a £


^ a


a «H c «


oj - o


ai U M «


%^-^


OJ


H


267


394


275


395


115


213


45


112


35


99


8


69


68


125


117


172


49


101


33


81


32


80


18


65


25


63


8


45


43


80


39


71


12


41


21


44


12


35


10


31


16


36


. . •


20


2


22



Among the other seventy -one producing sons of George Wilkes,
that do not come within the scope of this table are many most-
promising sires of rapidly growing prominence, and indeed this
family is branching out wonderfully in every direction. This
family is an emphatically improving one. \w extreme speed, in
racing capacity, and in form the third Wilkes generation is better
than either the second or first. Of trotters, such as Beuzetta,
2:06f, Ralph Wilkes, 2:06|, Hulda, 2:08^, Allerton, 2:09^, the
once sensational Axtell, 2:12, and many others of the first rank
by sons of George Wilkes sustain this judgment. The pacing-
instinct is rampant in the Wilkes blood, as is attested by the fact
that twenty-five per cent, of the performing get of George Wilkes''



hambletonian's sons and grandsons. 289

sons are pacers, and frequently pacers of extreme speed, includ-
ing such as Joe Patchen, 2:03, and Rubenstein, 2:05, while John
K.Gentry, 2:00|, Online, 2:04, and Frank Agan, 2:03, are by grand-
sons of Wilkes. Like his sire, George Wilkes got many sons
greater than himself — and after all that is the true test of great-
ness in a progenitor.

Electioneer has for some years led, far and away, all sires
of trotters in the numbers" of performers to his credit in both
the 2:20 list and 2:30 list, and is generally conceded to have had
no equal as a producer of early speed — that is, of colts and fillies
that trotted fast at tender ages. In many' respects this was the
most remarkable horse of any age, for besides being phenomenally
prolific in transmitting speed at the trot, and in getting early
trotters, he possessed in a higher degree than any sire that has
yet lived the ability to control running blood in the dam, and to
impress his own instinct and action upon his progeny out of any
and all kinds of mares. In speaking on his pet hobby of produc-
ing trotters from thoroughbred running mares. Governor Stan-
ford once said to me: "None of my stallions but Electioneer can
do it;" and of all the hundreds of stallions that have been mated
with thoroughbred mares in the hope of getting a trotter of ex-
treme speed. Electioneer alone was able to do it. Palo Alto,
2:08^, is so far faster than any other trotting horse out of a thor-
oughbred dam — the one solitary instance on record of a half-bred
trotter of extreme speed — that he is significant in one way, and
one only, and that is as an evidence of the phenomenal pre-
potency of the blood of his sire in controlling instinct and action.

Electioneer was a dark bay horse, foaled May 2, 1868, bred by
Charles Backman, at his Stonyford Stud, Orange County, New
York. He was got by Hambletonian, out of Green Mountain
Maid, by Harry Clay, 2:29, grandam the fast trotting mare
Shanghai Mary, pedigree not established, but in all probability a
daughter of Iron's Cadmus, the sire of the famous old pacer aud
brood mare Pocahontas, 2:17^. (In Chapter XXIX., on the
investigation of pedigrees, the history of Shanghai Mary is fully
given.) Green Mountain Maid, the dam of Electioneer, has been
called by Mr. Backman, and with justice, ''the great mother of trot-
ters." In all she bore sixteen foals, fourteen of which were by
the not remarkable horse Messenger Duroc. Electioneer was
her second foal and the only one by Hambletonian. Of the other
fifteen, nine have records of 2:30 and better, another has a record



290 THE HORSE OF AMEKICA.

of 2:31, another, Paul, was a very fast road horse, and two died
young. Of her four sons kept entire, Electioneer, Mansfield,
Antonio, and Lancelot, all are sires of trotters, and her daughters
already figure as producers. The figures would seem to point to
the daughter of Shanghai Mary and Harry Clay, 2:29, as perhaps
the most wonderful of all great trotting brood mares. She was a
brown mare, barely fifteen hands high, with a star and white hind
ankles, and was finely formed, with an exceptionally beautifully
outlined and expressive head. She had very superior trotting
action, the trot being her fastest natural gait. A writer who
made a very close study of her history said, on this point, in Wal-
lace's Monthly:

" Her education was limited to a single lesson when three years old; but
previously she bad been regularly developed on somewhat the same plan since
adopted for early training at Palo Alto, and was probably one of the fastest
trotters out of harness that ever lived."

As a matter of fact Green Mountain Maid, while in no sense
vicious, was so highly strung, wild and uncontrollable, that her
training was abandoned with the "one lesson" referred to, and
she never wore harness again.

Green Mountain Maid was a money producer as well as a
speed producer. Mr. Backman paid four hundred and fifty
dollars for her when she was carrying her first foal, and the
writer above quoted states that up to that date (1889) Mr.
Backman had received sixty-eight thousand eight hundred
and thirty dollars for such of her progeny as he had then
sold. This remarkable mare died June 6, 1888, and a fit-
ting monument marks her grave by the banks of the Walkill.

At maturity Electioneer was of that shade of bay that many
might call brown, and stood precisely fifteen and one-half hands
at the wither and an inch higher measured at the quarter. Many
of his get, notably Sunol, are pronouncedly higher behind than
at the wither. In general conformation, Electioneer was a stout
and muscular horse, standing on fairly short legs. His head was
well proportioned, of fair size, and a model of intelligent beauty.
The forehead was broad and brainy, the eyes large and softly
expressive, and the profile regular, with just the faintest sugges-
tion of concavity beneath the line of the eyes. Electioneer's
neck was a trifle too short for elegance of proportion, but
not gross. His shoulder was good, the barrel round, of good



hambletonian's soxs axd gkandsons. 2dl

depth find proportionate in length and well ribbed, and the
coupling simply faultless. The quarters were marvelous, and
Mr. Marvin did not overstate the case when he said they were
the best he had ever seen on any stallion. They were the very
incarnation of driving power, and recalled Herbert Kittredge's
portrait of Hambletonian, except that there was nothing gross
or meaty about the buttocks of Electioneer. They were the per-
fection of muscular endowment and development. The arms
and gaskins, like the quarters, were full with muscle laid on
muscle, and the legs and feet were naturally excellent. In the
last years of his life he went over on his knees a bit, but that was
not strange considering his age, and the fact that he had seen
considerable track work. Indeed as long as he was at all vigor-
ous he was daily exercised on the track, and in view of his great
success in the stud, this fact has a special significance.

As a three-year-old Electioneer was worked some on the Stony-
ford farm track to wagon, and Mr. Backman, whose word is good
enough authority for all who know him, stated that he showed a
<iuarter to wagon in thirty-nine seconds in that year. Little
else is known of his history at Stonyford. He was bred to a few,
very few mares, and was evidently not greatly esteemed by Mr.
Backman. In the autumn of 1876, ex-Governor Stanford, who
Avas just establishing his great breeding farm, Palo Alto, in the
Santa Clara Valley, California, visited Stonyford to i)urchase
stock — principally brood mares. The governor was a great be-
liever in what I may call horse-physiognomy, or to be more exact,
he believed in the importance of the right psychical organization,
what we commonly call brain force, in horses, and was attracted
by the physical evidences thereof as indicated in the head. Elec-
tioneer pleased him in this regard, and in his general make-up,
and when the governor's purchase was completed Electioneer
went along, being put in at twelve thousand five hundred dollars.
He with the other Stonyford purchases arrived at Palo Alto
€hristmas Eve, 1876.

Though Electioneer never took a record, he was emphatically
a developed horse. I do not know whether he was ever driven a
full mile or not — Mr. Marvin never drove him one — but it has
been stated that one of the other trainers drove him a mile in
time somewhere between 2:20 and 3:25. However they may be,'
Mr. Marvin in his book settles the question as to his having been
a fast, trained trotter. He says:



293 THE HORSE OF AMERICA.

" Electioneer is the most natural trotter I have ever seen. He has free,
abundant action; it is a perfect rolling action both in front and behind, and he
Las not the usual fault of the Hambletonians of going too vride behind. Certain
writers have said that Electioneer could not trot, and have cited him us a
stallion that was not a trotter yet got trotters. ... I have driven, beside
Electioneer, aquarter in thirty-fiveseconds. . . . He did this, too, hitched to a
one hundred and twenty-five-pound wagon, with a two hundred and twenty-
pound man, and not a professional driver, either, in the seat. In this rig be
could carry Occident right up to his clip, and could always keep right with
him; and it was no trick for the famous St. Clair gelding to go a quarter
in thirty-four seconds. Without preparation you could take Electioneer
out any day and drive hiui an eighth of a mile at a 2:30 gait. He
always had his speed with him. . . . That Electioneer could have beaten
2:20 if given a regular preparation is with me a conviction about which no
doubt exists."

Mr. Marvin is a conservative and reliable man; he knew
whereof he wrote, and his testimony must be accepted as conclu-
sive both as to Electioneer's having been a naturally fast trotter,
and as to his having had his speed developed. Undeveloped
horses do not trot quarters in thirty-five seconds.

When in 1880 Fred Crocker, one of the seven foals got by
Electioneer in his first year's service in California, astonished
the world by trotting to a two-year-old record of 2:25|, his sire
became instantly famous, and that fame has increased rapidly and
steadily from that day to this. It was not allowed for a moment
to wane or lag. After Fred Crocker came an ever-surprising
procession of young record breakers. In 1881 Hinda Rose made
a yearling record of 3:36^, and Wildflower a two-year-old record
of 2:21. In 1883 Hinda Rose lowered tlie three-year-old record
to 2:19|^, and Bonita the four-year-old record to 2:18f. In 1886
Manzanita lowered the four-year-old record to 2:16; in 1887
Norlaine, granddaughter of Electioneer, lowered the yearling
record to 2:31-|; and in 1888 Sunol put the two-year-old record
at 2:18, and the year following took a three-year-old record of
2:10^, the fastest to that date. Sunol captured the four-year-old
record in 1889, and the world's record, 2:08^, in 1891, but what
made this the brightest year in all the history of Palo Alto was
that Arion lowered the two-year-old record to 2:10| — .the most
remarkable of all trotting performances — Bell Bird the yearling
record to 2:26|, and Palo Alto the stallion record to 2:08|. Elec-
tioneer has now to his credit one hundred and fifty-four
standard performers, and in this and in the 2:20 list he has
a lono; lead over all other sires. He died at Palo Alto, December



HAMBLETONIAN S SONS AND GRANDSONS.



293



3, 1890, and I am informed that his skeleton has been articulated
and mounted for the museum of the Stanford University. The
following table gives the sons of Electioneer that up to the close
of 1896 had ten or more standard performers to their credit:



LEADING SONS OF ELECTION EEK.



Name.



Saint Bell, 2:24i..

Sphinx, 2:20*

Chimes, 2;30|. . . .

Anteeo, 2:16i

Norval, 2:14|

Egotist, 2:22i

Anteros ...

Elector (3170), 2:31,
Albert W., 2:20. . .

Eros, 2:29i

Antevolo, 2:194-

♦Bell Boy, 2:19^...

Fallis, 2:23

Palo Alto, 2:08f . . .



1


03

1-

g

o
a




CO

C
O
cc

be

8
■«

s


be

u

o

0,


Standard perform-
ers produced by
sons and daugh-
ters.


1882
1883
1884
1879
1882
1885
1882
1879
1878
1879
1881
1885
1878
1882


47
43
32
28
24
18
16
16
15
14
13
11
10'
10


1


1


3
5

1
1


"3'
'2'


3
12

1
1
2


1
3

i

1


....


1
4
1
1
3









2 ^

0i



48
43
35
40
25
19
18
16
16
18
14
12
13
10



* Died at 5 years old.

In considering this table it is necessary to remember that the
Electioneer family dates from 1878, and that no family of any-
thing approaching so late a date makes a showing that will bear
comparison with this. In considering the rank of families
this question of age is always vital. Electioneer's first crop of
foals at Palo Alto — 1878 — numbered seven, and of these two
are represented above, while another was the famous gelding
Fred Crocker. The next numbered but twenty-one, and of
these Eros, Elector, and Anteeo are in the table, and ten are
in the 2:20 list. His third and fourth crops (1880 and 1881)
numbered sixteen and twenty-three respectively, and the forty of
1882 was the greatest number he ever got in one year. I am in-
formed that in all Electioneer got less than four hundred foals at
Palo Alto; and that, since the first one saw light in 1878 this
family should in eighteen years make the showing it has with
nearly fifty per cent, of its members in the 2:30 list, and four hun-



294 THE HORSE OF AMERICA.

dred and ninety-three of the second generation also there, is cer-
tainly remarkable. Electioneer has to his credit in the 3:15 list
the following trotters: Arion, 2:07|, Sunol,2:08i, Palo Alto, 2:08f,
Helena, 2:12^, Bellefiower, 2:12|, Utility, 2:13, Quality, 2:131,
Conductor, 2:14:j, and Nerval, 2:14f, an "extreme speed list '^
greater than to the credit of any other sire, while among the get
of his sons are such trotters as Azote, 2:04f, Fantasy, 2:06,
Little Albert, 2:10, Lyiine Bel, 2:10^, Copeland, 2:11^, Athanio,
2:llf, Cobwebs, 2:12, etc., etc. Sixty-five of his sons have sired
four hundred and thirty-seven performers, and forty-three of his
daughters have produced fifty-six performers. With all these
facts kept in view the study of the above table will prove interest-
ing and instructive in forming an estimate of the merit of Elec-
tioneer as a trotting progenitor.

Alexander's Abdallah was the founder of one of the
very greatest of the Hambletonian sub-families, and he stands in
the records as a progenitor of the first rank. This was a stout
bay horse, about fifteen and one-half hands high. Excepting a
right white ankle he was a rich solid bay. The only reliable
portrait in existence of this horse was a drawing by Herbert
Kittredge, made from a photograph taken of Abdallah after he
went to Kentucky. The picture of Abdallah published in this work
is a faithful reproduction of the Kittredge portrait published in
WaUaee\-i Montldy for March, 1881, and in the absence of any
reliable detailed description of the horse this portrait must be



Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 31 of 61)