Lyman Horace Weeks.

The American turf: an historical account of racing in the United States : with biographical sketches of turf celebrities. 1898 online

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influence and permanency, such as it has never enjoyed
before, will scarcely be questioned by anyone familiar
with the situation and with the success that has crowned
the administration of this Jockey Club. Beginning the
fifth year of its existence in 1898, the officers of The
Jockey Club were Mr. August Belmont, chairman; Mr.
James R. Keene, vice-chairman; Mr. P. K. Sturgis, sec-
retary and treasurer; Mr. F. O. Hanlon, assistant secre-
tary; Messrs. August Belmont, J. H. Bradford, F. R.
Hitchcock, James R. Keene, Andrew Miller, F. K. Stur-
gis and James Galway, stewards, and Mr. Walter S.
Vosburgh, racing secretary.

Every true friend of the turf recognizes the incalculable
benefit that the institution derives from a favorable public
estimation that is stimulated by the presence in its inmost

counsels of what may be termed a disinterested element
composed of gentlemen to whom the sport is absolutely
a matter of pleasure and not a money-making business.
The great racing associations of this country and the
bodies which virtually legislate for the American turf
have ever been fortunate in this respect. They enjoy the
active participation of a small, but very influential array
of sportsmen prominent in the business and social world,
whose interest in racing is altogether of the nature just
referred to, and whose presence is a guarantee to the
public at large of the fairness and unbiased character of
the decisions in regard to general policy or matters of
detail that are necessary from time to time in the govern-
ment of the sport. The English turf, which serves as
the example to the whole racing world, owes much of
its popularity to the well-known fact that such an element
has always been conspicuous in connection with its

Following in the footsteps of the Old World in this
respect, the leaders of our own racing community have
done wisely in seeking the co-operation of men of the
same calibre here, who, while not directly interested as
owners of horses, are, nevertheless, distinguished by a
devotion to the sport and whose self-sacrificing spirit
impels them to contribute no small measure of time and
labor to duties in this connection which could not well
be committed to other hands. The Jockey Club has
been especially happy in having been able to enlist from
the outset the services of gentlemen of this character. A
good beginning was made by placing in official position
those in whom the general public had the fullest con-
fidence, and upon whom all racing interests were satis-
fied to depend with the fullest assurance that nothing,
which, through knowledge of the turf conscientious
devotion to its affairs and careful foresight could formu-
late to the advantage of all concerned, would be left
undone. That the results have fully Justified all expecta-
tions, doesnotanylongeradmit of even the slightest doubt.

Upon the resignation of Mr. John Hunter, as the first
Chairman of the Board of Stewards, and from his active
participation in the affairs of the organization, he was
succeeded by Mr. August Belmont, under whose admin-
istration the club has attained to a success and an influ-
ence far beyond even that which was hoped for by most
enthusiastic friends at its inception. Mr. Belmont be-
longs to a family whose name will stand as high as any
in the racing annals of the United States. His father, as
we have had occasion to demonstrate elsewhere, did as
much as any other single individual to place the Ameri-
can turf of contemporaneous times upon a firm founda-
tion. The second Mr. August Belmont has succeeded
his father as a prominent figure in the commercial,
social and turf life of the present day. It is unnecessary
to dwell at length upon his career.



He was born in New York, in 1854, and was pre-
pared for college at the Rectory School, at Hamden,
Conn., and at Philips Exeter Academy. Being gradu-
ated from Harvard College, in the class of 1874, he
entered the banking house of his father in the same year
and was made a partner in 1885. Upon the death of
his father, in 1890, he became the head of the establish-
ment with which the Belmont name has been so long
identified. The part he has played in the financial
world and the eminent
services he has ren-
dered to the Govern-
ment and the com-
mercial community are
part of the contempo-
rary history of our
country. As a financier
he has long held pre-
eminent position and
has a reputation that
is not limited by the
confines of his native
land. He has been
engaged in large
monetary operations,
and on occasions has
been of material assist-
ance to the United
States Government in
carrying out financial
transactions of the
greatest importance to
the welfare of the
national treasury.

Inheriting his father's
love of racing and
breeding, Mr. Belmont
had the confidence of
his parent during the
latter's career on the
turf, and was fully
acquainted with his
theories and plans. As
the proprietor of the
Blemton stable, and
later under his own
name, he has become as conspicuous upon the turt as was
his father before him. His fame as a successful owner and
a sportsman of the foremost class does not obscure the
fact that he has also inherited his fiither's eminent po-
sition in affairs relating to the administration and legis-
lation of the turf. In fact, the commanding influence
attached to the distinguished name that he bears in con-
nection with the sport has increased each year that he



has given attention to racing matters. Not alone as
Chairman of The Jockey Club has he been prominent, but
his position in connection with racing was officially rec-
ognized in his appointment by Governor Levi P.
Morton as chairman of the State Racing Commission of
New York, an organization for the promotion of turf
interests, to which more power and influence for good
attaches than to any other ever known in this country.
Mr. Belmont's record as Chairman of The Jockey Club

has excited the admira-
" ^ tion of his associates

and received the com-
mendation of the turf
world generally. He
has developed excep-
tional talent in the
management of turf
affairs and it has been
well said of him by
one who is most famil-
iar with what he has
done, that "He is more
than his father's son,
and the club could not
have had a better or
safer leader. He im-
presses one as not
looking for a personal
a d va n tage, but as
working for the gen-
eral good. He is a
born diplomat and has
the f;iculty of con-
ciliating conflicting in-
terests, talking with
people and winning
them overbyargument
and suggestion and a
frank exhibition of true

An interview with
one of the officials of
The Jockey Club, pub-
lished in 1896, related
in detail some inci-
dents in his career that
illustrated his remarkable faculty of meeting threat-
ening issues. It appears that during the previous
summer the atmosphere was full of evil and scanda-
lous reports concerning turf matters. The stewards
of The Jockey Club had worked hard to get some
tangible evidence of fraud, but had accumulated only a
mass of report based upon tattle and hearsay. Returning
from Europe while the matter was still at fever heat, Mr.



Belmont sent ;it once for the newspaper representatives
.ind pointed out to tiiem tlie iiann that they were doing
by accepting idle rumor for facts. He also conferred
with certain owners and trainers and convinced them of
their suicidal policy in circulating reports not based upon
facts, and in doing things that might give rise to suspi-
cion. The interview, the substance of which has just
been given, went on to say that from that moment the
atmosphere changed, the press began to help the
stewards in their efforts to stamp out rascality, and
trainers, jockeys and owners bent their best energies in
setting their horses to the front. Confidence was thus
re-established, and since that time nothing has occurred
again to undermine it or give the public any apprehen-
sion concerning the hon-
esty of the race course.
The work which Mr. Bel-
mont did at this juncture
was of more than ordi-
nary importance, but it is
only a single example out
of many that might be
cited to show the perfect
hold which he has upon
all turf affairs and the gen-
uine diplomatic ability
with which he handles
the work which falls to
his share to do.

No name has been more
conspicuously identified
with the American turf
of modern times than
that of Mr. James R.
Keene, Vice-Chairman of
the Jockey Club. A na-
tive of England, he has,
nevertheless, been so long
connected with business
interests in America, and
has shown himself so
thoroughly in sympathy with all American institu-
tions that the fact of his having been born in Eng-
land is probably unknown to most people. In fact,
he came to this country at such an early age — when
he was only fourteen years old— that his education
and subsequent business training were thoroughly
American. He was born in England, in 1838, the son
of a London merchant, and received his early educa-
tion in Lincolnshire and in Dublin, Ireland. His parents
came to the United States in 1852, bringing him with
them, and settled in the northern part of the State of
California. There, at an early age, he entered upon
business life with energy and ambition and proceeded


to carve his own way in the world. For several years
he was engaged in mining and other allied business
pursuits, and also edited a newspaper. Afterward he
became interested in mining properties in Nevada, and
then, going to San Francisco, entered the stock market,
where he soon acquired a moderate fortune.

Having a natural talent for speculation, he thenceforth
devoted himself to that pursuit, and was rapidly success-
ful in spite of occasional reverses. Becoming a member
of the Stock Exchange of San Francisco, he was subse-
quently elected its president, and when the Bank of
California failed he was able to be one of the four con-
tributors of a million dollars to the guarantee fund neces-
sary to save that institution from ruin. Leaving Cali-
fornia in 1 877, he engaged,
for a short time, in stock
speculation in New York
and then visited Europe.
Upon his return from the
Old World he settled in
New York City, where he
has since been a resident
and has been frequently
engaged in large financial
operations. He has been
one of the most conspicu-
ous figures in the financial
world of the metropolis
for nearly twenty years,
and has also occupied
a considerable place in
social affairs. He is a
man of large fortune and
has done as much as any
other single individual to
stimulate Wall Street in
these later days.

Like so many other
gentlemen of wealth who
have added distinction to
the Northern turf in this
latter part of the nineteenth century, Mr. Keene has had a
notable turf career. There are few, if any, American horse-
men who have ever surpassed him in devotion to racing
interests, in liberality of expenditures and in brilliancy of
achievements. His name is known in this connection
throughout two continents, and the horses that he has
owned have often carried his colors to renown. Had he
never owned any other thoroughbreds than Foxhall and
Domino, his name would be emblazoned upon the pages
of American turf history in letters that can never fade.
He was one of the first horsemen to recognize, in the
early nineties, the imperative demand for a reform in turf
matters. As early as 1893, he began to agitate the sub-



ject and tried to impress liis fellow-turfmen with what
he regarded as the urgency of the situation. He insisted
that what was first necessary was to establish a central
authority for the government of racing on broader lines
than those on which the Board of Control, which was
then in existence, was built.

He made a study of the English system of turf govern-
ment, and he was satisfied that it was the best that could
be devised, because it embodied the experience and
views of the ablest men in that country, where racing is
an old institution and the rules the outgrowth of long
experience. In the subsequent discussions of this subject
between representatives of the Board of Control, the
horse owners and the several jockey clubs, Mr. Keene
was particularly active and influential, and it is in no
small measure due to him that the different elements
were ultimately brought to the point of realizing the
necessity of carrying out some such plans as he had
formulated. Finally came the incorporation of The
Jockey Club, of which he was elected vice-chairman, a
position that he has ever since retained. He has been
one of the working members of the Board of Stewards,
and by his thorough knowledge of turf rules and the
practices of racing in this country and in Europe, and his
keen sympathy both for horse owners on the one side
and the gentlemen who are the substantial supporters of
racing, he has excercised a strong and healthful influence.

In many years Mr. Keene had associated with him his
son, Mr. Foxhall P. Keene, who is scarcely less well
known than his father in the racing world. The Keene
Stable has been as distinguished as any other in the
United States, and its victories have often been of the
most notable character. In 1893, for example, the year
of the wonderful performances of the invincible Domino,
the stable stood at the head of the list of winners for the
season. Its winnings in stakes and purses ran up to
$279,458, an amount that was unprecedented in the his-
tory of the American turf as the result of the work of a
single stable in one year. Besides Domino, El Telegrafo
by Tremont out of Marguerite, Hornpipe by Mr. Pick-
wick out of Round Dance, and St. Leonards by St. Blaise
out of Bella Donna, were the principal members of the
stable, which also included Hyderabad by Hyder Ali
out of Glorianne, Chorister by Falsetto out of Addie C,
Lidgerwood by Luke Blackburn out of Tuscarora,
Soprano by Falsetto out of Lady Athol, and ten others.
The total number of races run by the stable was 135, of
which 35 were won. Domino won all the races in
which he was entered, nine in number, and carried off

The record of this particular year has been given, not
alone on account of its extraordinary character, but also
as illustrating the magnitude of Mr. Keene's turf interests
and the exceptional high position that he holds among

turfmen of this generation by virtue of his enterprise
and the well deserved success that has so generally
crowned his efforts. Mr. Keene's career on the turf has
been practically divided into two periods, the one dis-
tinguished by the achievements of Foxhall and the other
by the performances of Domino. For several years after
Foxhall's great campaign in England, his owner still con-
tinued to show his colors at many race meetings; but,
after a time, he dropped out of the field. His retirement
was only temporary, however, for early in the nineties
he began the organization of another stable and took up
his old interest in the turf.

This was just at that critical time, when, as we have
seen, racing affairs were in an unfortunate condition and
were imperatively in need of the good will and the wise
judgment of as many honorable sportsmen like Mr.
Keene, as could be drawn to its support As has been
clearly demonstrated, his return to the turf was greatly
to the advantage of racing matters from every point of
view. He has been among the most generous purchas-
ers of thoroughbred stock that this country has ever
known, and the success of his horses has often been of
such a brilliant character as to excite the liveliest enthu-
siasin, not alone of the general public, but also of racing
men. That added to the great value of his services in
the purification of the turf in this period, has made him
undoubtedly one of the most important factors in stim-
ulating honorable racing and in encouraging breeding
that the present generation has known.

Not to content himself with activity in this countiy
alone, he has, since his last return to the turf, carried his
colors again to England, the scene of his earlier triumphs.
There in recent years he has been represented by many high
class blood horses. His victories in the Foxhall year, how-
ever, have not since been approached, and his later career
in England has been somewhat less sensationally notable
than that of some of the more recent Americans. It
has, however, been marked by an unswerving devotion
to sporting of the highest character and to American
standards. He has always had a truly representative
American stable in England, and there have been few
years when the entries for the important events of the
English turf have not included his name.

For example, in 1895, he had entered for the Cesare-
witch, Hornpipe and Round Dance, and for the Cam-
bridgeshire, Hornpipe and that beloved and regretted
wonder. Domino. Afthough only a few runners carried
his colors in 1897, the form which they exhibited was
fine enough to encourage such an energetic and far-seeing
turfman to strengthen his forces abroad by the shipment
of several fleet racers for ensuing years. In many
instances of late, fortune has been more harshly unkind
to him than those who have followed his career with
interest could wish. In 1897, he was specially unfortu-



nate in losing the Cambridgeshire by a head, through
the carelessness of the jockey, who rode his big colt,
St. Cloud, a misfortune that was a source of great regret,
not only among Americans, but even among English
turfmen who have cordiaily recognized his sportsman-
ship and enterprise.

In a social and business sense, Mr. Frank K. Sturgis,

associates to be a member of the Board of Stewards and
Secretary and Treasurer, and in that position he has
been both active and influential to an exceptional degree,
bringing to his work, as a racing official, the same com-
bination of executive ability and of capacity to command
respect and co-operation that have marked his career in
other respects. His conspicious services to The Jockey

Secretary and Treasurer of The Jockey Club, is one of Club have fully demonstrated the soundness of judgment

the best known and most highly respected citizens of of his associates who selected him for that position.

New York, and also holds an enviable position in the The office is one of exceptional responsibility and labor,

estimation of the racing public. A native of New York and Mr. Sturgis assumed it much against his inclination.

City, he is an example of
the best type of energetic,
patriotic citizens of the
metropolis. Now a little
more than fifty years of
age, he has been identi-
fied with financial affairs
throughout his entire life,
and has a reputation as a
financier second to none
of his time. As a mem-
ber of the banking house
of Strong, Sturgis & Co.,
he has long been an
important factor in Wall
Street, and the highest
honors in financial circles
in New York have from
time to time been be-
stowed upon him. In
1892, and again in 1893,
he was elected President
of the New York Stock
Exchange, and in that
position achieved much
more than local reputa-
tion in the financial world.
Mr. Sturgis is pre-errii-
nently one of those gentle-
men who dignify wealth
and social position. He
has displayed an active
interest in the social and
benevolent institutions 01
the metropolis, and has

been conspicious in many of the leading activities of the
city outside of the purely business world.

As an incident in his busy and successful life, his
devotion to horses and racing has been of a genuine
character, and none of his associates have surpassed him
in the energetic and disinterested service he has given to
the promotion of the turf Upon the organization of
The Jockey Club in 1894, he was selected by his



and only upon the stren-
uous insistance of his
friends that he was pecu-
liarly fitted for it and that
the best interests of the
turf demanded that he
should make this sacrifice
of his personal wishes.
He found the work inci-
dental to the position not
without its agreeable fea-
tures, and has executed its
duties with marked suc-
cess, while the opportu-
nity thus afforded him to
labor for the real welfare
of the turf is one that has
been a source of consider-
able satisfaction to him.

While Mr. Sturgis' in-
terest in racing has been
mainly centred in the re-
sponsible and dignified
position that he occupies
as Secretary and Treas-
urer of The Jockey Club,
he has long been promi-
nent in other bodies which
are closely allied to the
turf and which have done
much to elevate the
standard of horseflesh in
America and to popu-
larize the pursuit in con-
nection with the horse.
Prominent and active in the organization of the
Madison Square Garden Company, he became a member
of the Board of Directors and its first President. The
National Horse Show Association, of which he has been
an officer, owes much of its success to his active efforts
in its behalf and to his prominence in its counsels. He
is also a governor of the Turf and Field Club and of
the Westchester Racing Association. On the Board of



Directors of the Westchester Association he holds a
prominent place as the particular representative of those
social elements that gave to the old Jerome Park that
popularity and standing that was its peculiar distinc-
tion and that has been inherited by its successor.

In Mr. F. O. Hanlon, the Assistant Secretary of
The Jockey Club, the organization has a thoroughly ca-
pable and energetic official. Much of the executive work
falls to his share and his extensive acquaintance with
racing men and famili-
arity with turf affairs P
generally has enabled '
h i m to contribute I
much to the general
efficiency of the work
done by the club.

Mr. John H. Brad-
ford, one of the Stew-
ards of The Jockey
Club and Treasurer
of the Coney Island
Jockey Club, comes of
an old Massachusetts
family that has been
established in that sec-
tion since the earliest
colonial days. He was
born in England while
his parents were trav-
eling abroad, but that
trifling circumstance
has not been sufficient
to make him other-
wise than a sound pa-
triotic American. His
early years were pass-
ed in Boston, where
he was brought up
and educated under
the most wholesome
New England influ-
ences. His entire busi-
ness life has been spent
in New York, with
whose business and
social institutions he
has long been completely identified. Interested in horses
from his youth, he has been an owner almost from the time
of his earliest remembrance. At one period of his life he
paid a great deal of attention to the trotter and maintained
a private breeding establishment for horses of that fam-
ily and for roadsters. For more than twenty-five years
however, the running horse has commanded his atten-
tion and enlisted his active labors in promotion of its


interests. His business called him several times a year
to Cincinnati in the seventies, and while there it was the
most natural thing in the world that he should take ad-
vantage of his opportunities to pay many visits to Ken-
tucky, the Mecca of all good American horsemen. Thus,
he became intimately acquainted with General Brecken-
ridge and other noted turfmen of that section, and had
his attention particularly called to the thoroughbred to
which Kentucky has always been devoted. Thus began

_ his first interest in the

running horse that he
has maintained ever
since, finding it year
after year a constantly
increasing source of

Soon his interest in
the blood horse over-
shadowed that which
he had hitherto felt in
the trotter and devel-
oped to such an extent
that he became an
important factor in
racing affairs in the
East. In the early
years at Jerome Park
he was associated with
Mr. Leonard Jerome
and other leading turf-
men of that period and
became identified with
the running turf in an
active and practical
manner. Since that
time he has been fore
most in the direction
of Eastern turf affairs
and has an enviable
reputation forthe com-
pleteness and sound-
ness of his knowledge
of the thoroughbred
and of the practical de-
tails of racing. For a
period of ten years he

Online LibraryLyman Horace WeeksThe American turf: an historical account of racing in the United States : with biographical sketches of turf celebrities. 1898 → online text (page 32 of 80)