The 1920s – Thoroughbred Racing’s Golden Age

As with the baseball stars of that period – Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth – the names of the best horses of the Roaring Decade are with us nonetheless, many years after most of those that witnessed their glory are useless. Who hasn’t heard of Man O’Struggle? In an iconic decade, nice race horses turned icons, and icons they continue to be.


1922’s Horse of the Yr was initially supposed as a mere exercise associate for rival Solar Briar. Willis Sharpe Kilmer, who purchased Exterminator previous to his three-year season, thought that he’d been taken for a journey when his coach Henry McDaniel paid excess of licensed for the chestnut-colored gelding. However there was an issue: Exterminator saved matching Solar Briar, a champion juvenile horse, velocity for velocity in exercises.

The horse additionally appeared to have an instinctive understanding of race technique – rushing up when obligatory, holding again when McDaniel informed him to. So when Solar Briar developed ringbone, McDaniel inspired Kilmer to enter his understudy within the upcoming Kentucky Derby. At first Kilmer rejected the plan, till the President of Churchill Downs, who had seen Exterminator’s exercises, intervened.

Instantly the inexperienced, underraced Exterminator discovered himself going through a very muddy Derby morning. However his livid remaining kick introduced him from the again of the pack, the place he’d waited comfortably by the race, biding his time, to the font, the place he received by a size.

He continued to mature, racing as much as the weird age of 9 and beating horses who had, in prior years, outraced him. In all, he took 33 stakes wins – a report not crushed by any North American Thoroughbred.

Mad Hatter & Mad Play

Although they are typically overshadowed by more-famous half-brother Man O’Struggle, these brother Thoroughbreds – each sired by Man O’Struggle’s father Truthful Play on mare Mad Cap – took prime honors in vital races throughout the early 1920s.

Throughout his two-year season, elder brother Mad Hatter took the Bellerose Stakes, whereas buying a repute as a temperamental, often cranky horse, finest understood by jockey Earl Sande. After his third-year-season loss to Sir Barton on the Maryland Handicap race, these two horses contracted a rivalry, which added sweetness to Mad Hatter’s Pimlico victory over Sir Barton. But it surely was as a mature racing Thoroughbred that Mad Hatter actually shone, profitable the Jockey Membership Gold Cup and persevering with to win stakes races all through the early twenties.

Mad Play, the youthful of the 2 brothers (foaled in 1921), additionally benefited from the professional driving of the nice Earl Sande. His three-year season noticed spectacular third locations within the Preakness Stakes, however at Belmont (the ultimate Triple Crown occasion) he earned lasting fame, beating his closest rival by one and a half lengths.

Each horses had been discovered, after retirement, to be sterile, thus ending the potential for a Mad dynasty.

Man O’Struggle

Was Man O’Struggle (1917-1947), as many have argued, the best Thoroughbred racehorse of all time? It is dependent upon the factors you utilize. Consistency? (Man O’Struggle received 9 of 10 races in his two-year season. His sole loss got here on the Sanford Memorial Stakes, the place his jockey did not get him rotated at first on this race from the period earlier than beginning gates, and wherein he was boxed in not less than 3 times, and nonetheless took second.

The next 12 months he received each race wherein he ran, yielding a 20-1 report.) Blazing velocity? (He set a number of world and American information.) Aggressive will? (See that 20-1 report once more.) Total impact on the game? (Man O’Struggle sired 64 stakes winners, regardless of complaints from horse buffs that he was matched with inferior mares. He was additionally Seabiscuit’s grandfather.)

Regardless of how one judges, it is tough to argue an excessive amount of with Blood Horse journal’s declaration, of their record of the highest 100 US Thoroughbred champions of the 20th century, that Man O’Struggle belonged within the prime spot on that record.

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