Earlier this month, the Racing Hall of Fame inducted Penny Chenery, who bred and owned the famous Secretariat. She was the first woman to be inducted as a “Pillar of the Turf,” and the fourth woman to make it into the Hall of Fame overall. Ms. Chenery died last year at 95.

On the occasion of her induction, our friend Douglas Lees forwarded us some of his photos of two-year-old Secretariat’s first stakes win over Linda’s Chief. The race, The Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, was run in August 1972. We wanted to share these photos with our blog readers.

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The home stretch. Photo copyright Douglas Lees.
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Chenery with her winner, Secretariat. Photo copyright Douglas Lees.
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Penny Chenery at the trophy presentation. Photo copyright Douglas Lees.

Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail 

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One of the most impressive Thoroughbred racers of the 20th Century was Gallant Fox, whose racing career lasted from 1929-1930. Gallant Fox was the second horse ever to win the American Triple Crown, and the term “Triple Crown” for the Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont was popularized during his 1930 campaign.

“The Fox” was owned by William Woodward Sr.’s Belair Stud in Maryland but was foaled in Kentucky. Following the horse’s retirement from racing, William Woodward wrote a custom-printed memoir to commemorate Gallant Fox’s achievements. The National Sporting Library & Museum is privileged to hold a copy of this book, one of the scarcest volumes in the NSLM collection. It has great value for its memories of the entire racing career of Gallant Fox.

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Gallant Fox with his dam, Marguerite. From Gallant Fox: A Memoir. National Sporting Library & Museum, gift of Mrs. Jacqueline B. Mars, Dr. Timothy J. Greenan, Mrs. Helen K. Groves, and Dr. Manuel H. Johnson, 2015.

One of Woodward’s memories of “The Fox” was his intelligence and curiosity, even from his earliest days as a colt.

The colt was broken and showed no special signs of anything one way or another, except that he was curious-minded and wanted to know all that was going on, giving every evidence of a high mentality, which however, would be slow to develop.He was a good fast colt as a yearling, with nice action, which was also the case in the beginning of his two-year-old year.

From Gallant Fox: A Memoir, by William Woodward, Sr.,
1930, National Sporting Library & Museum.

The Fox’s curiosity would last throughout his career, and it was the horse’s custom to eye the grandstands before each race. Still, Gallant Fox’s penchant for distraction led to a bad start to his racing career:

We started him in a five furlong race, with Peto as a companion. There was a good horse in the race called Desert Light. It was a small field. Gallant Fox was looking around the country when the tape was sprung and he was left about seven or eight lengths.

From Gallant Fox: A Memoir, by William Woodward, Sr.,
1930, National Sporting Library & Museum.

Despite the bad start, The Fox recovered to finish third, kicking off an auspicious career with an impressive list of prominent wins: the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, the Preakness Stakes, the Arlington Classic, the Dwyer Stakes, the Saratoga Cup and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

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Gallant Fox’s Trainer, James E. “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons. From Gallant Fox: A Memoir. National Sporting Library & Museum.

The jockey for most of Gallant Fox’s wins was Earl Sande, a South Dakota native who got his start as a “bronco buster” before turning to Thoroughbred horse racing. Sande was most famous for his time on Gallant Fox, and went on to be a successful trainer and racehorse owner. Two days before the 1930 Belmont Stakes, Sande was in an automobile accident, putting his start in jeopardy.

On Thursday night before the Belmont, Sande was riding in an automobile driven by one of his friends, when they had a crash. The car turned over, and as he had been under it and was rather badly cut up, I sat with him on Friday afternoon in the Belmont paddock for quite a while to see whether he was in proper shape to ride such an important race. He was altogether himself and was fortunately unhurt except for scratches and patches. He said that his first thought, when he found himself under the car, was, “How terrible! I won’t be able to ride the horse on Saturday.”

From Gallant Fox: A Memoir, by William Woodward, Sr.,
1930, National Sporting Library & Museum.

Sande, his face bandaged from the episode, rode to victory, making Gallant Fox the second American Triple Crown winner in history.

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William Woodward Leading Gallant Fox after winning the Lawrence Realization Stakes, Sande up. From Gallant Fox: A Memoir. National Sporting Library & Museum.

Later in the year, on a very heavy track, Gallant Fox lost the Travers Stakes in a major upset. Weighed down in the mud, Gallant Fox and rival Whichone dueled throughout the race, before both were overtaken by Jim Dandy, who won handily. Popular sentiment pegged Gallant Fox as weak on a heavy track. Woodward, however, saw the way the race unfolded on position as the primary reason why Gallant Fox was defeated.

To my way of thinking there were two reasons for The Fox’s defeat. First, the star was an unfortunate one for Gallant Fox. Second, he was taken wide the entire way against our will, and intentionally so, as evidenced by Workman’s ride on Questionnaire in the Realization. The Fox was horse enough to race outside of Whichone and beat him but neither he nor Whichone could give away the distance given to Jim Dandy and win.

From Gallant Fox: A Memoir, by William Woodward, Sr.,
1930, National Sporting Library & Museum.

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Gallant Fox and Whichone famously lost the Travers Stakes, depicted in a series of photographic plates. From Gallant Fox: A Memoir. National Sporting Library & Museum.

Following the 1930 season, Gallant Fox was retired to stud with 11 wins in 17 races and over $300,000 in earnings.

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Gallant Fox returning to the scales after winning the 1930 Kentucky Derby. From Gallant Fox: A Memoir. National Sporting Library & Museum.

Beyond racing, Gallant Fox’s enjoyed considerable success at stud. In 1932, Gallant Fox sired Omaha, who would go on to be the third winner of the American Triple Crown in 1935. In 1933, Gallant Fox sired Flares, the second American horse to win the Ascot Gold Cup, a race narrowly lost by Omaha in 1936.

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From Gallant Fox: A Memoir. National Sporting Library & Museum.

Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail 

Some weeks ago, our friend Viviane brought us a packet to read. “Save it for a rainy day to look it over,” she told me. With the surfeit of precipitation this month, I found ample opportunity to take her up on the suggestion.

Inside the packet were three comb-bound publications of memories, each taken from a hunter’s hunting diary. Equestrian sports are chock full of passion and excitement, and often those elements are overlooked by those who don’t directly participate in these sports. Hunting diaries are a great way to experience the close-up history of foxhunting, as many who ride to hounds keep meticulous track of their exploits.

Called Entries From an Orange County Hunt Journal, the pages in the packet were full of personal accounts from the local sporting scene. Memories are poignant and humorous, and reflect the experiences on horseback, and were compiled by the late R. Moses Thompson, who moved to the Middleburg area in 1991. Thompson wrote one entry about falls while hunting, including a tale about his own unusual fall:

At a gallop, going east across the open pastures from the corner of the Zulla and Rock Hill Mill, my horse, to avoid a ground hog hole that he had seen but I had not, leapt to the right, suddenly, dropping his head and shooting off in a near right-angle trajectory. True to my studies in physics, my body kept going in the direction it was headed, with forward momentum of a horse in full gallop, just without the horse. Jerking to the right, my horse had dropped his head low so that my right leg slipped over his neck and I flew forward, leaving my horse cleanly, hitting the ground on my feet, spontaneously breaking into a very fast run, legs churning, to prevent burying my face in the dirt.

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Excerpt from an Orange County hunt diary, 1947. National Sporting Library & Museum.

The recounting of hunting tales from hunt diaries is not new. NSLM has many hunt diaries in its collection, the earliest dating back to the early 19th Century, but quite a few from the 20th Century as well. Old hunting directories often included a calendar-based diary section for all-in-one note taking.

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The childhood diary of Jane McIlvaine McClary, detailing her adventures riding with the hunts in the Middleburg area.

Keeping a diary of riding activities is a great way to keep track of adventures (and misadventures) and range from formal accounts of a rider’s activities to the heartwarming or humorous personal entries.

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An anonymous British hunting diary, 1816. National Sporting Library & Museum.

For researchers, these diaries are a treasure trove of local history: names, dates, and landmarks are chronicled in a single document. The practice has continued for hundreds of years, and for those who study history, we hope it will continue in the future. Do you keep sporting or riding diaries? To view some of the NSLM’s hunt diaries collection, you can contact me to arrange an appointment.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail 

A couple of years ago, one of our Library regulars was Dr. Amy Schmidt, an historian with a doctorate in history from Kent State University who enjoyed a long career at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Like many of our researchers, Dr. Schmidt was laboring over a publication project, and a labor of love at that. Last month she was kind enough to send a copy of her newly-finished book to the Library to add to our collection.

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Saddle Club Stories, Amy Schmidt, 2017.

Saddle Club Stories is both intimate and comprehensive in its scope. It chronicles the history of the Alamance Saddle Club in Alamance County in North Carolina. The club was founded in 1944 and closed its doors in 1972. During its 28-year run, the club was a touchstone for hundreds of young riders who learned to care for horses, ride them, and compete in the club’s horse shows.

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Each chapter covers an aspect of the club and its history. But in addition to the engaging historical text, Dr. Schmidt assembled hundreds of personal accounts and photographs that make up the bulk of the book’s illustrations.

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It’s easy to see that Dr. Schmidt’s own experiences riding with the Alamance Saddle Club left their mark. The personal accounts and narratives are much more stories of the heart (working hard, making friends, learning to bond with a horse, growing up, and saying goodbye) than sporting accounts. And these stories reflect how important the club really was to its many members. Reading the book is a chance to share in the reminiscence with kindred spirits across the country.

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Signed, limited-edition copies of the book are available for purchase directly from Dr. Schmidt at amy.schmidt09@gmail.com. Purchase price is $50, plus $4 for shipping.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail 

In June, NSLM won an award! We won the Business Equine-Related Custom Publication (Print) category of the Equine Media Awards for the exhibition catalog for The Horse in Ancient Greek Art. The catalog, which features scholarly essays and beautiful images from the exhibition, is available for purchase through NSLM’s online gift shop. The exhibition is still on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, but it closes July 8, so take advantage of this last chance to see it!

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NSLM’s 2017 Equine Media Awards winner’s plaque, with certificate for NSLM Curator Nicole Stribling for her efforts on the publication.

The Equine Media Awards are part of the annual conference for American Horse Publications, an organizations dedicated to excellence in equestrian publications. The conference, held each summer, is a great opportunity for networking and idea-sharing. NSLM has been a non-profit member of AHP for years. The Equine Media Awards are the highlight of each conference, with dozens of categories for competition. See the entire award winners list here.

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AHP’s annual conference is a great place to swap ideas and get to know the hard-working folks who produce the equestrian magazines and websites we know and love

On the Library side, we were thrilled to announce that we have received a grant to begin work on one of our long-range goals: digitizing rare books from the NSLM collection. Digitization is a huge avenue toward greater accessibility to the collection and it also reduces wear on titles in the Library.

Digitization work has already been done in small portions. Several years ago, the Library digitized its microfilm collection. The first book to be digitized was last week, as our neighbors at Paratext dropped by to take images of the Index to Engravings in the Sporting Magazine by Sir Walter Gilbey.

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Paratext Editor Grayson Van Beuren creating digital photos of a rare book in the NSLM Main Reading Room. Paratext is an independent library information and research company based in Middleburg.

The grant will go toward a more comprehensive project that includes the purchase of rare book scanning equipment and the development of an online platform to allow researchers to read the digital books.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail 

Hound shows have been part of the American sporting landscape for decades, and we’re privileged in Virginia to have one of the largest shows in the world. The Virginia Foxhound Club hosts the Virginia Foxhound Show every spring, barely 30 minutes drive from NSLM.

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The Virginia Hound Show was founded in 1934 by William Du Pont, Jr., president of the now-defunct American Foxhound Club, by request of his sister, Marion Du Pont Scott.

In 1934, William duPont, Jr., president of the now-defunct American Foxhound Club (and great-grandson of the founder of the duPont Company), was asked by his sister, Marion duPont Scott (wife of actor Randolph Scott), to seek the sanctioning of a hound show in Virginia. Mrs. Scott offered her Montpelier estate (built by President James Madison) as a venue, and the show, which offered a bench show as well as field trial classes for mostly American hounds, ran for seven years under the auspices of the American Foxhound Club until the outbreak of World War II.

American Foxhound Club History, by Norman Fine

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While the Virginia Hound Show is one of the largest shows in the United States, the Bryn Mawr Hound Show is the oldest, founded in 1914.

The Bryn Mawr Hound Show was started in September, 1914 by John Valentine, Plunket Stewart and J. Stanley Reeve. Local Masters of Hounds were contacted and, upon receiving approval and support, officers were elected and committees appointed. Apparently, the first show was a great success, as 21 of the foremost packs in America showed hounds.

Bryn Mawr Hound Show History, excerpted from History of the Bryn Mawr Hound Show 1914-1989 by C. Barton Higham

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Together these are two of the most prestigious hound shows in the United States. At the shows, hounds are judged on conformation, suitability, and temperament, individually and in packs. Many prizes from both shows have been won by the Orange County Hounds, one of our local hunts, and are on display in the Library’s Main Reading Room and Founders’ Room.

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This year, Orange County was hugely successful at both shows, winning 12 classes at the Virginia Foxhound Show and 11 classes at Bryn Mawr. The star at both shows was Kermit, a hound who won Champion American Foxhound, Grand Champion Foxhound, and Best in Show at Bryn Mawr as well as Best American Stallion Hound, Champion American Dog Hound, and Champion American Foxhound of the Show at the Virginia Hound Show.

If you’re in the area, make sure to stop by the Library and enjoy the trophies on display!


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail 

This week is the 98th running of the Middleburg Spring Races. The first race was run in 1911, organized by Daniel C. Sands, MFH of the Middleburg Hunt, and despite a hiatus during World War I, still endures today. The races are run at Glenwood Park here in Middleburg, which Sands donated in 1963 to preserve the open spaces required for equestrian events.

We recently found an image in one of our archive collections of the Middleburg Spring Races in 1938. Glenwood Park looks almost exactly the same today as it did back then, even down to the areas where tailgates and general admission spectators are located. Click here to get a close up view of the 1938 races!

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Middleburg Spring Races, 1938. Photograph by Walter B. Lane. National Sporting Library & Museum, Gerald B. Webb, Jr. Archive.

Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail