New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Horse racing

Earl Sande


Earl Sande (Horse racing.  Born, Groton, SD, Nov. 13, 1898; died, Jacksonville, OR, Aug. 19, 1968.)  During the 1920s, the so-called “Golden Age of American Sports,” each major sport had its leading hero.  Babe Ruth (baseball), Jack Dempsey (boxing), Bill Tilden (tennis), Bobby Jones (golf), and Red Grange (football) were among the most famous.  But none was better known than thoroughbred racing’s Earl Sande, the smallest of the greats of that era.  Earl H. Sande was the jockey with the biggest name, a name known amongst Americans who knew little else about racing.  He became a particular favorite among New Yorkers by winning the Belmont Stakes four times from 1921-1927.  Sande then capped off his career with rides that helped the great Gallant Fox to the Triple Crown in 1930, marking only the second time in racing history that feat had been accomplished.  (Sir Barton won the Triple Crown in 1919.)  Earlier, Sande had ridden Grey Lag (1921), Zev (1923), Mad Play (1924), and Chance Shot (1927) to victory in the Belmont.  During his active career, Sande rode 967 winners and won over $3 million in purses, enormous figures for that time in the history of racing.  He also rode two Kentucky Derby winners besides Gallant Fox.  After his retirement from riding, Sande turned to training horses and was again successful, although perhaps not as much as he was riding.  In 1938, he was the nation’s leading trainer, training 15 stakes winners who earned $226,445.

D. Wayne Lukas


D. Wayne Lukas (Horse racing. Born, Antigo, WI, Sept. 2, 1935.) After an 11-year career as a basketball coach (nine in Wisconsin high schools and two as an assistant at the U. of Wisconsin), D. Wayne Lukas turned his organizational talents to racing. Lukas brought a contemporary business approach to training thoroughbreds with great success. He became the first trainer ever to reach $100 million in earnings and the first to reach $200 million. Lukas didn’t become a full-time trainer until 1978. By the 1990s, he was a recognized leader in the field. He led all trainers in purse money 14 times in 15 years (1983-97, except ’93). From 1985-92, Lukas also led in races won. He won the Eclipse Award in 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1994. In the Belmont Stakes, Lukas has trained four winners (and nearly another). He won with Tabasco Cat (1994), Thunder Gulch (1995), Editor’s Note (1996), and Commendable, a 19-1 shot who won in a slow 2:31.19 in 2000. Lukas lost by a head (to Lemon Drop Kid) with Charismatic in 1999, costing him a Triple Crown winner. His other outstanding horses have included Lady’s Secret, Flanders, and Codex.

Hirsch Jacobs


Hirsch Jacobs (Horse racing.  Born, New York, Apr. 8, 1904; died, Miami Beach, FL, Feb. 13, 1970.)  Racing was distinctly part of Hirsch Jacobs’ nature.  From the earliest days of his childhood, he was fascinated by the concept of racing.  Jacobs became one of the leading trainers in American racing.  He saddled his first winner in 1926 and during his career he trained a total of 3,596 winners who earned more than $15 million in purses.  One of the greatest coups of Jacobs’ career was Stymie.  He bought the horse for $1,500 and it earned purses totalling $914,485, becoming Handicap Horse of the Year in 1945.  That was the most money ever won up to that time by single horse.  Jacobs was the leading trainer in the nation 11 times from 1933-44, missing only in 1940.  Perhaps his best year in that span was 1936, when he saddled 177 winners.  He was also the nation’s leading money-winning trainer in 1946.  Jacobs was not only one of the country’s most successful trainers for more than a quarter-century but also one of the most popular amongst his peers and the fans of the sport.  During the Depression, when racing was at low ebb, Jacobs continued to work to improve the sport.  One of his great disappointments was that he never trained a horse that won any of the Triple Crown races.  His horses raced primarily in New York and on the Florida circuit.

Thomas Hitchcock, Sr.


Thomas Hitchcock, Sr. (Horse racing.  Born, New York, NY, Nov. 12, 1860; died, Old Westbury, LI, Sept. 29, 1941.)  Father of America’s most famous polo star, Thomas Hitchcock, Sr., was himself a leading polo player, horse trainer, and steeplechase owner.  He was a member of the first U.S. international polo team, which lost to Great Britain in 1886 at Newport, R.I.  Hitchcock owned and raced such famous steeplechase horses as Chenango, Guidon, Rioter, and Saluda, who starred in United Hunt meetings at Belmont Park in the 1930s.

Max Hirsch


Max Hirsch (Thoroughbred racing.  Born, Fredericksburg, TX, July 30, 1880; died, New Hyde Park, NY, Apr. 3, 1969.)  Maximillion Hirsch turned in one of the longest careers as a trainer in the history of New York thoroughbred racing, a span of over 60 years from 1908 until he retired due to ill health in 1968.  In between those two dates, Hirsch trained 1,933 winners, including some of the most famous horses in the annals of American turf.  His most famous horse was Assault, which swept to the Triple Crown in 1946, completing the feat with a three-length victory over Natchez in the Belmont Stakes.  However, he trained three other Belmont winners and they stretched over a spread of 26 years from his first (Vito) in 1928 to his last (High Gun) in 1954.  In between, he also saddled Bold Venture in 1936, a Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.  Hirsch was a master of race tactics and his jockeys benefitted from his long and wide experience in racing.  Although Hirsch trained for several owners during his lengthy career, his 1946 performance with Assault was for the King Ranch.  That year, Assault started 15 times and won eight races, totaling $424,195 in winnings, then a national record.  Not surprisingly, the three-year-old colt was named “Horse of the Year.”  He never turned out the volume of winners that some of his contemporaries did, but he concentrated on preparing a few horses especially well and was always a threat to win in major races.  Hirsch was also considered an excellent judge of the type of track on which a horse would do well.

Eric Guerin


Eric Guerin (Horse racing.  Born, Maringuoin, LA, Oct. 23, 1924; died, Plantation, FL, Mar. 21, 1993.)  Though long stigmatized for his failure to win the Triple Crown with Native Dancer, Oliver Eric Guerin was nonetheless a very successful jockey.  Guerin rode 2,712 winners and his mounts amassed over $17 million in purse winnings during his 36-year career (1940-75).  In 1954, he became just the fourth jockey in the 20th century to win back-to-back Belmont Stakes when he came home (by a neck) on High Gun.  The year before, Guerin had ridden Native Dancer to a Belmont victory after also winning the Preakness but failing to lead the field in the Kentucky Derby (Native Dancer was second).  He rode a winner in his first Derby in 1947 but never won again at Churchill Downs.  Guerin was also one of three jockeys involved in the triple dead heat in the Carter Handicap June 10, 1944, at Aqueduct.

Lucien Fontaine


Lucien Fontaine (Harness racing.  Born, Pointe aux Trembles, P.Q., Apr. 12, 1939.)  In 1959, Lucien Paul Fontaine made what could hardly be called an auspicious start in harness driving.  He drove twice and failed to finsh in the money either time. But in the  intervening years, his next 6,613 drives produced 3,458 wins and 1,634 place and show finishes to give him career purse earnings of $21,236,952.  After working under Canadian standouts Keith Waples and Clint Hodgins, Fontaine began his own driving career at Rockingham and Monticello before moving to the major New York tracks in the early 1960s – Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways.  He had early outstanding success, becoming the leading driver on the New York circuit in 1968. He was also the leading driver in the New York area in 1977 and 1978 by which time the Meadowlands had opened.  Fontaine drove 175 or more winners nine times in 10 years from 1968 through 1977.  His best career year was 1968 when he had 264 winners in 1,359 starts and had 388 other horses finish in the money.  He was second in the nation in winners that year and fourth in earnings with $1,077,251. Fontaine was in the top 10 among drivers for earnings 10 times.  In 1986, he made only 177 starts but set numerous track records behind Forest Skipper. The pair won legs of the Graduate Series at Freehold and Rosecroft in record times and set another at Roosevelt.  Forest Skipper, the 1986 Horse of the Year, also notched a world record for a 4-year-old stallion over a mile track at the Meadowlands that year, covering the distance in 1:51.3, a mark he equaled five days later winning a leg of the Driscoll Series. He matched the mark a third time winning the Driscoll Final.

Jim Fitzsimmons


Jim Fitzsimmons (Horse racing.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, July 23, 1874; died, Miami, FL, Mar. 11, 1966.)  Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons was born on a stretch of land that later became Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay Racetrack, but he wasn’t attracted to the sport of racing until he was 15, when he began as a waterboy and part-time jockey. When he grew too heavy to ride, he switched to training horses in the mid-1890s.  It was a move that benefitted racing.  He began a career that was to produce 2,275 winners worth $13,082,911 in purses, very large numbers for the time.  Much of the winning was done for owner William Woodward’s Belair Stud Farm, for which Fitzsimmons produced two Triple Crown winners, Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935).  He also had ten other horses that won one or two legs of the Triple Crown, including Johnstown (1939), Faireno (1932) and Granville (1936).  Fitzsimmons was the nation’s leading trainer in 1936 and 1939.  For Wheatley Stable in 1956, he was again the leading trainer.  In 1955, he saddled Nashua, winner of the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes and the Horse of the Year, and did the same for Bold Ruler, 1957’s Preakness winner and Horse of the Year.

Eddie Delahoussaye


Eddie Delahoussaye (Horse racing.  Born, New Iberia, LA, Sept. 21, 1951.)  Although based in California starting in 1979, Eddie Delahoussaye numbered two Belmont Stakes winners among his more than 6,384 career victories, Delahoussaye made his first Belmont start aboard Gato Del Sol in 1982 and finished second.  His next two Belmont mounts (Risen Star in 1988 and A.P. Indy in 1992) both resulted in first-place finishes.  He also rode two Kentucky Derby winners and one Preakness winner.  He retired in Jan. 2003 after being injured in a fall at Del Mar Racetrack.

Pat Day


Pat Day (Horse racing.  Born, Brush, CO, Oct. 13, 1953.)  In a career that began in 1973, Pat Day became the fourth-winningest jockey ever, with 8,803 winning mounts and a record in purse earnings (almost $298 million) at his retirement in 2005.  In 2002, Day surpassed the purse record of $264,351,679 set by Chris McCarron.  He led the nation in winning mounts in 1982 (399), 1983 (455), 1984 (400), 1990 (364), and 1991 (430).  Day rode his first Belmont in 1984, finishing second aboard Pine Circle, and later was irons for three Belmont winners:  Easy Goer (1989), Tabasco Cat (1994), and Commendable (2000).  His 1991 performance included a record 60 stakes victories and $14,400,348 in purse earnings.  His 1999 earnings were $18,092,845 and in 2000 Day’s mounts earned $17,479,838 in purses.  Even though he began cutting his schedule back in 2004, he still rode $10,882,222 worth of purse earnings that year.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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