By ALLAN CARTER, Historian, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
Saratoga Race Course in the 1870s was dominated by four future Hall of Fame inductees: Harry Bassett, Longfellow, Parole, and Duke of Magenta. Probably the most memorable race of that time period was the 1872 Saratoga Cup in which Harry Bassett defeated Longfellow by a length while setting a new American record of 3:59 for the 2¼ mile distance. Harry Basset's win was diminished when it was discovered that Longfellow ran most of the race as a cripple when his left front shoe flipped over and became imbedded in his foot. It was Longfellow's final race.
Other notable events during this time period was the inaugural running of the Alabama on July 19, 1872 and the death of the track's founder, John Morrissey, at the age of 47, at the Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga on May, 1878.
At the start of the decade, Morrissey opened his Club House (now the Canfield Casino). Other major events in town included a lecture by Frederick Douglass (1870), the first college regatta on Saratoga Lake (1871), the opening of the United States (1874) and Adelphi (1877) hotels and the redesign of Congress Park (1875).