Timeline: 1910-1919

 

1910-1919

By MIKE KANE, racing historian and contributing editor for Saratoga Living magazine

Saratoga’s renaissance, orchestrated by William C. Whitney and his partners, was interrupted when anti-gambling legislation — the Hart-Agnew Law — successfully forced the cessation of racing in New York in 1910. With Saratoga Race Course and the other tracks in the state closed during 1911 and 1912, many prominent owners sent their best horses to Europe and others sold their bloodstock and closed their farms.

Yet the decade that began amidst chaos and uncertainty emerged as a golden era in Saratoga’s history, featuring some of the sport’s most famous horses, horsemen, and races.

Easily topping the remarkable list of runners, which includes such greats as Regret, Old Rosebud, Roamer, Sir Barton, Billy Kelly, and Exterminator, is the incomparable Man o’ War. August Belmont’s son of Fair Play was purchased for $5,000 at auction in August 1918 at Saratoga and suffered the only loss in his brilliant 21-race career there the next summer to a horse named Upset in the Sanford Memorial.

Racing in New York ended with a victory by a horse named Belfast on the final day of the Saratoga meeting on Aug. 31, 1910. Since none of the downstate tracks were planning to use their dates after Saratoga, the season was extended three days so that the rich Futurity, normally run at the Coney Island Jockey Club, could be held. Samuel Hildreth’s colt Novelty won the Futurity, completing a spectacular season in which he won five stakes and six of seven starts at Saratoga. 

The Hart-Agnew bill, was passed in 1908, but failed to withstand court challenges. However, when a stronger piece of legislation was passed that made directors of the tracks liable for any illegal activity — no matter whether they were aware of it — the tracks were closed. Though attempts were made to change the law, racing finally resumed as the result of a technicality after a judge ruled in late 1912 that the liability rule could not be enforced.

A crowd of 7,000 attended the reopening of Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 2, 1913. Old Rosebud won the Flash, the third race of the afternoon that started the 50th anniversary of racing at Saratoga. Old Rosebud also won the United States Hotel stakes, his 10th victory in 12 races that year. The following May he won the Kentucky Derby.

Roamer earned the first of his many Saratoga victories in the 1913 Adirondack Handicap. By the time his 98-race career ended in 1919, he had won the Travers and the Saratoga Cup, as well as three runnings of the Saratoga Handicap. 

Another young star emerged in 1914, the filly Regret, who began her career by sweeping the Saratoga Special, the Sanford, and the Hopeful for owner Harry Payne Whitney and trainer James Rowe. The next year, without a prep race, she won the Kentucky Derby.

Sir Barton was the first Triple Crown winner in 1919, but in the summer of 1918 at Saratoga he was losing badly to stablemate Billy Kelly. Exterminator, winner of the 1918 Derby, was a well-beaten fourth and last to entrymate Sun Briar in the Travers.

The world was finally at peace in 1919 after years of turmoil in Europe, and Man o’ War served notice that summer that he was a super horse. He arrived at Saratoga with a 5-0 record and promptly added the United States Hotel to his resume. His seventh start, in the Sanford Memorial on Aug.13, was a nightmare and nearly 100 years later that race remains very much a part of track lore. With a substitute starter working that day because Mars Cassidy had called in sick, Man o’ War and jockey Johnny Loftus got away slowly. They were trapped on the rail for a while in the stretch and finished a half-length behind Upset, who was carrying 15 fewer pounds.

The mighty Man o’ War had lost at Saratoga, a track that has claimed many short-priced stars through the decades.

1911

Congress Park and the Casino acquired for public use. Richard Canfield closed the Casino in 1906 and declared bankruptcy after facing pressures to close by notable Saratogians such as Spencer Trask and Judge Henry Hilton. He sold the Casino and adjacent lands to the Village of Saratoga Springs for $250,000. 

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Photo of Congress Spring in Congress Park. The Grand Union Hotel is in the background.

1911

Skidmore School of Arts begins operation. Prior to this the school was known as the Young Women’s Industrial Club. In 1922 the name changed again to Skidmore College. 

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1911, 1912

Saratoga Race Course is closed when track executives are made liable for illegal betting transactions at the track.

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 August 9, 1913

Roamer wins the Saratoga Special. A legendary weight carrier, the popular gelding broke five track records at the age of three.

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August 13, 1913

Old Rosebud wins the United States Hotel after winning the Flash eleven days earlier. Known for his rivalry with Roamer, he won the 1914 Kentucky Derby.

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 August 23, 1913

Little Nephew wins the first Sanford Memorial, later named just the Sanford.

August 27, 1913

Roamer finishes second to Little Nephew in the Adirondack Handicap.

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August 22, 1914

The filly Regret wins the Hopeful after beginning her career by winning the Saratoga Special and then winning the Sanford Memorial.

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August 25, 1914

Roamer wins the Huron Handicap after winning the Travers two weeks earlier.

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 1914

Famed sculpture Daniel Chester French was commissioned by Katrina Trask and George Foster Peabody to create a statue to stand as a memorial in Congress Park to Spencer Trask. In 1914 the “Spirit of Life” was dedicated in Spencer’s memory. 

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Photo circa 1915.

August 17, 1915

Regret, the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby, wins the Saranac Handicap. 

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 August 28, 1915

Roamer wins the Saratoga Cup after winning the Saratoga Cup, finishing fourth to Star of Jasmine in the Champlain Handicap and winning the Merchants’ and Citizens’ Handicap.

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 1915

City is chartered. Prior to this Saratoga Springs was considered a village. The charter formed a commission form of government which is still in place today.

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Photo of City Council in 1917.

 July 31, 1916

Regret finishes eighth and last to Stromboli in the Saratoga Handicap.

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August 26, 1916

Roamer finishes second to Friar Rock in the Saratoga Cup after finishing third to The Finn in the Merchants’ and Citizens’ Handicap.

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 August 1, 1917

Roamer wins the Saratoga Handicap; Old Rosebud finishes fifth.

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August 7, 1917

Old Rosebud wins the Delaware Handicap; Roamer finishes third.

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 August 22, 1917

Tuscaloosa wins the first Schuylerville.

 August 1, 1918

Sir Barton, the first horse to win the Triple Crown, finishes ninth to Billy Kelly in the Flash; Roamer wins the Saratoga Handicap.

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August 3, 1918

Sir Barton finishes ninth to Billy Kelly in the United States Hotel; Exterminator finishes second to Enfilade in the Kenner.

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August 14, 1918

Sir Barton finishes seventh to Billy Kelly in the Sanford Memorial.

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August 17, 1918

Exterminator, the winner of that year’s Kentucky Derby who later became a popular handicap horse, finishes fourth and last to entrymate Sun Briar in the Travers. Also in that race were Preakness winner War Cloud and Belmont Stakes winner Johren.

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 August 21, 1918

Roamer sets a new American record for the mile while racing against the clock.

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August 31, 1918

Sir Barton finishes sixteenth to Eternal in the Hopeful; Roamer finishes second to Johren, the only other horse, in the Saratoga Cup.

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 August 2, 1919

Man o’ War wins the United States Hotel. Generally considered one of the greatest horses of all time, he won 20 of his 21 starts.

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 August 13, 1919

Man o’ War finishes second to Upset in the Sanford Memorial, the only loss of his career, and later wins the Grand Union Hotel and Hopeful.

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August 30, 1919

Exterminator wins the Saratoga Cup after finishing third to Fairy Wand in the Delaware Handicap, second to Sun Briar in the Champlain Handicap and third to Cudgel in the Merchants’ and Citizens’ Handicap.

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1919

Washington Baths opened in the New York State Reservation. These were operated by the state as the Spa’s primary hydrotherapy facility until 1930.

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