11/17/2006 1:00AM

History Challenge: Answers


1. In 1912, a year in which major racing was shut down in all but three states, renowned owner and breeder James R. Keene sold 36 foals to grocery magnate James Butler, who owned the shuttered Empire City Race Course in Yonkers, N.Y.

Five of the 36 turned out to be stakes winners, including the filly Comely, who at age 2 captured the inaugural running of the Fall Highweight Handicap at Belmont Park in 1914. A daughter of Disguise, she carried 110 pounds.

In the 91 runnings since that first year, many fillies have come home first, but no juvenile of either sex has hit the board in the Fall Highweight.

In 1945, the Empire City Racing Association - which was then running its dates at nearby Jamaica - introduced the Comely Handicap to honor the filly owned by the late owner of the track. The Comely Stakes remains to this day a major fixture on the New York racing calendar. The Grade 2 race was run this past April at Aqueduct for the 57th time.

2. The last horse to carry 140 pounds to victory in the Fall Highweight was Mt. Livermore in 1985. D. Wayne Lukas trained the Lloyd French runner.

Only seven other horses have carried 140 pounds to victory in the race. The first was Harmonicon under Hall of Fame rider Joe Notter in the second running in 1915. While a number of 20th century runners in America carried more than 140 pounds to victory in sprints, no winner of a race at one mile or longer carried more than 139 pounds.

Whisk Broom II won the 1913 Suburban Handicap (1 1/4 miles) under 139 pounds. Twenty-one years later, Discovery carried 139 pounds to victory in the Merchants and Citizens Handicap (1 3/16 miles) at Saratoga

3. Ta Wee was champion sprinter at ages 3 and 4 in 1969 and 1970 when she captured back-to-back runnings of the Fall Highweight Handicap. In a career that spanned 21 races, she won 15 times. In her seven starts at age 4, Ta Wee carried 131 pounds or more each time.

After winning the Fall Highweight carrying 130 pounds as a 3-year-old, Ta Wee came back the following year to win the race under 140 pounds, giving the male runner-up 19 pounds. In the final race of her career, Ta Wee shouldered 142 pounds in winning the Interborough Handicap.

A half-sister to the immortal Dr. Fager, Ta Wee was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in 1994.

4. Miss Merriment could not keep up with Myrtlewood in their celebrated match race at Keeneland in 1936. But this iron maiden more than held her own for four seasons against the best sprinters - male or female - in the nation.

Owned for most of her career by Victor Emanuel, she was sold just before the Keeneland meeting to John Hay Whitney.

Miss Merriment started 77 times over five seasons _ three times in the Fall Highweight Handicap. She won that event under 119 pounds in 1934, ran out of the money in 1935, and carried 128 pounds to victory in 1936.

(Because of the outcome of the Keeneland match race, Myrtlewood became the first horse formally to be voted sprinter of the year.)

5. The only time True North won the Fall Highweight Handicap was when he was assigned 140 pounds in 1945. He finished third the previous two years under 117 and 136, and was second in 1946 under 130.

A confirmed sprinter who often had difficulty carrying his intense speed all the way to the wire, True North set a track record for six furlongs (1:08.20) in 1944 over Belmont's straight Widener Course. It was not broken for more than a decade.

The Grade 2 True North Handicap was run at Belmont Park for the 28th time this past June.