02/02/2012 2:25PM

History Challenge answers: Aqueduct's Withers honors one of racing's early icons

Email
Aristides won the first running of the Kentucky Derby and the second running of the Withers in 1875.

See the questions HERE.

1. For years in the 19th and early 20th centuries, racetrack operators battled with “pool rooms,” which offered patrons the opportunity to bet into auction pools on horse racing and to shoot billiards while waiting for the results.

The pool-room operators, however, unlike the ontrack bookmakers, did not pay a fee to the racetracks for the privilege of booking bets.

Alexander Cassatt and David Withers of Monmouth Park grew tired of the downtown New York pool rooms taking bets on their races, so they cut the telegraph wires going from the track to New York City, thus stopping the transmission of race results.

New York pool-room operators countered by citing an antiquated New Jersey law that said any place where gambling took place was a “disorderly house.”

Racetrack operators eventually succeeded in having betting in pool rooms declared illegal, but unfortunately, those efforts also led legislators to ban all gambling. New Jersey horse racing closed down in 1894.

More than a century later, racetrack operators find themselves fighting with other tracks and online and offshore wagering companies over their fair share of bets taken on their live races.

2. At the time David Withers died in 1892, he was serving as president of The Board of Control, an organization he helped found a year earlier.

The board was the result of a meeting of racetrack managers and stable owners called in 1890 by prominent owner Pierre Lorillard.

The seven-member board set in motion the process of organizing the sport nationally. It began collecting birth records on horses, licensing jockeys and trainers, and assigning coordinating racing dates.

Horsemen complained the board was too heavily controlled by racetrack management, resulting in a new organization, The Jockey Club, being incorporated in 1894 and absorbing the Board of Control’s responsibilities.

The Jockey Club comprised 50 members, seven of whom served as stewards.

3. By winning the inaugural running of America’s most fabled race, the Kentucky Derby, Aristides guaranteed that his name will be remembered come the first Saturday in May each year.
Aristides was not a great horse, but he was among the best of his era.

In addition to capturing the first Derby in 1875, Aristides also finished second in the Belmont and third in the Travers stakes.

His other victories at age 3 included the Withers Stakes, the Jerome Handicap, and the Breckinridge Stakes.

Aristides twice beat 1876 Horse of the Year and future Hall of Fame member Ten Broeck – in the Kentucky Derby and in his first start at age 4 at the Association Course in Lexington.

4. Sir Barton won the 1919 Kentucky Derby and then four days later took down the Preakness Stakes. Before winning the Belmont Stakes, he scored a 2 1/2-length win in the Withers Stakes.

In 1935, Omaha won the Preakness one week after capturing the Derby. Two weeks later, he finished second to Rosemont in the Withers Stakes. After that, Omaha came back in two weeks to win the Belmont.

Count Fleet also won the Preakness one week after taking down the Derby in 1943. Two weeks later, he won the Withers Stakes, and two weeks after that he scored a 25-length win in the Belmont.

In 1941, Whirlaway won an overnight race between the Preakness and Belmont, and in 1948, Citation won the Jersey Stakes in between the Preakness and Belmont.

5. Owner Samuel D. Riddle was never keen on shipping Man o’ War to what was then considered “out West,” to run 1 1/4 miles in his first race of 1920, so he opted to make the big chestnut’s first start at age 3 in the Preakness.

Eleven days later, Man o’ War – the horse called the 20th century’s greatest – won the Withers Stakes before scoring a 20-length win in the Belmont Stakes.

Like Man o’ War, Native Dancer lost one lifetime start, but his came in the Kentucky Derby – a head loss to Dark Star in 1953.

With three weeks between the Derby and Preakness, Native Dancer kept in shape by winning the Withers Stakes one week before the Pimlico classic. Three weeks later, he won the Belmont Stakes.