07/30/2013 3:19PM

History challenge: Sprinters in the Hall of Fame

Courtesy of Keeneland Library
This sprinter won 76 of her 151 starts between 1912 and 1917, the most ever by a female racehorse. Can you name her?

When this year’s Hall of Fame ceremony concludes Friday, Aug. 9, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the number of horses enshrined since the Hall’s inception in 1955 will be just shy of 200.

One of this year's inductees is Housebuster, who shares a distinction only a handful of inductees can claim – their success on the track came primarily in sprints.

Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s top sprinter in 1990 and 1991, Housebuster did win four stakes at a flat mile, but each of those was around only one turn.

Winning races farther than one mile is almost a necessity for a horse to be considered truly great. In the more than 75 years of formal voting for national championships, only one horse has ever won Horse of the Year without winning a race that season farther than one mile. And that was the exceptional case of Native Dancer in 1954. (Native Dancer had one of the great seasons of all time in 1953, but, unfortunately, so did Tom Fool, who got the nod for Horse of the Year. Voters were not going to deny Native Dancer that honor in 1954.)

Since formal polling began in 1936, four horses were voted champion sprinter the same year they were named Horse of the Year, but in those cases, their success came at all distances. The four were Tom Fool (1953), Dr. Fager (1968), Ack Ack (1971), and Forego (1974) – all members of the Hall of Fame.

Test your knowledge of the rare horses who were primarily sprinters and inducted into the Hall of Fame.

1. The feature race on the third day – and first Saturday – of racing at Belmont’s inaugural meeting in 1905 featured a 4-year-old gelding who was just reaching his prime. He won the six-furlong Toboggan Handicap that day at odds of 8-1 and was soon being referred to by sportswriters and horsemen as the greatest sprinter of his time.

That was the 19th start of the gelding’s career. He started 92 more times before retiring in 1909. All but eight of this gelding’s 111 races were at 7 1/2 furlongs or less.

In perhaps the greatest race of his long career, Oct. 16, 1906, at Belmont Park, he completed seven furlongs in 1:22 flat, a world record that stood for 41 years. Even more remarkable, he carried 140 pounds or more in 29 of his races. Name the gelding.

2. She had the misfortune of being foaled in 1910 in Sweetwater, Texas. When she reached racing age, nearly every state in the country had shut down its racetracks because betting was outlawed.

Most of her races in her first four years on the track were in Mexico and Canada. That did not stop her from starting 151 times – all but eight in sprints – before her career ended in 1917. She won a remarkable 76 of those races, more than any female Thoroughbred in the recorded history of American racing. She started 28 times carrying 130 pounds or more – seven of them with 140 or more.

On Feb. 10, 1915, the mare met the Oklahoma flash, Joe Blair, in a special match. She won in world-record time of 57.20 for five furlongs, a record that stood for 36 years. Name this durable racemare.

3. She was bred by the powerful duo of Isador Bieber and Hall of Fame trainer Hirsch Jacobs and raced in the name of Jacobs’s wife, Ethel.
The dark bay filly raced for four seasons, was co-champion female twice (1962 and 1965), and champion sprinter of 1965.

She made 52 starts in her four-year career, 42 of them at seven furlongs or less. She ran impressively in longer races, but won only one of them – interestingly, it was her biggest margin of victory, eight lengths, in the 1 1/8-mile Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct.

Known to New Yorkers as the “Queen of Queens” because of her 35 starts at Aqueduct in Queens, she won 28 times in all (18 in major stakes races). Name this three-time champion.

4. It is unusual for a broodmare to produce two national champions and even more unusual for her to produce two offspring to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

But Aspidistra, who once ran for a claiming price of $6,500, produced not only the incredible Dr. Fager, but also this filly who was two-time national champion sprinter (1969 and 1970). Both are Hall of Famers.

In 21 lifetime starts – 20 of them in sprints – this filly won 15 times. In her final seven starts, she never carried less than 131 pounds. In her final two starts, she carried 140 and 142 pounds to victory. Name her.

5. She won eight consecutive sprint stakes but was beaten in the final few jumps in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. She was voted champion sprinter that year.

The following season, she won seven sprint stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Sprint but was not voted champion sprinter. That honor went to Housebuster.

She was favored in 27 of her 31 lifetime starts (all but one at seven furlongs or less) and retired with a record of 24 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds. Name her.

Get the answers HERE.