08/16/2012 12:59PM

Travers history challenge answers: A showdown for the ages

Man o’ War eases toward the finish to defeat Upset by 2 1/2 lengths in the 1920 Travers.

See the questions HERE.

1. Before the Civil War and, in some cases, for years after, the names of jockeys were omitted from charts of races. When jockeys were identified – mostly in the North – often only the first names were used.

Among the most famous jockeys at the time was Gilbert Watson Patrick, a tiny man who became a darling of the press and the most famous rider of the era when he began winning races with regularity in the late 1830s.

Friends around the stables called him “Gilpatrick,” and that is how his name usually appeared, whenever jockeys were identified.

Patrick won the inaugural Travers Stakes aboard Kentucky, and three years later won the race again aboard the filly Ruthless. Earlier that year, Patrick guided Ruthless to victory at Jerome Park in the first running of the Belmont Stakes.

Patrick rode for more than 40 years and was regularly aboard some of the greatest horses of the 19th century, including Boston and that colt’s most famous offspring, Lexington.

Boston, Lexington, and Kentucky are all Hall of Fame members. Patrick was enshrined in the Hall in 1970.

2. The Whitney entry in the 1920 Travers included Upset, the only horse to ever beat Man o’ War (in the 1919 Sanford Memorial Stakes) and John P. Grier, who gave Man o’ War his toughest challenge that year in the Dwyer Stakes at Aqueduct – drawing even in the stretch for a moment with the big red horse.

Trainer James Rowe’s plan to have John P. Grier tire Man o’ War early and set it up for Upset’s closing run didn’t pan out. Man o’ War took the lead from the start and was eased in the final sixteenth.

Man o’ War’s regular pilot in 1920, Clarence Kummer, was injured in July at Aqueduct. Earl Sande rode Man o’ War in the Miller Stakes and then left for Canada when Kummer was expected back for the Travers.

The doctors recanted and refused to allow Kummer to ride in the Travers, so owner Samuel Riddle turned to Andy Schuttinger.

(In 1939, Riddle’s wife donated the gold cup Man o’ War won in his final race – a match with Sir Barton – to Saratoga, and it has since then been presented to the winning owner after the Travers. Beginning in 1959, instead of keeping the irreplaceable trophy for one year, the winning Travers owner was given a replica.)

3. Arnold Rothstein was one of the most flamboyant gamblers of the early 20th century, and many historians view him as the founder of modern crime.

In 1921, Rothstein’s horse Sporting Blood was entered in the Travers Stakes. The only other expected entrant was Harry Payne Whitney’s filly Prudery, the winner of the Alabama Stakes and the likely heavy favorite. But Rothstein knew Prudery was ailing.

On race day, Belmont Stakes winner Grey Lag was a surprise entry. Rothstein had messengers around the country bet heavily with illegal handbooks on his horse, which was the third choice with ontrack bookmakers.
Then, Grey Lag was mysteriously scratched at the last minute. Sporting Blood beat Prudery (who was odds of 2-7 with the track bookmakers). Rothstein collected the winner’s purse of $10,275 and reportedly $450,000 from bookies around the country.

4. Of the 11 winners of racing’s Triple Crown, only Whirlaway in 1941 won the Travers Stakes.

In 1930, Gallant Fox was involved in one of the most stunning upsets in racing history when he was beaten by eight lengths in the Travers by 100-1 shot Jim Dandy.

The most recent Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, scored a 1 3/4-length victory in the 1978 Travers, but was disqualified for interfering with his longtime rival, Alydar, who was placed first.

The other eight Triple Crown winners did not contest the Travers.

5. Regularly ranked among the top 10 females of the 20th century, Cicada was voted champion of her division three consecutive years, the first female to accomplish that feat.

A winner of 18 stakes races, her most impressive race may have been a loss to Ridan in the 1962 Florida Derby. After opening up a four-length lead, the filly was collared by Ridan at the top of the stretch, but she dug in, and the duo fought doggedly the entire length of the stretch before Ridan won by a nostril.

In the Travers, Cicada swerved coming out of the gate, failed to gain traction, and never was in contention.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the ethnicity of jockey Gilbert Watson Patrick. He was of English descent, not African-American.