Notable Moments in Horse Racing

Read on to discover historical events in horse racing, the "Sport of Kings," compiled by NTRA researchers
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Read on to discover historical events in horse racing, the "Sport of Kings," compiled by NTRA researchers

Oct. 4, 1762: Nineteen members of England's Jockey Club announced an agreement at Newmarket to register their racing colors for purposes of distinguishing runners among a field of horses. The Duke of Devonshire chose "straw," and the color, still registered for the family, is the oldest continuously used color in racing.
Oct. 4, 1970: Nijinsky II's 11-race winning streak came to an end when he ran second to Sassafras in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Oct. 4, 1972: Secretariat worked a mile in 1:37 in preparation for the Oct. 14 Champagne Stakes.
Oct. 4, 1980: Less than an hour before post time, Spectacular Bid was scratched from the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the race that was to have been his last. Trainer Bud Delp claimed that "Bid" had a slight leg injury, but refused to allow a veterinarian to examine the horse and insisted he be retired. Despite this ignoble end to his career, Spectacular Bid's 1980 racing season was perfect: he won each of his nine starts, all of them stakes, and was subsequently voted Horse of the Year.
Oct. 4, 1989: Secretariat, 1973 Triple Crown champion, was euthanized at Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky., after suffering a severe case of laminitis. He was 19.
Oct. 5, 1933: Jockey Gordon Richards concluded a 12-race winning streak that had begun on Oct. 3 when he won the last race at Nottingham, followed by a six-for-six day at Chepstow on Oct. 4 and five wins at Chepstow on Oct. 5.
Oct. 5, 1953: Twenty-one years after he retired from riding, 54-year-old Earl Sande, 'the Handy Guy,' returned to the saddle, finishing third on Honest Bread at Belmont Park.
Oct. 5, 1973: In his final workout for his first grass race, the Man o' War Stakes, Secretariat went five furlongs on the turf in :56 4/5 at Belmont Park.
Oct. 5, 1983: Jockey Jorge Velasquez won his 5,000th career race, riding Banquet Scene to victory in the fourth race at Belmont Park.
Oct. 6, 1949: Col. Matt J. Winn, credited with making the Kentucky Derby the greatest horse race in America, died at the age of 88. He witnessed all of the first 75 Derbies.
Oct. 6, 1979: In their only race together, champions Affirmed and Spectacular Bid met in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Odds-on favorite Affirmed, ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr., won by 3-4 of a length and became the first horse ever to earn more than $1 million in a single racing season. Affirmed was later voted Horse of the Year off this convincing victory over Spectacular Bid, who was named champion three-year-old.
Oct. 6, 1989: Parimutuel racing returned to Texas with a meet held at G. Rollie White Downs. Racing had been banned in the state since 1937.
Oct. 7, 1956: In his final start of his career, four-year-old Ribot won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for the second consecutive year and retired a perfect 16-for-16.
Oct. 8, 1973: Secretariat made his grass-racing debut in the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park, winning the 1 1-2-mile race by five lengths in a time of 2:24 4-5. He overran the finish line by another furlong, running 1 5-8 miles in a world-record-equaling time of 2:37 4-5.
Oct. 10, 1974: With female riders still a novelty, Lincoln Downs staged a $5,000 match race between jockeys Denise Boudrot and Mike Lapensee. The race, dubbed the 'contest of the sexes,' was won by Boudrot. In a rematch one week later, in which the riders switched their mounts from their previous encounter, Boudrot again prevailed.
Oct. 11, 1924: A crowd of 60,000 assembled at Latonia to watch the third and final International race, for which a French colt, Epinard, was the headliner. Epinard, who had finished second in his two previous Internationals, did so again, losing as the even-money favorite to Sarazen.
Oct. 12, 1920: In the final race of his career, three-year-old Man o' War defeated 1919 Triple Crown winner Sir Barton in a match race, the Kenilworth Park Gold Cup, at Kenilworth Park. Sent off at odds of 1-20, Man o' War won by seven lengths in his 14th consecutive victory.
Oct. 12, 1966: Damascus, owned by Edith W. Bancroft, broke his maiden at Aqueduct Racetrack, winning by eight lengths.
Oct. 12, 2000: A new ESPN Sports Poll measuring fan interest in major sports during the first half of 2000 showed an interest growth in horseracing of 8.5 percent when measured against the same period in 1999.
Oct. 13, 1927: Arlington Park opened. The track, built by H. D. Brown, had a steeplechase course and a polo field and was adjacent to tennis courts, a golf course and a one-mile training track.
Oct. 13, 1956: At age four, 1955 Horse of the Year Nashua won his last race, the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes at Belmont Park.
Oct. 13, 1984: At age nine, odds-on favorite John Henry won his last race, the Ballantine's Scotch Classic at The Meadowlands, to earn the richest purse of his career, $740,000, which included a $500,000 bonus for winning both the Turf Classic, run at Belmont Park on Sept. 22, and the Meadowlands' race. John Henry retired as America's then-richest horse with earnings of $6,597,947.
Oct. 14, 1952: Jockey Bill Hartack rode his first career winner, at Waterford Park.
Oct. 14, 1953: After a 21-year hiatus as a professional jockey, Earl Sande, 54, won his first race in a comeback, with Miss Weesie, at Jamaica. Sande's comeback began on Oct. 5 and ended with his win at Jamaica, where he received an ovation from a crowd of 18,184.
Oct. 14, 1968: Sandy Hawley won his first race aboard a two-year-old gelding named Fly Alone, riding at Woodbine Racecourse.
Oct. 14, 1972: After finishing first in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, Secretariat was disqualified and placed second, after bearing in on Stop the Music, who was declared the official winner.
Oct. 15, 1977: In the fifth of their 10 meetings, Alydar won his second victory over Affirmed in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.
Oct. 17, 1970: Nijinsky II ended his career finishing second in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket. In 13 races he won 11 times and finished second twice.
Oct. 17, 1986: Kent Desormeaux made his Maryland debut, in the fourth race, at Laurel Racecourse, Laurel, Md., aboard Shonda's Shickels. He finished second, but was disqualified for interference and placed fourth.
Oct. 17, 1991: Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. rode his 7,000th victory aboard Dont Cross the Law at Belmont Park.