Sept. 25, 1866: Jerome Park, named for its founder, Leonard W. Jerome, opened in the Bronx, N.Y. The track was a magnet for New York’s fashionable society, and the first to attract women in large numbers. Even the racehorses were fashionable, with ribbons of their owners’ colors braided into their manes and tails. Jerome, seeking to emulate the British racing system, also established the American Jockey Club, precursor to the present Jockey Club, formed in 1894.
Sept. 25, 1948: Fans at Atlantic City Racecourse filed onto the track after the 3-2 favorite in the fourth race, Even Break, dwelt in the starting gate as the race went off. A total of $71,414 was refunded to the angry crowd of bettors.
Sept. 25, 2002: The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders’ Cup Ltd. introduced a new wager called Head2Head to be unveiled at the World Thoroughbred Championships, Oct. 26, at Arlington Park. The wager challenges bettors to select which of two horses in a given Breeders’ Cup race will finish ahead of the other.
Sept. 26, 1942: The Jockey Club stewards revoked Eddie Arcaro’s license for one year after his display of “rough riding” aboard odds-on favorite Occupation in the Cowdin Stakes on Sept. 19. In the Cowdin, Arcaro deliberately drove his horse into another, Breezing Home, knocking his jockey, Vincent Nodarse, into the infield. Nodarse and his mount had crowded Arcaro at the start of the race, almost causing him to be unseated.
Sept. 27, 1894: Aqueduct Racetrack opened its doors. The building was torn down in 1955 and the new Aqueduct was reopened on Sept. 14, 1959.
Sept. 27, 1924: In the second his three specially staged International races, the French colt Epinard was again defeated, this time by a nose to Ladkin, at Aqueduct. A crowd of 40,000 witnessed the race.
Sept. 27, 1947: Armed, then the world’s leading money-winning Thoroughbred, met 1946 Kentucky Derby winner Assault in the first $100,000 winner-take-all match race, held at Belmont Park. Armed earned an easy victory over Assault, who was not in peak racing condition.
Sept. 28, 1960: Forty years after Man o’ War won the Lawrence Realization Stakes by 100 lengths in the record time of 2:40 4/5, Kelso equaled his time in the same event.
Sept. 28, 1983: Atlantic City Racecourse and The Meadowlands became the first U.S. tracks to engage in simulcasting. The previous year, Woodbine and Fort Erie in Canada had been the first to experiment with simulcasting.
Sept. 28, 1996: Jockey Lanfranco “Frankie” Dettori won seven-of-seven races at Ascot, a single-day wins record in England. His win streak was estimated to have cost English bookmakers ??30 million and to have caused the closing of as many as 40 bookmaking shops, which suffered heavy losses after paying off winning punters.
Sept. 28, 1996: Jockey Dave Gall had his 7,000th career win, at Fairmount Park aboard A. J. Onray. He was the fourth rider to attain 7,000 wins.
Sept. 29, 1973: With Meadow Stable’s Riva Ridge scratched because of rainy weather, his stablemate Secretariat was left to compete in the 1 1/2-mile Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park. Prove Out, trained by Allen Jerkens, beat the 3-10 favorite Secretariat, who faded after 1 1/4 miles to finish second by 4 1/2 lengths. Another Jerkens trainee, Onion, had defeated Secretariat in the Whitney Stakes on Aug. 4 at Saratoga.
Sept. 30, 1898: Jockey Tod Sloan rode five consecutive winners at England’s Newmarket racecourse.
Sept. 30, 1922: After a six-year hiatus, racing returned to Chicago with the reopening of Hawthorne Park. The popular gelding Exterminator, winner of the 1918 Kentucky Derby and the then-second-leading money winner of all time, made a special appearance, racing solo against the track-record time of 2:04 3-5 for 1 1-4 miles. He completed the distance in 2:10.
Sept. 30, 1969: Jockey Kathy Kusner won her first career race, at Pocono Downs. Kusner, a former rider with the U.S. Equestrian Team, had sued to obtain a jockey’s license in Maryland in 1968. She won her case but was subsequently sidelined by a broken leg suffered in a training accident.
Sept. 30, 1981: Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. had his 5,000th career win, aboard Wander in the seventh race at Santa Anita Park.
Sept. 30, 1990: Bill Shoemaker had his first graded stakes win as a trainer when Baldomero (IRE) won the Grade III Golden Harvest Handicap at Louisiana Downs.
Sept. 30, 1995: Jockey Craig Perret, 44, gained his 4,000th career win, riding Heloise to victory in the eighth race at Turfway Park.
Oct. 2, 1943: Belmont Park hosted “Back the Attack” day in support of the war effort. Admission was by
purchase of $25 or $100 war bonds. Approximately $25 million was raised.
Oct. 2, 1981: At age 17, Behavin Jerry, the oldest Thoroughbred in racing competition, set the record for most career starts by a Thoroughbred, 307. Behavin Jerry began his career as a two-year-old in 1966 and raced every year thereafter through 1978. He took two years off, 1979-80, and returned to racing at age 17 in 1981.
Oct. 2, 1995: Jockey Mike Smith won his 3,000th career race, aboard Old Chapel, in the seventh race at Belmont Park.
Oct. 3, 1942: With a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Whirlaway, ridden by George Woolf, became the first Thoroughbred to amass more than $500,000 in lifetime earnings.
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. 5, 2001: The U. S. House of Representatives passed the 2001 Farm Bill, which included two provisions that will offer economic relief to owners and breeders who have suffered substantial losses among their breeding stock due to Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome.
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. 7, 2001: Jockey Jerry Bailey became the first jockey in history to surpass $20 million in purses in a single year, eclipsing his own single-season record of $19,465,376 set back in 1996.
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.