While leafing through one of the many early 20th century journals dedicated to racing or sports, in this case The Kentucky Farmer and Breeder, I came upon a series of anecdotes about the famous 19th century racer Hindoo. The article comes from March 13, 1908, and the first selection is below:
“Why, he’s a Hindoo!”
To this day that is the last word and the best word that can be spoken of any colt. In these days of Colin, the lamented Sysonby and the many other turf heroes there is not one that has ever been used as a symbol that meant horse perfection as has always been the case with the son of Virgil and Florence, who ran his last race away back in 1882.
It is a fact that in the day of Hindoo there was more of sentiment in the racing of horses, and a turf hero meant more to the people than is the case now. It is entirely possible the horses of the present day are better than was Hindoo, but “He’s a Hindoo” is still the highest compliment that can be paid any aspiring youngster.
Hindoo started in thirty-five races and was never outside the money, and, as a matter of fact, many of the old-timers insist that he should never have been beaten in any race. He won thirty of his races, was second three times and third twice. Crickmore and Checkmate were two of those that defeated Hindoo, and in the case of Crickmore, at least, there was ample excuse for the king losing. This remarkable racing record of Hindoo was almost all accomplished as a two and three-year-old. In his four-year-old season he went into retirement in August.
Temper His Undoing
The retirement was hastened by an exhibition of temper in which Hindoo came out second best. Though not what could be properly called a rogue, Hindoo was disposed to be mean when he knew that he was due to race. When he would be drawn the night before and denied his usual feed he knew that he was to wear colors the next day, and it was then that his rubber would have to be very cautious in entering his box.
There was another peculiarity of character in the great horse, and that was his arrogance at all times. It was a physical impossibility to make him pull out should he meet any one on his accustomed path, whether under saddle or being led, and it was this trait that was his final undoing.
It was at Saratoga and trainer Jas. [James] Rowe was bringing him from the track to be led to his stable. In the road, just outside the track, he met a countryman who was driving toward him im a ramshackle old phaeton. Rowe knew it was futile to try and pull Hindoo into the gutter to give the countryman road room, and he waved to the countryman to pull to one side, at the same time warning him of what would happen if he did not do so. The countryman laughed at the warning and refused to alter his course to suit the aristocratic Hindoo.
It was all over in a twinkling. Hindoo had no intention of surrendering his path and when the phaeton was in striking distance he quickly wheeled and lashed out with both heels. He landed and before Rowe could restrain him there was not enough of the phaeton left to start a bonfire.