anti-racing legislation, august belmont, Daily Racing Form, elmendorf farm, fasig-tipton sales, hughes act, influence of american bloodstock abroad, james b haggin, mcgrathiana stud, morning telegraph, politics and horse breeding, reductions in bloodstock, reform legislation
The closure of the New York racetracks due to the Hughes Act that outlawed bookmaking just over a century ago had a massive ripple effect on breeding the racehorse, as well. The legal restrictions in New York and other states that came with a wave of righteous reform laws shut down racetracks, as well as their suppliers, the breeding farms.
A sizable portion of the best American-bred Thoroughbred stock was sold off to the Argentine, Germany, Russia, France, and to a much lesser extent, even to England.
The largest American stud, and the source of many of the exports, was Elmendorf Farm, owned by James B Haggin. From 1908 through 1911, Elmendorf sent large shipments of mares, yearlings, racehorses, and stallions around the globe.
Haggin did this in direct response to the repressive Hughes legislation in New York, which outlawed gambling. In the Morning Telegraph of November 7, 1908, the writer said: “The prices realized for the horses sent abroad by JB Haggin in September, together with the re-election of Governor Hughes, have caused the master of Elmendorf to decide to send another big consignment to the Argentine Republic, and plans are in the making at the farm for shipment from here about November 10.”
Likewise, Col. Milton Young’s McGrathiana Stud, Millstream Stud, EC Cowdin, August Belmont, and other prominent breeders were reducing their bloodstock inventories. And for an upcoming Fasig-Tipton sale, the reporter noted that “There will be practically nothing of the inferior grades offered at this sale. Nearly all of the weeds or culls have been sold out of the state. In the past six months, over 2,000 have been shipped away to western and southern points, and the majority them will never be heard of again in racing.”
The writer goes on to note that there is a strong demand for “young mares and geldings suitable for officers’ mounts,” and that is clearly where a large portion of the surplus racers ended up.
By early 1910, Elmendorf had slashed its broodmare band from 475 to 175. Haggin continued to reduce his bloodstock and racehorse holdings, and in June of 1911, he sent abroad another large collection. A reporter at the Daily Racing Form wrote: Haggin has “bred thousands of Thoroughbred race horses and they have been marked for good values, many of them for record prices, in this country, in England, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Argentine Republic, but he probably never sent abroad a better collection of individuals than the 34 colts and the 19 fillies that left New York today aboard the Minnehaha for England to be sold at Newmarket during the second week in July. They are all bred in the purple, being by the stallions and out of the mares that Mr. Haggin reserved after reducing his extensive stud as a result of the passage of repressionary racing laws in a number of the states of this country.”
In addition to Haggin’s 53 head, James R Keene sent 30 yearlings on the same ship to the same auction. By the end of 1911, Haggin had reduced the mares reserved for breeding Thoroughbreds to 42, and DRF reported on Dec. 4 that Haggin “may decide to send the 42 selected mares and the stallions Watercress, Waterboy, Star Ruby, and Galveston to a farm in France” for the 1912 breeding season.
That apparently fell by the wayside, but by the time that legislation in New York and other states allowed gambling on racing through pari-mutuel wagering, the massive Elmendorf breeding operation was all but gone. Haggin died in 1914, leaving an estate of $15 million and a legacy for having bred or raced some of the best Thoroughbreds of the early 20th century, including Salvator and Firenze.