Interest in the earlier essay on the 19th century stallion Virgil prompted me to dig up a bit more information about the horse. The following comments are from the Thoroughbred Record correspondence of James McCreery, who was in some management position with the breeding and racing stock of the Sanford family, which owned Virgil. McCreery variously described his role as overseer or manager, and it is sufficient that he knew the horse first-hand, as well as the people who looked after him.

McCreery’s observations are presented as found, with exceptions noted in brackets:

Virgil was of frail mould, and docile as a foal, yet, nervous; stood 15 hands,  2 1/2 inches, lengthy, fine head, good length of neck, oblique shoulders and withers, body round, loin and quarters good, depth of girth and width of hip fair, breast wide, forked a trifle so. If any point seemed unbalanced, he was a trifle leggy. Never overfleshy, nor weighed a thousand pound.

During my two years a superintendent there, no one ever saw Virgil lying down to sleep, either day or night, [instead, he was either] standing, seemingly asleep, or walking in the circle he wore in his box.

When the breeding season began closing, the custom there was to Virgil about the fields to detect mares which were returnable. Two grooms with poles followed to keep venturesome foals and their fighting dams from injury.

This jet black horse, whose forehead was illumed with a star, large, snow-white, midway of his sightless eyes, was installed the premier monarch of the [Preakness] stud.

[Sanford’s Preakness Stud was subsequently incorporated into Elmendorf Farm, and Virgil had been buried on that property when he died, age 22.]

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