Headlines include: “Favorite’s Jockey Falls, Remounts Wrong Horse”, “William’s Jaw”, and “Yawning Horses Rare Except in Jacob’s Barn.”
First, the absolute gem from The Winnipeg Tribune on October 25, 1925 which needs no introduction:
The text reads:
Favorite’s Jockey Falls, Remounts Wrong Horse
Paris, Oct. 28 – Piloting the favorite when the barrier was sprung, but astride an outsider near the finish was the hitherto unheard of turf experience of Jockey Herve at the Enghlen track Tuesday.
Fourteen horses were bunched at the Liverpool jump in the October Steeplechase, the feature of the card, when Meissonier, the 4 to 1 public choice, and three other horses fell. The four riders were thrown heavily and more or less stunned, but Herve, who had the mount on Meissonier, extracted himself, leaped upon the nearest horse and went after the leaders.
The shouts of the crowd eventually brought home to him the fact that he had mounted the wrong horse and was now riding Souvenir, a 15 to 1 chance, while the favorite, riderless, was trailing the field. Herve finally pulled up and rode dejectedly into the paddock.
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While I’m certain there was a perfectly good explanation of what constitutes a “creeper mare” in 1884 Chicago, that translation did not make it to me 130 years later. (Unless he means a mare who stares you down for her breakfast as though the powers of hell itself are fueling her rage, and then I know EXACTLY what he means by creeper mare.)
The text reads:
HORSE FOR SALE – A CREEPER MARE, 8 years old, weighs about 1,050, is sound, and an extra good traveler; safe for a lady to drive. For particulars inquire of SAMUEL T. WHITE. 155 Fifth-av., or to owner. -JOHN BLACKLER, Lake Forest
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And finally, from The Times Record in August 1970, this absolutely marvelous inside view of 1970 Preakness and Belmont winners High Echelon and Personality. It starts with yawning, but ends with bananas.
The text reads:
Yawning Horses Rare Except in Jacob’s Barn
Saratoga Springs- There’s an ancient race track belief that a yawning horse is a real good horse. The late Hirsch Jacobs, winningest trainer of all time subscribed to it. And now John Jacobs, his sons and a brilliant young trainer in his own right, is convinced of the truth of that adage.
Personality and High Echelon, the Jacobs family’s three-year-old Gold Dust twins who’ve won four rich stakes between them this year and are seeking more at this Saratoga meeting, are dedicated yawners when they’re not on the track.
The 36-year-old Jacobs is readying High Echelon for the Barnard Baruch Handicap on the grass on Wednesday August 12, and the $100,000-added-Travers on Saturday August 22 and the Travers.
Except for their yawning propensities, Personality and High Echelon are as far apart temperamentally as two stablemates can be. Jacobs respects Personality as the better of the duo, but High Echelon, a big, playful gray, is his pet.
The other morning a visitor to Barn 10 at the pastoral old Saratoga track had to stifle his own yawns, contagious reactions from watching the two Jacobs stars. It appeared that part of High Echelon’s hearty yawns were due to the fact that after a gallop he was about to take a nap. He yawned mightily, lay down in his stall, rolled over a few times, then fell asleep. But he yawns even when wide awake.
Personality, on the other hand, stood alertly in his stall watching a distant scene out the back window, impatient when Jacobs tried to get his attention. Yet despite his interest in the scene, Personality-whom Jacobs calls “Junior”- didn’t miss a yawn.
“There’s the difference in their temperaments,” Jacobs pointed out. “High Echelon is a good-natured colt. Nothing bothers him. Personality is more high strung, always on his toes, not as friendly as the other one.”
Recently, High Echelon registered a first around Barn 10, where, with Barn 11, Jacobs trained horses have been stabled at Saratoga since the days of Stynnie: He ate a banana.
“Horses love apples of course,” Jacobs explained. “ but I’d never heard of a horse eating a banana until High Echelon did it. I eat fruit in the morning and High Echelon raises a fuss unless I share it with him. The other day, he saw me eating a banana and started a rumpus, so I gave it to him. He finished it.”
Personality’s triumphs in the Wood Memorial, Preakness, and Jersey Derby and High Echelon’s in the prestigious Belmont have put the Thoroughbred racing world’s seal of approval on John Jacobs as a trainer. But he talks about horses more from the standpoint of an animal-lover than a man in a strongly competitive field given to technical discourses.
“I’d been brought up to treat race horses like pets,” he said. “I learned that kindly horses are made by kindly treatment, even to unprofessional things like giving them lumps of sugar and playing with them.”
“We had a succession of horses- some top ones- who were real pets; Priceless Gem, she’d follow us around like a puppy. So would Searching and her daughter Affectionately, the dam of Personality. Straight Deal was a tom-boy and played rough. Personality is like Hail to Reason, his sire; willing, and full of fire.”
Looking ahead- which in the final analysis is the name of the racing game- Jacobs said that Personality will, if all goes well, campaign in the fall and again in 1971 before being retired to syndicated stud duty. Barring the unforeseen, High Echelon will follow suit.
Jacobs indicated a colt in a stall near Personality. “Here a two-year-old I think highly of,” he said. “He’s a full brother to Personality. His name is Your Excellency. Hasn’t started yet.”
“He’s Junior Junior,” a groom said from inside the stall.
(HN Note – the story refers to them as twins, but that’s only in reference to their matched yawning. High Echelon was out of Luquillo, and sired by Native Charger. )