March 25, 2012

It was the evocative name that first caught my eye. Inquieta. Restless, in Spanish. To say that this long-ago race mare has obsessed me of late would be a fair assessment and even somewhat of an understatement. Why else would I pore through over 1,000 old editions of the Daily Racing Form just to piece together her race record? Thanks to the University of Kentucky’s partnering with Keeneland to preserve racing’s rich history by digitally scanning the DRF, and thus making it searchable, my efforts were slightly eased…but only slightly. Turns out, like so many thoroughbreds that aren’t superstars or even briefly household names, Inquieta tip-toed around famous people and famous horses for a while, but then faded into obscurity, all the while toiling away for years in the claiming ranks. And yet, hers is a story worth telling because it represents the majority of horses racing in this country: a hard-knocking horse that simply loved to run.

It begins at Ellerslie Stud near Charlottesville, Virginia, the family homestead of the Hancock family, later of the legendary Claiborne Farm. After the death of his father Captain Richard Hancock in 1909, Arthur B. Hancock, Sr. took over control of the farm, the very year that they had mated their homebred Charaxus mare Ellerslie to the imported stallion Fatherless. Winner of the Great Metropolitan Handicap at Epsom and the Prince of Wales Plate at Newmarket, Fatherless had been purchased by Hancock in 1900, a promising stallion prospect after eight years of racing and an English record holder at 1 3/8 miles. The product of this mating was a 1910 bay filly named Inquieta. For Hancock, she was to become one of his first stakes winners, although only as a breeder, not as her owner.

At the 1911 Lexington Yearling Sale, former jockey-turned trainer George Odom bought her for $200. Odom would have known a good horse when it saw it; later inducted into the horse racing Hall of Fame as a jockey, Odom had ridden the great Broomstick and won the 1904 Belmont Stakes on Delhi, a feat he would repeat many years later as a trainer, with Pasteurized. In the mid-1940s, Odom would also enjoy great success with the terrific filly Busher—and judging from her early exploits it’s not hard to think Inquieta may have possessed the same gritty determination of Busher.

Inquieta’s first races occurred at Terrazas Park in Juárez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas. Opened on December 1, 1909, the 1 1/8 mile-track—patterned after Santa Anita racetrack—had been built by Louisville architect D. X. Murphy for an American syndicate headed by J. G. Follansbee and under the supervision of general manager Colonel Matt J. Winn. As the DRF noted about the facility while it was being built:
“The grandstand is to have a seating capacity of 5,000 and will be built entirely of reinforced concrete, with a roof of art metal and artistic approaches of concrete. The general plan of the structure is to be similar to that of the Paris race course stand…[with] no posts in the main section of the stand to obstruct the view, for the roof is to be supported by reinforced concrete trusses and the entire structure will be absolutely fireproof.”
Terrazas Park in Juarez, Mexico
Period photos reveal an elegant facility, perfect for the hordes of patrician American horsemen wintering in Mexico during the years when racing was increasingly under attack in New York and elsewhere. 

In that same DRF article I found this incredibly revealing comment:
“One of the unique features of the new Juarez plant is to be the section set apart for the native element that are too poor to pay any admission to see the races. Twice each week during the racing season the Mexican peons, with their families, will be admitted free and these occasions will be advertised as widely as the special stakes event that are to be run once each week.”
How thoughtful to allow the "peons" to attend the races! But I digress…

Astonishingly early when compared to current racing practices, Inquieta made her 2-year-old debut on January 5, 1912, in a 3-furlong allowance race for juvenile fillies. Legendary starter Mars Cassidy sent them to the post—and Inquieta promptly finished dead-last, nine lengths back of the winner. Just five days later, she went postward again going three furlongs against her own sex, and again the result wasn’t good: dead-last in a field of eleven. The winner: future Hall of Famer Pan Zareta.

Dropping her down into a selling race on January 19, Inquieta broke much better and won easily by 2 1/2 lengths against 11 competitors. It was the beginning of a 6-race win streak for Inquieta, culminating in a devastating 10-length victory in the track’s concluding juvenile stakes race, the 4-furlong Mexican Selling Stakes on March 17. All six victories were accomplished in just two months’ time and in one of them, a 4-furlong allowance race on March 2, she defeated Pan Zareta by 3 1/2 lengths,

Before that, on February 9, she won the season’s first half-mile race for juveniles; as the DRF noted: “She broke from the barrier like a bullet and escaped trouble that occurred after the first twenty yards of the race had been run, when most of the starters staggered into one another.” That race, won in 46 4/5 seconds, I later found out was the second fastest 4-furlongs run in 1912, by any horse of any age.

However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and on March 22, the winning streak was broken. As the DRF account notes:
"George M. Odom’s Inquieta, after winning six consecutive races, was defeated today by El Palomar, property of Charles W. Clark, the California millionaire horseman. Inquieta ran a remarkable race considering that she started to run out a quarter of a mile from the finish. Jockey Callahan brought her in towards the rail again, but she zig-zagged in the final running and at the finish she was on the extreme outside. She was beaten by a scant length."
All told, in those first nine starts, Inquieta won a total of $1,915, by far the most successful of her then-dead sire’s progeny to that point in the year. In all of her races, she had been ridden by Odom’s contract rider J. Callahan.

With racing concluded at Juárez, Odom moved his filly on to Lexington where, on April 27, she endured a rough trip and finished ninth in a 4-furlong allowance race. Just three days later though, she finished third, 2 1/2 lengths back of the colt Hawthorn in the 4 1/2-furlong Iroquois Stakes at Lexington. Three days after that, she finished a surprisingly poor seventh in a selling race, attributed by the DRF to the addition of blinkers, undoubtedly an attempt to combat her tendency to dramatically wander across the track during her races.

Moving on to Churchill Downs, “showing much improvement” she “moved up rapidly from a slow beginning and finished with a rush” to gain second-place in a 4-furlong allowance race. Among those she beat that day, and later on another occasion, was subsequent champion juvenile filly Gowell, winner of the 1913 Ashland Oaks and Latonia Derby, as well as third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby behind huge longshot Donerail.

By July 7, Inquieta had run 22 times (!), finishing out the money on nine occasions, with 6 wins, 4 seconds and 3 thirds, for total earnings of $2,403. I found mention in the DRF’s August 23, 1912 edition that her owner/trainer George Odom “says that he has expended much effort in training Inquieta to run straight, and he now thinks that the daughter of Fatherless will do better this fall.” Even afterwards, though, this issue reappears again and again in form charts, like on October 21 at Latonia when she would have won had she not bore out around the final turn—she still managed to run second on that occasion.

All told, as a 2-year-old, Inquieta ran 30 times at five different tracks, with a record of 7 wins, 6 seconds and 5 thirds, as well as 12 out of the money efforts. Today, that’s more than a career for most top horses—and she was just a baby. Odom seems to have had a predilection for running his juvenile charges often, though. In 1908, his 2-year-old filly Trance made 26 starts, winning 16 and, being unplaced only once, won $28,147. When she returned for her 3-year-old campaign, Trance ran—and won—only one race before injuring both knees during a workout. Turned out for the rest of the year, she came back to race at ages 4, 5 and 6, making 62 career starts—and winning 30 races.

After a bit of a slow start, as a 3-year-old, Inquieta hit her groove when the track at Juárez was inundated with torrential winter rains. She easily captured races on back-to-back days (February 8 and 9) and then won again on February 13. Turned back once more the following day, she suffered a nightmare trip; as noted in the DRF form chart, she was “sharply shut off at the half and, after losing considerable ground, made a game effort in the stretch, but could not quite get up.” She finished 1/2 length back in second; she followed that effort up a mere two days later with a third-place finish. All told, in the first three months of 1913, Inquieta ran 15 times at Juárez , winning four races, with 2 seconds and 2 thirds.

That’s where her association with George Odom ended, though. I couldn’t find details of how exactly or when it happened, but she was purchased by B.A. Trammel & Gray, and spent the rest of that year racing—and winning—at six different tracks on what was known as the Inter-Mountain Circuit and in the Texas-Oklahoma region: in Idaho, at Coeur d’Alene (11 starts: 4 wins, 3 seconds, 2 thirds); in Montana at Butte (8 starts: 1 win, 2 thirds) and at Anaconda (2 starts: 1 second, DNF after she fell); in Oklahoma at Tulsa (5 starts: 2 wins, 1 second, 1 third) and at Oklahoma City (2 starts: 1 win); and in Texas at Dallas (3 starts: 2 wins including her first attempt at routing, going 9 furlongs).

Although she race almost exclusively in selling races, Inquieta did manage a third-place finish in the Montana Handicap at Butte on July 19. She topped off her 3-year-old campaign by returning to the track where her year began, making four starts at Juárez in December, with 1 second and 1 third-place finish. Unbelievably, that’s 50 starts in one year! She won 14 times, with 8 seconds and 8 thirds, for total winnings of $3,307.

After failing to hit the board in four starts at Juárez to begin 1914, Inquieta didn’t race for the rest of her 4-year-old campaign, but she turns up at the Juárez meet again in January 1915 under new ownership, T. Polk. That year she raced primarily in Canada: in Montreal (Delorimier Park, Dorval, Blue Bonnets and Mount Royal), in Ottawa (Connaught Park), and in the Toronto area (Fort Erie, Dufferin, and Hillcrest). She also raced twice at Latonia before arriving back in Mexico in December where, in her final race for Polk, she was pulled up. The final tally: 48 starts, with only 4 wins, but 12 seconds and 7 thirds—and she set a track record at Mount Royal for six furlongs.

As the years rolled by so too did the races. In 1916, Inquieta raced primarily for W. L. Schaefer in Tijuana and in Nevada at Reno, racking up 53 starts, with 4 wins, 8 seconds and 6 thirds for earnings of $1,380. By December she had changed hands again, now racing for George W. Wingfield’s Nevada Stock Farm, but by January 1917, she came to be owned and trained by Canadian horseman William “Red” Walker. In his 1911 book Easy Money, Paul Brolaski describes Walker as:
“…a man who deserves great credit for his rise in the turf world. By his own hard work he progressed his way up from a stable foreman to one of the best trainers and largest race-horse owners in America. There is no angle of the game that “Red” doesn’t know. He has had every phase of it from jockey to bookmaker and owner. His success has been in training his own horses. He is a man much feared because he will run up the price of horses that are in selling races; but is much like by the majority of poor owners on that account. It makes no difference to Walker whether a man is a millionaire or not; if his horse is in too cheap and wins, Walker will boost him.”
Walker must have loved something in Inquieta because he raced her for the next three years. In 1917, she made 14 starts in Tijuana before moving on to Bowie in Maryland, and then up to Canada once more for the summer; that autumn she raced at Latonia and Churchill before finishing the year at Jefferson Park in New Orleans. For the year 1917: 45 starts, with 9 wins, 8 seconds and 3 thirds.

For whatever reason, 1918 saw Inquieta race only 25 times, at Fair Grounds and Oaklawn, then briefly up to Bowie and Baltimore before returning to New Orleans’ Jefferson Park where, during their winter meet (November 23 to December 31), she contested 11 events, with 3 wins, 1 second and 2 thirds, earning a generous $1,250.
“The meeting was not a huge success, principally because of the inclement weather which prevailed during the greater part of it. The continual rains left the track in the worst condition possible and unsafe to race over, with the result that the racing secretary found it extremely difficult to fill the daily program, the fields in most cases being small and composed of the cheaper grade of horses.”
It’s at this point in our story that simple appreciation for the handling of a gutsy hard-knocker is supplanted by an incredible sadness, as, for whatever reason, William Walker did not retire his mare. Instead, in 1919, at age 9, Inquieta raced 21 more times, managing to hit the board only once and that was early in the year. The past performance chart is nearly unbearable to look at, as she’s routinely defeated by 20 or more lengths, bouncing from Bowie, to Saratoga, to Havre de Grace to Jamaica in New York.

One of Inquieta's last form charts
On October 14, Inquieta again finishes dead-last in a 1 1/16 miles selling race at Empire City—51 1/2 lengths back of the winner. Nine days later, before the running of that day’s races, someone named A. Jarrin paid $325 in a paddock sale for Inquieta—and she rewarded him with a next-to-last effort, 30 lengths back of the winner. That winner, Bantry—in an ironic twist of fate—had also been bred at Ellerslie Stud by Arthur B. Hancock.

That’s it. That’s all I can find out about Inquieta. She apparently didn’t produce any foals, or at least none that made it to the racetrack. For a horse that contested 276 races over the course of eight years, with 42 wins, 43 seconds, and 33 thirds, I can just hope she had a happy ever-after.

Sources Consulted:
The Southern Planter (October 1900) p. 565, on Hancock purchase of Fatherless.
“The Ellerslie Farm Stallions and Brood Mares” Richmond (VA) Times, January 13, 1901, p. 3, col. 4.
“Notes of the Turf” DRF, February 2, 1912, on Odom purchase of Inquieta.
“Busy Times at Juarez Just Now” DRF, August 26, 1909, on Juarez race track.
“Inquieta is Again a Winner” DRF, February 10, 1912.
“Inquieta Finally is Beaten” DRF, March 23, 1912.
“Record of a Fast Mare” DRF, October 4, 1912, on Odom’s filly Trance.
Harry Brolaski, Easy Money: Being the Experiences of a Reformed Gambler (Cleveland, 1911) p. 191.

Photo credits:
Juarez Racetrack photos (unknown date), Otis A. Aultman Photo Collection, El Paso Public Library.
Photo of jockey J. Callahan, The Jockey Club Juarez and El Paso souvenir booklet, 1912-13, El Paso Public Library.


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