Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

A bombshell was tossed in the lap of Maryland racing when the 1948 racing dates of the three New Jersey tracks were announced.

To the astonishment of all and the detriment to Havre de Grace, dates from mid-April to Decoration Day (Memorial Day) were allocated to Garden State Park. The Maryland calendar thus “suffered alterations due to the woeful conflict,” with Bowie starting in March and Havre de Grace’s second of two meets moving to 11 days in July (instead of the customary May dates).

  • Alfred G. Vanderbilt, whom writer Don Reed described “as a young man generally regarded as progressive in matters pertaining to the sport,” was named a steward for The Jockey Club. Reed added: “That the Jockey Club should depart from an age-old policy of naming elderly and extremely conservative members as stewards will be taken as a good sign by most, and it is certain that anything coming before Vanderbilt in his new post will be regarded in the light of the modern trend rather than that of any ancient theories of governing the game.”
  • S. Bryce Wing was elected president of the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association. Wing had been a member of the board of stewards, was the organization’s treasurer, and chairman of its Hunts Committee. 
    Wing would remain president through 1964. After his death in 1975, the Maryland Hunt Committee honored his legacy with the S. Bryce Wing Award, “given to those who have made an outstanding contribution to Maryland timber racing.”
  • Statistics of all stallions standing in Maryland in 1948 that had produce race in 1947 were printed courtesy of The Blood-Horse. Of the 63 stallions reported, 35 had runners. It was noted that with 750 Thoroughbred mares in Maryland and roughly another 100 coming from out-of-state for service, “it will be seen that a good many stallions will have extremely light books.” The great sire *Challenger II outdistanced nearest rival Discovery and the aging Jack High, to lead the state’s sires.
  • David Sterett Gittings, “the dean of Maryland horsemen,” died at 87. Totally deaf since a small child, Gittings was a founder and past president of the Association of Maryland Horse Shows, secretary of the old Patapsco Hunt, witness to the first Preakness at Pimlico and the second Dixie Stakes, and a member of the Maryland Horse Breeders’ Association from its inception. The oldest director of the Maryland Jockey Club at the time of his death, having served on the board since the first World War, Gittings was honored in 1938 when Pimlico named a stakes for him, the first honoring a living person.

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