Racing
In the Beginning - Part 2
A Time To Remember
Part 1 - Part 3

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My sincere thanks to The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America 
by William Robertson.
 Permission to excerpt their material 
that those new to the sport of racing 
may re-live the moment is greatly appreciated.

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As early as 1691 . . . .
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Francis Nicholson, Royal Governor under King William and Queen Mary, issued a public notice that he would 'give first and second prizes to be run for by Horse on the 22nd day of April next St. George's Day being Saturday." Mention of a second prize indicates that the race was not for Quarter horses, since that form of racing customarily involved only two contestants (the race paths could not accommodate more). This one apparently was for a field of horses and over a distance.
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After Jamestown was burned during Bacon's Rebellion in 1676. Richmond became the focal point of Virginia racing and there were at least five specially constructed quarter racing paths in Henrico County. That Virginians took even this form of racing very seriously is illustrated by the numerous lawsuits of that time which involved racing. One such litigation involved a horse, Young Fire, who was the first named race horse in American records. A pure white (which implies, Oriental blood) * was owned by John Gardiner, who offered to race him against all comers for 1,000 pounds of tobacco and 20 shillings. The challenge was accepted by Daniel Sullivant, who borrowed a horse for the purpose from John Baker, and although the race was won by Young Fire on the track, Sullivant got the decision in court. Judging from court records the prominent racing families of this period were the Ligons (or Liggons), the Cockeses and the Randolphs.
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In 1699, when the capital of Virginia was shifted from Jamestown to Williamsburg, the latter city became the racing center as well as the hub of political and social life.. It is recorded that during race week in old Williamsburg. the normal population of 2.000 would swell to 6.000, and, as common folk did not travel about except when absolutely necessary, the visitors were mostly figures of fashion.
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A notable event of this period was the importation into Virginia in 1730 of a stallion, Bulle Bocke, believed to be the first "bred" horse imported to America from England. In this connection it should be remembered that the term "Thoroughbred" had not yet assumed its modern meaning. Although it had been in use for some years previously (as an adjective, not a noun; applied to persons, not horses) it was not to be formally defined until 1755 when, in his historic dictionary, Samuel Johnson listed it as meaning "completely educated: completely taught." England's General Stud Book, which was to become the basis of the thoroughbred breed, was not published until after the Revolution, although the Racing Calendar, an official summary of turf affairs, was begun in 1727.
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Nevertheless, there seems to have been a keen appreciation of certain types of horses at this period, and references to "half-bred" animals can be found long before the official origin of the thoroughbred breed.

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Among the Virginians, again following British precedent, "colt racing" was considered barbaric. 

 Three-year-olds were just beginning to be allowed to race . . .

* It is interesting to note that the first horse registry to officially register a white horse appears to the the Tennessee Walking Horse.

Part 3