Seabiscuit made his second appearance at the Santa Anita Hundred-Grander only to lose in a photo finish upset to Stagehand — a young colt scarcely considered in a field of older contenders. Read Los Angeles Times coverage of Seabiscuit’s disappointing 1938 loss.
The Sports Parade
Broadcast of Santa Anita Handicap Will Let Nation Know That All’s Well Again on Western Front
By Braven Dyer
Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1938
Thanks to a quick turn in the weather, Southern California is about to let the nation know that our justly famous playground isn’t one vast expanse of mud and water as a result of the recent storm. Three [radio] networks will broadcast today’s $100,000 Handicap from Santa Anita. There is now every indication that the track will be fast. The mighty thoroughbreds of the turf will actually kick up dust as they pound their way around the oval. As millions listen to the fourth running of this great racing classic, they will be informed of these facts and there will be frequent allusions to the crowd of 55,000 fans, thereby revealing that not everybody in Southern California is under five feet of water. Cut off from outside communication during the past two days, Southern California regains her place in the sun this afternoon and from the standpoint of national attention, it is a great break that today brings the running of this rich event. Everybody who listens will learn that all’s well again on the western front.
Great minds of the turf have been burning the midnight oil so that you may be well informed on today’s probable winner. Promise of a fast track reduces the chief contenders, in my estimation, to three horses. They are Seabiscuit, Pompoon, and Aneroid. If the winner does not come from this trio it will be a decided upset.
I have a sneaking hunch that Aneroid is the sharp horse of the group. Victor over Seabiscuit one week ago, Aneroid ran a courageous race and gave no indication of quitting. There was a twelve-pound difference in weights that day. This afternoon the difference is shaved two pounds. In the case of Seabiscuit, the ten pounds more than Aneroid carries may be the deciding factor over the last eighth of a mile. The same edge goes to Pompoon, which is also in at 120 pounds as against 130 for the handicap champion of 1937.
Lanny Likes Seabiscuit Over Fast Track
There is always a wide difference of opinion about horse racing. One of the smartest of our western turf experts, Lanny, likes Seabiscuit over today’s fast track. Come a sudden change in weather again and Lanny goes to Whichcee, Indian Broom or Ligaroti. He even believes there is a possibility that Indian Broom can surprise on a fast track. “The horse can run on any kind of a track,” says Lanny, “and there was no fluke about that world’s record he set up north. You can’t entirely eliminate Indian Broom. There’s another thing to be remembered about Indian Broom and Whichcee — they are trained by Darrell Cannon and Cannon never sends a short horse to the post.”
Edwin J. Brown, national racing commissioner, is pretty well sold on Aneroid, at the same time acknowledging that Seabiscuit is a great horse. He points out that Aneroid has displayed ability to run on all kinds of tracks. It was Mr. Brown who presented Charley Howard, owner of Seabiscuit, with that plaque Ed Durling has been twitting Howard about. The ceremony took place Thursday night at the Huntington Hotel turf banquet. In awarding the trinket, Mr. Brown explained that the nation’s turf writers had acknowledged Seabiscuit as the outstanding horse of 1937 after a close battle for top honors. The noted owner responded by stating that his was one photo finish Seabiscuit managed to win.
Workman Told to Hit Seabiscuit Twice
Charley disclosed during a chat that he had instructed Sonny Workman to rap Seabiscuit twice in last Saturday’s much discussed race against Aneroid. “I told him to hit Seabiscuit as they came into the stretch and again at the eighth pole,” said Howard. “After the race, Workman said Seabiscuit was running so well that he felt it was not necessary to apply the bat. I am sorry that we had to change from Workman to Woolf, but the switch is in no way to be considered a reflection on Sonny’s riding ability. He’s a mighty fine jockey as his record shows. But riding ability and fitting a horse are two different things. We feel that Woolf happens to fit Seabiscuit better than Workman.”
I asked Howard if he had ever ridden Seabiscuit himself. “No, I haven’t, but I’ve wanted to,” was the reply. “Guess I’ll have to wait until we retire him to stud. Yes, I do a lot of riding, five or six times a week, but my weight, 162 pounds, might not be a good thing for Seabiscuit.”
Fans Aren’t the Only Ones Fooled —
There are many fans who feel that owners know everything about horses. They are constantly contacting owners for inside information. As a matter of fact, owners can be fooled as often as the rest of us.
Howard, for instance, purchased Rocco for Bing Crosby. Recently Charley thought he would like to buy Rocco from Bing. Crosby was offered $3,000. “I’ll have Rocco thoroughly examined,” said Bing, “and let you know.” After the going over Bing told Howard Rocco appeared a bit unsound. “I can’t sell you an unsound horse, Charley,” said the crooner, so the deal fell through.
Rocco ran Thursday. Howard didn’t even bet on Bing’s horse, picking another steed. Rocco, supposedly unsound, won at odds of 5 to 1. No wonder the rest of us can’t tell what’s going on when the owners themselves are sometimes in the dark. Well, there’s only a week left after today.
The Earl of Sande May Do It Today
We found Earl Sande, the handy guy, dreaming of the “days that used to be” out at the Col. Maxwell Howard stables yesterday… Sande started riding in 1918 on the fair circuit. He got his early training by riding steers on his father’s ranch. Sand well remembers the first race he ever won. “It was at New Orleans and the rain and sleet made my hands so numb that I could hardly unsaddle my horse.”...His biggest year on the turf was 1923, when his mounts won $564,000 and he captured thirty-nine stake races in all… Sande’s last big year was 1930, when he piloted Gallant Fox to victory in the Kentucky Derby… He rode his last race in 1933. Ill health and the rigors of making weight forced him to retire in 1928 and he bought his first batch of horses in 1929. Until he acquired Stagehand and Sceneshifter, the best thoroughbred he had under his wing was Nassak, who won a $10,000 stakes… Sande says riding brings more thrills than training horses, but I’ll bet Earl wouldn’t swap any of these memories for victory in today’s race if he can get Stagehand or Sceneshifter to the wire first.
Stagehand Noses Out Seabiscuit
Mighty 3-Year Old Roars to Victory in $100,000 Classic
By Bill Henry
Los Angeles Times, Sunday, March 6, 1938
Drama of the sort they say exists only in story books was unfolded before a record-breaking crowd of 65,000 yesterday when Earl Sande’s colt, Stagehand, conquered the mighty Seabiscuit to win the fourth running of the $100,000 Santa Anita Handicap.
A record-breaking crowd which set a new all-time mark by jamming $1,635,071 through the totalizator — $406,994 of it on the big race — saw the Sande-trained son of Sickle run the mile and a quarter in 2:01 3-5 to win by a nose from Seabiscuit, with Pompoon third six lengths back and Gosum fourth. Arrangements for handling the crowd were perfect, the track was in marvelous condition and, dramatically, the leading characters in the play had the show stolen from them by Stagehand.
That’s not the half of it!
The great stretch-running 3-year-old — just a boy in short pants as thoroughbreds are figured — conquered the finest field of seasoned horses ever to face the barrier in the richest of turf fixtures.
He conquered the handicap king of 1937 by a nose and left sixteen other thoroughbreds staggering in his wake.
He couldn’t beat War Admiral, the only big time racer missing from the starting gate, because the Admiral had ignominiously dodged the issue and was running away from a bunch of comparative second-raters down in Florida — but he ran the same distance on a track that was none-too-fast in two seconds faster time than the Admiral’s.
He smashed the track record.
He became the first horse in history to capture the Santa Anita Derby for three-year-olds and the Santa Anita Handicap for three-year-olds and up in the same year.
He became the leading money winner of the year with $136,340 to his account and, with the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and numerous other valuable stakes open to him, faces the possibility of winning more money in a single year than any thoroughbred ever won in a lifetime.
And — hold your seats — Stagehand came to Santa Anita a colt that had never won a race in his life!
On January 5, 1938, Stagehand stepped into the winner’s circle for the first time in his life.
On March 5, 1938, Stagehand, winner of the Derby, the Handicap and $136,340 in the space of two months, bids fair to become the wonder horse of all time.
In those two months, Stagehand had become the idol of the turf fans and, out of the long line of gorgeous thoroughbreds that paraded down the long straightaway to the faraway starting gate at the head of the stretch, Stagehand alone was picked out by the crowd and his name shouted on in encouragement.
When, after the field of thoroughbreds had thundered in mad confusion past the stands, jostled their way around the first turn and began to string out toward the end of the backstretch, Stagehand got his first mention from the announcer, “here comes Stagehand,” 50,000 throats took up the cry and echoed “Stagehand” as he swung out from the pole and began to run down his field.
Never in the brief but eventful history of the Santa Anita has a roar gone up like that which rolled across the flower-bedecked infield and echoed from the towering Sierra Madres as Stagehand and the mighty Seabiscuit battled neck and neck down the stretch to victory — and defeat.
It was a great triumph for Stagehand — and for Earl Sande, the soft-spoken little wisp of a chap whose magic hands guided three Kentucky Derby winners to victory and who, his jockey days behind him, has turned his uncanny knowledge of the Thoroughbred to the business of training.
A handy guy is Sande.
Yes — and a handy chap is Nicky Wall, the featherweight youngster who crossed the country by air to ride Stagehand because Sande thought he was the finest rider in the world at 100 pounds.
And before we finish, a word for Seabiscuit.
Fortune was, perhaps, kind to “the Biscuit” in snatching him from the fate of a mere galloping partner for Granville to becoming the leading handicap horse and biggest money winner of 1937.
But fate has been unkind at Santa Anita.
Twice Seabiscuit has faced the barrier in the $100,000 Handicap and twice he has been beaten for the big end of the purse by the skimpy margin of a nose.
That’s pretty tough!
The 'Biscuit ran a mighty race yesterday — the race of a champion. It wasn’t quite good enough. Buffeted at the start, bothered on the first turn, Seabiscuit responded to the clever riding of Georgie Woolf as he threaded his way like a halfback through a broken field and made his move to take the lead.
The only thing they proved yesterday was that Seabiscuit couldn’t take a bumping and jostling, and give a 30-lb. weight advantage to the finest horse of the year — and beat him.
The 'Biscuit ran a great race.
There was drama on the roof of the grandstand, for little Johnny Pollard, they boy who rode Seabiscuit to every victory of his career, squirmed painfully in a chair; his arm in a sling, as he watched his favorite nosed out of victory.
A few feet away Seabiscuit’s owner, Mrs. Charles S. Howard, was white as a sheet as, for the second time in as many running of the Handicap, she saw her splendid champion beaten by the width of her hand.
It was a great day for the Howards, though, after all.
Col. Maxwell Howard of Dayton, O., is the owner of the phenomenal Stagehand, and $91,400 the richer for the day’s running by his colt. Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Howard, owners of Seabiscuit, have the place money of $20,000 to soothe their disappointment. And the proudest man at the Turf Club ball last night was Vice-President Nelson Howard, whose pride and joy Gosum, a despised outsider in the predictions and 108 to 1 on the board, charged home with $5000 in his teeth for fourth money ahead of the Aneroids, Time Supplys, Whichcees and the rest.
Yes — and there was tragedy too.
While they were hailing the mighty Stagehand in the winner’s circle, a big truck drove unnoticed down the track and into it limped the little fellow who, two years ago, had been up in the limelight. It was gallant little Top Row whose heart was greater than his strength and whose fragile legs had broken down.
Top Row was through — and long live Stagehand!