I hope that if there ever is another Triple Crown winner, the horse has a good name. He’ll be adding his name to a short list that includes names such as Gallant Fox, War Admiral, and Count Fleet. If he’s named something like Frac Daddy or anything with “Kitten” in it I’m going to have a cow.
“The triumph marks the first time that a grandfather, father, and son have won the race. Reigh Count, the daddy of Count Fleet, won it in 1928 from a record field of 22 runners. The Count would have been proud had he watched the third generation perform today.”
Count Fleet (March 24, 1940 - December 3, 1973) was a thoroughbred racehorse and Triple Crown champion in 1943. He was born and died at Stoner Creek Stud farm in Paris, Kentucky, United States.
On June 1, 1942, when the world was locked in the deadly conflict of WWII, a 2-year-old brown son of Kentucky Derby winner Reigh Count stepped onto the track at Belmont Park. The colt, an ornery youngster, was named Count Fleet. Unhappy with the horse’s bad manners, owner John D. Hertz, a former sports writer and the founder of both the Yellow Cab Company and the rental car company that bore his name, had tried unsuccessfully to sell him.
By the end of the year, Hertz was glad he had not parted with Count Fleet, who won 10 of his 15 starts as a 2-year-old, including a record-setting victory in the Champagne and a 30-length romp in the Walden Stakes at Pimlico. He was already being hailed as the successor to Man o’ War. His 3-year-old campaign would be as brief as it was memorable. He brushed aside seven rivals in the Wood Memorial, winning by 3½ lengths, and by the time he arrived in Louisville via train he was the 2-5 choice over nine in the wartime “Streetcar Derby,” so called because of wartime restrictions on gas and oil.
When the gates sprang open, Count Fleet was on top, and he went wire-to-wire for a three-length victory over Blue Swords. A week later, in Baltimore, it was the same story, only the Preakness margin was eight lengths. In the Belmont Stakes, he galloped home 25 lengths in front, a record which stood until Secretariat’s 31- length victory thirty years later. That evening, it was discovered that Count Fleet had bowed a tendon. He never raced again. Retired in the fall, Count Fleet sired progenies, including the 1951 Horse of the Year Counterpoint and 1951 Kentucky Derby winner Count Turf, which completed the first “triple sire” in Derby history as the grandson and son of Derby winners.
“He’s quite sway-backed as an equine senior citizen. But he’s very, very active for 31. (He has) never lost his interest in the opposite sex. I guess he won’t until he has all four feet in the grave. He still likes the girls very much. How do the French say it - he’s still got that joie de vivre.”
- Dave Hooper, Horseman’s Journal, June 1971, on pensioned stallion Count Fleet
Event: Seasons (January residency) with One Trick Pony, Count Fleet, Torches Date: January 2, 2012 Location: The Echo
Tonight starts the kick of for Season’s January residency at the Echo. They will be celebrating the release of their newest EP release, Autumn. If you’re 21+ and broke, go hang out with some cool people who make some great music!
“Count Fleet, the brown beauty from the stables of Mrs. John D Hertz, took the second step toward Turfdom’s coveted Triple Crown today when he flashed home eight lengths in front in the fifty-third running of the $50,000 added Preakness Stakes”
Reigh Count was a champion racehorse in 1927, and 1928, winning 12 of his 27 starts. He raced 14 times as a two year old, winning 4 times, he almost added one more win to his record, in the Belmont Futurity Stakes, by losing by not even a nose, his jockey misjudged were the finish line was and started to pull him up before the finish. In his three year old season he won 6 races, he won the Kentucky Derby easily, but sustained a injury that stopped him from running in both Preakness and Belmont Stakes, he did go on that same year to beat the Preakness winner Victorian in the Lawrence Realization Stakes, he also won the Jockey Club Gold Cup racing against older horses. For his four year old season he was shipped to England, the Ascot Gold Cup being the main goal, at first he was not that impressive, although the British public liked his “dazzling” racing silks. He won the Coroation Cup, by a short head, that same month he, raced in the Ascot old Cup, he finished second, and was sent back to the US just afterward. His owner turned down a $1 million for the horse, and said this about the offer ”I think a fellow who would pay $1,000,000 offer for a horse ought to have his head examined, and the fellow who turned it down must be absolutely unbalanced”, if that amount had been payed for him it would have been the most ever paid for a racehorse at that time. He was a successful stud, and sired 22 graded stakes race winners. He best known as the sire of the Triple Crown winner Count Fleet.
Triple Crown champion Count Fleet was always known to be an enthusiastic stud who never really outgrew his love for the ladies. This preoccupation sometimes got him into trouble, such as in the 1942 Belmont Futurity
Coming off a three-race win streak, the Count was favored for the Futurity. His main competition was reckoned to be Occupation, a crack colt who had beaten the Count in the Washington Park Futurity a month prior. And while Occupation was certainly a formidable opponent, the real star of the show (at least from Count Fleet’s perspective) turned out to be a finely-shaped filly. Askmenow, a daughter of champion juvenile colt Menow, was on her way to her own championship title in 1942. She had beaten other fillies in the Selima Stakes, and now looked to conquer colts as well.
The story of the race is best told by jockey Johnny Longden, who rode the Count:
“He broke alongside Askmenow, the Hal Price Headley filly. I called on the Count for speed, but he was not interested. He was flirting with a glamour girl. He kept alongside Askmenow, nose and nose, and nothing interested him except to remain in her companionship. If she spurted, the Count would spurt with her; if she slowed stride, so did he. I tried everything that was possible to end her fascination and pull away from her - but nothing helped.”
Askmenow was apparently in season, and Count Fleet was highly distracted. He refused to move away from her the entire race, pinning her to the inside rail and costing them both good chances at winning. As it was, Occupation had the lead to himself and went wire to wire. Askmenow managed to budge past the Count long enough to claim second, and Count Fleet finished third for the only time in his career. He hardly seemed to care about his disappointing finish, however:
“After we had crossed the finish line, Askmenow was slow checking down. So the Count wouldn’t check down either. When she finally began easing up, the Count eased with her. But we were almost a half mile beyond the finish line before I could end the Count’s flirtatious mood, steer him away from Askmenow, and head him back toward the paddock.”