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Belmont, August, II (18 February 1853–10 December 1924), financier and sportsman, was born in New York City, the son of August Belmont, a banker, and Caroline Slidell Perry. Belmont graduated from Harvard in 1874 (A.B.) and joined the international banking house of August Belmont & Co. in 1875. Within eight years he was running its daily affairs and had modernized operations. He became head of the firm in 1890, following his father’s death. His biggest projects included a $63 million loan floated with financier ...

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Belmont, August (08 December 1813–24 November 1890), financier, politician, and sportsman, was born in Alzey, a German Rhineland village, the son of Simon Belmont, a moneylender and landowner, and Frederika Elsass. He attended a Jewish school, the Philanthropin, in Frankfurt and in 1828 began work as an office boy for the local branch of the Rothschild banking family, to which he was distantly related through marriage. He was soon promoted to confidential clerk and in 1837 was sent to Cuba to investigate that Spanish colony’s stability. A stopover in New York changed the course of his life. The panic of 1837 had just struck, and the Rothschilds’ New York agent had declared bankruptcy. Belmont decided to stay and established August Belmont and Company, a private banking firm that would maintain a close, long-term working relationship with the Rothschilds. Belmont’s rise on Wall Street was rapid. He profited from foreign exchange transactions; commercial and private loans; corporate, real estate, and railroad investments; and as a U.S. government fiscal agent during the Mexican War. In 1849 he married Caroline Slidell Perry, with whom he had six children....

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Belmont, Perry (28 December 1850–25 May 1947), politician and sportsman, was born in New York City, the son of August Belmont, a banker, politician, and sportsman, and Caroline Slidell Perry, daughter of Commodore Matthew C. Perry. He attended Harvard College, 1867–1872, graduating with a B.A. in history, studied Roman and civil law at the University of Berlin, 1873–1874, and enrolled in the Columbia University Law School, 1874–1876. He was admitted to the bar in 1876 and the next year entered the law firm of Porter, Lowrey & Stone. In 1878 he established his own law firm of Vinton, Belmont, and Frelinghuysen....

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Bonner, Robert (28 April 1824–06 July 1899), newspaper publisher and horseman, was born in Ramelton, Northern Ireland, the son of Scotch-Irish parents who schooled him in the strict Presbyterian tenets of abstinence, hard work, and faith in the Scriptures. At age fifteen he evidently came to the United States with an older brother and soon found work as a printer’s devil for the ...

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Buford, Abraham (18 January 1820–09 June 1884), horseman and soldier, was born in Woodford County, Kentucky, the son of William Buford, a stockman, and Frances Walker Kirtley. The youth left Centre College in 1837 to accept an appointment to West Point, where he graduated in 1841 next to last in a class of fifty-two. Brevetted a second lieutenant in the First Dragoons, he received his regular commission on 12 April 1842. Satisfactory service on the western frontier brought promotion to first lieutenant on 6 December 1846. The previous year he had married Amanda Harris; they had one child....

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Duryea, Harmanus Barkulo (13 December 1863–25 January 1916), sportsman, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Harmanus Barkulo Duryea, a lawyer and politician, and Mary Peters. Having inherited wealth, Duryea would spend his life engaged in a variety of sporting pursuits....

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Fitzsimmons, Sunny Jim (23 July 1874–11 March 1966), thoroughbred horse trainer, was born James Edward Fitzsimmons in Brooklyn, New York, the son of George Fitzsimmons, a farmer and vegetable huckster, and Catherine Murphy. In 1879, the exact site of Fitzsimmons’s birth in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn became the new Sheepshead Bay Racetrack. Significantly, Fitzsimmons’s earliest childhood experiences were filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of horses and racetracks, an environment in which he lived and worked for the rest of his life....

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Haggin, James Ben Ali (09 December 1822–12 September 1914), mine owner, land developer, and horseman, was born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, the son of Terah Temple Haggin, a lawyer and farmer, and Adeline Ben Ali, a schoolteacher. Haggin’s mother was said to have been the daughter of Ibrahim Ben Ali, an exiled Turkish army officer who settled in England and then moved to Philadelphia in the mid-1790s. Ben Ali’s residence in England is well attested, but there is no record that he ever lived in Philadelphia, where he supposedly settled and practiced medicine. Haggin may not have descended from a Turk, but he gloried in the name Ben Ali....

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Haughton, Billy (02 November 1923–15 July 1986), harness driver and horse trainer, was born William Robert Haughton in Gloversville, New York, the son of William F. Haughton, a silk mill proprietor, and Edith Greene. Haughton’s interest in horses and harness driving began early. He was five when his father bought him a pony with a standard basket cart. Some years later, mimicking the harness drivers at a nearby track, the boy converted the cart into a makeshift sulky. His father rewarded him by purchasing a standard sulky for him....

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Jackson, William Hicks (01 October 1835–30 March 1903), army officer and horse breeder, was born in Paris, Tennessee, the son of Alexander Jackson, a doctor, and Mary W. Hurt. William grew up in Jackson, Tennessee, to which his parents had moved while he was still young, and went on to attend West Tennessee College. Prior to graduation there, however, he accepted an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, entering in 1852 and graduating four years later. Commissioned a second lieutenant, Jackson was stationed with a regiment of mounted rifles in Texas, and served in operations against the American Indians in New Mexico....

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Jacobs, Hirsch (08 April 1904–13 February 1970), Thoroughbred horse trainer and owner-breeder, was born in New York City, the son of an immigrant tailor. Jacobs graduated from public school in 1917 and worked as a steamfitter before joining Charlie Ferraro, his financial backer and the brother of Jacobs’s boss, in 1921 to train pigeons. Jacobs won most of the major Atlantic seaboard sweepstakes in pigeon racing, and in 1923 he served as racing secretary for the Brooklyn, East New York, and Queensborough Concourse clubs. In 1924 Ferraro expanded the partnership into horse racing by purchasing the horse Demijohn in a claiming race (a race in which an eligible trainer can place a “claim” to purchase an entered horse by depositing a preestablished amount before the running) and asking Jacobs to be the trainer. For Ferraro, Jacobs won twenty-eight races worth $27,515 in 1926 and fifty-nine races worth $51,580 in 1927. Jacobs then trained for Johnny Mascia and Louie Sylvestri before meeting his lifetime partner in horse racing and financial backer, Isidor Bieber, in 1928....

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Kenner, Duncan Farrar (11 February 1813–03 July 1887), businessman and Confederate legislator and diplomat, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the youngest son of William Kenner and Mary Minor Kenner. He was educated by private tutors and in private schools in New Orleans, where his father was a prosperous merchant, planter, and public official. Duncan's mother died at age twenty-seven when he was twenty months old, and his father died when he was eleven. Raised by relatives, Duncan attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he completed his studies in 1831. From the spring of 1832 to the fall of 1834 he traveled and studied in Europe; letters of introduction and social contacts brought him twice to the Austrian court, including a private meeting with Prince Klemens von Metternich, and to a ball for European royalty given by Baron Rothschild....

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Madden, John Edward (28 December 1856–03 November 1929), racehorse breeder and trainer, was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the son of Irish immigrants Patrick Madden, a zinc worker, and Catherine McKee. Patrick Madden died when John was four years old, leaving his wife and three children to support themselves. Working in the steel mills as a boy, Madden developed great strength and endurance; he became an outstanding athlete and captained the Bethlehem East End baseball team. As a teenager, he began earning a living on the midwestern county fair circuit, running footraces, boxing, and driving in harness horse races....

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Simms, Willie (16 January 1870–26 February 1927), jockey and trainer, was born William Simms in Augusta, Georgia, the son of former slaves. Enticed by racing silks as a boy, he ran away from home to become a jockey. He worked for C. H. Pettingill’s stable in New York for two years, until trainer Con Leighton “discovered” him riding in Clifton, New Jersey, in 1887–1888....

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Ten Broeck, Richard ( May 1812–01 August 1892), horseman, was born in Albany, New York, the son of Richard Ten Broeck. His mother’s name is not known. Following his family’s tradition of military service, Ten Broeck entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1830, but his stay was short, and, for unexplained reasons, he left West Point in February 1831. Little is known about him during the 1830s except that he settled on a racing career as an owner, promoter, and gambler. To this end Ten Broeck gained wide experience in American horse racing in the Mississippi Valley and Middle Atlantic states. In so doing he became a partner of Colonel William R. Johnson, the greatest racing man of the early nineteenth century and a masterful match maker and gambler. In the 1840s Ten Broeck was associated with race tracks in Mobile, Alabama, and in New Orleans. For a number of years he made the track in Metairie, Louisiana, the best managed race course in the country....

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White, Benjamin Franklin (03 February 1873–20 May 1958), harness horse racing driver, trainer, and owner, was born in Whitevale, Ontario, Canada, the son of a gristmill owner. Though expected to take over his father’s business, White never finished high school. In 1888 he traveled to Markham, Ontario, where he drove his first race behind a mare belonging to his sister. In 1893 White took a job in East Aurora, New York, at C. J. Hamlin’s famed Village Farm stable, a leading breeder of harness horses. Tutored by the noted trainer Edward “Pop” Geers, White served successively as a groom, rider, assistant trainer, and, finally, upon Geers’s departure in 1903, head trainer. In 1906, in the final heat of the Futurity at Columbus, Ohio, White finished with The Abbe in 2 minutes, 10½ seconds, the first time a three-year-old stallion had beaten 2:11. White rode winners every single season for the next 37 years....

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Whitney, Harry Payne (29 April 1872–26 October 1930), financier and sportsman, was born in New York City, the son of William Collins Whitney, a lawyer and financier, and Flora Payne. As the first son of wealthy parents, Whitney attended the Groton School and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University in 1894. He studied law at Columbia University in 1895 and 1896, as well as under ...

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Whitney, John Hay (17 August 1904–08 February 1982), financier, philanthropist, and sportsman, was born in Ellsworth, Maine, the son of Payne Whitney, a capitalist and philanthropist, and Helen Hay Whitney, at the time a poet. “Jock” Whitney graduated from Yale in 1926 and studied history and literature at Oxford for one year. His father’s death in 1927 brought him home to assume control over the Whitney business interests in oil, tobacco, street railways, and real estate, worth cumulatively almost $179 million....

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Widener, George Dunton, Jr. (11 March 1889–08 December 1971), horseman and philanthropist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of George Dunton Widener, a financier, and Eleanore Elkins. An heir to the family fortune amassed by his grandfather, Widener received most of his education privately from tutors and at the Delancy School in Philadelphia. He did not attend college. He married the former Mrs. Earl (Jessie Sloan) Dodge in March 1917; they had no children....