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     The Californians



Bay colt, 1860.
By Yorkshire - Topaz by Glencoe.
Darley Arabian Sire line:

King Fergus Branch.
Family 5.


Lodi, a bay born in 1860, was bred by Henry or John M. Clay (father Henry died in 1859), at the Ashland Stud in Kentucky, where Yorkshire, later known as a good broodmare sire, stood. He was a late foal, born in July. He won one race at age two, and one at age three, and then was beaten by the *Balrownie son Captain Moore (twice) and by Lizzie W. , a daughter of imported Scythian. His next race was at Paterson, New Jersey, two mile heats, in which he beat Aldebaran, Copeck and Abu Beker. With this win under his belt, he was purchased by Judge C.H. Bryan of Virginia City, Nevada for $3,500 (on the same day the two year old Lexington colt, Kentucky, was sold for $15,000).

Sent to California at age four, Lodi was put in training with Col. W.W. Gift, of Martinez. His first race was a sweepstakes run in two-mile heats at San Jose, which he won, beating Nathan Coombs' Billy Cheatham colt Strideaway and Theodore Winters' grey mare Margaretta, by Lexington, which Winters had purchased in the east and shipped to his Yolo County, California, farm. After this race, Nathan Coombs purchased a half-interest in Lodi for $3,500.

Coombs was "best known as a patron of the turf and owner of blood-stock," owner of the Napa bloodstock farm. Coombs had arrived in California overland via the Oregon Trail and the Hastings California cut-off, made his money during the California gold rush, served as a state legislator, and laid out the town of Napa (in 1848) on land he purchased from Salvador Vallejo in the now-famous California wine region. Coombs was among the earliest importers of thoroughbreds into northern California; in 1857 he went east, via the Panama isthmus, and purchased several stallions, two of which were Billy Cheatham (by Cracker) and Ashland. They were shipped west to stand at his farm, where neither was particularly successful in getting racehorses, although both had been good winners in Kentucky.

While this was going on in California, Theodore Winters, the owner of the losing Margaretta (who was sent to Belmont's court), another person who made his money during the gold, and later silver rush in California and Nevada, and who had established a large farm, Rancho del Arroyo, in Yolo County, California (complete with racetrack), had gone east, intending to purchase Asteroid from Richard Alexander, the owner of Lexington. Alexander refused to sell the colt, and Winters purchased Norfolk instead. After Norfolk won the Jersey Derby for Winters, and with his nominations to some other big races, such as the Travers, being voided due to some chicanery, Winters decided to ship Norfolk west.

Throughout the winter of 1864-5, rumors of a big race between Norfolk and Lodi began to circulate around the state, which promised to be the biggest event in turf history in California, with two high class, well-bred horses racing each other for the first time in the state. After various proposals, Harris Covey of San Francisco got the hotels in the city to subscribe $5,000 to bring the race to the Ocean House track. It was the first of three famous matches between the two horses, in part a reflection of the political rivalry between Bryan and Winters, who also had a large ranch, Rancho del Sierra, in Nevada.

In this first match, a set of two-mile heats, Bryan brought a top jockey from the east, named Gilpatrick, to ride Lodi; Gilpatrick had ridden Lexington in his famous match against time, and had accompanied Richard Ten Broeck to England, riding the great Prioress in one race there. Norfolk was ridden by his exercise boy, Richard Harvey, who had never ridden in any race beyond a mile. Lodi drew the inside post, and was favored in the betting. In the stretch, Harvey gave Norfolk his head, and he passed the post about 20 inches head of Lodi, but the judges -- Nathan Coombs (still half-owner of Lodi), Bryan (owner of the other half), William Wilson, Winters, and an army officer, Edward McGarry-- declared it a dead heat. It was run in 3:42-1/2. Nofolk easily won the next two heats in 3:45 and 3:48.

Lodi and Norfolk met again in the fall in Sacramento, in conjunction with the California State Fair, of which Winters was a big supporter. Two sets of matches were planned, the first two-mile heats, and the second to be run six days later over three-miles. Lodi entered the first match lame on his front right fore from a quarter-crack, and was also giving Norfolk 10 pounds. Norfolk easily won the two-mile heats in 3:37-1/2 and 3:39-1/2. Six days later, Lodi still lame, the third match was held. In the two three-mile heats run, Norfolk established a record which was unbroken for many years-- 5:27-1/2 and 5:29-1/2, the only race in which both heats were run under 5:30. In the last heat, Lodi was beaten by less than a length, although the quarter crack split badly and he ran "spurting blood at every stride."

Nathan Coombs bought out Bryan's interest in Lodi and retired him to his Napa farm, where he became mostly the sire of selling platers. Turf historian Tom Merry said "I never saw such lovely looking fillies as Lodi got. No horse of that period ever got four such fillies as Eva Bascom, Camilla Urso, Mercedes and Gipsy in one season. Yet not one of the quartet ever dropped a real race horse. They had all the quality of Belmont's daughters, with a good deal more bone and substance. Their failure in the stud was always an enigma to me." A number of Lodi's daughters ended up in the large studs of other California breeders, including James Ben Ali Haggin's Rancho del Paso and "Lucky" Baldwin's Santa Anita Rancho.

Lodi's best known son was Nathan Coombs (the horse), born in 1872 at another important early California farm, Elmwood, located just north of San Jose, and operated by William and Charles Boots. His dam was a great racemare, Miami, a daughter of California sire Belmont; she was defeated only once in 18 starts, when she fell. Nathan Coombs was the grandsire of the most famous and sturdy racemare in California in the 1890s, the marathon four-miler Lucrezia Borgia. Through a daughter, Lizzie Marshall, he was great-grand sire of Peter the Great, who outsprinted Domino during the first half-mile of the Hyde Park Stakes in 1893. Lodi died in Washington Territory on November 30, 1883, at the age of 23.

--Patricia Erigero

LODI, bay colt, 1860 - Family #5.
b. 1834
St. Nicholas
br. 1827
b. 1820
Sea Mew
Miss Rose
b. 1826
b. 1810
Dick Andrews
Gohanna Mare
Sancho Mare
ch. 1810
Blacklock's Dam
b. 1844
ch. 1831
b. 1816
b. 1825
b. 1837
ch. 1823
Windle Mare
b. 1823
Little Folly

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