Mollie McCarty (often spelled McCarthy, sometimes Molly McCarty) was the undefeated California champion of the 1870s, and the first California-bred to travel east to race, where she was finally bested by the champion east-coast horse, Ten Broeck in a match race held in Kentucky. This famous meeting was immortalized in song (Molly and Ten Broeck; Run, Molly, Run, and others), which has gone through many iterations over the years, and in some instances has become enmeshed in the Skewball/Stewball ballad popularized in the U.S. by blues musician Leadbelly, and later folksingers Peter, Paul and Mary and Joan Baez.
Her sire Monday (1864), by Colton, a lesser son of Lexington, had been brought to California in 1870 by Adolph Mailliard, along with her dam, Hennie Farrow, and (Young) Eclipse, both by (Morris') Eclipse. Mailliard sold his Bordentown, New Jersey, stud, where Morris' Eclipse stood for one season in 1864, and emigrated to California in 1870, not long after the Union Pacific Railroad was completed in 1869. He established a new thoroughbred nursery in Marin County's San Geronimo Valley, north of San Francisco.
Monday was out of the famous race mare Mollie Jackson (by Vandal). He raced for Francis Morris, a shipping magnate and later president of the American Telegraph Company, who was an enthusiastic horse racing enthusiast with a model farm, Oakland Manor, in Maryland, and at Throgg's Neck on Long Island, New York. Monday started seven times, and was beaten twice, both times by his stablemate, the celebrated filly Ruthless (1864, by imp. (Morris') Eclipse). As a juvenile he placed third to Ruthless in Jerome Park's Nursery Stakes (one mile) at its inaugural meeting, but in the fall turning the tables on her, taking the Trial Stakes at Patterson, New Jersey. At age three he won the 1-1/2 mile Jersey Derby, beating Ruthless, and the Sequel Stakes (beating Virgil), but Ruthless took the inaugural running of the Belmont Stakes, with Monday, who broke down, fourth and last. Monday's son out of Ruthless (her only foal), Battle Axe, won the Kentucky Stakes and was second in the Saratoga Stakes. In California Monday became a leading sire, with offspring such as Joe Hooker (the sire of the great race mare Yo Tambien), Raven, Lottery, Mark Twain, Mark L., Grover Cleveland, and many others. Turf writer Thomas Merry, who saw all these horses and had been involved in the western turf since before the Civil War, said he always felt Mollie McCarty had been gotten by Young Eclipse, but it was noted by another turf writer that there "...is every reason to give the latter [Monday] the credit, as Hennie Farrow broke to Eclipse Jr., and her filly [Mollie] was foaled within Monday's limit."
Her dam, Hennie Farrow
Mollie's dam, Hennie Farrow (1853), "as handsome a mare as was ever stripped for a race," was a useful racemare "but...never beat anything of note." She was bred in Nashville, Tennessee by Abner Turner, a well-known horseman in the south. She was "a mare of good size, a deep bay in color, of splendid form and fine constitution. In temperament a little nervous...at age four after the close of the meeting at Memphis she was shipped by river to New Orleans. Restless aboard the steamer, and by some means slipped her fastenings and quick as thought leaped from the boat into the bosom of the Missisiippi River. She swam toward shore, but there was only a single point where she could effect a landing, on account of the high and steep banks...she reached terra firma safely and stopped on shore." The boat landed, she was caught ... "carried aboard and conducted herself with remarkable compsure during the remainder of the trip." Hennie died in the spring of 1878.
Hennie competed against such horses as Planet, Socks, and the great racemare Fanny Washington. At age three, at the Washington Course at Charleston (South Carolina) she was distanced in the Hutchinson Stakes (2 mile heats for three year olds), but it was entirely due to the miscalculation of her jockey, who held her under a hard pull, assuming Fanny Washington and Socks would beat each other at speed, after which Hennie would come up to win; but in this race, he held back too long, and Fanny and Socks did not falter, running the fastest recorded race over the course and distance to that time. She also ran in a match against Planet at that meeting for $2500 a side, two-mile heats, which she lost. She was sold at age three to Captain Thomas G. Moore of Crab Orchard, Kentucky (the owner of Socks and other good ones). At age five she took the Harper Stakes (2 mile heats) at Memphis.
As a broodmare for Moore she foaled Blue Flag (1862, by Lexington), a good runner that won as a juvenile at Chicago and La Clede (Missouri), and Privateer (1863, by Lightning), a winner of the $1000 Merchants' Post Stakes (3 mile heats) and a $500 purse (2 mile heats) at Mobile, Alabama, and many other races, and later a sire of trotters and roadsters. Hennie was purchased by shipping magnate and turfman Francis Morris (owner of Eclipse), and in his stud produced Ballerina (1865, by Balrownie), Henna (1866, by Slasher), Mayflower (1867, by Eclipse), and Mimi (1869, by Eclipse). Electra, her 1871 filly by Eclipse, while bred at Morris' stud in New Jersey, made the trip to California in-utero, and was foaled at Adolph Mailliard's Rancho San Geronimo. Ballerina and Mayflower also went west with Hennie.
In Mailliard's California stud, Ballerina produced Ballinette, a winner of two mile heats at Sacramento. Ballinette was later the dam of the winners Alta and Del Norte, and is seen today in Quarter Horse pedigrees.
Mayflower (1867, by Eclipse) became the dam of Joe Hooker, later sire of the famous race mare Yo Tambien. Hennie Farrow's 1871 daughter Electra (by Eclipse) had several daughters that bred on in tail-female through the end of the twentieth century, including Travers Stakes winner Annihlate'em (1970).
Mimi, her 1869 daughter by Eclipse, stayed in the east, and won Monmouth Park's Thespian Stakes, and placed second in several good races at age three, including Jerome Park's Ladies Stakes; she later produced Kinglike (Jerome Park's Nursery Stakes and others), Stately (also a Nursery Stakes winner) and Copyright, a winner of Saratoga's United States Hotel Stakes and Canada's Toronto Cup, among other races. Mimi's and Mayflower's California-born sister Electra produced J.B. Haggin's good winner Hidalgo, Fitz James (Monmouth Park's Sapling Stakes), and several daughters, including Marian, the dam of Travers Stakes winner Sir John. Electra's female line continues to the present.
After Electra came Shannon (1872, by Monday), bred by Mailliard, and then Hennie passed into the hands of Theodore Winters, who had a farm, Rancho del Arroyo, in Yolo County, California. In 1873, she dropped Mollie McCarty. Her next foals, bred by Winters, were Ralston (1874, by Winters' stallion Norfolk), Clara M. (1875, by Norfolk), and Flood (1877, by Norfolk).
Shannon (1872), who ended up as a stallion at Leland Stanford's Palo Alto Stock Farm, was the grandsire of Racine, one of the fastest juveniles and great weight carriers of the '80s, winner of eleven consecutive stakes and purses in his first season in California for Leland Stanford; Racine also won in Chicago at age three, breaking the track record for three year olds over a mile. In another race, Racine beat the fast four-year-old, Marion C., over a mile, conceding weight, and breaking the national mile record (1:39-1/2), which had been set thirteen years earlier by Ten Broeck, the horse that broke Mollie McCarty's unbeaten streak.
Flood was a good racehorse for Theodore Winters, and later, for Leland Stanford, was the sire of Guenn, an excellent runner in California and winner of the Brooklyn Cup in New York, later dam of the good race mare Emma C., the dam of Commando.
Mollie on the Turf
Mollie was "named for a dashing blonde," and was, in her racing days, described as "very bloodlike, highly finished, and full of quality," one of those "hard-muscled, fine-grained" horses that "make up in quality what they lack in substance." She stood 15. 2 hands. When she went east to meet Ten Broeck, the Spirit of the Times gave this portrait of her: "There is no question about the capacity, speed and power of Mollie McCarty, if there is anything in form, size, breeding and action. She has a beautiful head, a neck as handsome as a swan's, with magnificent limbs, perfect stibles, immense quarters, and a splendid back and middle piece. She is a rich brown in color, as playful as a kitten, full of life and energy, and several times, while being exhibited at Louisville, scattered the crowd with her heels." More than one turf commentator noted her resemblance to her grandmother, Mollie Jackson, the "queen of the turf in her day for her great three mile races."
Mollie McCarty and her dam were sold to Theodore Winters, who had a large ranch in Nevada's Washoe Valley and, at the time, one almost as large in Yolo County, California (between San Francisco and Sacramento) where he stood Norfolk, the undefeated son of Lexington.
Mollie won her only start at age two,a two-year-old stakes worth $550 over a mile at Sacramento in 1:46. At age three, she was undefeated. She took a race at San Jose in April, worth $200, in mile heats. In May she won the Latham Plate l(1-1/2 miles) at San Francisco. Next up was the Solano Stakes (1-3/4 miles), worth $400, for three-year olds at Winters' racetrack. In September at Sacramento she took the Winters Stakes (1-1/4 miles) and, the same day, the Spirit of the Times Stakes (mile heats) at Sacramento. In December she won the $1,000 California Oaks at San Francisco (four mile heats), distancing all in the latter, with the exception of one filly. Her wins that year totalled $7,225.
At age four, again undefated, she won five races in succession: a four-mile heat race at San Francisco, worth $2,250, beating Bazaar and four others; a 2-1/4 mile dash worth $350 at Sacramento in April, beating Lady Amanda, and two days later a two-mile heat race worth $500 there, beating Council Bluffs, Lady Amanda and Wheatly; a one mile dash worth $400 in 1:48, beating five, at Sacramento in September, and four days later a $500 purse two-mile heats race, beating three.
She started once in California for Winters at age five, a match race over two miles in March at Sacramento, conceding 14 pounds to her opponent, Jake, and besting him in straight heats. There were no horses in California left for her to beat. As Mollie gained stature as a racehorse, public discussions in turf journals and private discussions between the principals began to center around matching Mollie, the champion mare of the west, with one of the best 4-mile horses in the east, Ten Broeck, bred and owned by John Harper.
This match of four mile heats for $5,000 each side, the first and last east-west match of its kind, represented the end of an era, that of the long-distance race horse. Already in the east, and to a great extent in the west, the English style of "dash" racing was supplanting the great distance races held in heats. The era of the great "north-south" matches was over, and although there were still impressive local and regional matches over four miles, the shift to shorter, fast races where the winner took all in one dash took precedence as the decade of the 1870s progressed. In fact, the career of Alarm, by (Morris') Eclipse, was representative of the new style of racing; he won and raced over a mile and a quarter, maximum, in the process setting a new mile record of 1:42-3/4 at Saratoga in 1872. It's no wonder that the first east-west match held in the east (eastern runners, such as Joe Daniels, True Blue, and Katie Pease had traveled west in the mid-70s to compete for very rich purses in San Francisco), and the last of the great national four mile distance races was commemorated in a song.
Mollie's opponent, Ten Broeck (1872) was the embodiment of this shift; he was a champion four-mile horse who had won five of his eight races at age three, and four of his five (beaten by Aristides over 2-1/8 miles at Lexington) at age four, including beating the four mile record set by Fellowcraft in 1874 (previously held by Lexington), by running the distance in 7:15-3/4. At age five he won nine of his ten races, and, like Molly, ran himself out of opponents, and ended that year by racing against time, and in doing so, also set the record for a mile distance at 1:39-3/4, a record that stood for thirteen years. At age six he was beaten by Pierre Lorillard's Parole over 2/-1/2 miles at Pimlico, Maryland in a famous three-way match that included Tom Ochiltree, another good performer, who ran third. Ten Broeck was giving away 9 pounds to Parole. This defeat shocked his supporters, but three days later he came back to win the Bowie Stakes in four-mile heats. In November of that year, he and Parole were both taken to Jerome Park (New York) for a match, but Ten Broeck was withdrawn and Parole walked-over for the win.
He was a handsome bay horse by imported Phaeton, a son of King Tom; Phaeton had poor legs and ran just twice on the turf, placing third to Rabican in Goodwood's Findon Stakes. He was imported by Richard Ten Broeck, and stood in Kentucky until his early death in 1874. In addition to Ten Broeck, he got King Alfonso (also 1872), a great winner in Kentucky and Tennessee, later sire of Kentucky Derby winner Fonso, and the great runner Foxhall that went to Europe, winning the Grand Prix de Paris, the Ascot Gold Cup, and other good races. Ten Broeck's dam, the Lexington daughter Fannie Holton, was out of Nantura, a winner of the important 2 mile Lexington Produce Stakes, and later also the the dam of Longfellow, who was also bred and raced by Harper. After he was retired to stud, Ten Broeck was modestly successful, the sire of Bersan (Travers Stakes), Ten Strike, Free Knight (later sire of Kentucky Derby winner Elwood), Kentucky Oaks winner Ten Penny and Alabama Stakes winner Tolu, and of some good producing daughters.
Mollie made the then difficult trip across the Rockies; the rails over the mountains in the west that carried her had been completed less than eight years earlier. The day of the race, July 4, 1878, dawned clear, but the track was slow, due to a heavy shower the previous night, footing Mollie had displayed a disinclination to like, and she was running in the eastern humidity, after having spent her career in the kinder climate of California. The crowd at the Louisville Jockey Club was the largest seen to that time, with some estimates putting its size at 30,000, an observer reporting that all trains, extra trains, steamboats and inner-city transport jammed to capacity to reach the grounds. Mollie received applause from the crowd when she appeared in her white sheet, but the crowd roared when Ten Broeck stepped onto the track.
They started evenly, and Mollie led for the first mile, "with such a beautiful and apparently easy stroke, and the horse seemingly at labor, but really annoyed at restraint, that a shout went up that she had already beaten him." Mollie led for the second mile, but after the quarter pole Ten Broeck drew ahead, and by the time they had reached 2-1/2 miles he was leading by a length, and at the third mile he was ahead by twenty yards. At 3-1/2 miles Mollie gave up the chase, and Ten Broeck cantered home easily in the slow time of 8:19-3/4. "Such a shout as went up over the triumph of Ten Broeck, and such a scene of wild and extravagant excitement, I never saw before, and never expect to again, outside the impulsive state of Kentucky." It was Mollie's first defeat, in fact, her first defeat in any heat at any distance. This race was Ten Broeck's last.
Mollie went on, in the ownership of E.J. "Lucky" Baldwin, to run the Minneapolis Cup, in which she ran second to Governor Neptune, her defeat attributed again to the humidity. Baldwin was a long-time associate of Winters' -- both had made much of their money in the silver mines of California, and Baldwin, in addition to importing expensive stallions and purchasing the best sons and daughters he could find of leading American sires in the east, would purchase a number of Winters' young horses to race, including the great Emperor of Norfolk. Baldwin's great ranch, Rancho Santa Anita, was located in Southern California, where the present-day Santa Anita racecourse is located.
At age six Mollie ran once in San Francisco, taking a purse over 1-1/4 miles, beating Mark L. and Mattie Moore. Baldwin then shipped her back east to Chicago, where, carrying 115 pounds, she won Chicago's Garden City Cup; her stablemate Clara D. had been brought along to act as a rabbit in the race, but Mollie dispensed with that plan by racing to the front, running away from the field of eleven other horses, and winning in a canter in a time of 4:02, one of the best times for the distance at that time. She was slated to run in a match against Bramble, who had run two miles at 4:03, but her leg went in training, and that was it for "the pearl of the occident." She had won 15 of her 17 races, and $16,800, and was retired to Rancho Santa Anita.
Mollie as a Broodmare
Mollie produced three foals in succession to Baldwin's home stallions, between 1881 and 1883. She died "of bots" on March 15, 1883, soon after dropping her filly by Rutherford, which was poignantly, or perhaps matter-of-factly, named Mollie's Last.
Her first foal was Baldwin's brown 1881 filly, Fallen Leaf ("the California Wonder"), by Grinstead, "the great daughter of a great mare," a winner of races between one and four miles in the east and in California, including the Glidelia Stakes at Latonia and the Illinois Oaks ("in a canter") at Chicago, and second in the Latonia Derby to Audrain. Grinstead was a son of Gilroy, a full brother to the champion Kentucky (the latter's sole defeat was by Winters' Norfolk). Grinstead was an influential stallion in California, and a good sire of broodmares; he got Baldwin's first two American Derby winners, Volante and Silver Cloud, and other high-class runners. Fallen Leaf's female descendants remained in the Rancho Santa Anita stud, producing minor winners, for several generations, and several branches in tail-female produced long-running hard-knocking winners, such as California Ada (13 wins in 103 starts, dam of six winners none running less than 38 times). A distant male descendant became a remount stallion in Arkansas in the 1930s, and another was a juvenile stakes winner in Florida. Two tail-female descendants of Fallen Leaf, owned by this writer, were champion show hunters in the 1960s and '70s in California.
Mollie's second foal, the colt Brandy-Wine, was by Lexingtor, one of Lexington's last offspring Baldwin had bought sight-unseen as a weanling; although Lexingtor won or placed in six of his seven starts, he was a very minor winner, and a "...pony-built, mongrel-looking, chuckle-headed freak," to boot. Perhaps Baldwin was looking to Mollie to improve him as a stallion, because he certainly had access to much better animals, his own and those of others, whose quality might have equaled that of Mollie's. Her third foal, Mollie's Last, was by Rutherford, son of the leading U.S. sire Australian, and brother to Spendthrift; Mollie's Last was a stakes winner in California, and ran third in the Jerome Handicap in New York in 1896, but did not breed on.
For lyrics to songs that have given Mollie a kind of immortality-- Ten Broeck has fared less well, with some name changing-- see this page.