AFTERNOON SESSION 2.00 PM PRECISELY (LOTS 165-218)
PROPERTY FROM THE HIRSCH AND ETHEL D. JACOBS FAMILY COLLECTION OF THOROUGHBRED RACING TROPHIES
The dramatis personae of the sport and business of Thoroughbred racing generally is cast as follows: Breeders and owners provide the key investment to operate the racing stables, and they hire trainers to manage the animals and make most of the decisions about when they race.
Trainers often are the most visible members of the hierarchy to the media and public. Within trainers' own pecking order, there are those who find themselves with the elite horses--Derby winners, Breeders' Cup stars, etc.--while others, perhaps of equal knowledge and passion, turn out winners at the lesser levels, engendering few headlines.
What is never expected is that a single individual who starts as one of the workaday trainers eventually climbs all the rungs to the point that he not only is training champions, but owning one of the most fashionable breeding operations in the world. Among a handful of exceptions who achieved this most unexpected rise in the tides of life was Hirsch Jacobs. A quiet, courtly Brooklyner with no youthful experience handling horses, Mr. Jacobs launched his career quietly, but soon his acumen drove him to the top of one element of training.
Beginning with 1933, he would be the nation's leading trainer by numbers of victories a dozen times in 13 years. Even this did not equate to much glamour, however, for in the main his victories were in the workaday races that are part of the underpinning of the Turf.
Then came Stymie. Mr. Jacobs claimed (purchased) Stymie for $1,500 for himself and his partner, Broadway character Isidor Bieber. Racing in the name of Mr. Jacobs's young wife, Ethel D., Stymie rose to stardom. His high-headed style and come-from-behind finishes made him a public hero in New York, and his earnings of more than $900,000 enabled Mr. Jacobs to upgrade his modest breeding program.
By the 1960s, Bieber-Jacobs were the fashion-plates of the Sport of Kings. Mr. Jacobs was no longer the leader in sheer numbers, but also in the type of fashionable runners that put the name Bieber-Jacobs atop the list of breeders, and thus above names such as Whitney, Vanderbilt, Phipps, and Kleberg. Bieber-Jacobs was the leading breeder in America in four separate years. In Europe, Federico Tesio was regarded as the genius among Thoroughbred breeders of the 20th century, and more than one observer has described Hirsch Jacobs as "the Tesio of America."
Bieber-Jacobs bred Hail to Reason and raced him to championship honors in the name of the Jacobs's young daughter, Patrice. Hail to Reason then went on to become a leading sire and begot winners of each of America's Triple Crown races--the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes--as well as the English Derby. Other champions such as Affectionately, Personality, and Straight Deal graced the final decade of the life of Mr. Jacobs, who passed away in 1970. The following Bieber-Jacobs horses were elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, NY: Stymie, Searching, and Affectionately. Mr. Jacobs himself was one of the first living trainers elected to the Hall of Fame, being so honored in 1958. Thus, the stable's trophies--all of which belonged by agreement to Mr. Jacobs--represent a seeming contradiction. From creation, these trophies were steeped in society's appreciation of
luxurious materials, meticulous craftsmanship, and aristocratic
history, and yet they were won by a down-to-earth, hard-working soul,
who was a craftsman of another stripe.
Glamour and glory abide within them.
---- Edward L. Bowen
IMAGE CAPTION: Mr. & Mrs. Hirsch Jacobs, 1932, Courtesy of Jacobs
IMAGE CAPTION: Stymie, by Edith Derry Miller, oil on canvas, 1956,
Courtesy of Jacobs Family