Hall of Fame: Tuscalee Takes a Bow
by Claire Novak
Date Posted: 8/8/2013 8:00:25 PM
Last Updated: 8/9/2013 11:30:07 AM

Photo: Ed Ewing/Delaware Park Photograph

Tuscalee
Bay Gelding, foaled April 11, 1960
Tuscany-Verna Lee, by British Buddy
Owner: Albert Smith
Breeder: Albert Smith (Md.)
Trainer: Leiter (Joe) Aitcheson
Record: 89-39-14-10
Earnings: $130,917

Notable Accomplishments: 1966 champion steeplechaser, winner of 37 races, the most of any American steeplechase horse in history, four-time winner of the National Hunt Cup.
 
Marilyn Ketts, daughter of Al Smith: "I went to most of Tuscalee's races with my father. (Tuscalee) was a little bit of a 'nervous Nellie,' he didn't like to ship much. Mostly we just hung out with him at the stall or when he'd go to the paddock we'd stand with him and keep him quiet; then he'd go and do his thing. He was an excellent horse, he always would test (jockey) Joe (Aitcheson Jr.). If you ever saw him going over brush, he would test it to see how deep he could get into it—but he'd always make sure he would get over it.
 
"Everybody knew him and they all followed him, all the Washington papers and the Chronicle of the Horse. There were so many articles and everybody knew him by name. Whenever we'd go anywhere people would ask my father, 'Are you Tuscalee's owner?' He had a huge following.
 
"After he retired he came to At Last Farm to live with us. We used to foxhunt him after we let him calm down from being a racehorse, and after a while we were breaking a lot of Thoroughbred babies here on the farm and I used him with them as a pony. He had a good life in retirement, just keeping his mind busy, and he did that for a long time until he got a good amount of age on him. Then we just retired him to the field until he started showing signs of his age and it was time to put him down.
 
"I consider it an extreme honor that he's in the Hall of Fame because this all happened in the '60s, and I truly thought he had been forgotten." 

 



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