To clear her mind and focus on fond memories, Patrice Wolfson, who bred and raced 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed with her recently deceased husband, Louis, attended a Jan. 17 auction at Christie’s in New York that sold more than 200 racing trophies won by her late mother and father.
The trophies of Ethel Jacobs, North America’s leading owner for three years, and her husband, Hirsch Jacobs, a Hall of Fame trainer, brought a combined $545,575 at the auction, according to a Christie’s report.
The most expensive purchase during the trophy portion of the auction was a $58,000 group of eight gold plates earned by the Jacobs’ horses at Santa Anita Park from 1958-1962.
An ornate silver trophy won by two-time champion Personality in the 1970 Preakness Stakes, which fetched a bid of $32,200, was the second highest-priced lot sold.
“I think people were intrigued by the collection—especially the old trophies,” said Wolfson. “It was difficult—I had so many mixed emotions, but I thought the pictures in the catalog were beautiful. I’m hoping to make them into a coffee table book one of these days.”
Wolfson said her brother, Thomas Jacobs, paid $23,750 for the 1947 International Gold Cup trophy won by Stymie over the previous year’s Triple Crown winner, Assault.
“Tommy asked me if there was any trophy I’d like to keep in the family, what would that be, and I said, of course, the gold cup,” said Wolfson, whose other brother, John Jacobs, also purchased an item.
“I need to speak to Saratoga (officials), but when they do (a “Women in Racing” exhibit), I hope we can loan them the gold cup—it was the first International Gold Cup in 1947,” said Wolfson. “That was what really launched my dad into all kinds of wonderful breeding operations.”
Each of the siblings were permitted to submit three closed bids prior to the sale, and Christie’s officials made bids on their behalf during the live auction. Wolfson did not bid on any items, however.
“People were aware of the lot numbers we were bidding on,” said John Jacobs, who trained classic winners Personality and High Echelon for his mother and was later a bloodstock agent. “It was made very clear before the sale.”
Jacobs said Christie’s was not far from the high end of their estimates of what each item would bring.
“There were a few lots I thought would go for higher, but that’s always the case in an auction, where one horse will sell for far higher than you thought, and another, you virtually gave away,” he explained. “I have spoken to one of the heads of the (Christie’s) silver department, and they said they were very satisfied with the sale because they know how difficult it is to sell trophies.
“It’s sad in a way, but it’s good that we did it, and we’ll let someone else enjoy them,” continued Jacobs, who has retained all of his personal training trophies, which he will pass down to his two children. The personal training trophies and awards of Hirsch Jacobs were also not sold.
The Christie’s catalog featuring the Jacobs’ trophy collection includes introductions written by former Blood-Horse editor Ed Bowen, along with color photos of each piece and several historical photos of the Jacobs’ horses and family winner’s circle moments.