Unofficial Thoroughbred Hall of Fame


In reference to C.V. Whitney's two-time Horse of the Year Equipoise, the well known turf writer Salvator penned:

"Here is a living harmony in horseflesh; an embodiment of rhythm and modulation, of point and counterpoint, that sang to the eye and made music in the heart,"

The Chocolate Soldier, as the dark chestnut was called, was bred by Harry Payne Whitney, who had made his start in racing when he purchased the filly Artful out of the dispersal sale held by his father's estate in 1904. The following year, he raced Tanya, the 1905 Belmont Stakes winner, the filly Perverse, who was named the Champion Two Year Old Filly, as well as Burgomaster, the Champion Two Year Old Colt. Burgomaster went on to win the 1906 Belmont Stakes and be named Horse of the Year. Over the years, H.P. Whitney bred and raced many champions, including Whisk Broom II, who became the first Handicap Triple Crown winner in 1913. His filly Regret became the first distaffer to take the Kentucky Derby in 1915, and was honored as Horse of the Year. Whitney's horses also included Upset, the conqueror of Man o' War, as well as John P. Grier, who attempted to repeat his stablemate's feat the following year, the divisional champions Whichone, Borrow, Prudery, Mother Goose, Stamina, Dominant, Tryster, Maud Muller, Rose O' Grady, and 1927 Kentucky Derby winner Whiskery.

When H.P. Whitney died during the summer of 1930, his son C.V. Whitney took over his stable, which included Equipoise, then ranked among the season's top juveniles, as well as the three-year-old colt Whichone, who had earned juvenile honors the year before and ranked second only to Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in his sophomore campaign, with his victories including the Withers Stakes, Ballot Handicap, Saranac Stakes, and the Whitney Stakes.

Equipoise was sired by Pennant, a son of James R. Keene's 1907 Belmont Stakes winner and three-year-old champion Peter Pan, who also sired H.P. Whitney's two-time champion filly Prudery and the Preakness winner Dauber. His dam, Swinging, was by the leading sire Broomstick.

As a juvenile, Equipoise won half of his sixteen races, competing as a member of a superior crop of juveniles, including Twenty Grand, Mate, Jamestown, Epithet, and Baba Kenny.

On April 7, 1930 Equipoise coasted home four lengths in front at Bowie to break his maiden at first asking. A week later he scored by a length and a half at Havre de Grace.

Having won his first two starts, Equipoise stepped up into stakes company, running third in the Aberdeen Stakes. Next time out, in the Pimlico Nursery Stakes, he carried Sonny Workman for the first time, but the partnership did not get off to a roaring success. Equipoise stumbled at the start, leaving the rider behind.

The pair had little more luck the following week at Jamaica. In the Youthful Stakes, Equipoise coasted home four lengths in front only to be disqualified for impeding Vander Pool.

Equipoise finally earned added money in the Keene Memorial, easily handling a sloppy track at Belmont and beating Pimlico Nursery winner Happy Scot by two lengths. Happy Scot put up more of a fight a week later, when Equipoise gave him three pounds and just got up in time to win by a neck.

In the National Stallion Stakes Equipoise beat Polydorus and Baba Kenny by six lengths, earning a weight assignment of 130 pounds for the Great American Stakes. Polydorus carried only 115, but Equipoise led wire to wire and beat him by two lengths.

Equipoise was given some time off before the Saratoga meeting, then ran second to Jamestown in the Saratoga Special. While he couldn't catch the speedy son of St. James, he did beat show finisher Sun Meadow by eight lengths.

Equipoise carried 132 pounds in the Champagne Stakes a month later, and was a head short of Mate, who carried 119, at the wire. The following week Equipoise met both Mate and Jamestown in the Futurity. Carrying 130 pounds each, Equipoise and Jamestown dueled down the stretch. At the wire, it was Jamestown by a head, but Equipoise at least avenged his defeat in the Champagne, beating Mate by three lengths.

After a five length win in the Eastern Shore Handicap at Havre de Grace, Equipoise met Twenty Grand for the first time in the Jr. Champion Stakes at Aqueduct. Conceding eleven pounds, Equipoise was beaten by a length.

In the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes he chased Greentree Stable's Twenty Grand to a record time for a juvenile. Just a nose apart, the pair swept under the wire in 1:36, and Equipoise had his rival a stride later. It was his last race for H.P. Whitney, who died ten days later. C.V. Whitney made Equipoise the first horse to race in his name, starting him next in the Pimlico Futurity.

In Old Hilltop's premiere race for two-year-olds, The Chocolate Soldier met Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner Twenty Grand, as well as Champagne Stakes winner Mate. Defeat seemed a sure thing when Equipoise was left at the post, but with a heartstopping stretch drive he caught Mate and Twenty Grand to win by a half length. A mud splattered Equipoise He came back missing a shoe. The Baltimore paper described the Pimlico Futurity as the "Most Spectacular Race in a Decade," and the victory gave Equipoise divisional honors. Becoming C.V. Whitney's first champion, Equipoise was named co-Champion Two Year Old Colt, with the other half of the title belonging to Futurity winner Jamestown.

At three, Equipoise won his season debut, then pulled up lame in the Chesapeake Stakes. He was scratched from the Kentucky Derby after running a hard fought fourth in the Preakness, again pulling up lame. He was done for the year.

Twenty Grand reigned as the season's champion, winning the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, the Travers' Stakes, the Dwyer Stakes, and the Lawrence Realization against three-year-olds, and taking on older horses to win the Saratoga Cup from leading money winner Sun Beau as well as the Jockey Club Gold Cup, while Mate scored victory in the Preakness Stakes.

As a four-year-old Equipoise was back, easily winning an overnight handicap at Bowie, then scoring a three length win in the Harford Handicap three days later at Havre de Grace. He won the nation's most important spring, the Toboggan Handicap at Belmont, by a length while carrying 129 pounds, then beat Sun Meadow and Mate in the Metropolitan Handicap.

Equipoise next shipped to Chicago, where he turned the Delavan Handicap into a memorable event by not only beating his old rival Jamestown by three lengths while giving him ten pounds, but also by setting a new world record of 1:34 2/5 for a mile.

Next, he went postward for the Stars and Stripes Handicap. Despite a 129 pound weight assignment, he lead from wire to wire, beating the champion mare Tred Avon by three-quarters of a length while giving her twenty two pounds. Preakness winner Dr. Freeland was another five lengths back.

Five days later Equipoise cantered to a four length victory over Gusto, winner of the American Derby and Arlington Classic, and his old rival Mate in the Arlington Gold Cup.

Assigned a backbreaking 134 pounds for the Arlington Handicap, Equipoise gave it a game try, but was beaten a neck by lightweight Plucky Play, who carried only 111 pounds.

Equipoise traveled east and won Saratoga's Wilson Stakes by two lengths, then coasted home three lengths in front of Gusto in the Whitney Stakes.

After running out of the money in an overnight, Equipoise won the Havre de Grace Cup Handicap by a length, conceding twenty-one pounds to runner up Gallant Sir. Tred Avon was third.

The next time out, Equipoise was third behind Jack High and Gallant Sir in the Laurel Handicap. He finished out the season with the Washington Handicap. Despite closing fast, he couldn't get by Tred Avon in time, losing to the mare by a head, but he got his nose in front of Mate in time to claim second money.

Having won seven straight races, and with an additional three wins, two seconds and a third, Equipoise had earned $107,375. Equipoise was named not only Champion Handicap Horse, but Horse of the Year as well.


When Equipoise returned to the races in 1933, he was put under the management of a new trainer, Thomas J. Healey. Healey had conditioned such horses as Walter Salmon's Display, with whom he won the Preakness Stakes in 1926. The Preakness winners Pillory, The Parader, Vigil, and Dr. Freeland were also saddled by Healey, and he had won the Belmont Stakes with Pillory in 1922. His other successful charges had included 1916 leading money winner Campfire, as well as the fillies Careful and Step Lightly.

Under Thomas Healey's management, Equipoise began 1933 by beating Tred Avon in the Philadelphia Handicap, avenging his loss of the previous fall. He then ran off with the Metropolitan Handicap, winning by four lengths.

Under a burden of 132 pounds The Chocolate Soldier scored by two lengths in the Suburban Handicap. Runner up Osculator carried a mere 107 pounds.

After such an authoritative win in the Suburban, Equipoise was asked to carry even more in the Arlington Handicap. Saddled with 135 pounds, he won going away, beating Watch Him by a length and a half. Gallant Sir was another five lengths back in third.

Equipoise cantered to a three length triumph in his second Wilson Stakes, then beat Gallant Sir and Mr. Khayyam in the Hawthorne Gold Cup. He stretched his winning streak to seven with an easy score in the Saratoga Cup.

The easy wins stopped when Equipoise once again suffered from the chronic quarter crack he had been plagued with his entire career. He was eased, finishing third behind Brooklyn Handicap winner Dark Secret in a muddy Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Equipoise ran second in his final start at five, the Havre de Grace Handicap, in which he conceded twenty-eight pounds to Osculator. Equipoise was honored with his second Horse of the Year title in 1933.

Still plagued with hoof problems, Equipoise ran only six times in 1934, but he made it count. First, he won the Philadelphia Handicap by a length under 130 pounds. He carried the same burden to victory in the Dixie Handicap, winning by a length and a half. He carried 132 pounds to a two length score in the Metropolitan Handicap, only to be disqualified for swerving in the stretch.

In the Suburban Handicap he was assigned 134 pounds, and closed fast to beat War Glory by ten lengths, falling just a nose short of Ladysman at the wire.

He ran a strong third in the Narragansett Invitational, then took the Whitney Trophy Handicap by a length and a half, beating Faireno and Mr. Khayyam while giving away weight.

For the third consecutive year, Equipoise was named champion of the handicap division.

At the age of seven, Equipoise ran three times, all on the west coast. First, he was second as the high weight in the San Diego Exposition Handicap, after suffering interference. Then he beat Twenty Grand in the Oakwood Handicap, only to be disqualified for bumping his old rival. Finally, he was unplaced while carrying 130 pounds in the first running of the Santa Anita Handicap.

Equipoise was retired to stud in 1935, having won twenty nine of his fifty one starts, earning $338,610 and two Horse of the Year titles. He was also a world record holder, and his accomplishments were made all the more impressive by the fact that he ran his entire career with a chronic quarter crack, as well as other hoof problems, and was never completely sound.

Siring only four crops of foals before his death in 1938, Equipoise sired Shut Out, the 1942 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner, as well as eighth other stakes winners. He was America's leading sire in 1942, with $437,141 in progeny earnings, the year his last crop of foals raced as three-year-olds. Equipoise was also the broodmare sire of Triple Crown winner Assault, and his daughter Alpoise was the second dam of Handicap Triple Crown winner Tom Fool, who later sired champions Tim Tam and Buckpasser.

Equipoise became a Hall of Fame member in 1957, and was near the top of the list when Blood-Horse ranked the century's top horses, placing twenty-first.

Equipoise's Race Record

Year Starts Wins Seconds Thirds Earnings
Lifetime 51 29 10 4 $338,610

Equipoise, 1928 chestnut colt

Pennant Peter Pan Commando Domino
Emma C.
Cinderella Hermit
Royal Rose Royal Hampton Hampton
Belle Rose Beaudesert
Monte Rosa
Swinging Broomstick Ben Brush Bramble
Elf Galliard
Balancoire II Meddler St. Gatien
Ballantrae Ayrshire


Recommended titles include: Champions from the Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Champions: Top 100 of the 20th Century from Blood-Horse, and Man O' War: Thoroughbred Legends #1 by Edward L. Bowen, as well as Seabiscuit on DVD .
Seabiscuit DVD

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