from a Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame release
Small in stature but tough as nails, Tuscalee won more American steeplechase races than any other horse in history .[boxify cols_use =”3″ cols =”5″ position =”right” order =”none” box_spacing =”5″ padding =”3″ background_color =”GRAY” background_opacity =”10″ border_width =”1″ border_color =”BLUE” border_style =”dashed” ]TUSCALEE FACTBOOK
- Race record: 89-39-13-10, earnings of $130,917
- Career highlights: Won 10 of 13 starts, with two seconds in 1966, and named Champion Steeplechaser that year; 2013 inductee to National Racing Hall of Fame
- Breeding: Tuscany-Verna Lee, by British Buddy, bred in Maryland by Alfred H. Smith
- For more: Tuscalee’s page at the Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame[/boxify]
He set the standard — 37 career jump wins — in 1972, a mark which still stands. He also holds the North American record for steeplechase victories in a single season with 10 in 1966, the year he was named champion steeplechaser by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations. He was inducted into the National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame in 2013.
Bred and campaigned by Alfred H. Smith, Tuscalee was born at Smith’s Blythewood Farm in Upper Marlboro, Md., on April 11, 1960. He was a son of the Maryland stallion Tuscany, who stood at Sam Pistorio’s farm in Ellicott City. His dam, Verna Lee (by British Buddy), was purchased by Smith at a Timonium auction with Tuscalee in utero.
Tuscalee, all of 15.3 hands, was trained throughout his career by Joe (Leiter) Aitcheson Sr. and ridden primarily by the trainer’s Hall of Fame son Joe Aitcheson Jr. The bay gelding spent his entire 10-year racing career at the hunt or steeplechase meets. He won at least once a year each year he competed from 1963 to 1972 (two of his career 39 wins were on the flat, at Fair Hill in 1963 and Warrenton in 1967).
Running long and saddled with a ton of weight, Tuscalee captured 12 stakes in his 89-start career, finished second in seven others and third in four more while amassing $130,917. Seven of his 10 wins in 1966 came in stakes company at five different tracks, and they loaded up the lead. He carried up to 167 pounds in his wins, as much as 25 more than any other horse.
One of Tuscalee’s final career victories came in the National Hunt Cup, which he took in 1972, at age 12. After 11 starts that season, he was retired to life on the farm as a foxhunter and babysitter to young horses.
“We rode him until he was about 25, then he was turned out in a field in full retirement – the local legend,” Marilyn Ketts, daughter of Alfred Smith, told Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred in 2013.
Tuscalee is buried on Ketts’s At Last Farm in Aquasco, Md.