Rysdyk's Hambletonian From the original painting by J. H. Wright
On the morning of the 5th of May, 1849, when the rising sun was stretching its golden rays across the highlands of the Hudson to the Orange County hills, a veritable gold mine in horse flesh was discovered in his pasture field by Jonas Seely, a skillful farmer and horse breeder of New York State. On that morning a colt was born there, marked by two white hind feet and a white spot on his forehead. He was called Hambletonian–a name famous since in the history of the turf.
While venturesome men of the East were pushing their way to the newly discovered gold fields of California, William M. Rysdyk found his gold mine at home, in horseflesh, and it came to be like the famous acre of diamonds that men have sometimes discovered at their very doors.
The colt, Hambletonian, was sired by Abdallah and his dam was the Charles Kent mare. He was purchased, with the dam, by Mr. Rysdyk, a Chester farmer, in the autumn of 1849. This colt had a long and strong limbs and a constitution calculated to perpetuate his valuable characteristics to a distinguished progeny the world over. The blood and valuable points of merit of Rysdyk's Hambletonian have been transmitted by inbreeding to nearly every horse in the trotting field today. When he was three years old he trotted in 2.48. Guy Miller, a leading horseman of Chester, who assisted Mr. Rysdyk in the care of the great stallion, stated in Headley's History of Orange County, that when Hambletonian was four years of age, his owner refused to sell him to a Virginia gentleman for $10,000.
On April 1st, 1865, Rysdyk purchased the Charles B. Seely farm for $21,048.00, and he stated to Miller some time later that Hambletonian had paid for the farm in three months. His popularity at this time is remarkable inasmuch as, up to that period, no world's record had been won by his get. So highly was Hambletonian valued at one time that Robert Bonner was said to have offered for him what was considered the fabulous sum of $200,000.
In 1865, when Hambletonian was at the height of his popularity, Mr. Rysdyk and the horse posed for J. H. Wright for the painting so faithfully reproduced in this picture. The two are depicted standing before Hambletonian's feeding rack, which is still treasured in Chester as a souvenir of the great progenitor of trotters.
Hambletonian died March 27th, 1876, and was buried in a plot of ground which Mr. Rysdyk set aside for the purpose. The horsemen of the world contributed $3,000 to erect the handsome shaft of red granite. which marks the burial place.
Published By The Knapp Company, New York The Knapp Company, Ltd., London Before hanging, turn this title·leaf back of calendar.
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