Scott, Thomas J.
Thomas J. Scott (American, 1824-1888)
Oil on canvas, 16" x 23"
Signed and dated 1879
Hambrino was a record-setting trotter of the 19th century. His record of 2:21 1/4 was set at Charter Oak Park in Hartford, Connecticut in 1879. By Edward Everett and out of Mambrina, he was arguably the top trotter of his day. Both his sire, Edward Everett, and grandsire, Hambletonian, were horses owned by Woodburn in Spring Station, Kentucky.
T. J. Scott may have borne witness to this horse's impressive display of speed, as the day Hambrino set his record, Scott was in Hartford at Charter Oak Park painting a portrait of another trotter, Bonesetter. The portrait is described in Turf, Field, and Farm as "him standing in his stall at ease, and is the very image of him." The publication goes on to commend Scott's talent and artistry, leading one to believe that the portrait of Hambrino was as good, if not better, than Bonesetter's likeness.
In February 1880, a letter was sent to the Spirit of the Times concerning Hambrino, stating:
Having a few leisure hours in Indianapolis, we recently made a harried inspection of a few of the prominent horses wintering here. The horse in which we felt the most interest was Hambrino, whose achievements upon the turn in 1879 gained him an enviable reputation as both fast and stout ... At Hartford we saw him win one of the most stubbornly contested races of the circuit, showing speed, game, and courage, stamping him as one of the best stallions in America, and reflecting great credit upon his careful and painstaking driver and trainer, Captain W. H. Boyce. Hambrino is a "big little" horse; he is but fifteen hands. To see him in a race you would call him fifteen-and-a-half; a solid bay, clean cut head, and even and symmetrical in conformation ... He is an Everett that will stay, the Mabrino Chief cross giving him the courage wanting in some of his progeny.
Hambrino raced in 1878 and 1879. In 15 starts, he won an impressive 11 races, was second in two, fourth in one, and unplaced in the remaining. Hambrino also proved to be an influential sire, producing stallions and mares that beat even his impressive record. He sired 40 trotters and 10 pacers; his son Delmarch beat the record by 10 seconds, at 2:11. He was grandsire to 113 trotters, and 106 pacers. Fifty-seven of his fillies went on to be influential mares, producing 70 trotters and 45 pacers, the mares Hawthorne and Silicon being the fastest.
Trained by a Lexington native, owned by a Hoosier, and raced in New England, Hambrino certainly made a tour of the country. While this may seem normal by today's standards, this was the 19th century. Yet despite significant travel and record-setting race times, Hambrino at 10 was described "as free from blemishes as a suckling colt, in lusty health, and taking daily jogging." T. J. Scott renders him here as such, capturing the strength and energy of one of the preeminent trotters of the 19th century.