Jump to: navigation, search

Assault (horse)

Assault
Sire Bold Venture
Dam Igual
Grandsire St. Germans
Damsire Equipoise
Gender Stallion
Foaled 1943
Country United States
Color Chestnut
Breeder King Ranch
Owner King Ranch
Trainer Max Hirsch
Record 42: 18-6-8
Earnings $675,470
Summary
Assault is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Igual by Bold Venture. He was born around 1943 in the United States, and was bred by King Ranch.
Major wins
Flash Stakes (1945)
Wood Memorial (1946)
Kentucky Derby (1946)
Preakness Stakes (1946)
Belmont Stakes (1946)
Dwyer Stakes (1946)
Westchester Handicap (1946)
Pimlico Special (1946)
Grey Lag Handicap (1947)
Suburban Handicap (1947)
Awards
7th U.S. Triple Crown Champion (1946)
U.S. Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt (1946)
United States Horse of the Year (1946)
Honors
United States Racing Hall of Fame (1964)
#33 - Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on September 16, 2006

Assault (March 26, 1943 – September 2, 1971)[1] was an American Hall of Fame thoroughbred racehorse who won the U.S. Triple Crown in 1946.

Contents

Early life

Foaled at King Ranch in Texas, Assault seemed unlikely to amount to anything on the track, much less a Triple Crown champion. Described as being "on the delicate side" by his later jockey, Eddie Arcaro, the son of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Bold Venture was plagued with injuries and illnesses from the start. As a youngster, he stepped on what is believed to be a surveyor's stake, driving it through his front right hoof. The hoof was permanently deformed, and the colt developed an unattractive limp to accommodate the odd shape of his foot; however, the "Club-footed Comet," as he would later be dubbed, showed no signs of abnormality when he was at a full gallop. Throughout his career, Assault also overcame kidney, splint bone, ankle, knee and bleeding problems.

Aside from his physical troubles, Assault faced another major hurdle on his quest to the top echelon of horse-racing. He had been born and bred at King Ranch, a Texas farm that primarily raised cattle and quarter horses for racing. At the time, the vast majority of major stakes-winners were born and bred in Kentucky (indeed, Assault remains the only Texas-bred Triple Crown winner).

Racing years

Under Max Hirsch's training, Assault made his racing debut as a two-year-old in 1945, unceremoniously finishing 12th. He wound up with a record of two wins in nine starts that year, surprisingly capturing the Flash Stakes in a four-way photo finish, but nothing to be overly impressed with. Early in his three-year-old season, he began turning things around. He was victorious in the prestigious Wood Memorial, but an off-the-board finish in the Derby Trial made him somewhat of an outside shot in the Kentucky Derby. With jockey Warren Mehrtens aboard, he blew past rivals to take the first jewel of the Triple Crown by eight lengths, the longest margin of victory to date. Rejuvenated by his impressive win, Assault was made the favorite for the Preakness Stakes a week later. Aggravated by traffic early in the race, Mehrtens decided to push Assault earlier than usual. He was four lengths in front with 1/8 of a mile to go, and quickly running out of energy. Assault just barely sustained a neck victory over closer Lord Boswell.

The crowds saw this as a stamina issue, and made Lord Boswell the favorite in the 1-1/2-mile Belmont Stakes. After stumbling at the start, Assault trailed the field throughout much of the race. Mehrtens allowed him to take his time and find his bearings instead of rushing him. In the final 200 yards, Assault exploded past the leaders to win the Belmont by three lengths. He was the seventh Triple Crown winner ever, and the third during the 1940s.

Two weeks after his Belmont victory, Assault won the Dwyer Stakes, and the general public opinion finally conceded that he was the best three-year-old in training (but that it was also a poor crop to choose from). However, his embarrassing last-place finish in the Arlington Classic made him "just an average horse" again. After the Arlington Classic, it was discovered he had a kidney infection and needed some rest. Assault returned to the track, but something had changed. He was running well, but not winning. After a string of seconds, thirds, and fourths, trainer Max Hirsch made the decision to change jockeys. Assault's original jockey Mehrtens was replaced by Eddie Arcaro. As if to reward Hirsch's judgment, Assault trounced his competitors in both the Pimlico Special and Westchester Handicap with Arcaro aboard, and was voted 1946 Horse of the Year honors.

Over the winter, Assault developed into a handsome, mature four-year-old. The colt was constantly hungry, charging grooms if he was not fed on time. He paid such close attention to his exercise riders that when it seemed that they were gazing off or not fully attentive, he would leap to the side, leaving them mid-air, and gallop around the track riderless.

As a four-year-old, Assault won five of seven races and never finished worse than third. He was victorious in some of the biggest handicap races in history, including the Brooklyn and Suburban Handicaps, while carrying weights of up to 135 pounds. During 1947, he and his rival Stymie battled for the top money-earner title, swapping it back and forth several times. However, in a $100,000 winner take all match race at Belmont Park on September 27, 1947, Arcaro and Assault were beaten by eight lengths by Calumet Farm's Armed, ridden by Douglas Dodson, who would earn 1947 Horse of the Year honors.

Assault wound up returning to the track as a five-, six-, and seven-year-old, although he never returned to the full winning form he displayed as a three- and four-year-old.

Retirement

Assault was originally intended to be retired after his four-year-old season and stand stud alongside his sire at King Ranch. However, none of the mares he was mated with became pregnant; it was apparent that he was sterile. He was returned to racing until the age of seven, where he won a few more races, including one more running of the Brooklyn Handicap. He was then permanently retired to King Ranch. There were some rumors that he was allowed to pasture breed with some of King Ranch's quarter horse mares, but there are no records that any of those foals made it to the track. He did sire two quarter horse foals and they were registered with AQHA. Assault died on September 1, 1971, at age 28, at King Ranch, and the gravesite is on the King Ranch (in Kingsville, Texas).[1]

Records and Achievements

Assault raced 42 times, with 18 victories (15 in stakes races), 6 second-place finishes, and 7 third-place finishes. He earned $675,470. In 1946, he was voted Horse of the Year, the most prestigious honor in American thoroughbred racing, as well as winning Champion 3-Year-Old honors.

Assault was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1964. In The Blood-Horse ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Assault was ranked #33.

Trivia

At his top speed, it would have taken him nearly four hours to travel the length of the King Ranch, where he was bred and trained.

Breeding

Pedigree of Assault
Sire
Bold Venture

ch. 1933

St. Germans

b. 1921

Swynford John o' Gaunt
Canterbury Pilgrim
Hamoaze Torpoint
Maid of the Mist
Possible

ch. 1920

Ultimus Commando
Running Stream
Lida Flush Royal Flush III
Lida H.
Dam
Igual

ch. 1937

Equipoise

ch. 1928

Pennant Peter Pan
Royal Rose
Swinging Broomstick
Balancoire II
Incandescent

b. 1931

Chicle Spearmint
Lady Hamburg II
Masda Fair Play
Mahubah

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Grave Matters Farm Index North America" (horse graves), Thoroughbred Heritage, 2005, webpage: TB-Graves.

References



Share

Premier Equine Classifieds

Subscribe

Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...


The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...


Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...


That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...