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was fought between the gentlemen of Gloucester and those of James River, in which twenty pairs were matched and fought for five guineas the battle and fifty guineas the odd. When Gloucester won, James River challenged again and this time came out ahead, and so the contest went on. Matches were frequently advertised in the Annapolis, Williamsburg, and Charleston papers, stating in each case so many cocks, so many battles, so much each and so much the odd, in guineas, pounds, and pistoles. Champion cocks, like horses, were known by name and were pitted against all comers. Quincy saw five battles on his way from Williamsburg to Port Royal, and mentions having met in Maryland two persons “ of the middling rank in life,” who had spent three successive days in cockfighting and “as many nights in riot and debauchery.".
Horse racing was even more engrossing than cockfighting. What is perhaps the earliest recorded race took place in York County, Virginia, in 1674, when a tailor and a physician had a brush with their horses, in consequence of which the tailor was fined by the county court, because "it was contrary to law for a labourer to make a race, being a sport only for gentlemen.” Racing in
Virginia was thus enjoyed as an occasional pastime at a very early date, though it did not become a regular practice until after 1730, when the first blooded stallion was imported. Apparently the earliest race outside of Virginia occurred in East New Jersey in 1694, when Sam Jennings was charged with being drunk when riding a horse race with J. Slocum. It may be noted in passing that horse racing, gambling, and possessing a billiard table were forbidden by law in Connecticut and that all such pursuits were discouraged, though not forbidden, in Massachusetts and Rhode Island."
Races were run on greens at Newmarket in New Hampshire, at Hempstead, Flatland Plains, and around Beaver Pond on Long Island, on John Vanderbilt's field on Staten Island, at Paulus Hook (now Jersey City), at Morristown and Perth Amboy in New Jersey, at Center Course near Philadelphia, and at Lancaster in the same colony, at the race course near Annapolis, at Alexandria, Fredericksburg, and many other places in Virginia. Races were also run on dozens of “race paths" in
Horses were raced in Connecticut, but privately rather than publicly. Hempstead in his Diary' (pp. 148, 156, 579, 601) mentions three races and one race horse.
North and South Carolina, where large plantations had their own courses, as well as on such public tracks as the Round Course at Monck's Corner, York Course at the Old Quarter House, and Thomas Butler's Race Ground on Charleston Neck.
The number of blooded stallions and mares in the colonies before the Revolution must have been very large. Massachusetts was the home of many blooded horses, Rhode Island was famous for its Narragansett pacers, and even Connecticut had stallions obtained from England for breeding purposes. Virginia alone, beginning her importation with Bully Rock in 1730, has record of fifty stallions and thirty mares bred from stock introduced from England, and the services of breeding horses were frequently advertised. The horses used for racing were, of course, runners and pacers, as the trotting horse had not yet been introduced, and the time which they made is recorded as low as two minutes. The fast colts of Governor Sharpe of Maryland were wel known, and Governor Ogle had a famous imported horse named Spark. The Narragansett pacers, as they were called, were the most distinctive colonial breed, and horsemen from the Southern Colonies visited Rhode Island, purchased stock, and advertised the merits of their animals in the newspapers. Some of the colonial horse breeders preferred to buy their stock in England, and it is interesting to note, as an indication of the value of horses in those days, that Charles Carroll contemplated buying a stallion for one hundred pounds sterling and brood mares for fifty pounds each. It is perhaps equally interesting to know that he was dissuaded from his purchase by an inveterate
colonial distrust of the ways of the mother country. | Horse races were of all kinds — for scrubs and thoroughbreds, three- or four-year-olds, colts, and fillies; the heats were generally the best two out of three; and the distance was from one to five miles, with entrance fees and double at the post, and prizes in the form of purses, silver punch bowls, pint pots and tankards, saddles, bridles, boots, jockey caps, and the like. There were such prizes, too, as the Jockey Club Plate, the Town Purse, and the Free Mason's Plate. There was a Jockey Club in Virginia before the Revolution, but that in Maryland was not organized until 1783. The crowds were large, the side betting was heavy, and pickpockets were always on hand. The jockeys, black or white, who rode the horses were sometimes thrown and seriously injured or killed. On at
least one course a “ladies' gallery," or grand stand, was erected, and there were doubtless others elsewhere. So great was the popularity of these races that the Quaker Peckover had to wait until a Virginia race was over before he could hold a meeting.
It was at the colonial fairs that horse racing was one of the most conspicuous incidents. These fairs were held in all the colonies outside of New England, and even there they were occasionally held, except in Connecticut, where, as the unveracious Samuel Peters says, dancing, fishing, hunting, skating, and sleighing on the ice were the only amusements allowed. Though the fairs were in most cases ordained by law, they were sometimes purely private undertakings, as that held at Rye, New Hampshire, which was promoted by an innkeeper, or that at Williamsburg, in 1739, which found its support in a fund raised by a group of gentlemen.
The object of the fair was to bring people together, to encourage trade, and “to provide a general commerce or traffic among persons that want to buy or sell either the product or manufacture of the country or any other sorts of goods or merchandize.” In some colonies the fairs,