A Plucky Horse
Runs His Legs Off


from
The San Francisco Bulletin
July 2, 1878

The second day came.  It was lovely, bright and charming enough for a young queen's coronation.  The programme was splendid, and long before the horses were called to the post in the first race the grounds were absolutely alive with people.  They came from all quarters and in every possible way.  The delegation of the fair sex was especially strong, and they enjoyed the sport wonderfully.  The Greeley Stakes, a dash of three miles for all ages, was the opening race.  Of twenty two nominations, Mahistick(not sure of this spelling), McWhirter, Joe Rodes and Red Bluff came to the post.  They got a good start when McWhirter darted to the front like a red man's arrow from a well sprung bow.  Before he reached the first turn Mahistick joined him, and the pair raced like twin brothers for two miles.  There was no advantage in favor of either.  As they approached the distance on the second mile, not more than 75 yards from the wire McWhirter faltered.  He had been ill of a leg since last fall, but when he faltered it seemed to be from the well front leg, and not the weak one.  He lost his stride for the moment, changed feet, regained a neck which he had lost, and passed the stand head and head with his adversary.  Fifty yards further and he gave away in the other leg, and Mahistick drew rapidly away from him.  Still McWhirter showed no disposition to quit, and the foolish little boy on him made no attempt to force him to do so.  With the tendons gone in both front legs he kept moving but gradually like the dying out of the flickering light of an exhausted candle his pace grew more and more difficult, his stride shorter and shorter, until just as he passed the half-mile pole the cannon bones forced their way through the skin and he came near falling.  The lad was dislodged from the saddle but held to the poor horse.  The crowd disregarded the race and rushed to the noble animal who had made so desperate and remarkable an effort to do his master's will, who had absolutely performed the long talked and written of but never before realized, feat of running his legs off.  General Buford, his owner, was sent for.  His recovery was utterly impossible.  He could only linger in pain, and die at last.  To relieve him, and in sheer mercy his master, with a sad heart and tearful eyes, passed sentence upon him, and he was then and there shot.  "Twas a sad sight.  I saw men, brave men, who had breasted storms of bullets in fearful conflicts, melt to tears, and in the grand stand the ladies wept bitter grief at the death of the horse they had but a few moments before declared to be the handsomest animal they had ever seen.  He was a beautiful horse, of perfect symmetry, with action as elastic as a rubber ball; all style, all form, all proportion, except his courage, and that - what it was the crowning act of his life writes it's own history in characters more indelible than time itself.  He was buried near the spot, under a beautiful tree. and the people of St Louis declare that above him shall stand a monument, "Sacred to the memory of McWhirter."  General Buford was a good soldier but soldiers are seldom philosophers.  He is not.  He did not recover his usual spirits during the remainder of the meeting; and the whole crowd were gloomy during the day.  The sport went on, but that wild enthusiasm of the early morning and previous day, which found relief in wild shouts of animated joy, was hushed.  There was a pall over the assembled thousands.  They mourned as if the great had gone, the good had departed.  "Twas the saddest day I ever witnessed on a race-course.  May I never see it's like again.

St. Louis Correspondent-
Wilkes' Spirit of the Times


The following was taken from my
Buford Families in America book.
page 554
The article is from The Woodford Sun
June 15, 1877
 

General Buford and His Horses

General Abe Buford returned home Monday last from the Louisville and Cincinnati

races, bringing with him his stable of fine racers. The General has been very fortunate

this Spring, upon the turf, winning some heavy purses and making such time with his

horses, especially with McWhirter, that we should think he would be entirely satisfied

and happy, is entered in stakes to the amount of $10,000 to be run for this fall at

Lexington, Louisville and Nashville. The performance of this colt in the spring of the

year, as a 3 year old, with 100 lbs on his back is something wonderful. The get of

Leamington (a stud horse) did wonders at Bosque Bonita, of the six foals he sired at his

place there were four rattling racers; Enquirer, Longfellow, Linchburg and Littleton.

Now why should not his son Enquirer breed equal to his sire as his dam was by

Lexington, the grandest stallion of them all. This combination of blood is only found in

the veins of Enquirer among the stallions of Kentucky and we advise all the breeders of

thoroughbreds in the blue grass country to get to it by the shortest route.  end


 

General Abe's best performer

was probably Falsetto, champion 3-year-old of 1879, later to sire
 
3 Kentucky Derby winners.



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