Unofficial Thoroughbred Hall of Fame


Champion Two Year Old Colt of 1941, Champion Three Year Old Colt of 1942

His dam was a ninety dollar Wildair mare named Winds Chant, and his sire was an undistinguished stallion who went by the name of Good Goods. Coming from such apparently humble ancestry, the bay yearling colt bred by Thomas Piatt, who stood only 15.3 hands high, sold for a mere seven hundred dollars at the Saratoga Sales in 1940, but for owner Albert Sabath, president of Hawthorne Racecourse, Alsab earned $350,015 in a celebrated career. As for the so-called humble pedigree of Winds Chant, her dam was by Fair Play and her second dam was by St. Simon.

Alsab, under the training of August Swenke, began his career in Chicago, and despite his success in the Washington Park Futurity and the Mayflower Stakes he was dismissed as a "Midwest Flash" by serious turf writers. He wasn't eligible for the Futurity at Belmont Park, and since neither was the highly regarded Tremont Stakes winner Requested, Alfred G. Vanderbilt suggested a match race.

The pair met in a six and a half furlong test. Requested set the pace, and Alsab made his move at the three-eighths pole. Under the urging of rider Bobby Vedder, Alsab blew past Requested and won by three and half lengths. He not only broke the twenty one year old track record, but he took more than a full second off of it, clocking the distance in 1:16. It was a world record for a two year old. In the meantime, Some Chance beat Hopeful Stakes winner Devil Diver in the Futurity.

Alsab met Requested again in the Champagne Stakes. He blazed under the wire in 1:35 2/5, another world record for his age group and the fastest mile clocked in 1941. Requested was seven lengths behind.

The star-faced little bay had earned $110,000 and a record fifteen victories as a juvenile. His abilities at the age of two prompted much discussion about his potential when the distances increased. John Hervey noted that Alsab's future was "...more eagerly looked forward to than that of almost any horse since Man o' War."

Alsab was easily the Champion Two-Year-Old Colt, as well as the Experimental Free Handicap highweight. His weight assignment of 130 pounds matched the impost set for the unbeaten Bimelech two years earlier. The Daily Racing Form's Salvator, in contemplating the youngster's unique style, wrote:

"In action, Alsab is not of the drum-roll stroke so common among precocious juveniles, neither had he their quickness away from the gate. He gets off, on the contrary, rather moderately, if not even slowly at times, and requires a bit of ground over which to extend himself before moving into high. When at the very top of his flight, he never struggles or gives effect of extreme exertion, rather everything he does appears easy and within his powers."

Despite the fact that Alsab was beaten in his first seven starts at three, he was still second choice in the Kentucky Derby. Greentree's entry was favored, with Eddie Arcaro, who had his pick of the Greentree horses, choosing to ride Devil Diver. Come Derby Day, it was the other half of that entry that reigned supreme. Shut Out, a son of Equipoise, surprised everyone with a two and a quarter length victory. Alsab ran second.

The Preakness Stakes was next, and this time Alsab was favored. Sure, he hadn't won a race all year, but one Baltimore gambler, having apparently tired of betting on the actual race, had instead wagered a large sum that Alsab would be the post time favorite. He sent an army of young boys out into the streets of Baltimore to spread his message:

"Alsab can't lose today"

It is doubtful, under the circumstances, that the words were meant at all sincerely, yet when the crowd beleived the prophecy and made him the favorite, Alsab didn't disappoint, beating Requested and Sun Again, who dead heated for second, by a length. Shut Out finished out of the money. Alsab next romped to victory in the Withers before trying for a second classic victory in the Belmont Stakes.

This time Alsab was legitimately the favorite, but Shut Out recovered his Derby form and won by two lengths. Alsab once again settled for second money. The next week, Alsab was diagnosed with a splint, and spent the next two months recovering. During his absence, Shut Out won the Travers Stakes and 1941 Triple Crown winner Whirlaway again moved into the national spotlight with numerous wins in the handicap division, including the Brooklyn Handicap. When Alsab returned, he won the American Derby.

On September 19, 1942, Alsab met Whirlaway in a mile and three-sixteenths, $25,000 match race at Narragansett Park. Alsab showed the way through the early stages of the race, then Whirlaway drew beside him with a brilliant late move. The champions locked heads in the stretch and battled toward the wire in one of the greatest duels ever waged on an American track. The photo finish separated the horses by the tip of a nostril, with Alsab claiming the purse, as well as the time of 1:56 2/5.

Alsab beats Whirlaway

Next came a three and a half length victory in the Lawrence Realization, with the champion filly Vagrancy, to whom he gave eleven pounds, second. Whirlaway then got the better of the younger horse in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but the pair met a third time.

The two and a quarter mile New York Handicap was perhaps Alsab's finest hour. He pulled away from Whirlaway after a grueling stretch drive, and then held off a last minute challenge from Obash to claim victory by a head.

Named Champion Three-Year-Old Colt, Alsab topped the juvenile star Count Fleet in the Horse of the Year voting, but was himself defeated by Whirlaway.

Alsab failed to return to his previous form at four or five, winning only once as an older horse. As a stallion, Alsab sired several stakes winners, including 1953 Alabama Stakes winner Sabette. His two most notable offspring were Myrtle Charm, who earned a divisional championship in 1948 and became the third dam of Seattle Slew, and Champagne Stakes winner Armegeddon, who sired Battle Joined, the sire of champion Ack Ack. It is through Ack Ack's son Youth that the male line of Domino survives today, for Alsab's supposedly humble sire was a grandson of the great Colin.

Alsab's Race Record

Year Starts Wins Seconds Thirds Earnings
Lifetime 51 25 11 5 $350,015

Alsab, 1939 bay colt

Good Goods Neddie Colin Commando
Black Flag Light Brigade
Brocatelle Radium Bend Or
Pietra Pietermaritzburg
Winds Chant Wildair Broomstick Ben Brush
Verdure Peter Pan
Eulogy Fair Play Hastings
Fairy Gold
St. Eudora St. Simon


Recommended titles include: Champions from the Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Champions: Top 100 of the 20th Century from Blood-Horse, and Man O' War: Thoroughbred Legends #1 by Edward L. Bowen, as well as Seabiscuit on DVD .
Seabiscuit DVD

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