Unofficial Thoroughbred Hall of Fame


Despite the fact that her dam was the Champion Two Year Old Filly of 1917, Rosie O' Grady, Potheen won only one start and earned a mere $1,250. Yet her five hundred dollar purchase price proved a bargain when she was named Broodmare of the Year in 1947.

The primary reason for this honor was her brilliant daughter Bewitch, who was the only horse to finish in front of Citation in 1947. Potheen was also the dam of Pot O' Luck, a son of Chance Play who won the Arlington Classic, the Lawrence Realization, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1945. He also scored in the Champagne Stakes as a juvenile, and ran second in the Kentucky Derby. Potheen's filly by Sickle, named Theen, had won the 1937 Arlington Lassie Stakes.

Sired by Bull Lea, Bewitch was also owned and bred by Warren Wright's Calumet Farm. Like all Calumet champions of the era, she was conditioned by Jimmy Jones and his father Plain Ben.

The filly began her career on April 10, 1947, in a maiden special weight at Keeneland. She led from wire to wire and romped home six lengths in front. Bewitch gained experience in her next race, when she was forced to overcome a bad start and interference in the stretch. She was still first under the wire, winning by a neck.

Next came her first start in stakes company when Bewitch went to post in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs. It proved no contest, and the Calumet filly won by eight lengths while conceding five pounds to the runner up.

After six weeks off, Bewitch went to post at Arlington. She easily won the Hyde Park Stakes by eight lengths, cantered to a five length victory in the Pollyanna Stakes, and scored any easy win in the rich Arlington Lassie Stakes.

At Washington Park she added the Princess Pat Stakes to her growing list of wins before meeting her stablemates Citation and Free America in the Washington Park Futurity. She sprinted away from the two colts, handing Citation his first defeat while conceding him an actual pound. Despite rider Doug Dodson's orders to take it easy, Bewitch broke the stakes record.

Bewitch after winning the Washington Park Futurity

Bewitch was first under the wire in the Matron Stakes, but was disqualified for interference with a filly named Ghost Run. Doug Dodson was suspended for failing to prevent his mount from bearing in, and it was four years before he rode Bewitch again.

In her final start at two, Bewitch tasted real defeat for the first time, finishing third behind Citation and Whirling Fox in the Futurity. Bewitch was named Champion Two Year Old Filly of 1947, and if not for the disqualification, she would have broken the record for money won by a juvenile. As it was, her earnings totaled $213,675. Citation was Champion Two Year Old Colt with earnings of $155,680.

Having developed osselets, Bewitch was pinfired and allowed to rest for the winter. In her first start at three, she took the Ashland Stakes, but was then out of action until June recovering from bucked shins.

Bewitch apparently had not fully healed when she arrived at Arlington Park, because she finished a lackluster fifth in the Princess Doreen Stakes. It wasn't the beginning of a pattern, however, because she won the next time out, taking the Modesty Handicap by a length and a quarter from older fillies and mares. Less than two weeks later she took the Cleopatra Handicap as well.

She failed to beat the colts in the Dick Welles Stakes, finishing third, but the Calumet filly won the Artful Handicap to finish out the season with four wins from six starts. It wasn't good enough for a championship, and that honor went to Miss Request, but Bewitch's best performances were yet to come.

As a four year old, Bewitch ran third in two close finishes before winning the Inaugural Handicap at Churchill Downs. Her next came six weeks later at Arlington, and she was paired with jockey Steve Brooks for the first time. She was second twice, ran out of the money behind No Strongs and Two Lea in the Modesty Handicap, and was second twice more before finally winning the Misty Isle Handicap at Washington Park.

Bewitch set a new world record for her sex, a mile in 1:34 2/5, when she won the Beverly Handicap by a neck.

Despite losses in the Beldame and Ladies Handicaps, she was convincing enough in her final victory, the Vineland Handicap, to be named Champion Handicap Mare of 1949.

Bewitch was back to the races again in 1950, shipping from track to track. While she only won twice, including the Black Helen Handicap, she was only unplaced once in eleven starts. Instead of retiring, she raced on at the age of six as well. It was Warren Wright's dying wish that Citation become a millionaire, and that Bewitch become the leading money winning mare in the world.

Racing primarily with the boys in California, Bewitch accomplished the goal, with her biggest score coming in the Vanity Handicap. A second place effort behind Citation in the Hollywood Gold Cup finished off her goal. When she retired, Bewitch had earned $462,605, with twenty wins in fifty five starts.

As a broodmare, Bewitch only had two foals, neither of which lived to racing age, before passing away in 1959. She is buried at Calumet, and in 1977 became a member of the Hall of Fame. She placed eighty-ninth on the Blood-Horse poll at the end of the century.

Bewitch's Race Record

Year Starts Wins Seconds Thirds Earnings
Lifetime 55 20 10 11 $462,605

Bewitch, 1945 bay filly

Bull Lea Bull Dog Teddy Ajax
Plucky Liege Spearmint
Rose Leaves Ballot Voter
Colonial Trenton
Thankful Blossom
Potheen Wildair Broomstick Ben Brush
Verdure Peter Pan
Rosie O'Grady Hamburg Hanover
Lady Reel
Cherokee Rose II Peter Pan
Royal Rose


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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