New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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1854 The Great State Post Stakes

On April 1, 1854, a memorable horse race was held at the famous Metairie Course. The race, advertised as “The Great State Post Stakes,” became a state rivalry between Louisiana and Kentucky.

Although there were four horses from four southern states, the Louisiana and Kentucky horses were on the lips and the tips of the pens of writers throughout the U.S. The Louisiana-bred entry was Lecomte, from the stable of Thomas J. Wells, owner of a plantation near Alexandria. Representing Kentucky was a horse name Lexington.

Everyone who was anyone was on hand for this great event – governors, mayors and congressmen from numerous states, business and professional elite, along with none other than U.S. President Millard Filmore, who stated, “There is no way I would miss this great sporting event.”

A match race in those days was a grueling test of speed and endurance in four-mile heats, with the winner being the horse with the best time in the three runnings. On this day, the track was muddy, and Lexington’s victory was considered by many a freak.

A rematch was demanded. This time Lecomte was not only the winner but won in record time. Again there were calls for a rematch. On April 14, 1855, Tom Wells, owner of Lecomte, challenged Lexington in a head-to-head “rubber” match, with the winner being awarded $20,000.

This time there was no question; Lexington was declared the winner, with a time of 7:23 3/4. When it was all over, it was heard in the crowd, “Besides the $20,000 purse, there were surely some plantations that changed hands today.”

The race of April 14, 1855, was the last for both horses. They both gave great enjoyment to many when they competed. Even though it is more than 140 years since their last race, they are both still remembered. Lexington’s skeleton can be seen today properly mounted in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. Lecomte is remembered through a town located south of Alexandria that was named in his honor, even though the name was misspelled – LECOMPTE.

Source: Buddy Stall at http://clarionherald.org/19990805/stall.htm