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Charles Town Racing Record set by Asturian Brothers

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Manuell Alvarez

Joined: 14 Jun 2011
Posts: 241

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:22 am    Post subject: Charles Town Racing Record set by Asturian Brothers Reply with quote

I Heard The Soul of The Crowd Call My Name and It Ran Deep Through the Heart
July 14, 1937, was a hot and humid day in the Shenandoah Valley of West Virginia. It was not the best of racing conditions as high temperatures and humidity can affect the strength, stamina, and performance of race horses especially late in the afternoon. Despite the oppressive heat and humidity of July, four thousand racing fans at the Charles Town Jockey Club witnessed and were treated to two new back to back track records. Irene's Bob and Sitting Pretty would set up a historical display consisting of two back to back track records set on the same day in the heat of a late summer afternoon ridden by two Cuban jockeys. In the eighty-two year racing history of the Charles Town Racetrack, this record breaking and rare doublet event has never been known to be repeated.

As two Northern Spanish Asturian horsemen and brothers, Albert and Joe Alvarez, walked their horse, Sitting Pretty, to the paddock for the seventh race, they would have been made aware of a new track record set in the sixth race after hearing the roar of the crowd's appreciation and announcement. Setting a new track record is a much coveted honor among all horsemen, especially for races that are a mile or more in length, a once in a lifetime and rare achievement held by only a few owners and trainers. This track record was held by Sitting Pretty for approximately two years. This record breaking feat is only eclipsed in A. A. Alvarez's racing career by Cuban bred, Azabache, which won the Two Thousand Dollar 1940 River Side Handicap in Cuba, and Tuleyries Ruby's wins in the three different countries of USA, Cuba and Canada within one year's time. Further, he would saddle thirteen international winners in 1942.

Excitement over the first track record certainly filled the air; however, these Asturian horsemen from Northern Spain living in West Virginia, could not have anticipated or suspected that their horse, Sitting Pretty, third favorite, would set a new track record for one mile and an eighth to complete an unprecedented historical racing record at Charles Town. They would have just been contented with a first place finish. Setting a new track record in the dead of summer heat for both horses is phenomenal racing and training conditioning. Further, the two Cuban Jockeys were outstanding riders having been trained at the now defunct Oriental Park Racetrack located outside of Havana in Marianao, Cuba. Irene's Bob already held one track record at the New Orleans Fairgrounds and was known for speed; however, Sitting Pretty was virtually unknown even after two previous wins at a mile and an eighth at Charles Town and was not favored to win. Further, Sitting Pretty was five pounds over the allowable racing weight and would win six lengths over the favorite. According to the 1937 Farmer's Advocate's front page account, Sitting Pretty shaved a full second off the record; however, the Daily Racing Form chart time for the race indicates that it was not a full second. It was more like four fifths of a second. Sitting Pretty was ridden by Cuban jockey, Orlando Hernandez and riding Irene's Bob was Cuban jockey, P. Martinez.

The historical win photograph negatives of both horses have been lost to history and only the racing chart records published by the Daily Racing Form Corporation, the July 16, 1937, issue of the Farmers Advocate, and the 1938 American Racing Manual remain to record this historical event which has been long forgotten and neglected West Virginia and Jefferson County racing history. Arsenio Albert Alvarez started racing at Charles Town in 1936, scoring his first win as an owner with Sleive's Pride. His first win as a trainer took place at the Shreveport, Louisiana Racetrack in October, 1937, with Takes Time ridden by Cuban Jockey, O. Hernandez. A.A. Alvarez will be best remembered for his many international racing wins primarily in Cuba and one in Canada during the years of 1937 to 1942, with horses, Tuleyries Ruby for five international wins, Loyal Son for five international wins in 1942, Why Tarry, Lady Myrtle, Azabache, Sitting Pretty, Hiblaze, and several others. He is the only West Virginia horse trainer and owner to have won thirty-two or more international races with thirteen in 1942. Albert Alvarez's racing history and international accomplishments have been publicized in the West Virginia History Archives, the Famous West Virginian website, the Asturian American Migration Forum website, the September 3, 2011, issue of the, El Comercio newspaper in Asturias, Spain, the Jefferson County Museum, the Berkeley County Public Library, and the American Racing Manual for 1938 and 1943. The Jefferson County Route CR17 Flowing Springs Road Bridge over State Route 9 named in his honor and a $100,000 scholarship at Shepherd University are two local and significant Jefferson County memorials honoring his 1937 Charles Town track record and international wins. Internationally, he is recognized by the Spanish El Comercio Newspaper. His international racing records of 1944 to 1952 remain to be researched with 1943 as a war restricted travel year. The National Sporting Museum, and Library in Middleburg, Virginia provided the historical racing information concerning his 1936 and first win at Charles Town with, " Sleive's Pride", and the National Racing Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York provided all the other historical racing information and data. The 1937 Farmers Advocate's front page article dated July 16,1937, mentioning Sitting Pretty's 1937 record setting achievement was found in the newspaper microfilm archives at the Berkeley County Public Library located in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The Canadian National Horseracing Museum Director furnished historical racing data for Tuleyries Ruby's 1937 win in Canada.

Arsenio Albert Alvarez's international racing record as a West Virginia thoroughbred horse trainer and owner has been deemed to be historically noteworthy because of his recognition in the 1943 American Racing Manual for thirteen international wins during 1942, the 1937 Charles Town Track record, his unprecedented wins as a trainer in the three different countries of Canada, Cuba, and U.S.A. with the same horse, Tuleyries Ruby, within one year's time, and Azabache's impressive 1940 Riverside Handicap win in Cuba.

This short West Virginia horse racing biography of Arsenio Albert Alvarez, entitled, "I Heard the Soul of the Crowd Call My Name and it ran deep through the Heart" is byhis son, Manuell A. Alvarez. Arsenio (Albert) Alvarez was an Asturian living in West Virginia who received his naturalization citizenship in 1942. He came to this country in 1920 at the age of seventeen, and first lived and worked in Anmoore, West Virginia. He died in 1975 in Charles Town at the age of 73 from a brain hemorrhage after receiving an untreated head injury in 1974, while exercising Up and Away at the Charles Town Racetrack.

He remains as the only West Virginia horse trainer and owner to have an outstanding and historical international racing record for the time period of 1937 to 1947, despite the lack of prolific money totals. Albert Alvarez epitomizes the small time horse trainer endeavoring to work at the vocation of horse trainer until the very end of his life. Even in a coma, he talked about having to take his horses to the post. He is remembered for his love and dedication to his family, and secondly, the sport of horse racing.
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