Monday, November 19, 2012

Photographic References: Hagen-Renaker Thoroughbreds

Most hobbyists know that Maureen Love sculpted a number of the horses she created for Hagen-Renaker from life. Her sketchbooks were full of drawings of horses she visited at local farms and, for the purpose of this post, at racetracks in southern California.

Maureen's Thoroughbreds were a mix of horses known nationally as well as horses popular on the California circuit. She was a regular at Santa Anita, and she undoubtedly saw horses like Swaps, Terrang, and Silky Sullivan while there. Swaps of course is famous for winning the 1955 Kentucky Derby as well as being a top handicap horse and record setter. Silky Sullivan became known across the country for his unbelievable ability to close from far, far back and still win. There have been other deep closers, but no one holds a candle to Silky, as this neat old footage will attest:

Terrang is rather more obscure. Like Swaps, he was sired by Khaled and owned by Rex Ellsworth, and while he had great success in California, he was never a player on the national stage like his older "brother" was. Terrang contested the Kentucky Derby in 1956 after wins in the San Vicente and Santa Anita Derby, but he could only manage to finish 12th. He returned to California where he raced through his 6 year-old season, winning the Santa Anita Handicap and a number of other major CA stakes races. Here is one of the few photos I've found of him:


Seabiscuit is also well-known for his California ties, most notably his attempts to win the "Hundred Grander," the Santa Anita Handicap. However, his career was over more than 10 years before Maureen began working for Hagen-Renaker in 1951, and the horse himself died in 1947 when Maureen was only 24 years old. While she may have had the chance to see him run at Santa Anita, her sculpture of him was almost certainly based on the following photograph:

Here's a photo of the HR Mini Seabiscuit model for comparison from Ed Alcorn's Hagen-Renaker Online Museum:

As discussed in my last blog post about Man O' War, Maureen's MOW model was very likely based on this photo:

Man O' War raced only in New York and Maryland, and he also died in 1947, so while Maureen may have had the opportunity to visit him while he was at stud in Kentucky before his death, it seems much more likely that she worked from photos.
Triple Crown winner Citation made a handful of starts in California from 1948-1951, and while it's possible Maureen saw him run, her sculpture of the great horse is undoubtedly based on this photo:

Here is Ed Alcorn's HR Mini Citation for comparison:

Native Dancer, winner of 21 of his 22 starts, never raced further west than Arlington Park outside of Chicago, IL, and while he became a popular TV star because his grey coat stood out so well compared to his bay and chestnut brethren, Maureen's sculpture was probably based on the following photo:

And the HR Mini Native Dancer, again courtesy of Ed Alcorn:

Five-time Horse of the Year Kelso raced primarily on the east coast as well. Notorious for his bad behavior, he was gelded as a youngster in hope of improving his attitude. It has been said that it didn't work. I'd like to think that Kelso's fighting spirit drew Maureen to this photo and inspired her sculpture:

Ed's DW Kelso for comparison:

While the HR TBs may not be the strongest collectibility contenders, including these photos in one's documentation may provide an edge in the show ring. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
    The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.

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