Busher (horse)

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Sire War Admiral
Grandsire Man o' War
Dam Baby League
Damsire Bubbling Over
Sex Filly
Foaled 1942
Country United States
Colour Chestnut
Breeder Idle Hour Stock Farm
Owner Col. Edward R. Bradley
Louis B. Mayer (from 1945)
Elizabeth Arden (from 1947)
Trainer Jimmy Smith (at 2)
George M. Odom (at 3)
Record 21: 15-3-1
Earnings $334,035
Major wins
Adirondack Handicap (1944)
Matron Stakes (1944)
Selima Stakes (1944)
Santa Susana Stakes (1945)
San Vicente Stakes (1945)
Santa Margarita Handicap (1945)
Cleopatra Handicap (1945)
Arlington Handicap (1945)
Match Race with Durazna (1945)
Washington Park Handicap (1945)
Hollywood Derby (1945)
Vanity Handicap (1945)
U.S. Champion 2-Year-Old Filly (1944)
U.S. Champion 3-Year-Old Filly (1945)
U.S. Champion Handicap Mare (1945)
United States Horse of the Year (1945)
United States Racing Hall of Fame (1964)
#40 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Busher Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack
Last updated on October 5, 2006

Busher (1942–1955) was a thoroughbred racing filly. She was sired by War Admiral, the winner of the Triple Crown in 1937, and a son of Man o' War.

Background and Pedigree[edit]

Busher was bred on Col. Edward R. Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm in Kentucky. She was sired by War Admiral out of Baby League by Bubbling Over, the colt who won the 1926 Kentucky Derby. Baby League, was the third foal of one of the most influential foundation mares of the Twentieth century, La Troienne. All of the farm's foals were given names beginning with a B—for instance, Busher Bimelech, Baby League, Bubbling Over, Black Toney (sire of Black Gold), Blue Larkspur, Black Servant, Behave Yourself, Burgoo King, Broker's Tip, and Blossom Time.). Bradley had to be convinced to breed Baby League to War Admiral. He wasn't much of a fan of his sire line, calling it "hot blood." But when he was reminded how much the small dark-bay Triple Crown winner resembled the splendid horse Sweep, he relented.

Racing career[edit]

At two, under the care of the former jockey Jimmy Smith, Busher won (among other races) three stakes: the Adirondack Handicap, the Matron Stakes, and the Selima Stakes at Laurel Park.

Because of the war effort, and at the request of the Director of War Mobilization and Reconversion, horse racing was put on hold from January to May 1945. In response to his horses becoming idle, the aging Bradley sold much of his stock. In March of her three-year-old season, Busher was sold to Louis B. Mayer for the then-large sum of $50,000. Hall of Famer Johnny Longden became her jockey, George Odom her trainer, and she raced in Mayer's colors: French blue and pink.

At three, she won the Santa Susanna Stakes, the San Vicente Stakes (for the first time against males, and carrying top weight: winning even with a horse called Quick Reward losing his rider and weaving all over the track), the Santa Margarita Handicap, Chicago's Cleopatra Handicap, the Arlington Handicap (wire to wire against older horses and winning by five lengths), the Washington Park Handicap (beating Armed, the top older male at the time, and setting a track record), the Hollywood Derby (again over colts, and in so doing passing the $300,000 winning mark in earnings, the first female to do so), and the Vanity Handicap.

Busher returned successfully from defeats in (the Santa Anita Derby, the Will Rogers Handicap, and the Beverly Handicap), she came at the same horses again, and beat them all. As Turf authority William H. P. Robertson wrote in his History of Thoroughbred Racing in America, "The salient attribute of War Admiral's little daughter was she always took revenge."

In the Beverly Handicap, she came third to a filly called Durazna, one year her senior, with Busher spotting the older horse 12 pounds. Duranza, who was the Co-Champion two-year-old filly of 1943, was given a great ride by George Woolf, the "Ice Man." Woolf had ridden Seabiscuit to victory in a match race with Busher's sire, War Admiral.

In the match race between Busher and Durazna at Washington Park, Busher beat the older horse by three-quarters of a length.

After the Vanity, Busher developed swelling in a leg, and did not race again that year. She still won the Horse of the Year award from Triangle Publications, the publishers of Daily Racing Form.[1] She rested throughout 1946, and raced only once more, in 1947. She was five years old and she was unplaced.

Retirement and breeding record[edit]

On February 27, 1947, Mayer auctioned all his racing stock at Santa Anita track an event which attracted a crow of 7,000. Sixty horses changed hands for $1,553,500 dollars, with the auction of the very best horses including Busher, broadcast over three radio networks. Mayer explained that his horse business was getting too big and interfering with his movie business.

Busher went to Neil S. McCarthy, who was actually Mayer's man, for $135,000. In a private sale in 1948, Busher finally went to Lexington, Kentucky's Maine Chance Farm owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Nightingale Graham (better known as Elizabeth Arden), for a reported $150,000. It was at Main Chance that Busher had her five foals, one of which was Jet Action by Arden's favorite, Jet Pilot. (Jet Pilot was trained by Hall of Famer Tom Smith, the man who found and trained Seabiscuit. Smith was employed throughout the Forties by Arden.)

Busher died in 1955 giving birth to another Jet Pilot foal.

In a poll among members of the American Trainers Association, conducted in 1955 by Delaware Park Racetrack, she was voted the sixth greatest filly in American racing history. (Gallorette was voted first.)

She was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame 9 years after her death.[2] Busher was ranked number 40 in Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century


  1. ^ "Busher Wins Nation's Top Turf Honors". Youngstown Vindicator. 1945-12-10. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  2. ^ http://www.racingmuseum.org/hall/horse.asp?ID=39