Bed o’ Roses, 1951

Charles Hatton on 1951 champion handicap female Bed o’ Roses from the 1952 American Racing Manual.


The marks Bed o’ Roses’ second appearance in the American Racing Manual‘s Hall of Fame for she was voted the leading two-year-old filly of 1949. Alfred G. Vanderbilt’s homebred was overshadowed by her stablemate Next Move as a three-year-old in 1950, but in 1951 earned the title among the handicap mares. It is no empty honor, for the season found Bewitch becoming the world’s leading money winner of her sex, and Busanda was a mare capable enough to win the Suburban Handicap and Saratoga Cup.

Bed o’ Roses made ten starts during the year, which is a light campaign compared with her busy two-year-old season of 21 races. She was idle from the first of February to the end of August because of an injury sustained on the West Coast. In January she was third to Special Touch and Bewitch in the Santa Margarita, conceding both rivals some weight. In her succeeding race, the fabulously rich Maturity, she was third to Great Circle and Lotowhite, coming out of this mile and a quarter decidedly lame. Many who witnessed the race always will believe Bed o’ Roses was the best of the field at the weights, for she was shut off on the backstretch, worked her way outside through the home lane and was charging on Great Circle when she faltered suddenly inside the final sixteenth. The race was run in 2:00 2/5. An X ray showed a slight fissure in her left fore foot, and trainer Bill Winfrey shelved her for seven months.

Bed o’ Roses was a candidate for the Beldame, Vineland, Comely and other rich filly and mare features of the fall season in the East, and by way of preparing for the Beldame, first of these engagements, she won an allowance race of six furlongs toward the end of the Saratoga season. Winfrey then saddled her for a distance tightener preceding the Beldame at Aqueduct. This was a mile and a sixteenth event for fillies and mares and Bed o’ Roses, starting the favorite, ran an unaccountably dull race, trailing her field all the way while Red Camelia won in commanding style. In the Beldame itself, Bed o’ Roses recovered a semblance of her form. Burdened with 124 pounds and on the outside most of the mile and a furlong, she challenged Thelma Berger near the finish, but was bearing in and faltered into second place. The winner beat her two lengths with a pull of 14 pounds.

Bed o’ Roses next paraded for the mile and a half of the $25,000 Ladies Handicap at Belmont Park, carrying actual top weight of 126 pounds. Guerin permitted her to gallop well off the pace to the stretch, where she closed resolutely and was second, beaten slightly more than a length by Marta, who got into the race under 111 pounds. Behind Bed o’ Roses were Kiss Me Kate, the three-year-old filly champion, and the Beldame winner Thelma Berger, to whom the Vanderbilt mare conceded ten pounds. It was a winning race on the basis of weights and beaten margins, though she earned only second money. The time was 2:30 1/5, which marked a smart run, just a fraction off the stakes record.

Handicapper Ty Shea of Garden State required Bed o’ Roses to carry 126 pounds in her next sally, the Vineland Handicap. The field was weaker than those she had met on Long Island and she won this mile and a sixteenth with a flourish in 1:43 3/5 and by some three lengths before Valadium and Dixie Flyer, who had up 109 and 107 respectively. Guerin gave her a well-judged and confident ride, snugging her several lengths off the early pace, maneuvering through between horses making his move around the last turn and running down Dixie Flyer to win with something left.

The Sagamaorean now tried the colts again in the Westchester at Jamaica, but caught a sharply improved horse in Bryan G., who had up 117 and won from end to end in 1:49 1/5, a new track record for the mile and  furlong. It was some five lengths back to County Delight, who was second under 124, and Bed o’ Roses, carrying 116, was a bit more than length farther back in third place. Behind her were some capable horses, among them Inseparable, Oil Capitol, Three Rings, One Hitter and the mare Busanda, all getting weight from the tiny daughter of Rosemont.

In her next start, over the same course, Bed o’ Roses met the best fillies and mares still in training for the mile and a sixteenth of the Comely. Handicapper Campbell assayed her at 127 pounds, making her concede from 11 to 21 pounds to each of seven rivals. Guerin allowed to drop far out of it the first half mile. Settling in stride toward the end of the backstretch, she circled most of the field on the last turn and beat Nothirdchance a length and a half under a steady hand ride. Regal was third and Marta and Busanda, each carrying 116, were up the stretch. The time was a casual 1:44 3/5.

Bed o’ Roses made one more appearance, in the $50,000 Butler at Empire-at-Jamaica, and this race of a mile and three sixteenths drew many of the best handicap horses. The mare had 115 and was fourth behind Oil Capitol, who had 108, Three Rings under 114 and County Delight with 124, but was beaten less than two lengths for the winner’s share of the purse. She ran her customary race, taking matters easy the first half, then moving boldly while saving ground on the turn, but she seemed to hang in the final yards. The race was run in 1:56 4/5, almost two seconds off the record.

On the whole, it was a successful season’s work, and though she was frequently beaten, most observers had the impression it was by the handicapper rather than such as Marta or Thelma Berger.

Bed o’ Roses is a very small mare, standing scarcely 15.1 hands at the withers, but she is “all heart and no peel.” All distances and tracks look alike to her, and in the course of her three seasons of racing, she has appeared before the racegoing public in California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Maryland and New York. As one might guess, she is a quiet mare who ships well, and her underpinning is sounder than most. A nervous filly, or an unsound one, could not campaign so successfully. It has always been a question among turf enthusiasts if Bed o’ Roses or Next Move is the better of the Vanderbilt fillies. Trainer Winfrey considers Next Move flashier, Bed o’ Roses the stouter competing against the males.

Bed o’ Roses is by Rosemont from Good Thing, by Discovery, but physically is a daughter of her paternal grandsire, The Porter, himself  a very small horse but remarkable for his toughness of fiber. It is the Ben Brush male line, once a source of the very best horses in training.

The Vanderbilt mare is a sandy bay with black points, attractively marked with a small star and snip, and white pasterns behind. She has a fine, expressive eye and a neatly pricked ear, the profile being a bit convex, the jowl flat and deep. Her neck is of good length and a trifle light, extending into a thin, flat muscled withers and shoulder. Her legs are short, the forearm well muscled but not with the conspicuous bulge at the point of the shoulder that marks the sprinter. Her pasterns are at the right angle and well boned. She has a more attenuated barrel than when she was a two-year-old, and appears less heavily muscled about the hind quarters. Her sire had not the best hoofs, but except for the mishap at Santa Anita her own seem sound enough. Perhaps the best point of conformation is her loin, which is very strong and with a bit of an arch and suggests her ability to handle heavy imposts despite her lack of weight.

At a glance, one would expect such a filly to have a short quick stride, but Bed o’ Roses runs with her head down, and while her extended action is not remarkable for its length, she has a most determined manner of going. She is a  good-mannered filly, in the paddock before a race, at the starting gate or about the stable. There is nothing of the prima donna, a temperamental type that is becoming all to common in the present era of “hot” bloodlines, in the Vanderbilt filly, though she raced in blinkers last seson.

Her pedigree is a symposium of old-fashioned American blood, through Sweep, Colin and Discovery, with the first imported ancestor Challenger II, the sire of her second dam, Little Sleeper.


Bed o’ Roses raced three more times after 1951 and won the 1952 Santa Margarita Handicap. She was retired to stud but unfortunately died on January 5, 1953, from an organic disorder. She was just about to be bred to Count Fleet. Bed o’ Roses was buried at Sagamore Farm, Maryland. She was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1976.

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