Photo of the Week
——— March 25, 2023 ———
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
Lady Suffolk, Champion Trotter
Crossroads at Jericho Turnpike, Commack, c. 1840 (top image) and Lady Suffolk at Centreville Course, Long Island, 1849 (lower image). (Top image from a painting by an unknown artist; lower image from a lithograph by N. Currier–both images reprinted in Lady Suffolk, a published work in the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives.)
The most famous and beloved trotting horse of the nineteenth century, Lady Suffolk was foaled at the Burr family farm in Commack in 1833. Codman’s Blacksmith Shop (pictured in the lower left portion of the top image) is where Lady Suffolk was often shod during the early years of her career. Her first race was in 1838, when she was five years old. She was campaigned throughout the United States for fifteen years, engaging in 138 races and winning 88 of them!
Halfway through her career Lady Suffolk already held the world record for trotters at the standard distance of one mile, both in harness and under saddle. She had also won the fastest race ever trotted and had broken records in two-mile and three-mile races, including the fastest-ever three-mile race trotted by a mare. Her record was 2.26 minutes for a mile. Lady Suffolk died in 1855 at the age of twenty-two. Some maintain it was for Lady Suffolk that the song “The Old Grey Mare” was written.
Suggested Reading: Lady Suffolk: The Old Grey Mare of Long Island, by John Hervey (New York: Derrydale Press/Piping Rock Horse Show Assoc., 1936).
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