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Jockey James Stout aboard 1936 Travers winner Granville

SARATOGA SPRINGS — One year after Omaha became the second Triple Crown winner for William Woodward’s Belair Stud in 1935, the owner’s iconic white silks with red polka dots returned to the American classics on another outstanding 3-year-old colt named Granville. Like Omaha, Granville was bred in Maryland, sired by Woodward’s 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox, and trained by the legendary Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons. Granville, however, was not as fortunate in the Triple Crown series as those earlier Belair standouts.

After losing the Wood Memorial by a nose, Granville threw jockey James Stout at the start of the Kentucky Derby and finished last. He then suffered another heartbreaking defeat in the Preakness, finishing second to Bold Venture by a nose. Two weeks later, Granville was a nose short for the third time in four races, as Firethorn earned the nostril victory in the Suburban Handicap. That was the end of the bad luck for Granville. A summer to remember awaited.

A week after the Suburban, Granville outfought Mr. Bones to be on the winning end of a photo finish in the Belmont Stakes ꟷ and he never lost again. In his subsequent start, Granville defeated Mr. Bones by 2½ lengths in the Arlington Classic before heading to Saratoga. Four days before the Travers Stakes, Stout rallied Granville for a neck victory over Memory Book in the Kenner Stakes for his third consecutive victory.

The 1936 Travers took place on a cloudy afternoon before a crowd of 20,000 at the Spa. In his typical breathtaking style, Granville used a driving finish to overtake Calumet Farm’s Sun Teddy near the finish line to win by a neck.

“The finish was close enough to require a photograph, but few who clearly saw the closing lunge of Granville had any doubt,” the New York Times reported. “The margin was a head or a nose, as you please, but it was so close that Mr. Woodward preferred to wait until the numbers went up before he would permit his friends to congratulate him.”

Following the Travers, Granville defeated the great handicapper Discovery by eight lengths in the 1¾-mile Saratoga Cup. He then won his sixth straight in the 1⅝-mile Lawrence Realization, defeating Giant Killer by two lengths for his final victory. He was retired with a career record of 8-4-3 from 18 starts and earnings of $111,820.

In the first formal voting for such honors, Granville was named 1936 Horse of the Year in a poll of journalists conducted by Turf and Sport Digest. He died in 1951 at the age of 18 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

Brien Bouyea is the Hall of Fame and Communications Director at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and a former Saratogian sports editor. He is the co-author, along with Michael Veitch, of the new book “The Travers: 150 Years or Saratoga’s Greatest Race.” To learn more about the book, visit www.traversbook.com

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