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From horses to athletes

Horse racing was a sport at Warrior Stadium site

Staff writer

Probably no one living remembers the time when horse racing was a popular sport in Marion County.

Chuck McLinden of Florence said he heard stories from his grandfather about horse racing at Florence. In the early 1900s, his grandfather participated in horse races on a one-mile track during Labor Day celebrations.

Marion had a horse racing track in its early days. It was located at the east edge of Marion.

George Rambow was an African-American who cared for horses at the track during the 1880s. He also broke and trained horses.

George’s son, Bud, hung around the track when his father was working there. After the sport of horse racing faded locally, the two traveled with horse owners from place to place.

Bud Rambow eventually became a successful owner and trainer in his own right. He raced horses on some of the best tracks in the country.

According to Marion rancher Rex Siebert, the Cottonwood Valley Saddle Horse Association bought the property on which the race track was located from Rusty Longhofer.

In 1959, the Marion County Record reported that Marion residents approved acquisition of 19 acres of the property by the city. It is the current site of Warrior Stadium and several baseball diamonds.

The saddle club still owns a small arena where horsemen practice roping cattle.

Another Marion settler who pursued a career in race horses was Will Brewer.

The Brewer family came to Kansas in 1869. Will’s father, Bill, trailed cattle from Texas and became a successful farmer. He died in 1887, and the family moved to Colorado in 1900.

Will Brewer settled in Pomona, Calif., where he was a part of “Dout & Brewer,” owners and trainers of fine horses.

Peabody

Horse racing was a leading pastime in Peabody from the 1870s to the turn of the century.

One early settler, Charles E. Westbrook, owned a black stallion named Joe Young, which had the reputation of being the fastest pacer in Kansas.

Joe Young sired Joe Patchen, which became the fastest horse of his day. Joe Patchen sired Dan Patch, one of the world’s outstanding race horses in his time. A reference was made to this horse in the musical, “The Music Man.”

Westbrook sold 23-year-old Joe Young in 1896 for $10,000.

(Sources: Emile Shreve story in Marion County Record, March 13, 1947; Marion County Past and Present, by Sondra Van Meter, 1972.)

Last modified March 3, 2011

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