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Captain Harry and his Cain Hoy Stable
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January 18, 1960
What started as a one-horse organization and an outlet from business pressures 26 years ago has grown into a profitable racing empire for a leading American philanthropist
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January 18, 1960

Captain Harry And His Cain Hoy Stable

What started as a one-horse organization and an outlet from business pressures 26 years ago has grown into a profitable racing empire for a leading American philanthropist

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Cain Hoy stable, the Thoroughbred racing organization that began in 1934 as a one-horse outfit, ended 1959 as the leading money-earning stable in the country for the first time in its life. Last year its familiar blue-and-white blocked colors finished in first place 37 times, took 30 seconds and 19 thirds, earning in all $742,081. If this showing has the appearance of an upset, the reason is not hard to find. While horses belonging to more headline-prone stables were making most of the news, Cain Hoy was running up its own record total with only one horse—Bald Eagle—among the country's top 10 money-winners.

This is a success mostly explained by a precision which characterizes everything about the stable and its owner in particular. That man is 69-year-old Harry Frank Guggenheim, who is looking out on the opposite page across the fabulous new $33-million Aqueduct track that he helped to build. He has never really believed in doing things halfway.

Never, that is, until he thought about getting into racing 26 years ago. "I started by buying just one yearling," Guggenheim recalled recently. "I thought the ideal stable would have no more than eight or 10 horses in training and a few brood mares on a farm. You see, I've always believed that racing should be a man's outlet, even though it sometimes grows into big business. This isn't to say that racing shouldn't be taken seriously. It should be, but in my own case I wouldn't want it to be my sole or even chief concern. I like my racing and everything to do with it only so long as I can devote my primary energies to the conduct of other affairs."

Guggenheim's blue eyes studied the lower Manhattan skyline from the walnut-paneled New York offices of Guggenheim Brothers at 120 Broadway, headquarters during the last half century of the family's worldwide mining and metallurgical enterprises. He smiled faintly and said, "My wife told me the other day, 'For something that started out as just an avocation, your racing seems to have grown into something awfully big, hasn't it?' I had to agree with her. I never dreamed that Cain Hoy would be as big as it is or that I would actually head the owners' list. I don't know quite what to think about it."

Winning is hardly the exception to an old established Guggenheim custom. Long before the astonishing victory of his colt, Dark Star, over Native Dancer in the 1953 Kentucky Derby, Guggenheim was both noted for and rich from his endeavors in other fields. An executive of many years' experience in his family's enterprises, Guggenheim is best known as one of America's leading philanthropists. Guggenheim Foundations, in which he has always played a prominent role, have furthered countless research studies in aviation, jet propulsion and flight rocketry. One of the foundations was also responsible for the controversy currently rampant in architectural circles over the illuminated turnip, better known as New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Memorial Museum, designed by the late Frank Lloyd Wright.


Harry Guggenheim, who was a naval aviator in both world wars, is a former Ambassador to Cuba (1929-1933) and is married to the former Alicia Patterson, editor and publisher of Long Island's profitable tabloid Newsday (of which he is president). Writers who misquote him can usually expect a personal and pointed note from Captain Harry, as he is called by many who still recognize the naval rank with which he was retired in 1945 after active duty on an aircraft carrier.

Guggenheim runs an estate at Port Washington, N.Y. and a 15,000-acre timber and cattle plantation known as Cain Hoy north of Charleston, S.C. (The name is derived from an old Angola Negro Gullah corruption of "cane hay," which is a South Carolina plant used for making rattan chairs.) But, despite his determination to concentrate on business, Guggenheim finds himself drawn increasingly to the management of his own racing stable and into the over-all management of racing in New York state. Along with John W. Hanes and Christopher T. Chenery, he was one of the three original members of The Jockey Club picked to reestablish first-class racing facilities in New York (SI, Sept. 27, '54). Now that new Aqueduct is launched, however, Guggenheim is of no mind to slacken off. "We think we are already giving New Yorkers the best racing in the country," he said, "but our efforts from now on will be to make the racing even better—for those at the track and for those at home. Right now I'm interested in some ideas to improve televised racing."


The practical element is strong in Guggenheim. When a friend asked him the other day how it felt to own the most successful racing stable in 1959, he looked briefly but sharply at his questioner, then gave one of the rather pedantic answers for which he is noted. "When you think of success in a racing stable you've got to think of a balance sheet in two parts. One, of course, is the operating expense ledger, and on this one you'll seldom make a profit if you run a big stable. On the other side is the capital investment ledger, and this is what I think of more than anything else. For example, we now own some 90 horses, the majority of them homebred, and we have shares in stallion syndicates [last count: 21 shares in 13 stallions]. The only way to find out how much they are worth—and how successful you are—is to hold a dispersal sale. But I'm not looking for a dispersal sale."

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