Ignac Konrad (Hungarian/French, 1894-1969)
Oil on canvas, 28” x 36”
Signed, inscribed: Paris, Fair Play
Inscribed on verso: Fair Play, 6 months after August Belmont sale
$10,000. – 15,000.
Illustrated: “Catalogue of the National Museum of Racing, Saratoga Springs, New York: Equine, Portraits, Sculptures, and Histories, I”, 1963, pg. 50, text pg. 51
By Hastings out of Fairy Gold Fair Play was foaled in 1905 and bred by August Belmont, Jr. Like both his sire and his dam, Fair Play was one of the top runners of his generation. Fair Play made 32 starts with 10 wins, 11 seconds, and three third-place finishes. Fair Play won the Montauk Stakes, the Flash Stakes at Saratoga, the Coney Island Jockey Club Stakes, and the Realization Stakes as well as winning the Jerome Handicap and the Municipal Handicap and setting a track record at Gravesend. In 1908 when anti-wagering laws forced racing to shut down in New York, Fair Play was sent to England to continue his racing career. Fair Play never took to racing on the turf and returned to the United States in 1910 to begin his career as a stallion at his birthplace, Belmont’s Nursery Stud in Kentucky.
Fair Play sired 49 stakes winners out of 260 foals and was the leading stallion in America in 1920, 1924, and 1928. Among his best were Display, who won the Preakness in 1926 and was a true stayer known as the “Iron Horse;” Mad Hatter, who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Metropolitan Handicap as well as the Toboggan, Suburban, and Queens County Handicaps; and Chance Play, who stood at Calumet and was America’s leading sire both in 1935 and 1944. Chance Shot won the Belmont Stakes and Wither Stakes and became a solid producer, standing at Elmendorf Stud. Fair Play also produced many classic runners such as Sun King, Robinetta, Flitaway, and Stromboli.
While the list of great runners that he produced is extensive and quite impressive without him, Fair Play’s best son, foaled in 1917, out of Mahubah, was the beloved Man o’ War. Man o’ War took the racing world by storm, winning the Tremont Stakes, Hopeful Stakes, Futurity Stakes, Youthful Stakes, Travers Stakes, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Lawrence Realization Stakes, Withers Stakes, Dwyer Stakes, and the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Man o’ War was also champion two-year old and the Horse of the Year as a thee-years old. When he began his own stud career he followed in his father’s footsteps, producing such greats as American Flag and Crusader, who both won the Belmont Stakes; Clyde Van Dusen, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1929; Battleship, a steeplechaser who won the English Grand National; Hard Tack, who sired Seabiscuit; War Relic whose sire line includes the now famous Tiznow; and of course the 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral.
Upon the death of August Belmont, Jr. in 1924, a dispersal sale of is bloodstock was held and Fair Play was purchased by Joseph E. Widener for $100,000 and taken to his famous Elmendorf Farm. Fair Play would spend the remainder of his life at Widener’s expansive Elmendorf where he would ultimately be laid to rest in 1929. Joseph E. Widener commissioned a three-quarter life-sized bronze statue of the great stallion. It was placed at Fair Play’s grave as a memorial to the beloved father of champions.
The present work was painted for Joseph E. Widener and depicts Fair Play as a stallion in the sweeping landscape of what was once the great Elmendorf Stud.