Henry Stull (Canadian/American, 1851–1913)
SIR FRANCIS WITH SAM DOGGETT UP
Oil on canvas, 20” x 28”
Signed, dated 1892
In July of 1889, Frank A. Ehret and General Frederick C. McLewee attended a horse sale at Tattersalls, New York. They had not planned to buy, but when a beautiful filly went through the ring they bought her on the spot. Ehret was the son of the millionaire George Ehret, the owner of Hell Gate Brewery. Keen to start a stable, Frank Ehret formed a partnership with McLewee, who would manage the stable while Ehret would pay the bills. The enterprise was called Hell Gate Stable.
The World reported the demise of Hell Gate Stable, which the partners may have brought about:
Some time ago allusion was made in this column to the entrance into racing circles of Brewer Ehret. Almost an entire stable was bought out in the brewer’s name, and the expenditure of such sums as $30,000. All of this caused a great deal of talk. One day the newspapers announced the arrival from Europe of Mr. Ehret, the brewer, there upon it was discovered that the Hell Gate Stable was the creation of the son. When papa returned, however, it was shown with great rapidity and force that a difference of opinion concerning racing existed in the Ehret family. The stable has not yet won a race and it no longer exists.
Despite the elder Ehret’s demands, the Hell Gate horses were simply registered under McLewee’s name after that point. McLewee hired trainer Matt Allen to help them further build the stable and train their horses. In 1891 McLewee and Ehret took the racing world by storm. In their first year on the turf, the partners finished fourth on the leading owner’s list, and two of their horses — Yorkville Belle, the 1891 2-year-old filly of the year, and Rey del Reyes (pictured in lot 12) — were among the top 10 earners.
An article in The Sun titled “Mr. McLewee’s Profitable First Year” reads:
Mr. F.C. McLewee is fourth on the list of winning owners, with $105,855 opposite his name. This is a remarkable showing for a first year on the turf, and one that might be envied by men who had passed a decade in endeavoring to build up a stable. When Mr. McLewee and his friend, Frank Ehret, first thought of going on the turf, they went about it in the right way.
The partnership’s 1892 campaign ran under the name Ehret Stables, McLewee having transferred the horses back to Frank. To the astonishment of everyone, the newcomers improved on their previous success, taking the top spot on the owner’s list. They had three horses make the top 10 list, including Yorkville Belle, the co-champion 3-year-old filly. The future was bright for the pair. McLewee and Ehret were at the pinnacle of the racing world when George Ehret pulled the plug a final time.
A glance backward over the racing season of 1892 will bring to the recollection of every racing man the many disappointments and surprises encountered between May 15th and October 15th. The table of winning owners shows that Frank A. Ehret, son of the millionaire brewer of New York, is well in the lead, his horses having won the tidy sum of $156,448 in stakes and purses. Last Saturday the announcement was made that all the horses that had contributed to the success of the stable were to be sold this fall, and then the turf would know Mr. Ehret no more. — Breeder and Sportsman, Vol. 21, 1892
Indeed the racing world never saw Frank A. Ehret again, and McLewee also disappeared from the racing scene. However, McLewee would come back when Diamond Jim Brady needed someone whose name he could race horses under. McLewee & Co. was back, and he soared nearly as high with Brady as he had with his old partner F. A. Ehret.