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Molly and Ten Brooks
Molly and Ten Brooks

24x36, acrylic, © 6/02.

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This painting illustrates the race between the Kentucky horse “Ten Brooks” and the California horse “Miss Molly McCarthy”. The race was immortalized by Kentucky Bluegrass musician, Bill Monroe. The Stanley Brothers recorded the tune in September 1948 after hearing Bill Monroe perform the song. Monroe’s recording was made in October of 1947 but was not released until September 1949. The actual race took place July 4, 1878 at Churchill Downs. It was a three heat race of 4 miles each. Ten Brooks distanced Molly after the first 3 miles and won after the first heat. Ten Brooks was bred by John B. Harper at Nantura Stock Farm near Midway, Kentucky. He was raced and trained by John’s nephew, Frank B. Harper. Harper’s race colors were orange with a red cap. Ten Brooks had a long racing career and placed 5th in the first Kentucky Derby on May 17, 1875. The original clubhouse at Churchill Downs is shown in the background, the famous grandstand seen at Churchill Downs today was built several years later.