Where Champions Train
When the calendar page flips to March it’s time to think about Camden’s Carolina Cup. However, it was not too long ago that Columbia was a major stomping ground for horse training. In the 1920’s the Buxton brothers, Clarence and Merritt, discovered that Columbia’s winter weather provided an ideal training location for thoroughbreds.
The relaxed and superb condition of horses from Buxton Stables, housed at the Columbia State Fairgrounds, had attracted the attention of Max Hirsh. Hirsh trained race horses for several well-known owners including: movie star Jane Greer. By 1933 Hirsch established his own winter training ground on the Bluff Rd site. Three of his Columbia trained horses were Kentucky Derby winners.
Hirsch’s most famous horse, Assault, swept through the Triple Crown in 1946. In 1936, Cavalcade became the first Columbia trained horse to win the Derby and in 1950 Hirsh won another Derby with Middleground. In 1959 Hirsch was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.