99 Years Ago: Wyoming and Colorado Riders Square Off In ‘The Great Horse Race’
99 years ago today, one of the biggest horse races in Wyoming history began. Dubbed "The Great Horse Race of 1908", the 500-mile run from Evanston, Wyoming, to Denver was sponsored by The Denver Post.
Although there were 25 official entries, the betting favorites were Cody, Wyoming, native Charles Workman and his horse Teddy and Greeley, Colorado, native Dode Wykert and his horse, Sam.
Hundreds of local residents came out for the welcoming ceremony on Saturday, May 30, 1908, in Evanston. After Wyoming Governor Marshall Hadell sent the field on their way, the riders were required to register and feed their horses every 50 miles.
To the delight of the crowd, Workman and Teddy were the first to arrive in Laramie. Wykert and Sam picked up the pace and took over the lead as the race approached Cheyenne.
By that time, 20 of the 25 original horses had dropped out of the race. Although Workman was still in second place, Teddy had tried on the pass between Laramie and Cheyenne and appeared to be slowing down.
Aided by supporters from their home state, Workman and Teddy attempted to get a head start over their Colorado rivals and left Cheyenne in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, Wykert was tipped off and quickly caught up.
By the time they arrived in Greeley, Workman's horse Teddy could barely stand. He lumbered on to Fort Lupton, where he was given whiskey and medication, amid protests from the partisan Colorado crowd.
Still, it appeared as if Wykert and Sam would outlast their Wyoming rivals on the final leg of the race. Then, controversy struck again.
When the horses got to Brighton, race officials, citing health concerns for both of the horses, declared the race a draw, called off the bets and ordered both teams to walk across the finish line together in Denver.
While the betting public was outraged, the 25,000 in attendance cheered as Wykert and Sam crossed the finish line just in front of Workman and Teddy.
Although the race officially ended in a tie, Sam was judged to be in the best condition, winning a $300 prize, a silver-trimmed saddle and the privilege of grazing on the lawn of the Colorado State Capitol.