Elizabeth Arden, ”Silent Tom” and Jet Pilot.

Elizabeth Arden

Make-up and race horses

Author: Mats Genberg

Almost everyone knows Elizabeth Arden as the woman behind a brand of cosmetics. But in the 1940s and ’50s USA she was almost as famous because of her horses.

Elizabeth Arden’s “Eight Hour Cream” is one of the cosmetic world’s classics. A product which goes up and down in popularity, but never disappears. And which people uses for all different kinds of things.
Use as shoe polish or to treat skin diseases.
Or you can use it on horses!

Elizabeth Arden sold it herself by saying “Try it, I use it on the horses.” And she did. The cream had therapeutic qualities that eased skin irritations such as chappy, scale, blushings, scratches and broken cuticles. Elizabeth Arden said that if the product was good enough for her beloved horses’ legs, it should also fit her clients.

Elisabeth Arden.
Elisabeth Arden.

Elizabeth Arden loved horses. Race horses. In 1931, she was one of USA’s most famous women. And wealthiest.
At an auction in Saratoga she bought her first Thoroughbred – the start of something that would be the beginning of an racing empire.
Arden had her own thoughts about a lot. Among other things, only her own creams and lotions could be used on her horses instead of liniment. Blinkers weren’t allowed because “It doesn’t look good.” And any jockey using a whip on her her horses could count on getting a real bashing.

From the old Coldstream Stud she built her own stud farm “Main Chance Farm.” Sucess came in thick and fast. During the ’40s and ’50s they were the leading horse owners and among the leading breeders in the country.
In 1945 her Star Pilot and the filly Beaugay won Eclipse Awards as USA’s best horses in their categories.

In 1947 Jet Pilot won Kentucky Derby.
In 1954 Fascinator won Kentucky Oaks.
She bought the super filly Busher, who would become one of the top 40 racehorses of last century.
In 1960 she was the breeder of Gun Bow, who would later get a place in racing’s Hall of Fame.
Gun Bow was the sire of Pistol Packer, who won several Group 1 races, including France’s Prix de Dianne.

At her death in 1966, Arden left her Main Chance farm to the University of Kentucky. Today it’s a breeding and nutrition research facility that breeds both Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses. One of those, Riddells Creek, was named he best 2-year-old in Canada in 1998.
Arden’s heritage lives on.
Both at the racetracks and in the perfumeries.


“Try it, I use it on the horses”


Elizabeth Arden’s “Eight Hour Cream"
Elizabeth Arden’s “Eight Hour Cream”

The 4th of may 1946. The first time Kentucky Derby was ridden after the war. In the shadow of the Derby one of the first races of the day was won by an unraced 2 year old. By nine lengths. His father was Blenheim II – winner of 1930’s Epsom Derby. Nobody gave it any certain attention because of the main attraction of the day. Not even the owner of the horse – Florence Nightingale Graham.
More known as Elizabeth Arden.

But a few who saw him race said “There’s next years Derby-winner!. The trainer was Tom Smith “Silent Tom”. The man who trained Seabiscuit. The week before 1947’s derby Tom just said – “We’ll win”.

The 3rd of may the prediction is true.
Jet Pilot wins one the closest wins the race has ever seen. And Elizabeth Arden isn’t just the owner, but also the breeder, of a Kentucky Derby winner.

This story was published in Gallop Magazine, Summer 2012.

Ride a race horse on the beach!
Haras du Morne on the spectacular Le Morne peninsula on the southern tip of the island.

Mauritius – the racing island in the sun

A quarter horse can do 0-400 m in just over 20 seconds. Compare it to a powerful car that might do it in about 13 seconds, and you get the idea…


An early August morning in Newmarket. Ed Dunlop’s string is on its way to Warren Hill.

Newmarket, a town that is all about horse racing

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