Planting Fields newest exhibition, “Sporting Life on Long Island: The Great Estates Era” opens with a preview celebration on Friday, April 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with general opening to visitors on April 22 through Oct. 1 every day from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The exhibition explores the ways in which horse racing, fox hunting, shooting, fishing and polo developed a hundred years ago as major recreational pursuits on Long Island for wealthy gentlemen, including William R. Coe, owner of Planting Fields.
In the 1920s Coe regularly raced his thoroughbreds at the Belmont, Aqueduct and Jamaica tracks and had many wins. He kept up to forty racehorses stabled at Planting Fields in Oyster Bay. The stories of three of Coe’s American champion thoroughbreds are prominently featured in the Planting Fields exhibition. His filly, Cleopatra (descended from Polmelius, a famous racehorse in England), won the 1920 Belmont Champagne Stakes, and other prestigious races across the country. That year Cleopatra won six major stakes and was named American Champion Three Year Old Filly.
Coe’s Pompey, a son of Cleopatra, was a champion by age two. He was the winner of the 1925 Futurity Stakes at Belmont, ridden by Laverne Fator, winning Coe a $75,000 prize (in today’s money over $1m). The following year Coe’s Black Maria won the Aqueduct Handicap, ridden by American Hall Of Fame jockey, Frank Coltiletti.
Trophies from Coe’s racing successes are in the exhibition, including the Astoria Cup from Belmont in 1918, won by Terentia another of the great winners of Coe’s his racing career. To celebrate his wins Coe commissioned a very fine set of Lenox dinner plates with portraits of each of the three horses. The plates have green polka dot borders which were his racing colors. The set of 12 plates survives at Coe Hall and is included in the exhibit.
The fishing section of the show features the history of the South Side Sportsman’s Club, now part of Connetquot State Park, where Coe was a member; his fishing rod from about 1920, made by notable rod maker H.L. Leonard, and reel made by Hardy, are on view.
Visit www.plantingfields.org for information including details about the opening reception and other events related to this exhibit. Call Jennifer Lavella at 516-922-8678 for more information.
—Submitted by Planting Fields Foundation