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Tammany: A Racehorse Worthy of His Own Castle

Tammany racehorse with a Montana castle
Tammany from Internet Archive Book Images, Flickr.

On a Tennessee farm in 1889, a pretty mare named Tullahoma foaled a chestnut colt sired by Iroqouis. This farm, Belle Meade Stud, was owned by General William H. Jackson. Jackson was known for producing quality horses, so this son of Tullahoma and Iroqouis was expected to be competitive on the racetrack. While this colt, later to be named Tammany, did live up to expectations (and perhaps even exceeded them), he most remembered for the castle his owner built to honor him.

Tammany was purchased from Gen. William H. Jackson by Marcus Daly in 1891. The "copper king” paid $2,500 for the then two-year old colt. Tammany immediately proved he was worth the purchase; he notably won the Great Eclipse Stakes that year. He was even better as a three-year old in 1892, winning races like the Lawrence Realization Stakes, Jerome Handicap, Withers Stakes, and Lorillard Stakes. In fact, he was considered as being one of the “worlds fastest racehorses” that year and is said to be 1892’s retrospective Horse of the Year.

In 1893, a match race was set between Tammany and the favorite horse of the East, Lamplighter, to see which of the two horses was truly the best. Lamplighter was a son of the legendary sire Spendthrift and had won the Champion Stakes and the First and Second Special Stakes. Marcus Daly told his horse that if he won the race, he would build him a castle.

15,000 people packed into the track in Guttenberg, New Jersey to watch the historic match race. They were all treated to an exceptional performance from Tammany; he defeated Lamplighter by four lengths. Daly kept his word to Tammany and constructed him a beautiful barn atop a hill at his Bitterroot Stock Farm in Montana. Tammany’s “castle” was truly fit for a king. The barn was designed to rival homes in the area with it's beautiful brick design and copper fixtures. Thick cork floors kept the horses from slipping and the stalls were heated and lined with velvet. Joining Tammany in this castle were Daly’s four other prized stallions: Hamburg, Inverness, The Pepper, and Ogden. Two flags flew atop the building, one American flag and one flag sporting Daly’s copper and green racing colors.

Below the hill were more than 22,000 acres of Daly’s Bitterroot Stock Farm, where he raised over 1,000 Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. The lush, green grasses here reminded Daly of the grasses of his home country Ireland and the high-altitude was believed to give his horses more stamina. Daly's breeding operation was a successful one, but none of his horses were as important to him as Tammany. Daly even had a mosaic of Tammany on the floor of the lobby of his Montana Hotel; no one dared to step on it.

When Daly passed in 1900, his horses (including Tammany) were auctioned off in a dispersal sale.

In 2007, Patricia and Fred Wiele were in Montana for a golf tournament when they discovered Tammany Castle. It had been boarded up for 20 years and plans were to turn it into an office. Patricia and Fred didn’t want to see such a special place turned into offices; they purchased Tammany’s castle and converted into a single-family home.

They kept the original details like the stable doors and copper hardware and even re-did the gardens to match how they looked in the 1890s. It was important to them to keep everything original to the building. The now four-bedroom house is even furnished with antiques from Bitterroot Stock Farm. Thanks to the Wieles, Tammany’s home has been preserved. Tammany was an exceptional racehorse. When he retired in 1893, he had a record of 14: 9-1-1 and had earned $113,290. While this success is certainly enough to be remembered by, his story is most often told alongside the story of the famous “castle” his owner honor built for him. That’s certainly not a bad way to be remembered.

Click here to see photos of Tammany’s castle turned home.


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