08 September 2014

Eddie Sweat

Eddie Sweat tomb, Holly Hill, S.C.
I've been letting the Orangeburg Times and Democrat 100 Objects in 100 Days series lead me on some quirky road trip destinations. I recently roamed around a rural cemetery in Holly Hill, trying to find the tomb of Eddie Sweat. According to their photo the tomb was marked by a plastic horse noting that Eddie Sweat was groom for thoroughbred racehorse Secretariat and that is how I finally spotted it.

Here is a web site with great period photos and video.
Eddie Sweat got his first glimpses of thoroughbred racehorses in his hometown of Holly Hill, S.C., where he was born in 1938. There were horse farms nearby and Sweat grew up mesmerized by the grace and beauty of the swift horses he saw bounding across pastures and honing their speed over training tracks. As a teenager he picked up work where he could, and finally landed a good job digging post holes and mending fences at Laurin’s thoroughbred training farm in Holly Hill. Laurin noticed the hard-working teenager, and soon offered Sweat a chance to come inside the fences of the racing game to work with the horses. The trainer noticed the lad had a natural feel for the high-strung and sensitive animals – the “touch” top trainers are always seeking.
When Laurin’s stable headed north to New York, Sweat went with it, and within a few years Sweat was “rubbing” some of the top horses in America, including the champion filly Quill, and Belmont Stakes winner Amberoid. When Laurin took on the Meadow Stable string in 1971, Sweat was assigned to the most talented colts, including 1972 Kentucky Derby winner Riva Ridge, and then the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Later, when Laurin retired, Sweat went to work with Laurin’s son, Roger Laurin, also a top conditioner on the New York circuit. There Sweat rubbed more fine horses, including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile sensation Chief’s Crown.