|Intro||American polo player, race horse owner and trainer|
|Was||Equestrian Athlete Polo player Businessperson|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||23 November 1860, Old Westbury, USA|
|Death||29 September 1941 (aged 80 years)|
Thomas Hitchcock (November 23, 1860 – September 29, 1941) was one of the leading American polo players during the latter part of the 19th century and a Hall of Fame horse trainer and owner known as the father of American steeplechase horse racing.
He was born on November 23, 1860 in Westbury, New York to Thomas Hitchcock (1831–1910) and Marie Louise Center (1829–1913), the daughter of a New York merchant. His father had been involved in the newspaper business with Charles Anderson Dana. He was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he won a Blue for Polo in 1883, playing in the University polo team alongside his friend, Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, later Field Marshal Earl Haig. He graduated in 1884.
His brothers were Center Hitchcock (1856–1909) and Francis R. Hitchcock (1860–1926) was a thoroughbred owner/breeder in both the United States and in France and was a member of the Board of Stewards of The Jockey Club for thirty-one years. His brother left the bulk of his estate to Thomas.
Thomas Hitchcock was a key figure in developing the sport of polo in the United States. In 1877, he and his friend August Belmont Jr. were part of the group that organized the first polo match on Long Island, New York, played on the infield of the racetrack at the Mineola, New York, Fair Grounds. One of the first 10-goal players in the U.S., Hitchcock's efforts resulted in the 1881 formation of Long Island's Meadowbrook Polo Club. In 1886, he was a member of the United States team in the first International Polo Match that played for the Westchester Cup. A polo player herself, and the founder in the year 1916 of the Aiken Preparatory School, Louise Eustis Hitchcock had her sons playing polo as soon as they were old enough to swing a mallet. She also helped family friend Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney to learn the game. Son Tommy Jr. would become a polo player who is considered by many expert observers as the greatest to have ever played the game.
Thomas Hitchcock and his wife spent virtually every winter at their 3,000-acre (12 km) estate in Aiken, South Carolina where in 1892 he founded the Palmetto Golf Club. At that time, the city served as a winter playground for many of the country's wealthiest families such the Vanderbilts and the Whitneys. The Hitchcocks built a steeplechase training track on their Aiken property and trained young thoroughbred horses imported from England. Fond of fox hunting, they also established the Aiken Hounds and in 1916 received official recognition from the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America. As an owner and trainer of racehorses, in 1895 Thomas Hitchcock began a career that would last for 47 years until his death in 1941. In flat racing his colt Salvidere earned American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt honors. However, he had even greater success in steeplechasing. He was the owner or trainer of a number of top horses including the Hall of Fame gelding Good and Plenty with whom he won the 1906 American Grand National.
On August 28, 1891, he married Louise Mary Eustis (1867–1934) of Washington, D.C., the daughter of George Eustis Jr. (1828–1872) and Louise Corcoran Eustis (1838–1867), and the niece of Ambassador James B. Eustis. Louise was the only granddaughter of William Wilson Corcoran (1798–1888), founder of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and co-founder of the Riggs Bank, and a granddaughter of George Eustis Sr. (1796–1858) was Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Together, they had two sons and two daughters:
- Celestine Eustis Hitchcock (1892–1935), who married New York City architect Julian Livingston Peabody (1881–1935), son of Charles A. Peabody Jr., and died with him in the marine disaster, the sinking of the SS Mohawk off the coast of New Jersey in January 1935.
- Thomas Hitchcock Jr. (1900–1944), who married Margaret Mellon (1901–1998), daughter of William Larimer Mellon Sr., in 1928.
- Francis Center Eustis Hitchcock, who married Mary Atwell in 1930. They divorced in 1934, and she later married William Mairs Duryea in 1935.
- Helen Hitchcock (d. 1979), who married James Averell Clark (1895–1960), son of George Crawford Clark, a founder of Clark, Dodge & Co., in 1919.
Thomas Hitchcock died at his home, Broad Hollow Farm, in Old Westbury, Long Island, on September 29, 1941.
Following its formation, in 1973 Thomas Hitchcock was inducted posthumously in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and in 2002 into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.