Creating advocates for history through the stories of greater Los Angeles.
by Paul R. Spitzzeri
As mentioned a couple of posts ago, there actually were chariot races in the Tournament of Roses (it wasn’t called a “tournament” for nothing!). This post covers the race held in the 1910 tournament.
The race was between Edward J. Levengood, a professional horse rider from Santa Ana and Revel English, proprietor of riding academy and stable in downtown Pasadena. As covered in local newspapers, the race was evidently quite an exciting and notable one.
The Los Angeles Times of 9 January 1910 reported
The race yesteday [sic] between Revel English, a handsome young Pasadena society man, and E.J. Levengood, a horseman from Santa Ana, is said by the Pasadena tournament directors to have been the finest and most thrilling ever run on the track.
The edition of the Los Angeles Herald from the same date declared
In a driving finish Revel Lindsay English won the third and deciding heat of the Roman chariot race at Tournament park, the thousands of people lining the track literally shouting themselves hoarse [pun intended?] as the favorite captured first place by about six feet.
The Herald stated that English was the favored charioteer “because he is an amateur driver,” while Levengood “fine sportsman though he is, is a semi-professional.” It might have been a factor that English was a Pasadenan, though!
As for trying the capture the atmosphere at the track, the Times article went for broke, blaring that
the two thundering old chariots went to the post, drawn by eight terrified, half-crazy, plunging young race horses, who were almost frenzied with the blare and crash of the bands and the cheering of the crowds.
Those opposed to the use of animals for sport, like horse racing, will certainly find this description to be emblematic of their concerns.
The holding of chariot races at the Tournament of Roses, which started in 1904, continued for a few more years after the English-Levengood contest, with the last being run in 1915.
As to the winner of the 1910 contest, Revel English was a native of Illinois and descended from Kentucky horse breeders. He was also a fine singer who toured with small opera companies in his younger days and, after settling in Pasadena to run his riding academy and stable on Fair Oaks Avenue, continued to perform at parties and community events.
By 1910, he relocated to Chino, where opened a horse breeding facility and gained renown for champion saddle horses during the 1920s. He was also a well-regarded judge of horse shows throughout the United States. After leaving Chino in 1941, he moved to Tujunga, not far from his old Pasadena haunts, where he died in 1953. In the City of Chino Hills, there is an English Road and an English Springs Park, where part of his horse-breeding operations were conducted.
To read more on English, click here.