It’s hard to imagine that one person could have had the honor to break two of the greatest racehorses of all time, but Charles Schick, who died on February 11th 2015 at age 98 in Tampa, Florida, did just that.
According to his obituary in the Tampa Bay Times,
Charles Schick helped break both legends as yearlings. As a teenage exercise boy, he taught Seabiscuit to accept a bridle, then tried to get the underachieving colt interested in racing.
A year later and working for a different stable, Mr. Schick played a similar role for War Admiral, a horse that needed no encouragement to surge to the front.
Mr. Schick met Seabiscuit in 1934, when the horse out of Wheatley Stable arrived on a rail car.
“Seabiscuit looked like a mustang coming out of the West,” he said in a television interview following the publication of Laura Hillenbrand’s 2001 bestseller, Seabiscuit: An American Legend. “I had to keep after him all the time.”
At the time, Mr. Schick was working as an 18-year-old exercise boy at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, N.Y. In a 2003 interview with the Times, he described Seabiscuit as “a little different.”
“You liked Seabiscuit for his temperament because he was so lackadaisical, like he didn’t care if tomorrow came or not,” he said.
Charles Frank Schick was born in Queens in 1916. His love of horses started on the carousel in Queen’s Forest Park. By the time he left school, after ninth grade, he was already working as a stable hand at Aqueduct. Later he was promoted to exercise rider which earned him $5 a week.
He is thought to be one of the last living people who had worked with both horses.