What was unusual about 1844 Derby winner Running Rein?

The Derby Stakes was inaugurated in 1780 and, while the distance was extended from a mile to a mile-and-a-half in 1784, the race was restricted to three-year-old colts and fillies from its inception. The horse that passed the post first in the 1844 renewal of the Derby, appeared, at first glance, to be the three-year-old Running Rein, but a subsequent investigation revealed that the ‘winner’ was not, in fact, Running Rein, nor any other three-year-old.

In what the Solicitor-General later described as ‘a gross and scandalous fraud’, the original owner of Running Rein, one Abraham Levi, a.k.a. Goodman, had substituted a four-year-old, by the name of Maccabeus, to run in the Derby in place of the three-year-old. Obviously, a four-year-old was ineligible to run in the Derby, so the horse purporting to be Running Rein was disqualified and the race awarded to the runner-up, Orlando. Apparently, Maccabeus had been entered to run in races under his own name before he was purchased by Levi so, to allow him to be trained, as ‘Running Rein’, for the Derby Levi recruited an Irish horse – perhaps unsurprisingly, a five-year-old – to complete the subterfuge by masquerading as the ‘real’ Maccabeus.