Colors of the Mind

As has been the custom the last few years, I spent Preakness day as guest of Thoroughbred owner Lee Einsidler in the International Pavilion in the infield, just a stone’s throw from the finish line and the Preakness winner’s circle.

I mention this only because of an odd piece of memorabilia I took home with me – a cloth napkin from our table. The reason I confiscated it was equally as odd. The napkin was white with red polka dots; virtually identical to the Belair colors of William Woodward and later his daughter Edith W. Bancroft.

Those colors are ingrained in the memory and still evoke images and feelings of a time long gone; of innocence, and the unbridled joy of victory, and the gut-pounding sadness of defeat, and butterflies in the stomach.

They are the colors of Damascus, the horse who started it all; who thrust me into a world I never knew existed; one of grace and beauty and boundless thrills. Boy, do I appreciate a horse like him today; a horse held together by sinews of steel, who raced 16 times at 3; who won at 10 different distances from six furlongs to two miles; who set track records under heavy imposts; who won the equivalent of 12 grade I stakes; who set a track record at Aqueduct under 130 pounds while making this third start in 16 days, all carrying 130 pounds or more; and whose intervals between races at 3 were 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 10 days, 3 weeks, 1 week, 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 16 days, 26 days, 28 days, and 2 weeks…and he actually got stronger as the year went on.

It was Damascus who breathed life into a hollow existence, numbed from years of toiling mindlessly on Wall Street.

It’s been 45 years since that life-altering encounter with Damascus and Thoroughbred racing, and those colors still get to me. In fact, racing to a spellbound neophyte was a tapestry of colors – a kaleidoscope of rich hues and intricate patterns. I can still see them. The red silks and tartan sash of Dr. Fager. The black silks and red cap of Buckpasser. The dark grey silks, yellow braid, and yellow sleeves of Arts and Letters. The black and gold stripes of Majestic Prince. And the brown and white silks and Running W of Gallant Bloom. They were as identifiable as the noble steeds beneath them.

It amazed me that more than four decades later even a simple cloth napkin could rekindle those early flames and inspire the very words and feelings I now find myself expressing. Yes, it’s all about colors.

I have considered myself a friend of Paul Reddam’s for a number of years, but I no longer will be able to look at his white and purple colors that were once taken for granted and not see I’ll Have Another charging down the stretch in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. It was those same colors that illuminated the Empire State Building on the Thursday night before the Belmont Stakes. Yes, it’s all about colors, from golden chestnuts to “blacks and bays, and dappled grays” and the familiar colors they carried to victory.

By now, most of you must be wondering why I am writing this. The truth is, I haven’t the slightest idea. It is 1:53 a.m., the Triple Crown has already begun to fade into memory, and after five months of raging Derby and Triple Crown fever, the door to the decompression chamber is slowly beginning to open. I’m just not ready to enter.

I’m not ready to say goodbye for good to I’ll Have Another. I’m not ready to let go of Bodemeister, Paynter, Dullahan, and Creative Cause until the summer. So, I look at my cloth napkin folded up on my bookcase and it becomes a portal to the past, unleashing a tidal wave of nostalgia, back to when a milkshake was something I drank at my corner candy store; when detention was for juvenile delinquents, not horses; when the word “positive” was positive; when the New York Times actually covered racing as a sport; when twitter was something I heard from the sparrows outside my window.

I realize this little journey into the past is only temporary, and my thoughts will soon turn to the Stephen Foster and Royal Ascot. But what’s wrong with having a cathartic moment now and then?

And what better inspiration than Damascus, and, of course, Dr. Fager and Arts and Letters and all those other horses who beckoned me to enter a new world that would sustain and nurture me the rest of my life?

Hey, what did you expect at two o’clock in the morning, Socrates?

Come to think of it, Socrates described the depth of observing even the simplest of objects, like a cloth napkin, a lot better than I ever could. He wrote: “I was afraid that by observing objects with my eyes and trying to comprehend them with each of my other senses I might blind my soul altogether.”


Damascus' Belair colors

108 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Wrensflight

Now I know you and I are from the same generation! Damascus, Dr. Fager, and Buckpasser were my first heroes, the trinity of stars. I had a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings about their racing exploits (no computers back then). It seems as if the era of horses like these has been slowly fading into obscurity. Thank you for sharing your musings and offering such a moving and uplifting trip into the past. Perhaps Socrates might have learned a bit about the way horses can fire our spirits if he had been peeking over your shoulder.

14 Jun 2012 12:27 PM
an ole railbird

i know that world you speak of, only too well. its good to hear that someone else experinces the same. i went thru the trainer hall of fame. (tbs). am going thru Q.H.s today. it dont take all of the burn(of getting involved again), but it helps to take off some of the edge. steve "ole brother" keepem coming, we need all the history we can givem. its our responceablty to " not let this new bunch of fans, grow up with this uneducated veiw, that they are so pron to have." we got to feed them history. history is the best knowledge, in all cases.   thanks steve hava gooden.

14 Jun 2012 12:32 PM
duncanp

Beautiiful piece, Steve. I fell in love with Nashua at 12 in 1955, never recovered from his Derby loss but have gloried in his success at stud and his offspring these last 57 years.  I understand the depth of the cloth napkin, and appreciate the longing for the understanding then tht horses were in fact strong and able, that racingn was indeed a sport of kings (who could be anybody in America), and that the beauty and grace of the animal was the best therapy anyone needed.  

Lyn

14 Jun 2012 12:39 PM
jlvszen

*sniffle* You made me cry here. I think it's a huge mistake of TV coverage of the sport to focus on betting angles so much, when for me I think the key to the sport is its beauty. All those colours! For me, the heaviest nostalgia comes from the blue and white of Meadow Stables and the gorgeous chestnut of my first idol - Secretartiat.

14 Jun 2012 12:48 PM
Deltalady

I'm just sobbing as I read your words. I'm having the hardest time getting over my feeling of utter mourning and a feeling of despair for the race that never was, the Triple Crown that I'll Have Another was so close to capturing.  I hope you expand on this theme...there really is a rich reservoir of stories, vignettes, triumph and heartbreak that only you can capture.  There are so many contrasts that come to mind: that of the evil Doug O'Neill who drugs horses that was sent out over the airwaves, the newspapers, the tv commentators (I absolutely detest Bob Costas) to the Doug O'Neill who visited hospitals, who took time out for various local charities and events, the Doug O'Neill whose suspension and fine had nothing to do with drugs at all, whose grace and unflappable demeanor never belied what must have been terrible hurt at his plight overshadowing the wonderful achievements of his horse. The imgages of Mario Gutierrez, his brilliant smile, his shiny young face, and his calmness which you just had to know translated to his horse in a way that they were melded as one huge fireball that was going to bring us the gift of the Crown. I'm still sorting out why this has touched me so much. Your wonderful column today is a start...hope you will spend a little more time lingering over the events of the recent Five Weeks...I still need to decompress!

14 Jun 2012 1:29 PM
palominolady

Buckpasser is my all time favorite horse, and like a previous commenter, I have scrapbooks filled with articles about him, connected by the handwritten ramblings of an adoring fan.  Why is so little mention made of his winning 15 consecutive stakes races, most of which would be Grade 1's in today's world?  And like your heroes, he raced frequently, carried high weights, won at all distances, and set many records, including a world record.

I mourn our forgotten heroes.

14 Jun 2012 1:29 PM
longtimeracingfan

As usual, Steve, you've come up with a very interesting angle and given us even more history, information, and more than just entertainment. The depth of your experience, knowledge, and interest is so evident... it's a real passion for you. In your quiet, cynical-New-Yorker way you find the core of the story and the little nuggets of insight you write are better than all those other writer folks rolled together. And you take some pretty good photos besides!

Seems to me Damascus gets a bit of interest when he appears in a pedigree, I think he should be given lots more. Round Table is another who seems to have been forgotten today. He was terrific ... and his full sister Monarchy is in the dam line of Pulpit and several of his close relatives.

As a longtime Swaps fan I didn't like Nashua much at the time, but had to respect his racing prowess. But I was just a kid then... and kids do grow up (most of them anyway!). One of the things I learned was that though one might have a favorite in a race, there were usually other horses worth a look, and often I would have a sentimental favorite and a practical favorite. Actually I still do think that way.

I remember once, think it was  back in the late 60s ... I was in Scottsdale for the big Arabian show (when it was still a real horse show and not a commercial expo... 'nuf sed) one morning a friend and I drove out to Turf Paradise to watch morning exercise. I can still remember seeing the horses roar around that turn and down the stretch, and seeing it in the stillness of the early morning, just the horses and their handlers and a scattering of spectators, was such a thrill. It has remained indelible in my memory. Just seeing the muscles and nostrils doing their work, and hearing their hoofbeats and their breathing... one of those vignettes that stay in the memory bank to be brought out from time to time and enjoyed yet again.

I'm not near any track these days, closest one is Cal Expo about 150 miles or Golden Gate Fields about 200 miles and Pleasanton Fairgrounds about the same distance. When I'm at Pleasanton for the October dog shows I often go out to the track and watch the morning works... they're not the top line horses but they're beautiful to watch anyway.

Well. Just a nice way to start my day here in the far north of very DRY, very WARM California.        

Thank you yet again, Steve.

PS: @railbird, stick around, you have a lot of hands-on experience and have already told some very interesting stories. Love to hear more.

14 Jun 2012 1:30 PM
edsnorkle

when i was 14 i begged my father to take me to atlantic city racetrack to see dr.fager run in the united nations. the best turf horses in the world were there.it is still one of my fondest memories.now when i go over for the short meet that i walk through the stables and remember how beautiful it used to be.

14 Jun 2012 1:33 PM
georgeszary

Steve, that article was wonderful! You put in words what I feel when I think of the past days of the sport I love so much, and whose current state and future makes me melancholy. Thank you for your insights and artistry!

14 Jun 2012 1:35 PM
anita b

Hello Steve,

 What agreat trip down memory lane.

Native Dancer was my first love--;when he retired, I sent a note to Mr. Vanderbuilt. I received the greatest response back.

Looking at those horses of yesterday;the horse was bred for stamina and distance races.

Unfortunately no more.

Loved all those horses and more--remember listening to a race on the radio. those were the days.

Keep up your great work Steve--we appreciate it. Anita

14 Jun 2012 1:36 PM
michelee

Migod, Steve. And I thought I was done crying.

They didn't have to be famous. There we were, in that big green building at the back of the State Fair, my sister and me, maybe 4 and 5, trading our pennies as the horses went by below, snap, crackle, trot, such beauty, and Dad saying, "now you don't want to bother your mother with this. . ."

14 Jun 2012 1:40 PM
Mike Relva

STEVE

Enjoy reading everything you write. Especially reading your book a few years ago regarding Kelso. In fact, read it for the second time recently.

14 Jun 2012 1:46 PM
moishezmom

In 1969 as an 11-year-old I read a pre-Derby article about Majestic Prince  in the New York Times and fell in love with him and horse racing (I already had the girl-in-love-with-horses disease). I was crushed when he didn't win the Belmont and hated Arts And Letters and Braulio Baeza. Back then racing was on Channel 11 in New York on Saturday afternoons and I never missed it. I got to see Damascus, Dr. Fager, Fort Marcy, Ta Wee, among others whose names are slipping my mind right now.... I saw Shuvee win the Filly Triple Crown. In 1970 I didn't know squat about betting (heck, I still don't) but I could have made money on the 1970 Belmont, since I just KNEW High Echelon was goin to win it! Your article brought back memories for me today. I wish racing was like that today. Thanks yet again for a great read!

14 Jun 2012 1:51 PM
Sam Santschi

Steve,

Just finished reading the article about the new points system hoping they would have done a "what if this was in place for this year table" and noticed that it was written by staff so I figured you were getting a well-deserved rest then, I read this. Lump in my throat time.  (While I used to go to the Derby (infield really) in the early 80's, the only horses I saw, were on the way back home to Chicago going through Indiana.)It was Alysheba and then Unbridled that go to me. Or Lure...still remember someone saying his outside post in his 2nd mile win didn't matter..he could start from the parking lot they said.  Or Unbridled gutting it out for 3rd in his last race.  Sometimes the losing efforts really stand out for me.

I was talking with someone on Sunday who was not really even a casual fan but somebody who got interested because of IHA and I was clumsily trying to explain today's differences (focus on speed, fast two year old workouts, win a couple of Grade 1's retire fast to shed etcetera) when he asked me if with all that focus on speed if horses today run faster.  Oops!  Something for the powers that be to ponder.  Wish I had the answer.  On to Ascot!

14 Jun 2012 2:00 PM
TripleCrownKaren

Steve!   You DID it again!   Bringing up 2 of my all time favorites (although I DO admit I was a bit partial to "The Doctor")  It's a shame that racing has now gone from the time honored tration of upholding the pride of families who were steeped in the rich tradition of Racing for their "honor" (the Phipps, Mellons, Vanderbilts) to turning the Sport of Kings into the racing "business" (right in line with Agri-business vs. the Family farm).    

Once you look at these WONDERFUL creaturs as just a means to make money.....you've lost half of the reason to even play the game.   Horse have become a commodity and everyone breeds "for the market".  We need to go back to the warrior horses of the past and breeding for SOUNDNESS and TOUGHNESS (The "Doctor", Damascus epitomized this).    Another of my favorites, FOREGO......how his trainer held those legs of his together for so long and raced under such weights, I'll never know......but his like shall not be seen again, I think.

Thanks for a GREAT memory rouser!

14 Jun 2012 2:07 PM
an ole railbird

nostalgia time. lets have a contest. who knows" how long is a new york minute& where did this saying come from.??? an ole railbird knows!! what do you think.???

14 Jun 2012 2:19 PM
Sue MacGray

Majestic Prince was my first horse "hero" (versus the 'evil' Arts and Letters). I was crushed when he lost the Belmont. I still have clippings from that year and others, including '72 and '73. The scrapbook is somewhere in the basement, but after reading this, I may have to go down there and dig it out. Growing up I watched all of the Triple Crown races, and for obvious reasons remember Secretariat's Belmont more vividly than any of the others. I have been a more recent recruit through the exploits of Zenyatta and even though she has retired, I'm now a full-time fan. I have to agree with jlvszen - for me betting (even though I indulge in it once in awhile) is extraneous compared to the beauty of the horses themselves and the excitement of competition. It's difficult for me to accept sometimes that racing relies so much on the revenue from it. To me it should be able to exist because hundreds of thousands of fans love horses and will pay to see them run - how's that for naive! When it comes to horses, I will always be that little girl that used to ask her parents to pull the car over so she could "stop and pet the horses." Thanks for a wonderful memoir, Sue

14 Jun 2012 2:29 PM
Carry Back

Utterly wonderful. just read it. wish I had when I finally met you. I too get goose pimples when I think about Damascus, and love the pic.

... Of course I would never mention Dr. Fager in the same breath...

14 Jun 2012 2:39 PM
Carry Back

Utterly wonderful. just read it. wish I had when I finally met you. I too get goose pimples when I think about Damascus, and love the pic.

... Of course I would never mention Dr. Fager in the same breath...

14 Jun 2012 2:40 PM
Cris

When Kelso ran in Maryland I was there. Those gray and yellow colors meant alot to me. I lived in Bowie streets away from the Stallion barn that once housed the champions of Belair. This Belmont held so much promise, to have it all yanked away so suddenly seemed so unfair. Many champions live on without their triple crown or super bowl ring or whatever the crown might be. Fans of racing will do as the jockeys do, dust themselves off and move on.

14 Jun 2012 2:43 PM
Abigail Anderson

What a poetically beautiful reverie you had at 2 o'clock in the morning, Steve. This one brought a lump to my throat & tears to my eyes. For me, it was our little Northern Dancer, although my Grandpa and I watched the Kentucky Derby from the time I was a toadstool until he died in 1964. After reading your exquisite piece, other names came flooding back: Ridan, Candy Spots, Greek Money, Chateaugay, Kauai King.....

I'm in the same head-space. Not quite ready to move on from the Triple Crown this year.

But there seems little doubt that time & space are curved, right?

Thank you for a stand-out text that I will always remember!!!!

14 Jun 2012 2:57 PM
Karen

Awesome piece--that's all I can say!

14 Jun 2012 3:16 PM
mz

Turquoise Blue and Gold -- Northern Dancer -- started it all for me.  Still pat his nose every time I walk past his statue at Woodbine.

And being a newbie in the '60's, I thought that it was normal to have Buckpasser, Dr. Fager, Damascus, Shuvee, Ta Wee, La Prevoyante, Princessnesian and Gallant Bloom and I thought it was normal to read pedigrees including (at first remove) Nasrullah and Round Table and Nashua and Native Dancer (he didn't die until 1967)....

We were lucky.

(p.s.  fond remembrance as well of Cool Reception, a Cdn 3YO who broke down but still finished second to Damascus in the Belmont)

(p.p.s. fond remembrance of my poor dad, who took me to woodbine in 1965 to see the Queens' Plate because the year before, my hero had won it.  The horse who had finished second to the Dancer, Langcrest, was running in the Nearctic that year.  I made Dad bet on him; he was a longshot.  He won.  Can't remember the price but will always remember the feeling.)

Thanks Steve.  (pass the Kleenex)

14 Jun 2012 3:40 PM
LauraS3514

Once again Steve you knocked the ball out of the park, to mix sports metaphors.  If only all of your columns could be collected together some day and published as a book (or ebook?) You write for those of us who follow racing for the love of the horse and not just another way to place a legal bet.  Thank you!

The first Derby I remember was Dust Commander's - I was nine and just another horse-crazy-but-horseless-city-girl who read The Black Stallion series and Marguerite Henry's "King of the Wind" (where I first heard the name Man o' War) and everything else I could get my hands on at the library. Canonero's loss was heart breaking given his rags-to-riches story. Riva and Big Red, Ruffian, Slew, Affirmed and Alydar, The Bid and Genuine Risk and all those others down to Zenyatta The Queen. It's ALL ABOUT THE HORSE!

14 Jun 2012 3:59 PM
hank

Dam Mr Haskins I keep trying to get away from this all, like I did 15 years ago, but I was at FasonTipton sale at Lexington,ky mayb3 7 or 8years ago and after eating breakfasr at The marriot just off Rte 64, iI was walking out and saw a Blood Horse Magazine, something i hadn't read for many years,so I bought one to read later that night in it was an article by a gentleman who I thought was the absolutely the most knowledgeable writer I ever read, who I just could not get enough of, when I got home I imediately bought a subscribtion  To The Blood Horse, and also gave a few as Christmas presents It is stories like this I say thank you,I hate living in the past, as I am getting along in years, but as you well know, the real hay days of racing are in the past.Your triple crown colums are priceless. I consider myself very fortunate to have been a race track person for 35 years, and seen all these great things

14 Jun 2012 4:13 PM
Gollykeeper

It was Buckpasser who drew me into racing heart and soul, and I admit I was beyond bummed when Damascus beat him in the Woodward. But with hindsight, I can only be grateful to have been alive to watch these two incredible horses and Dr. Fager race. Whenever I see the Phipps colors, I realize how lucky I was. Thanks for another wonderful column!

14 Jun 2012 4:17 PM
hank

One other thing in 1970 I played in a golf tournemant at Washinton,Penn Del Miller was opening up his new racetrack,fooling around waiting for tee times I happened to walk around to the back of a high gree, and there all by his lonesome was Eddie Arcaro, I asked if I could sit and chat, sure he said never missing a stroke he explained to me for a good 5 minutes about his ridde on Nashua against Swaps, the biggest thing was that he caught Shoemaker by surprise when they left the gate, and he said I really thought my horse was the tougher of the two and he was correct. some little things in life are priceless right?

14 Jun 2012 4:18 PM
MargaretH

Steve, you did it again. As soon as I hit the start of the paragraph "They are the colors of Damascus.." the goosebumps errupted and my eyes teared up and my nose started to run. The power your words have over my emotions is uncontrollable. I love to read you, I am at work and as I read your words draw me into this other world and it is a shock to finish them and come back to reality. Thank you for sharing your passion with us.

When I was a little girl my parents took us to Lexington. I was horse crazy and drove them to their limits, so they immersed me in a world of green pastures and white fences, narrow stone fence lined roads and horses everywhre. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We went to Calumet, at a time when you just dropped in to see the horses. I saw Tim Tam and Citation, and my mom told me a story of seeing Whirlaway win the Derby with his long tail flying behind him. It was a magical trip for me and driving the narrow roads past the farms in Lexington still thrills me.If only we could find a way to market the way these horses make us feel to the general public, then who would want to waste their time gambling in casinos when they could see these beautiful animals run and share the excitement of having your favorite leading the field across the finish line. Man O' War was my horse hero till Secretariat came along, and the blue and white my favorite colors memory, and now Zenyatta has joined their ranks for me, with Mike Smith in pink and aqua.

Thank you for sharing your memories!

14 Jun 2012 5:26 PM
Sue MacGray

@LauraS3514 - I think we were living parallel lives.... Did you also read the CW Anderson books (with Billy and Blaze)? Those books inspired many works of equine art in our household, and I became pretty good with a No. 2 pencil. Did you get the newsletters from Marguerite Henry? I still have those as well....

My dad actually was the one who seemed to follow the horses a bit. He liked Buckpasser and Damascus and he was the one who first had me watch the Derby.

14 Jun 2012 5:34 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve that was lovely. Just plain flat dab lovely. It is a wonderful thing our minds. Yes indeed. And you still have your's and it is abundantly clear you will always have a wonderful story waiting in the treasure chest of your attic called your brain.

I am reminded of the song i can hear in the back of my own head, and that is Que Sera Sera. Doris Day i believe, if Dr. Drunkinbum

agrees, sang that song in the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much that she starred in with the one and only Jimmy Stewart. I was 16. In Spanish it means, Whatever Will Be Will Be. Doesn't make things change or better but she sings it so happily it helps to accept what happened a little bit. But for me total acceptance of what could have been and wasn't will never happen.  

Union Rags won heartily and i am so proud of him, Mrs. Wyeth and all connected with him. I don't want to forget that he stepped up to the plate and he won The Belmont

and no one can take that away from him.

Abigail Anderson - so agree with everything you stated.

And Thank You Steve.  

14 Jun 2012 5:36 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve that was lovely. Just plain flat dab lovely. It is a wonderful thing our minds. Yes indeed. And you still have your's and it is abundantly clear you will always have a wonderful story waiting in the treasure chest of your attic called your brain.

I am reminded of the song i can hear in the back of my own head, and that is Que Sera Sera. Doris Day i believe, if Dr. Drunkinbum

agrees, sang that song in the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much that she starred in with the one and only Jimmy Stewart. I was 16. In Spanish it means, Whatever Will Be Will Be. Doesn't make things change or better but she sings it so happily it helps to accept what happened a little bit. But for me total acceptance of what could have been and wasn't will never happen.  

Union Rags won heartily and i am so proud of him, Mrs. Wyeth and all connected with him. I don't want to forget that he stepped up to the plate and he won The Belmont

and no one can take that away from him.

Abigail Anderson - so agree with everything you stated.

And Thank You Steve.  

14 Jun 2012 5:40 PM
Slew

O Steve, you're not alone, but you have a gift for writing that transcends our meager musings.  Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

I remember when I was 4, and my Mom took me to the movies (can't recall if it was Fantasia or Bambi). As usual with a matinee, there were cartoons, a Tom Mix serial, and the ever-present news reel.  It was 1948, and the news was about Citation winning the Triple Crown.  I was hooked then and there...and never recovered.  Arcaro was my hero.  Later days would keep me enthralled by Nashua, Native Dancer, Kelso, Dr Fager, etc...and eventually the Golden Age of the 70's rolled around, and I fell in love with one very special horse.

I tend to always check out bumble bee silks...can't help it...I'm always reaching for my memories  of a wild stallion named Slew.

14 Jun 2012 5:48 PM
Ranagulzion

Steve,

I agree, thoroughbred racing can be pretty absorbing and inspiring even in the wee hours of the morning.

This Triple crown series has been one of the most engaging in recent years with most of the "big guns" showing up (if not all firing) for the Derby.

All three legs were thrilling and although we didn't altogether escape the disappointment of injury to one of the best of the crop, we should still be thankful that I'll Have Another strut his stuff in the first two legs before succombing to injury. Also the fact that the very popular Union Rags duly obliged in an exciting Belmont in the aftermath of scratching IHA from an anticipated Triple crown attempt, to save the day is cause to reflect positively on this years Classics.

14 Jun 2012 6:16 PM
Linda in Texas

hank - you sound hooked to me.

What do you mean trying to get away from this all? You need to stay around and take it like the rest of us do. None of us are too old to learn something new. And i like your stories. Eddie Arcaro, Bill Shoemaker, those are the originals to me. And i know i am leaving out so many more deserving mention.

I am not speaking for everyone hank, but many of us are past 39! :) So this blog is called "Hangin' With Haskin" for a reason, pull up a chair and share a while.

14 Jun 2012 6:40 PM
kelso fan

What a wonderful column as usual and like so many others brought a tear to my eye as well.

I remember well the colors of Kelso and he and his colors have a prominent place in my home - although he didn't start my love affair with racing he cemented it especially seeing him at his winter home in Aiken.

and "mz" thanks for the mention of Langcrest - he was the maternal grandsire of a mare I had for many years (lost her two years ago) and didn't know a lot about him.

And of course Northern Dancer - I collected a number of dollars from my seventh grade class that I talked into betting against him...

14 Jun 2012 6:43 PM
Linda in Texas

hank - you sound hooked to me.

What do you mean trying to get away from this all? You need to stay around and take it like the rest of us do. None of us are too old to learn something new. And i like your stories. Eddie Arcaro, Bill Shoemaker, those are the originals to me. And i know i am leaving out so many more deserving mention.

I am not speaking for everyone hank, but many of us are past 39! :) So this blog is called "Hangin' With Haskin" for a reason, pull up a chair and share a while.

14 Jun 2012 7:07 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, everyone, for your heartfelt comments and for sharing your memories. It just goes to show how many people have these wonderful memories stored up inside, and I'm so happy I was able to bring some of them out. I could write endlessly about that era. And I felt this was the perfect time to start, coming off the highs and lows of the Triple Crown. We as a society have lost our sense of history, but there is so much to learn from it. Thanks again for all your comments.

14 Jun 2012 7:11 PM
Dreamsofhorses

Please don't ever stop writing!

14 Jun 2012 7:23 PM
Fortune Pending

That photo was a full page in Sports Illustrated.  I remember because several years later I found in a copy of the magazine in the local library.  And immediately tore it out to keep it.  My one brush with illegal activity in my youth.

Those late 60s and early 70s were my absolute favorite years of horse racing.  

I will never tire of reading about them.  I hope you never tire of writing about them.

14 Jun 2012 8:33 PM
Bill Two

Steve, like you I remember vividly that era of Damascus, Dr. Fager, Buckpasser, etc.  Those silks you described were the old Woodward silks of Belair Stud worn by some great horses {e.g., Gallant Fox }trained by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons among others.  What a tragic turn of events at Belair that ended with the accidental shooting of William Woodward. In some small way perhaps the emergence of Damascus served as some consolation for Edith Bancroft.  I certainly hope so.  I could never fully embrace Damascus since Dr. Fager was my favorite, but I always had tremendous respect for his obvious talent.  Like you I would love to see another Damascus.

14 Jun 2012 8:38 PM
Shutterbug

Remembrance of Things Past... (Proust)

Susan, I also was a horse-crazy girl.  I begged my daddy to get me a horse.  "Where will we put it?", he asked.  Needless to say, that never materialized, but I have loved them ever since.

Mr. Haskin, this is one of your masterpieces.  Between the sting of tears in my eyes, I found myself giggling at the middle paragraph about milkshakes and  detention...

One of MY personal favorite memories is the sight of Mr. Haskins watching the Preakness Stakes with the Baffert family (NBC) -- watching your mind, heart, and soul at work was one of the best things about that day, and I will carry that memory.

Lava Man brought me to the track.  Zenyatta compelled me to stay.  And this year's triple crown quest, with the incredible SoCal 3-year-olds that I experienced in person, has been phenomenal... something I will always treasure.  The memory of I'll Have Another demolishing the Baffert horses in the Robert B. Lewis is emblazened forever in my mind.

And the special memory of Mario walking around in street clothes on closing day at Santa Anita before the party in the paddock... I hope he remembers me wishing him luck and giving him a thumbs up.  I will always remember his beautiful smile on that day.  

14 Jun 2012 9:14 PM
Alex'sBigFan

This is a beautifully penned piece Steve.  I love the metaphor of the napkin being a "portal to the past."  Perfect.  I can't relate to Damascus or Dr. Fager but this is school for me.  Steve needs his own TV Channel, the heck with guest spots on TVG interviews!  The Steve Haskin Show on the Bloodhorse Channel is what I want to see, and it doesn't go off the air at midnight like TVG, it's all night!!!!!

I do relate to the colors of the silks and they are ever so important.  It was Zenyatta's turquoise that inspired me to do that French bombe chest in laquered turquoise to match my French turquiose damask silks on the chairs.  It was Dr. Hansen's craziness that inspired my satin cobalt blue designer dress for this Belmont.  The owners' silk colors are so important and lend creativity to others. Dressing for thoroughbreds, why not.

Yes I agree horses having to be in "detention" isn't right and I am still miffed at the Belmont stakes barn.  It's as if they said yeah let's upset all the horses 3 days before we ask them to run a major race.  Ridiculous, I agree with Dale Romans they could have monitored the private vets in the horses' own barns at Belmont.

The thing keeping me going througb this "tc phase out period or tc let down" is the upcoming Haskell, I checked Monmouth's website already and it is Sunday, July 29th.  I don't want to say goodbye to IHA either.  Keep us posted on him Steve and Lava Man as you are Reddam's friend.

Bring on the Haskell (or The Haskin as I like to amicably call it).  Hope Bodemeister comes, and I agree with the words of Karen in Texas who I believe beautifully stated that it is amazing that Bob Baffert accomplished all that he did and made it to all of the TC races.  We need him and for sure we need our Steve.

Long live all the silk colors flying by us, I missed the Empire State Bldg. in IHA's colors, I drive home with it in my rearview mirror background, if only it could have happened for IHA.  Now, we wait................thank God we have Steve to get us through until the summer races.

14 Jun 2012 9:16 PM
El Kabong

The Bard Strikes again.

Perfect Steve. When the future looks like a million puzzle pieces scattered on the floor with no answers, we turn to the colors and shapes to make sense of it all.

I love it when you get undermined by the happenstance of this sport. You retaliate with your pen, so much stronger than the sword.

Thanks Steve.

14 Jun 2012 9:25 PM
Cassandra.Says

If you remember Damascus, do you remember Cool Reception, possibly Nearctic's best son, who was second to Damascus in the Belmont?

A gorgeous big chestnut, Cool Reception moved at the head of the stretch and opened three lengths on the field in a twinkling. To my fury, the announcer ignored this and recited positions back to last. Damascus got to Cool's flank nearing the wire, and to my fevered and partisan recollection, tried a little no-contact intimidation from which Cool Reception ducked. Almost certainly, this was the point at which Cool Reception's cannon fractured but he finished gamely. He went wild coming out of the anesthesia, broke the same foreleg in more places, and could not be saved.

14 Jun 2012 10:39 PM
alex2005

I loved those years of horseracing!

The iron horses, Damascus and my all time favorite Buckpasser.

I was only 11 years old and fell in love with horseracing and Buckpasser,  So much so I sent a letter to Eddie Neloy Buckpassers trainer.  I sent it to Eddie Neloy, Belmont Park Elmont New York, I don't think we had zip codess then, and he not only received it but sent me a beautiful black and white picture autographed by him of Buckpasser in the winners circle with Baeza on him!!  I have that picture to this day.  He also sent me by request a picture of Reviewer who I loved as a two year old and of course sired Ruffian.

Thanks Steve for the memories.

Buckpassr, Dr. Fager and Damascus the race of the century they called it then, all three in one incrediable race with Damascus winning.  The best of horses and, trainers.  Do you think we'll ever see it again?

14 Jun 2012 10:43 PM
Jon

Steve

I know this is off topic, but, the big news today is the new system for the Derby and I know you will be addressing that in a few days, so I would like to take a look at what I would have recommended.

Here it is:

As all Graded stakes are graded 1, 2, and 3 and changed accordingly as per what it attracts like a Gr. 1 race if it does not attract top horses in a given number of years can be downgraded to Gr.2 and I think we all agree on that.

This point system on the surface looks OK but the way the points are distributed looks flawed which could lead to many thing  going on in the back ground(like inside deals). The way I look at it is a Gr. 1 is a Gr. 1(in the US).

Hence my idea to allocate points is as follows:

Gr 1:

Winner: 10 Pts.

Place: 6 Pts.

Show: 4 Pts.

Fourth: 2 Pts.

Gr. 2:

Winner: 6 Pts.

Place 4 Pts

Show 2 Pts.

Fourth: 1 Pt.

Gr. 3:

Winner: 4 Pts.

Place: 2 Pts.

Show: 1 Pt.

Fourth: 0 Pts.

Non Graded Stakes:

Winner: 2 Pts.

Place: 1 Pt.

Show: 0 Pts.

Fourth: 0 Pts.

I would appreciate it if you would enter this in the post to get more ideas from our Blood Horse fans.

14 Jun 2012 10:54 PM
Tiz Herself

Steve, you never fail to inspire me. I will never, ever forget my first love in the racehorse. When this specific horse first appeared to me I was eleven years old and watching the 1997 Breeders Cup televised live from Hollywood Park. I can guarantee you that I don't remember ANYTHING else That I did in that time. Even know, in as many years, I remember and I am still transfixed and spellbound by this horse. He exuded courage. His dark, silver dappled grey coat was what drew me at first. Then his keen, intuitive eyes that seemed to measure up the competition. He looked so kingly and regal, what with the jockey sporting yellow and red silks. His blinkers and fuzzy red shadow roll matched that. Of course he won that day. There was never a doubt. He pounced on that field and drew off to win... not going to be denied that day. A hero in my eyes then and now. Of course this was Skip Away and his Classic winning race under Mike Smith for Caroline and Sonny Hine.

I watch my copy of the 1997 Breeders Cup DVD and the 1998 one (even though he lost), I still watch it just to see this grand creature that was a gift to the world and has been forgotten about.  

In 2010 I made it to Kentucky for the first time, although I kick myself for having not made the trip earlier, for I made the journey in October and Skippy passed in May that year. I cried for weeks on end and I still cry when I think of him or see his races. I have a shrine in my place completely dedicated to him. The next time in Kentucky (which is in the works) I am going to visit his graveside at Old Friends, which will be my first stop. Hopewell was good enough to let this stranger go and just stand beside Skip Away's empty paddock, just so I could see where he was. That was a gift in itself.

You said it best Steve (I hope it is okay that I quote you) when you wrote "For some of us, horses are a way of life. It is not something that is forced upon us. We have chosen to allow these magnificent creatures to infiltrate our very being and touch our souls in a way that bonds us to them - yes at rare times, spiritually. The foundation between humans and horses were built centuries ago. Whether it is a racehorse, a riding horse, a show horse, or any horse that becomes a part of our life, there is always going to be that rare one who comes along and enters some hallowed sphere deep within us"

I am glad that Skip Away drew me in. Of course prior to that this horse crazy gal watched the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders Cup more casually. I wish that I would have been able to see him in person if only once.

Again, wonderful article Steve. In what has been one of the most trying weeks in such a long time, all I need to do is read any one of your articles and all is right again.  (would it be okay if I used that quote of yours in a story of my own that I am working on?)

14 Jun 2012 11:19 PM
Sue MacGray

@ILC - I, too, could never figure out why our garage and small backyard (with jungle gym and sandbox) was not adequate for (at least) a small pony :)

Although the TC is over, I am looking forward to the summer stakes and the BC in November. It's actually a "horse race" (couldn't resist) now as to who will bring home the 3 yr old honors and HOY. Also - has anyone heard anything about Awesome Feather? Just wondering....

15 Jun 2012 12:13 AM
NativeDiver

Thank you for the walk down memory lane.  As soon as you described the napkin I knew instantly why you wanted it; I didn't even have to read further or scroll down to the picture.  I would have done the same thing.  I started following racing in grade school.  Each morning at the breakfast table I would get the sports page from my father so I could read the race results.  Nowadays I cannot start my day until I have read Bloodhorse and had my fix of Hangin' with Haskin.  

I have vivid memories of Buckpasser, Dr. Fager, Damascus, and others from those days.  I, too still have my scrapbook full of yellowed newspaper clippings.  Red polka dots - Damascus.  And somebody else I believe...  :>)

15 Jun 2012 12:55 AM
carol in utah

Its the stories and the ladies that get me...Gallorette....All Along...Ta Wee...Busher ...Ruffian...Landaluce ...Winning Colors..Personal Ensign...but my favorite...Genuine Risk...always thought she was robbed of the Preakness...

Recent ladies do them proud...Zenny...Rachel...Gracie...Goldie ...and "Nelly"...

15 Jun 2012 1:03 AM
ksweatman9

Yes, I remember the days when equine parts were metal, rather than the plastic we find today. I've grown accustom to disappointment in this game, it's the nature of the beast, but for some nagging reason this year's triple crown "let down" hit me hard. The retirement announcement felt like salt being rubbed on an open wound. I guess the whole thing blindsided me. I never saw the agony of profound disappointment on anyone's face in I'll Have Another's camp, and misery does love company. Disappointment of that magnitude is a tough emotion to conceal, you can read it like a book. Hindsight tells me that the injury may have been anticipated to some extent. I think IHA had issues before the Derby, I don't believe those close to the horse were shocked like most of us were. When they were walking to the winner's circle for the retirement ceremony, they looked as though they were going to a distant relative's funeral and were making a conscious effort to look sad. I'm sure at that moment, alot of people who didn't have a dime invested in I'll Have Another were bawling their eyes out. This all means nothing, it's just junk I'm carrying in my heart. I certainly wouldn't have wanted the horse to run at a risk to his welfare. This was a double triple crown loss if you think out of the box a bit. Bodemeister is good enough to be a triple crown champion. I think he could've won the Belmont after seeing how it unfolded, no disrespect intended. If I'll Have Another's injury would've reared it's ugly head BEFORE the first Saturday in May, I think Baffert would've had a triple crown to add to his resume. This is it, I'm going to resign myself to the fact that it's over, and shut my mouth. If I croak before a 12th horse is crowned, I just do, oh well. So, what other disappointments and heartbreak does 2012 have in store for me? I can't wait to find out, because I'll never stop loving this painful sport.

15 Jun 2012 2:15 AM
The Deacon

Very moved by your writing Steve. I can only imagine how exhausted you must be. It has been a wild 5 months on the Derby trail. So many blogs, interviews, and travel.

I just loved that photo, Bill Shoemaker aboard Damascus, wow, it doesn't get much better then that.

Late at night when I can't sleep I go yo You Tube and watch many of the old races. I get to relive my youth, see my old friends compete against each other. Watching Damascus win the Travers by 22 lengths aster being about 12 lengths behind on the back stretch. Watching Dr. Fager battle the great turf horse Fort Marcy and Advocator in the United Nations Hdcp. I can only imagine the thoughts that go through your mind on a daily basis. Like so many of us old timers you've since it all. Yes, we all have our favorites and our special memories but Steve if you ever put away this special gift of telling a story many of us will just fade into the horizon.

Thanks for all the memories and special moments you have provided for all of us. Trust me, we all appreciate it...........  

15 Jun 2012 3:12 AM
John Boudreau

Steve>> Your the BEST of the BEST>>  PERIOD   Good Luck>>>

15 Jun 2012 6:53 AM
MrPick4

Steve ...just the mention of those two greats, rekindles the memories of my developing years as a racing fan, one that has only grown yearly, even though the patterns in the game have changed. Avoid a showdown with your biggest adversary, who's bringing in a rabbit with him?? Unlike todays stars, they didn't duck anyone back then. Many rivalries are discussed, as well they should be, but nothing in my book compares to the Damascus - Dr Fager showdowns. They cemented my love of this game.

Graet article as ever, Steve ...we need to educate the newer fan base of bygone years, when promising colts actually had 5 - 9 starts, if not even more, as two year olds,

before they embarked on the 3 year old campaigns, rather than entering the Derby scene with a maiden and allowance score.

15 Jun 2012 9:01 AM
Tiz Herself

Of course in 2010, it was not all for naught even though Skip Away was not there as I was transported to a whole new world. Being from Alberta, we have seen champion horses come through Northlands Park, True Metropolitan, Monashee, Shillelagh Slew, Organ Grinder, Edenwold, etc. however, 2010 in Kentucky, I will never forget it. How accomodating all of the horsemen were. Knowing full well that I was no one of significance in that I wouldn't be able to buy any of their horses (yet)

Still, seeing up close horses Bellamy Road, Artie Schiller, Summer Bird, A.P. Indy (a true treasure), Rock Hard Ten, Stephen Got Even. Awesome Again, Ghostzapper, Einstein, and Giacomo (who my dad talked be out of betting in the Kentucky Derby - which we all know what happened), Monarchos, Home At Last, Bandini, Successful Appeal, Songandaprayer. Brother Derek, Indian Charlie, Slew City Slew, Proud Citizen, Divine Park, Istan, Flashy Bull,

Colonel John, the great Tiznow, Sharp Humor, Bluegrass Cat, Distorted Humor, Munnings, Grand Slam, Giant's Causeway

Smarty Jones, Point Given, Dynaformer, Flower Alley, Lewis Michael, Sky Mesa, Eskendereya, Unbridled's Song, Old Fashioned, Northern Afleet, Include, Lemon Drop Kid, Langfuhr, Pleasantly Perfect, CURLIN, Smart Strike, Stevie Wonderboy, Sun King, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Suave, Perfect Soul,

and will never forget meeting Cigar, Funny Cide, and Da Hoss at Kentucky Horse Park. Cigar who had his tail to the stall tooted at me first but once they brought him out for all of us fans he was more than happy to see all of us and get mints.

And let's not forget the Breeders Cup, which drew me in. Zenyatta. Although I only have pictures of her ears because people were standing taller in front of me, through the crowd I could see enough of her and will not forget her ears pricked in my direction as if she knew I was trying (failed) to get a decent photograph, despite being six rows from the rail. Then when she was racing by us the first time around, it was quiet and you could hear the whoosh of her strides and nothing else... that was magical. And then the electricity of the crowd when she was trying to run down Blame and the silence afterwards, I cried too as felt bad for her but the crowd's emotions played in as well. Goldikova won earlier that afternoon. Got to see Uncle Mo, Boys at Toscanova, and everyone else on showcase for that Breeders Cup; Quality Road, Blame... what more could a fan ask for in a trip? While I didn't get to see Skippy, all of these horses played a part in me healing a gaping heart wound and I thank them all for that.

This is the best sport in the world, if we see beyond the politics and what is actually in front of us. This life is truly a gift. Thanks Skip Away for bringing me in. Thank you Steve as well as without your books, your blogs and And They're Off, I would be lost I can tell you. In Alberta, it is hard to get even a sneeze of racing news, so when I connect to the internet world, I get my fix. Thanks Steve again. Would love to meet sometime and hear your stories and recounts.

15 Jun 2012 9:22 AM
TBDancer

As always, I loved your post, Steve, and from the comments, I feel like I am among many friends. We all share a love of horses and horse racing, and we have our favorites.

I too am so sorry about I'll Have Another. So many "highs and lows" that will need to be sorted out when I've had a bit more "tincture of time." I live not far from Santa Anita.

Swaps was my choice in the match race, and I have bookmarked on my computer a writeup of Skip Away. I have a photo of Michael Blowen and  Black Tie Affair. So many wonderful stories about wonderful horses.

I didn't realize what life was like for most racehorses, for those that don't make it to the "bigs"--the low-level claimers that are disposed of because they aren't earning their keep. Heck, I was a teenage girl absolutely perishing for my own horse and everything was "rainbows." I got horse books and toys for Christmas and birthdays but never awoke to find the real thing in my back yard until I was in my early 30s and old enough to buy my own--I awoke with him "in my back yard" (actually a boarding stable near me ;o) because I had PUT him there.

Of course, a TB was my dream, but I was told by a lot of people that I "had to know someone on the track" before I could get one. I didn't know anyone "on the track," so I bought a very well-trained QH that first time--the PERFECT "first horse" for a total greenie like me--and he was wonderful. I owned horses for about 20 years and when my first horse went over "the bridge," I turned my attention to other things.

Six years later in 1998 I found myself thinking about getting horses again. I happened to meet a horse trader (an honest one ;o) and told him I wanted a big, young gelding with good ground manners. He found a 16hh chestnut with four white socks that fit my requirements. We all thought he was an appendix QH because he had lots of bone. I found his racing tattoo, which started with a letter. I contacted The Jockey Club and when his pedigree arrived, I was blown away.

Names of racehorses from my teen years leapt from that paper: Damascus, Northern Dancer, Tom Fool, Bold Lad-Bold Ruler. All coming together in this handsome redhead that was all mine (take away one of those socks, and there was Secretariat ;o)

He is now 18--I bought him 14 years ago July 31--and while he never won a stakes race, he raced five times and earned just under $30K. He was ridden in two of his races by Kent Desormeaux and in three by Chris McCarron. He is also from the same foal crop of sire Eastern Echo as Swiss Yodeler, owned by the man who owns Creative Cause.

He represents what is best of the TB on and off the track: He is beautifully bred, willing to work, a heart full of "try." And he is the result of the melding of the best and brightest names in the annals of TB racing.

Thank you Steve for another trip down memory lane and for that fantastic picture of Damascus. Your blog always makes my day brighter.

15 Jun 2012 10:10 AM
Pedigree Ann

I missed the 1960s because we lived out in Minnesota, which was totally uninvolved in the sport until the 1980s, when Canterbury opened. I knew there were big races other than the Triple Crown races on TV and wonderful horses who didn't run in them, but I never got to see or read about them until long after the fact.

Then I went to college in Southern California and discovered big-time racing. Daryl's Joy, Ack Ack, Cougar II (My Own True Love), Turkish Trousers, Manta, et. al. were the heroes of my 'newby-ness.' Jim French (iron-horse, Santa Anita Derby winner) was my first 'Derby' horse.

Sigh. Need you remind me of how much I missed? I even missed Damascus' Derby because I had to assist Mom in her musical performance (page-turning). Maybe not such a bad thing.

15 Jun 2012 10:10 AM
Slew

Steve...on a cloudy day, you are our rainbow.

15 Jun 2012 10:12 AM
deb

we are all big saps for the love of racing and horses. What is the drug that keeps us coming back?  All of us? the horses, of course.

15 Jun 2012 10:22 AM
Linda in Texas

I hope everyone re reads the posts on this blog. If you do you will learn so much. You will learn that deep inside all of us there is a fire of passion for this sport of horses whose sparks can never be extinguished. And Tiz Herself, i loved 'Skippy' also and have a huge reprint of him that i had made from a photo of him taken and posted on Bloodhorse, the one where he is running in his paddock and his tail and mane are floating in the breeze of his run. He just was so regal and because of him i am especially fond of the Grays.

Skip Away had a wonderful life and no horse was loved more than he was by his caregivers, the Hine's.  He was at the center of their lives and they were the center of his.

Some lovely posts with some great

memories here and i just want to thank you all for opening up your minds and letting us all share them. I am a history buff and these remembrances are so nice.

Steve can bring out the best in anything i do believe. And thank you Steve. As Slew said, 'you are our rainbow on a cloudy day.' Very nicely stated Slew.

15 Jun 2012 1:11 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, this was wonderful. I did not watch racing back ten, like I do now, but some horses were on my radar. Secretariat of course and Dr. Fager because I knew the real Dr. Fager (the neurosurgeon) who practiced at the hospital I graduated from and worked in. He was a wonderful man and very fine surgeon. Even though many of these horses were not on my radar then, they are now thanks to your wonderful writing. You are horse racing's #1 historian.

15 Jun 2012 1:58 PM
slee

And, for good measure, Shoemaker on Damascus' back.  Ah, the 60's.  Damascus, Buckpasser, Dr. Fager, Kelso, Ta Wee....sigh.

I was at a gathering this weekend where somebody was fussing about IHA's departure from the Belmont, arguing that "they should have run him anyway, he would have probably been fine".  And all I could remember was Majestic Prince and Canonero, and how their owners ran them "anyway".  The Prince never raced again, of course, and while Canonero came back eventually and defeated the wonderful Riva Ridge, his career was certainly changed.  Can you imagine the uproar if they'd run IHA "anyway" and disaster struck?

But the 60's....Never Bend, Quadrangle, Chateaugay, Northern Dancer, Jaipur and Ridan........

sigh.

15 Jun 2012 4:09 PM
Scott's Cause

Being on the west coast I became enamored with the big horses that ran at Santa Anita and somewhat less Hollywood Park.  Affirmed, John Henry, Alysheba, and many many more.  But what I go back to was a mid-week stakes I saw from the infield of Santa Anita.  Everyone new she was the big favorite.  But seeing the first flash of the "tote" was amazing.  There were 5-7 other fillies entered and there numbers were 40-1,60-1, 55-1, etc.  the numbers eventually came down, but not much.  I was close to infield rail going into the far turn, and when she flew by, I don't think her hooves left a mark.  The also rans, did just that. She did not disappoint. Pincay would say later "I would go to the track somedays and think "I don't want nothing to happen to her""  Thanx Landaluce, Thanx

15 Jun 2012 6:38 PM
derblin

Wonderful story, Steve.  Does anyone remember when there was a show called "Race of the Week" on TV?  It was during the time period you were referring to, I believe, Steve.  I sure remember watching Kelso, Buckpasser, Dr Fager, etc. in the 60's when by Derby experiences were very new and I was quite young.  I dont remember the gentleman who used to host the show.  Do any of the bloggers remember this live televised show?

My sister and I wouldnt miss it for anything.

15 Jun 2012 7:53 PM
Dianna S

Steve,

Your article was like a spark igniting memories for your readers.  

There may be long stretches when I don’t reflect on my equine heroes of the past or why I love Thoroughbred racing, but I do carry those memories in my heart and mind.  

Like so many of your readers, I too was one of those “horse crazy” girls.  Although I had read all of C.W. Anderson’s books on horse racing, it wasn’t until 1970 that I watched any Triple Crown race on TV. It was all about the horses for me, but the background story of trainer Hirsch Jacobs was emotional. I still recall the joy and tears of his family after Personality’s Preakness and High Echelon’s Belmont.  I saved my money so I could subscribe to the Western Horseman magazine, after the 1970 Triple Crown races I didn’t renew my subscription but instead subscribed to The Blood Horse.  The Western Horseman sent me a letter asking why I didn’t renew.  I wrote back “I discovered horse racing”. The next year I was “ready” for the Triple Crown and 1971 brought me my “always and forever, in my heart” horse, Canonero II.  That same year I started asking my dad to take me to a race track. We had our first father/daughter race day at Santa Anita.  What a great year 1971 was – Ack Ack, Cougar II (loved his long tail), Charlie Whittingham (The Bald Eagle), and of course Bill Shoemaker (The Shoe). In between races, my dad and I would stand by the walking ring, hug the rail, examine each horse at it went by and markup our Program (he’d also point out famous people to me, like the time we saw General Omar Bradley).  We always watched the live race by maneuvering our way in front of the grandstand and standing by the Finish Line.  We had a tradition of having Santa Anita’s roast beef sandwich on a Kaiser roll; the chef would carve the roast beef right in front of us, slap some butter on the roll and add a couple of pickles. Several years later I would join my dad in having a beer with our sandwich.

Being the Cougar II fan I was, I don’t know why, but in 1973, both my dad and I selected the chestnut Queen’s Hustler over Cougar II in the San Juan Capistrano.  Queen’s Hustler always came out with his mane braided but during the saddling process his handlers would take the rubber bands out and he would be left with a short curly “natural”.  Queen’s Hustler won that day and paid a big price for us two-dollar bettors.

The last time my dad and I went to the track together was to see the great Zenyatta in what was supposed to be her farewell.  Happily, she raced one more year and blessed me with more rich memories to keep close to my heart.  I may be a lot older now but as the saying goes, the new crop of two year olds keeps me young and horse racing keeps giving memories that are happy, (and yes, at times sad), again and again.  

15 Jun 2012 8:05 PM
KG1

Hi Steve,

Thank you, I also was not ready to let the Triple Crown pass in a NY nanosecond.  

You evoked a kaleidoscope of colors whirling in my head.  The horse that bought me my first awareness of racing, in some ways my first hero...a female to boot...

the salmon and green of Ethel Jacobs and her supurb runner, Affectionately.

Who foaled a daughter, Personality (Preakness winner) and the stable also raced the previously mentioned High Echelon. The chocolate and blue hoops of little Tom Rolfe........

Wow...ya got me.  And yes, others have come along...LOL what would Forego have done if he had had Zenyatas legs?  Blue collar John Henry...and what's better is there will be more memories made.

Thanks for helping me snap out of my funk and reminding me of the past, which also in an odd way helps me remember...the game goes on.  I love it.

Take care

15 Jun 2012 8:49 PM
Mister Frisky

Steve,Mister Frisky was my Damascus.Great article about MF grandpa.

15 Jun 2012 8:52 PM
Racingfan

There is nothing I can say about your writing or another wonderful article that hasn't already been said.  But this particular one got me thinking about exactly why I love to read your writing so much.  And I think I figured it out....it isn't just the words and the fact that you can "take us there".  It's that you "get it"!  I have never been able to explain why I love these horses and this sport so much - I just do.  There is "something about it" that those who really love it all seem to share. Does this make any sense? Maybe you can put it into words?  My all time favorite horse is Native Dancer even though I was only 1 year old when he died.  I discovered him and horse racing in a library book when I was seven and have been in love with it ever since.  I have read and re-read my books on him countless times and I still want to cry every time he loses the Derby by a head!  I loved Affirmed and Spectacular Bid too and had not been that hooked on another horse until Zenyatta.  I still can't watch my tape of her second place either.  Anyways, please keep the articles coming!  It is so refreshing to read writing from someone who shares the passion and love of these great animals!

15 Jun 2012 9:20 PM
Steve Haskin

These are some great memories. Thank you for sharing. Dianna S, that was wonderful. I can just picture you and your father bonding at the races. If you havent read it, I wrote an extensive column on Canonero and a full-length movie is being made based on that column, as well as a documentary that has just been completed.

Ah, yes, those salmon green and pink colors bring back memories. Anyone remember Reflected Glory, who made a huge impact in Florida, as brief as it was, with his explosive stretch runs.

Playfriskyfor me, I have great stories about Mister Frisky. I discovered him when no one ever heard of him.

Thanks again everyone. Keep the memories coming.

15 Jun 2012 10:31 PM
Zen4Zen

What a beautiful article!  Racing colors for you are like the madeleine for Proust: an inspiration for so many rich memories!  Thank you for sharing them.

15 Jun 2012 11:43 PM
The Deacon

My two greatest moments in horse racing was being at Santa Anita with my dad in 1955 and watching Swaps win the Santa Anita Derby and seeing in person my all time favorite Dr. Fager win the Califorian at Hollywood Park in 1968. My sadest moment was watching the greatest filly who ever raced,  Ruffian break down on the lonely back stretch of Belmont Park.

It was the best of times and the worst of times. These blogs give all of us a chance to vent and share out feelings.

16 Jun 2012 3:27 AM
Pedigree Ann

Steve -

I remember Reflected Glory, largely due to an amusing incident. When I had a summer apprentice-type job at the CTBA, one of my major duties was proof-reading copy. In one of his stallion ads, the copy read "Reflected Glroy", so forever after, I thought of him as "Reflected Gilroy."

And he was a decent local sire, with some national level runners, like Hot 'n Nasty (second best 2yo filly to Ruffian), Vanity H winner A Kiss for Luck, and champion 3yo Snow Chief. Also damsire of King Glorious (Haskell H, etc.)

16 Jun 2012 10:07 AM
steve'sphil

I too loved Buckpasser. Watched many of his races in person. Sometimes thought he was hopelessly beaten only for him to turn it on and get to the wire first. Never saw such a turn of foot before or since. He really had that desire to win. i thought I saw it in I'll Have another. so sorry he wasn't able to show it to us again in the Belmont.

I still watch races hoping to see those with the great Buckpasser in the bloodlines win and I see Frankel has Buckpasser on both sides of his pedigree.

16 Jun 2012 10:11 AM
jim culpepper

To: AGE OF REASON,  Ethel Mars Gallhadion was the last KY Derby winner from Tennessee. In the 1940 derby, Bimelech ran wide and cost himelf the Triple Crown, winning both the Preakness and the Belmont.

Gallahadion was from Milky Way Farms, about 4 miles south of Lynville Tn, on Mimosa silt loam, one of the seven classic phosphatic limestone soils of the Nashville Basins horse country, albeit a few miles east of the touted Maury silt loam of maury county tennessee.

16 Jun 2012 2:20 PM
Freetex

Steve, this is one of the finest pieces you've written but then I feel that way about all of your writings.  Honestly, your words are so moving and brings the former horse heroes to the present like utter magic.  

I didn't discover the thrill of racing soon enough to know of such greatness.  You have expressed your feelings about Damascus previously but boy does it ever shine in this article.

It is hard to let go of this year's triple crown but you just made it not so bad.

16 Jun 2012 7:53 PM
Oldie

Steve:  We as a society have lost our sense of history, but there is so much to learn from it.

...You sum up so much in so few words.  A true writer.

Not as gifted myself ...

You are a gift to us.  We all love and appreciate the history of The Sport of Kings, and you recount it in such compelling fashion that we recall moments thought long forgotten, for a moment becoming young racing fans again, or learning a piece of history we didn't know before.

Something I appreciate about horse racing in general is that it is still here, with all its lumps and wrinkles; still competing Triple Crown races, still pitting horse and human combinations against one another in a race that cannot be altered by turning a wrench but which can only be altered by intuition, care, planning, knowledge, skill, and so much luck.  

Horse racing is a sport fans can love even when no one they know understands.  It is beauty, emotion, and effort combined in a way we may never be able to explain, and at some point, each of us realizes we don't care whether we can explain it to even our own satisfaction.  The pure magnificence of the Thoroughbred brings a tear to our eye purely by being.  Grazing in a pasture, winning a race (or trying to), or rolling in the sand, they represent something in each of us which has no name, and needs none.

16 Jun 2012 9:03 PM
Bill Two

Pedigree Ann, Hot'n Nasty was indeed a national talent and leading up to her meeting with Ruffian it wasn't entirely clear which was the better filly.  Dan Lasater owned the filly and I believe David Vance trained her. That stable led the nation in races won on a regular basis in those days and it was a common sight to see that big red "L" on white silks at many tracks on the east coast.  Well, we know that Ruffian asserted her superiority when she met Hot 'n Nasty, but it was no disgrace to lose to Ruffian.

16 Jun 2012 9:39 PM
Mike Relva

Jim Culpepper

I now live seventy miles east of Nashville. Three years ago visited

Lynville and had lunch there. Nice area.

17 Jun 2012 1:44 AM
Slew

One thing I find odd...you never really realize how hooked you are on special horses and their careers until a race today kicks you in your memory cache.

I was watching the post parade for the Hill Prince at Belmont.  I suddenly realized that whenever Howe Great steps out onto a track, I am suddenly watching him and the race through tear-filled eyes.  Why?  It takes me right back to Sunday Silence, and all that he did.  And I remember when he left for Japan.  He was probably one of the best sires to re-invigorate the Japanese bred horse...but here in the USA, is Howe Great the only one we have?  He almost won...maybe next time...love this colt because of his Grand sire, and those striking memories.  

So happy Fathers' Day out there to all the Dads...and even the Dads no longer with us...two-legged and 4-legged.  You've given the world your greatest treasure and finest legacy..thanks.  

17 Jun 2012 8:59 AM
steve from st louis

The white with red above Ruffian. Or the black with gold hoops of Forego. The blue and white blocks of back to back Derby winners. The black with cherry cap of Personal Ensign. Every sport has its uniforms but as you so elequently stated, throughbred racing's are the best.

17 Jun 2012 10:12 AM
Mister Frisky

Steve,I'm honored that you acknowledged my post,thanks again.Happy Fathers Day to all the dads on the blog.Hope Johnny V.is ok after that spill.My condolences to the horses owners.These horses lay it out there for us everyday and pay the ultimate price.True Gladiators.

17 Jun 2012 12:35 PM
Cheryl from Maryland

Steve,

This brings back so many memories. Damascus was my first favorite horse. I'll never forget the '67 Woodward when he beat Buckpasser and Dr. Fager by a country mile!

As always, thanks for the trip down memory lane!

17 Jun 2012 2:22 PM
Dawn in MN

Mr. Haskin,  

I loved your recap of the triple crown, but  your early morning reminiscences are so real.  

I didn't realize that once the sport of Thoroughbred racing got in my blood it would be there forever.  

Thanks for your thoughts and insight, it is good to know that there are other people in love with this beautiful sports and the bright possibililty of each new day.

Long live the sport of kings.

17 Jun 2012 5:32 PM
Linda Stephan

I am obviously older than you and maybe that's why you don't mention Kelso in your Pantheon of greats remembered. I was in high school/college when he won 5 consecutive HOY honors. Won at every distance from sprints to 2 miles, on dirt and turf(DC International twice) and always under heavy weights. Surely he is the equal of any of those you mention!

17 Jun 2012 6:19 PM
Steve Haskin

Linda, you mentioned I was too young to remember Kelso (i just wasnt a racing fan then), but then you say he is surely equal to the ones I mentioned. So was Man o'War and Citation. Obviously, I mentioned only those who I remembered in my early days. You made it sound like I snubbed Kelso, and only Kelso, who, by the way, I happened to write a book about. This was about colors of silks and how they affected me in my first years as a racing fan. Not having followed Kelso, his Bohemia silks had no impact on me.

17 Jun 2012 6:42 PM
yani

happily overwhelmed by this piece, since horses entered my life I am now among the happiest people on the planet

18 Jun 2012 10:12 AM
Union Buster

How about Royal Delta's big win? By far the best horse to run in the Fleur De Lis in many years!! Nobody in recent years could have touched her. Way to go Mr. Mott!!

18 Jun 2012 11:14 AM
Between Friends

Steve, you certainly know how to help the rest of us decompress from the journey along the Triple Crown trail. I loved Damascus and you can't mention him without thinking of Buckpasser, one of my very favorite horses, and Dr. Fager.

In the days before the information superhighway, the television racing season consisted of the Derby, Preakness and Belmont for many of us. I was blessed to have parents who gave me C.W. Anderson prints of Man o' War and Citation and then subscriptions to Thoroughbred Record and Bloodhorse. And there were trips to Kentucky to see Faraway Farm in 1957 (years before my mother had gone there to see Man o' War) and to Calumet Farm, Spendthrift Farm and Darby Dan Farm in 1968 with a visit to Churchill Down for the Kentucky Derby in 1963.

When I think of racing silks, the devil's red and blue of Calumet Farm are included.

Thank you for bringing back such good memories of such great horses that so many of us do share.

18 Jun 2012 11:23 AM
an ole railbird

steve "ole boy",  this story is off subject of this particular blog'. so use it as you see fit. it is a story that i wrote from my memory. i ways an understudy ( in search of a word) to 2 different men who were ex employees of rex ellsworth & mesh tenny. this 1 is the 1st in my memory. the point i would like to sell. is that they werent actually abusers of horses. their methods were different than the more traditional east coast trainers  , out of necessity.  

It was a big day in a 11 year old boys life,when he gets  to meet a brother of a Kentuckey Derby winner. It was a year after Swaps had ran in the Triple Crown. In a Texas country town on the edge  of the Edward Plateau, there was a bad drought on and there was little time or place for luxuries. The most modern thing available was a new electrice radiio. It allowed us the news, weather forecast,Fibber McGee & Molly, Amos & Andy, to name a few,and sports. Texas had no professional team sport franchises. Boxing & Horse Raceing were what came over the air waves. My Daddy being cursed with an early illness that limited his ability to make a living as a cowboy. To make ends meet my mother was the telephone operator and the switch board was in our living room. To an 11 year old who spent most of the summers riding horses, the best news since the Korean War was over, came when Uncle Howard called from some where in southern Missouri. He was transporting a horse from Kentucky to Arizona, for Rex Ellsworth & Mesh Tenny. He was coming through town & was going to lay over for a few days. Uncle Howard??Uncle Howard was my Mothers great great uncle on her Mothers side & my Mother was his only living kin. He was a bachelor by his own design, he had the same girlfriend for 22 years. He ran on black coffee & apples. A set down meal on Saturday & Sunday and an egg sandwich 2 or 3 times a week. That was all he ate. He was cowboy to the core. When asked for his pants size, he always answered "29 in the waist & all the leg they will give me, I never had any that were too long'.According to Uncle Howard," it was just a matter of time until Rex Ellsworth & Mesh Tenny would take over horse racing completely, and then would probably take up politics, and no telling where they will stop." He was what he was and he was very good at it. His bi-annual visits to our house, always ended with us having a full pantry when he left. Uncle Howaard had been picked for the job to transport this horse cross country because the horse was crippled. Uncle & Mesh Tenny thought Uncle was the best leg man in the business. Upon receiving the first phone call, I was dispatched to the local "Immigrant Springs" to make sure it had not dried up. The horse was so bad crippled, he had to haul him 10 hours & stand him in ice or cold running water for 24 hours. I gladly brought the news that the old spring was still flowing enough that it was running water a little ways down the creek and that the water was still as cold as it could be in May. It was relayed back that Uncle was on his way. He had no idea when he would be here. He was unsure how the horse would endure the trip. I can't remember how long it took for him to get there. My Daddy had hired him and me out gathering sheep ahead of the shearing crew. As I remember it was a long 3 or 4 days. But all the time I wasn't busy, I was watching the cross roads for uncles arrival. There was an intersection of 3 major farm to market roads that was visible form our front gate. I had no idea which direction he would come from, so I watched each and every vehicle that came through that intersection. Then came the day a 53 Buick pulling a 1 horse "Miley" trailer turned down the right road and came straight to our front gate.My life changed at that point & race horses have been in my life ever since. Uncle circled the drive & expertly parked between 2 mesquite trees so the trailer was in the shade. With short greetings, Uncle explained that the horse needed immediate attention. The horse?? As he unloaded, uncle explained the horse,"Son, this is probably the best bred horse you have ever seen in person".The horse eased out of the trailer, without hardly touching the ground with his left fore foot. He looked around & squealed at some mares in the lot a short distance away & went to eating leaves off the mesquites. "This horse is whats called a full brother in blood to Swaps himself" he explained."He has the same sire as Swaps & their mothers were full sisters."If it were in people it would be called Double cousins."Hew went on,"Rex & Mesh saw this horse & tried to buy him when he was sound. But the folks that had him, knew what they had & wouldn't price him.After he blew that sesamoid, they bought him for a sonng If we can get him to the ranch, I think I can get him sound enough that he will be able to cover a few mares."The boy??????

I took up vigil at the spring beside the horse. Only leaving long enough to pick up a sack lunch that my sister would make for me. I took in each & every word, action or expression that either uncle or the horse might make. The treatment of the horse was paramount in my eyes a& mind. When he was taken out of the water & walked on a sand bar, I was at his head and under the watchful eye of my hero. He was allowed to roll & then  he grazed on the short salt grass that grew in the dried up parts of the creek. Uncle was a decorated WWI vet & well thought of in the community. He was well known for his horsemanship and had been a foreman on several of the ranches in the area. He was very popular among the Mexicans and spoke Spanish well, Word got out that Uncle was camped at the spring and people from all over came by to see him. Uncle had served his time in the Army in the Rio Grand Theater. Mostly keeping Pancho Villa pushed into Mexico. I fought the sleep out of my eyes for as long as I could each night, listening to stories of calvary pursuits & the art of riding a horse to the the limits, without hurting him. Until one morning, uncle approached the spring for his morning inspection and killed a large rattlesnake only a few feet from where I slept on the ground. I begged a promise out of him not to tell my Mother . He didn't, as far  as I  know, but Mother made an unannounced visit to the spring before I disposed of the dead snake. After she heard the story, I was no longer allowed to spend the night with the horse. Uncle layed around a week, treating the horse & visiting. We gathered the few budding tips that were left at that time of the year. Then started stripping the bark form the ends of the red willows. These were boiled down then laced with black tea& steeped in a closed pot, over a camp fire. The product was given to the horse for pain & it opiate effect which served as some sort of tranquilers. When the horse showed signs of more discomfort that usual, a drug call paregoric was added to the so called tea. Paregoic was in short supply & was used sparingly. Uncle was content to lay around & visit & eat a meal 2 times a day, but not for long. The cold water treatment & and all the other was working well.Old Lew, as he was called, began to show signs of wanting to pitch & play. So uncle got itchy feet. He said"if I fool around & let him get too fresh, I have not a way to knock the edge off him".He went on, He needs to spend that energy on the trailer ride, we are still 3 1/2 days drive to the ranch" He was to pick up anaother man in San Angelo who was going to the ranch to work. But the car was so full that he barely had room to ride. Uncle had a saddle with him, the man to ride with him had a saddle with him. And there was a saddle at our house that Uncle had left on a prior visit that had to go. My daddy always the "fixit man" mounted some screw eyes on the right side of the trailer and they hung the saddle and wrapped them with tarps. and off he went. Uncle was successful in his effors to get the horse sound enough to cover a mare. He got the first 5 mares bred to in foal. On the 6th mare , he fell off her & ruined his left knee. He was then put down. I cannot remember this horses real name as he was always called LEW.  His name was KHALED something. If I ever see it again I will remember it. As I become more capable with this compouter, I hope to be able to research it. It would be interesting to know what become of those 5 foals that he sired.

18 Jun 2012 1:15 PM
Mister Frisky

Steve,When is  next  book?You have so much great inside juice,It actually might could be several books.

18 Jun 2012 1:48 PM
The Deacon

Linda Stephan:  I wish to add some help regarding Kelso, although I was young I remember him well.

He was Horse of the Year 5 times, 1960-1964. He raced 63 times and won 39 races. He is considered the greatest gelding who ever raced and is rated in the top 10 of all time greatest thoroughbreds.

He was foaled by Claiborne Ffarms in 1957, he was by Santa Anita Derby winner Your Host and his dam was Maid of Flight whose sire was Triple Crown winner Count Fleet.

He raced against the best during that 5 year span. He beat the likes of T.V. Lark, Mongo, Careless John, Tompiom, Carry Back, Beau Purple Gun Bow, Roman Brother and Belmont Stakes winner Quadrangle. Quadrangle beat Northern Dancer (arguebly the greatest sire ever)and Hill Rise in the Belmont Stakes. He ran against so many good horses, way too many to name here.

Steve is right, Kelso was before his time. I have read many books written by Mr. Haskin and Damascus was the horse who really got him started. Kelso is also considered the greatest iron horse of all time, he set the stage for the John Henry's and Lava Man's of racing, among so many others.

Hope this helps......

18 Jun 2012 5:20 PM
Uncle Smiley

Steve

Finished John Henry, now enjoying Tales of the Triple Crown.

Looking foward to reading the one about Baffert.

Ardently hope you got a few more in you!

If you can pen them, i'll read 'em!

US

US

18 Jun 2012 9:25 PM
Racingfan

Steve, just ordered your Kelso book (and also the Talkin Horses book).  I didn't realize you had written for the Thoroughbred Legend series - I have several of them already. Can't wait to read it!  I know about Kelso (still have the Breyer model I got as a kid) but not all the wonderful details so I am looking forward to it.  Just for curiosity if I may ask, what made you decide to write about him and not one of your favorites?

18 Jun 2012 9:31 PM
Paula Higgins

I wish someone would write a book about Zenyatta, hint, hint. As Bill Nack knew Secretariat, Steve Haskin knows Zenyatta.

18 Jun 2012 11:39 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Frankel is unbelievable and has to be one of the greatest of all time. Watching his Royal Ascot win brought the same kind of emotions I get from Secretariat's Belmont. I've been decomposing but Frankel's race energized me.

19 Jun 2012 12:07 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

In the 50's I often took my 25 cents allowance to the candy store to buy five packs of baseball cards and cram all of the gum into my mouth and chew it all at once, then see how big of a bubble I could blow until it exploded, wipe it off of my face and hair, shove it back into my mouth and blow another bubble. I did that over and over until the gum and my mouth didn't seem to work anymore.

19 Jun 2012 1:31 PM
Steve Haskin

Dr. D, sounds like we had the exact same childhood. Nickels were so huge back then. But oh those checklists.

19 Jun 2012 1:39 PM
longtimeracingfan

As Dr. D said, the performance put on by Frankel was absolutely stunning. He gave the term "turn of foot" a new meaning... the way he accelerated and just moved away from the field at will. I heard that Timeform had given him a rating of 147, higher even than Sea-Bird's 145 of many years ago.

I'm not sure he beat the very best but he sure did leave that field far in his wake.

Waht a privilege to have seen him, even if only on TV!!!

19 Jun 2012 2:16 PM
longtimeracingfan

Here's another little tidbit re: Kelso... his sire Your Host broke his leg (that was back when a broken leg usually was the death knell) --- but he was saved for stud duty, and one of the vets who helped save him was Johnny Walker DVM who was a neighbor of ours there in the San Fernando Valley when I was 11-12 or so... and HIS son Jonny was one of my playmates. Just my little connection with Your Host... a VERY little one! ...but he was always one of my favorites.

19 Jun 2012 2:24 PM
Slew

Dr D: Frankel was outstanding, and those were top of their class horses he trounced.  Excelebration was hung out to dry, and he's no slouch...just has never gotten by Frankel.

But in the Ascot Stakes (2.5m) one horse simply took my breath away...Al Khawaneej.  The caller said, "..and the big horse, Al Khawaneej is last to load...if they can fit him in the gate.."  Shades of Rock Hard Ten...sired by Arch out of an Acatenango mare.  What a handsome stud he is.  Wish he had won...just started his run a bit late for 2nd.  Sometimes these horses pass across the screen, and I'm afraid I'm drooling.  It's a case of.."I wish that horse were mine.."

19 Jun 2012 5:40 PM
Alex'sBigFan

I took the advice of Linda in Texas and reread these posts, such wonderful, memorable stories here.  Horseracing college at it's best.

I guess I'm around Pletcher's age so I am a relative neophyte compared to most here.  So hearing and learning about these great runners of the past is intriguing and great for me.

I don't know what it is that binds us all so much to this sport.  It's so majestic and mystical. Sometimes when I am standing at a track, especially Belmont Park, and the horses come out of the gate and round the clubhouse turn, it all takes on a magical appearance for me for an instant, the colorful silks of all the owners make it look like a carousel is going around, especially when they are on the backstretch and all you can see are the bobbing heads and jackets of the jockeys.  Then the oval is almost like a giant roulette wheel, which number is coming in.  Then they round the far turn and your heart is going at breakneck speed with them.  It's an amazing feeling.

And some mentioned Ruffian.  I think of her always when at Belmont as I did this year as that is her final resting place.  She is buried in the infield. Something connects me to her too and I was a kid when she ran and never saw her.  She became for me the "Black Beauty" I read about as a child and the porcelain bay colt with the white diamond on his head they bought me as a child I swear represented Afleet Alex in later years.  And I am definitely connected to the great Zenyatta for sure.

This Frankel is amazing.  I love Black Caviar.  I was watching an international news show and they showed Black Caviar loading in some kind of a special chamber on a plane.  I'm still grieving the loss of my father and the loss of IHA in this Triple attempt so all I can say is bring on this Haskell and hope Baffert and Bode come!  

19 Jun 2012 6:56 PM
Uncle Smiley

The big candy store lives yet for racing fans at Del Park where so  many races provide  two nickle superfectas.

Dr. DB, did your candy store owner yell at you, "This aint no liberry!" if you spent too much time perusing  the comic books?

Mine did, that is why I am stuck doing ten cent superfectas!

US

19 Jun 2012 7:06 PM
Redhorse

When I grew up I had no good access to racing aside from the Black Stallion series and the seasonal articles in Sports Illustrated. It is so fun to have access to this sport thru the internet. My daughter (age 11)  reads BloodHorse.com multiple times a day and I sneak it in, too. We love your blog - can't get enough!

19 Jun 2012 7:53 PM
The Deacon

Dr. D:  I am speechless!!!

19 Jun 2012 9:44 PM
Ranagulzion

Dr Drunkinbum,

Frankel is special no doubt but he hasn't faced a true test. Beating up on Excelebration isn't convincing enough. Lets see him stretch out to ten Furlongs against some colts that will test his mettle (perhaps?) before tagging him with the all time great status.

19 Jun 2012 11:14 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Good article about Hansen too Steve.  Dr. Hansen doesn't have to stay out of the limelight.  He was great for marketing and had innovative thinking outside the box, all except for the blue tail episodes. I thought Hansen would be more suited for the King's Bishop and Haskell rather than the Travers but I'm not an expert.  Just kind of feel he is going to get beaten with his running style in the Travers.  Maybe the Travers will be a showdown between Rags and Hansen again.  Bode and Hansen in the Haskell would be great too.  I cannot even think BC Classic yet as some articles are doing, I just want to really enjoy and savor the summer races first.

19 Jun 2012 11:19 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Uncle Smiley

  I think that's exactly what they all said, "This ain't no library kid."  That's when you have to decide which ones to buy and be on your way.

Steve

  Baseball cards is where I learned, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Looking for Snider, Mantle, and Mays and you keep getting duplicate, triplicate, and quadruple scrubs, and those damn checklists, and chewing more gum and getting more cavities.

Ranag

  I have no doubt that Frankel will get 10f and beat the best. He's a superstar. I don't need to wait.

20 Jun 2012 8:32 AM
Linda Stephan

Sorry, Steve - I never realized you came to racing later in your life - should have, from the story. I just get defensive since some seem to dismiss Kelso since he wasn't a sire and he meant so much to me at an important time in my life.

20 Jun 2012 5:23 PM

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