The Winner Who Lost
The 60's were also a pretty volatile era, accordin' to AHM, who's old enough to know. In 1968, millionaire businessman Peter Fuller, son of former Massachusetts Governor Alvan Fuller, owned a talented gray son of Native Dancer. Dancer's Image was just comin' into his own in time for the Derby, winning the stepping stone prep Wood Memorial. Fuller, a civil rights sympathizer, donated the winner's purse to the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The gesture prompted a backlash, including violent racist threats, as Fuller and Dancer's Image headed for Kentucky.
For two days it appeared that Dancer's Image, who had circled the field and come from last to first, had avenged his famous sire's only career loss. (In a shockin' upset, Dark Star had gone wire to wire in the 1953 Derby, fending off Native Dancer to win by a head—the only time in 22 starts that Native Dancer did not finish first.) Then, two days later, the Kentucky Racing Commission reported Dancer's Image's post-race urine test had returned positive for Butazolidin, a then-illegal drug known as “Bute.” He was disqualified, placed last, and runner-up Forward Pass was declared the winner.
Plagued by sore ankles (which we now know is the sad heritage of the Native Dancer lineage—both Big Brown and Eight Belles are/were descendents of Native Dancer sons) Dancer's Image's handlers had a vet give him an anti-inflamitory tablet, phenylbutazone, the Sunday before the Derby. It was a legitimate practice since the medication would dissipate from the horse's system during the six days before the Derby. Or should have.
Conspiracy theorists went crazy and a whole bunch of lawyers got rich. (It wasn't until 1972 that Forward Pass was finally declared the official winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby.) Many people believed Peter Fuller was a victim of retaliation for his support of civil rights—Kentucky bein' a southern state 'n all—and Fuller still believes he was the victim of a set up because of that $62,000 donation to Coretta Scott King.
Dancer's Image ran in the Preakness, finished third behind Forward Pass, and was, ironically, disqualified back to eighth for bumping another horse. He was retired after the race because of…chronic ankle problems
Had the horse’s feed been tampered with before the Derby? Or was the urine sample tainted afterward? The controversy made the cover of Sports Illustrated as the sports story of the year but the mystery remains. And Dancer's Image is still the only Kentucky Derby winner who lost.
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posted by Harrison at 10:35 PM
Monday, April 27, 2009
Too Young To Run
He won his first race on June 6 by six lengths, then three days later won his 2nd by three lengths. The margin was only 2 ½ in his third race and two days after that, he won another stakes race by 1 ½, almost loafin' around the track despite carryin' 130 lbs. As a two-year-old. It's tough for any horse to carry 130 lbs. in a race, no matter what their age. On July 5, a mere one month after runnin' his very first race ever, he won again—and again had to lug 130 lbs. 'round the track.
Count it up. That's five races in four weeks for a two-year-old kid considered too young to run 1 ¼ miles as a three-year-old.
They gave him a month off, then off he went to Saratoga, winnin' wire to wire carryin'—you guessed it—130 lbs. A week later he finally lost—for the first and last time—'cause the man holdin' the reins made a mistake. He was trapped behind horses and by the time he got free, it was too late.
Supposedly the horse had nighmares about the loss—and I believe the stories. There's nothin' worse than losin' to a rival 'cause a human screwed up. True champions always come back stronger, though, and he finished up his two-year-old year by winnin' three more races. Final total for his two-year-old campaign: nine races, usually carryin' 130 lbs., with eight wins.
He didn't run in the Kentucky Derby, though, 'cause he was too young to race 1 ¼ miles in early May.
He opened his three-year-old season by winnin' the Preakness, then the Withers, then, in a real tour-de-force, Man o' War won the Belmont by twenty lengths.
Yep, Man o' War never had a chance at the 1920 Triple Crown 'cause his owner, Samuel Riddle, wouldn't let him run in the Derby.
After the Belmont, he went on to win six more races, includin' the Travers and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
His final race was the Kenilworth (Canada) Gold Cup, dubbed the "Race of the Century," where he faced 1919 Triple Crown winner Sir Barton. It was the first time an entire horserace was filmed—by Edward Muybridge who had been the first to film a runnin' animal. Man o' War easily outran Sir Barton.
Man o' War set track and world records that have never been broken to this day, without ever bein' pushed to his limit. He was retired after the match race and passed on his multiple talents to his descendents. Not only did his son War Admiral win the Triple Crown, another son, Battleship, won the 1938 Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, England.
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posted by Harrison at 10:54 PM
Friday, April 24, 2009
Great Losers – Gallant Man
Last year Big Brown was robbed of his Triple by an inept jockey*, which just goes to show how important it is to make sure the right guy is holdin' the reins. At the moment our country looks pretty much like that Belmont Stakes with the Mutt yankin' us in all sorts of directions 'til we end up waaay on the outside of the track. But I digress…sort of…
We all know even the best leaders—er—jockeys—can screw up at crunch time. (It would be better, though, if they didn't do it right out of the startin' gate like Someone we all know who is Screwin' Up Daily.) In one case, Hall-of-Fame rider Willie Shoemaker managed to pull off the biggest Derby screw-up in history.
Most people are surprised when they learn many of the great racehorses of all time never won, or even raced in, the Kentucky Derby. Gallant Man, f'instance, who's probably more famous for losing.
He was a little horse, barely 15 hands, with lots of talent in a plain brown wrapper. During his brief career, he beat both the great Bold Ruler and Round Table, but was never awarded any championship title. He might have if only he had won the 1957 Kentucky Derby.
But…the man holdin' the reins, Willie Shoemaker, misjudged the finish line and stood up in the irons too early. That slowed Gallant Man's stretch run, and Iron Liege, with Bill Hartack up, inched past to win by a nose. Round Table finished 3rd and Bold Ruler was 4th.
After the Derby, Gallant Man proved himself by demolishin' the field in the Belmont Stakes, includin' favorite Bold Ruler. He won by 8 lengths, settin' the track and race records that stood until Secretariat's 1973 Belmont. He kept winnin' the followin' year until an injured left foreleg forced him into retirement. He went on to sire a number of stakes winners.
Ironically Gallant Man's Derby loss was ultimately avenged by his granddaughter Genuine Risk.
*Two weeks after the Belmont, a picture supposedly showed a dislodged shoe on Big Brown's right hind leg, although nothing was found immediately after the race.
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posted by Harrison at 11:02 PM
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Kibbles 'n Bits®
Move over Miss Piggy, show business has found its new pink-snouted celebrities -- meet Piggy, Lilly, Pauli and Fredi, the stars of Austria's latest reality show "Pig Brother". Starting Monday and for the next six weeks, the four little piglets will be followed by live cameras and their private lives splashed across the Internet, all part of a marketing ploy by a local food fair.
The goal is to be named "Super Pig".
No word on whether the losers are gonna' end up beside two eggs over easy…
They're not doin' anything 'cept eatin' grass, but the headline is worth it…
More proof the U.S. is in major financial trouble.
Police in Austria were shocked to be asked to investigate after a 69-year-old woman was mugged—by an eagle. The pensioner complained that the bald eagle had swooped down and snatched her bag out of her hand. Klara Maier couldn't believe her eyes when the bird, with its 7ft wing span, landed in the street and pulled the handbag open to check the contents.
Every shrink in Britain is callin'.
Ah, yes…brings back fond memories of the time we tossed the cat in the toilet.
Silly Human Female (AHM's former, not-at-all-lamented roommate) thought she'd try toilet trainin' her huge, obnoxious fe-lyin' with one of those "cat seats" they used to sell. AHM pitched a fit, but SHF kept tryin' whenever AHM was at work. We had to take matters into our own paws. Combine motivated pups with a fat cat tryin' to balance on the edge of a toilet and you get a reeeaaally big splash.
Hmmmmm… Sounds like somethin' voters should do to Demo-cats.
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posted by Harrison at 11:04 PM
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Learnin' Something New Every Day
Anyway, since the whole idea here in the U.S. seems to be "bigger is better" (just look at the size of your bathrooms) the Boerboel is gainin' ground. If ya' wanna' follow the progress of just such a "cute and cuddly" (yeah, right) pup, try visitin' the Raising Africa link in the left sidebar.
As long as she doesn't sit on me we can be friends…
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posted by Harrison at 10:42 PM