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May 17, 2014

Kentucky Derby and Middletown Delaware





We enjoyed the Kentucky Derby the first Saturday in May, 2014. California Chrome won, and he is the projeny of Northern Dancer. The AARP May Bulletin had a feature stating that fifty years ago a sleeper named Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby.

Middletown is a small town south of Newark and north of Townsend in the state of Delaware. Some people think it is a backwater town with nothing going on. Middletown is a bedroom community, meaning people live here and work elsewhere, but the state border of this part of Delaware is with Chesapeake City, Maryland, which at one time was the home of two of the most famous race horses in history: Northern Dancer and Kelso.  Windfield’s Farm, home of Northern Dancer, and Woodstock Farm, home of Kelso, are across the road from each other. These farms are on a road only a few miles west of the Summit Shopping Center and Summit Aviation. Information about both race horses follows. The information was gleaned from several articles found via Google.

Of personal interest, between 1964 and 1980, I owned and operated my dress shop, named Patricia F. Hawkins, located where Summit Dental is today, at the end of the Summit Aviation property. Across the road on the north side of Boyd’s Corner Road was a little country store, and on the south side of Boyd’s Corner Road was another country store and big grain elevators. All around us were farms. Since the population was so small, we all knew each other and socialized together. There did not seem to be a separation of cultures; it was all relaxed and friendly. We all shared in the excitement of Northern Dancer and the memory of Kelso. At one time, racing colors became fashionable and I bought a lot of women’s clothing in those colors, surprising the salesmen, who did not understand we had famous racing farms here. Of course, they sold well.


Northern Dancer, The Patriarch Stallion, “stood”, or lived at Windfield Farm in Chesapeake City, Maryland. If there's a heaven for horses, then California Chrome's great-great-grandsire will be peering down at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday to see whether his progeny can do what he did 50 years ago: win the Preakness and, with it, the first two legs of racing's Triple Crown.  Northern Dancer was owned by Canadian E.P. Taylor, and after four breeding seasons E.P. Taylor set his sights on the U. S.’s top broodmares.  Confounding conventional wisdom, he bypassed Kentucky and sent Northern Dancer to Chesapeake City, Maryland. Mr. Taylor was familiar with the region from his stays at Mrs. Allaire duPont’s Woodstock Farm in the 1960’s when her gelding Kelso was racking up five consecutive “Horse of the Year” honors. On one particular visit the late Mrs. duPont inquired, “Eddie, why don’t you get your own place?  My neighbor lives in a falling down house, let me see if she’ll sell it.” Taylor purchased the 200-acre farm in July 1968 and set up Windfields’ American breeding operation. There, for 19 years, Northern Dancer serviced mares who cranked out thoroughbreds the likes of whom the racing world had never seen — including Nijinsky II (1970 English Triple Crown), El Gran Senor (twice European champion) and The Minstrel (British Horse of the Year). His prowess translated to stud fees that soared from an initial $10,000 for a live foal to $500,000, no guarantee, in 1984. However, private deals saw a $1 million change hands for the services of the world’s top sire. Taylor was offered an astounding $40 million for Northern Dancer in 1981. He was 20 years old. One shareholder wired back: “Over my dead body!” When he was pensioned at age 26, Northern Dancer’s lifetime stud fees tallied up to $117,752,000. All told, Northern Dancer sired a record 147 stakes winners and offspring who sold for $183.7 million. In 1983, one of his yearlings brought a then-record $10.2 million at the Keeneland (Ky.) Sales. In his prime, his stud fee reached $1 million, regardless of whether the foal lived. "His semen is literally worth its weight in gold," Windfields manager Joe Hickey once said. It was more than his owner, Canadian multimillionaire E.P. Taylor could have asked of the colt — a grandson of the great Native Dancer  — whom he'd tried unsuccessfully to sell for $25,000 as a yearling. (In 1980, the Taylor-led syndicate turned down an offer of $40 million for Northern Dancer, then 20.) A good article to read is here: http://www.eleganthorsepictures.com/northern-dancer-pictures.html.


Kelso, the most successful gelding in racing history and one of the finest horses to ever step on an American racetrack also lived in Chesapeake City at Woodstock Farm. You can see Kelso’ picture in the restaurant The Bayard House on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal at Chesapeake City, MD.  Kelso’s owner, Allaire duPont, named the horse after a friend, Kelso Everett. With Kelso’s cantankerous nature only getting worse as he grew, duPont decided to have him gelded. It didn’t help. Kelso remained stubborn and difficult throughout his life. Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Arcaro became the regular rider and raced in the name of Allaire’s Bohemia Stable.  Kelso's triumphs on the track attracted a large following of loyal fans. He received tons of mail, for which he was given his own mailbox at Woodstock Farm in Maryland. The famous horse even had his own fan club, which nicknamed him King Kelly. His loyal supporters were present every time he ran, often waving banners that proclaimed their love for their hero. After Kelso's retirement from racing, Mrs. Allaire duPont frequently took him foxhunting with the Vicmead Hunt in Delaware and the Andrew's Bridge Hunt in Pennsylvania, and he also spent time making public appearances. Kelso passed away in 1983, shortly after making a final appearance at Belmont Park in the company of the horses Forego and John Henry, and he is buried at Mrs. Allaire duPont's farm in Maryland. 

 Arcaro, however, retired in early 1962. Thirty-five years later, during his final public appearance, Arcaro was being honored at Lone Star Park in Texas. He was having dinner with Chick Lang, former executive vice president and general manager at Pimlico. “Eddie, the stock question everyone always asks is, who’s the best horse you’ve ever ridden?” asked Lang. “And you’ve always answered Citation.” Arcaro responded: “Chick, I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anybody, and I promised to myself I would never say it unless I outlived Jimmy Jones (Citation’s trainer). I’d never say this in public while Jimmy is still alive, because if I did, he’d be on the phone the next day and he’d be really upset with me. But between you and me, I’m going to tell you right here and now that the greatest horse I ever rode, without question, was Kelso. He could do anything. He could sprint, go two miles, run on off tracks, fast tracks, inside, outside – anything.” To read a great article about Kelso, go here: http://www.racingmuseum.org/hall-of-fame/kelso.asp.



A great picture of the late Allaire duPont.


It may seem that the 1960's through 1983, was a long time ago, but those times are still fresh in our memories, along with many adventures during our younger years. Middletown may have been a small town, but we had our share of characters and the kinds of adventures only a small town and close relationships make possible. 

As you have read, nearby we did have two of the most famous thoroughbred race horses in history. By the way, Chesapeake City, Maryland is a very small town, too.




May 12, 2014

Meet King Taurus




Meet King Taurus

King Taurus and Lady Venus were enjoying their domain. A red chariot sped by, screeched to a halt and backed up. The red chariot stopped in front of them and a lithe, quick King Aries hopped out to greet them. King Aries introduced himself, called Knight Mars over and began a conversation. It was not long before Knight Mars eyed Lady Venus, provoking a comment from King Taurus: "She is mine." That did not deter Knight Mars from flirting with Lady Venus anyway, since he is so assertive and charming.

King Aries wanted to see King Taurus' chariot, so they walked to the garage. King Taurus' chariot was sturdy and earth green and brown in color. King Taurus told King Aries that he prefers to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground and really did not enjoy flying about at great speeds, so he created this well-built, dependable chariot for himself and Lady Venus. Although a sturdy chariot, King Taurus had it fitted luxuriously, purchased on sale, of course. Lady Venus was happy with the chariot and made sure King Taurus was well taken care of. King Taurus drove the chariot with  Lady Venus at his side. They enjoyed slow drives around their kingdom to admire nature.

Lady Venus made King Aries and Knight Mars comfortable, serving them yummy food. Later King Taurus showed King Aries where he kept his pet bull, which was in a pen filled with ample food. King Aries was surprised to see that his pet ram was in a pen next to the bull. King Taurus said that the ram wandered over to his farm one day looking for company when King Aries and Knight Mars were on one of their adventures. King Taurus was happy to build a fenced pen for the Aries ram, but expected King Aries to compensate him. King Aries was happy with this arrangement because it left him free for his adventures.

King Taurus was proud of his domain and the crops he had planted to be harvested later in the year with King Virgo. He showed King Aries around, continually commenting on how much he has, how beautiful it all is, and that "it is all mine."

After a while Lady Venus went inside to get King Taurus' checkbook to be balanced, something King Taurus enjoyed. He even offered to help King Aries keep his money in order. When King Taurus sat down to count his money, King Aries realized it was time to be on his way, but not before making King Taurus and Lady Venus laugh because of his good humor.

When the pleasant visit was over, King Taurus commented to Lady Venus that King Aries is a likeable guy, but he was so energetic and adventuresome, he could wear King Taurus out. King Taurus sensed that King Aries was so impulsive he did not give King Taurus enough time to think things through before making a decision.

King Aries commented to Knight Mars that King Taurus was a nice guy, but he was so practical and deliberate that he would slow King Aries down. Knight Mars said to King Aries that  King Taurus was loyal, honest and steadfast and could be depended upon. That pleased King Aries, for he could then ask King Taurus to manage his money for him.

Since they are next door neighbors, though, they decided to get along and appreciate each other, even though they are of different temperaments.




What is happening with Taurus now?

Pluto, Neptune and Jupiter indicate good opportunities for financial gain, romantic or creative activities and practical re-organization. However, Saturn reveals responsibility with or about older people or career. If Taurus is too stubborn, there could be control issues in a relationship.

Pluto, Uranus and Cancer are in contention with each other, but do not affect Taurus adversely, as they do to the cardinal signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.