Bull jumped as though he had been electrocuted, then kicked a feed tub six feet into the air, sending it crashing out the barn door. "Goddam it!" he hollered. "Not only a filly, but a one-eyed filly!"
He named her Tuerta. Little did he know it at the time but, true to the curious twists and turns of the breeding business, that one-eyed filly would one day help fulfill Bull's ultimate quest.
When Bull died in 1972, Arthur III figured that Claiborne Farm would be his to run. He was, after all, the oldest son and had worked at all levels on the farm. Seth had just graduated from the University of Kentucky and had begun to work at Claiborne full-time. "I wanted to carry on my father's name," Arthur says. "It was what I had been programmed to do."
And, indeed, an executor of Bull's will says Arthur probably would have gotten the job had it not been for Ogden Phipps. Phipps, one of Bull's closest friends and most important clients, had been named by Bull as an adviser to the estate on matters relating to the horses. According to the executor, when Arthur was suggested as the logical candidate, Phipps objected, saying Arthur got drunk and got into fights all the time. Phipps denies this.
But there was no denying Arthur's history as the family rebel or his reputation as a carouser and womanizer. "I was a freewheelin', hard-drinkin', guitar-pickin', bar-brawlin', skirt-chasin' fool," he says. And Arthur did little to endear himself to his father's friends. A couple of months after Bull's death, on the day the farm dispersed some of Bull's racehorses in New York, Arthur showed up at the sale with eyes red from a night of drinking. Already he had sensed a coolness from Phipps, and now there was a distinct chill. Arthur began to suspect that his fate had been determined.
In the executors' meeting at Claiborne that December, he learned that the advisers wanted Seth as president of Claiborne, with Arthur in a subordinate role. Arthur knew instantly what he had to do; there was no chance that Arthur Boyd Hancock III would work for his younger brother.
Arthur stood up, all 6'4" of him, and said, "Y'all run it like you want to. You don't need me anymore. I'm out."
Out the door, that is, and into the Chevy. He hit the gas pedal and fled down the driveway. It was the most crushing moment of his life. Claiborne had been his home, his birthright. Feeling alone and suddenly lost, cut from his roots and his heritage, he was scared, facing things on his own for the first time in his life. "When I was young, I once thought that I wanted to be an explorer," Arthur says. "Well, I was exploring now. It was like crossing the sea from England to America. I thought, You'll find out at least what you're going to do in life and at least you'll do it yourself. If they don't want me, fine. Screw 'em. I'm not gonna hang around if I'm not wanted.
"It's like a song I once wrote: If it's all the same to you, I'll be leavin' in the mornin'. But at the same time I was torn all to pieces."
He felt resentment toward Seth and was filled with bitterness toward Phipps, whom he perceived as the architect of his removal. Arthur stopped in Paris to call his best friend, Paul Sullivan, at a pay phone.