Indeed, Arthur and Stone Farm had still not achieved anything near the stature of Claiborne. Seth had done a splendid job of keeping the Claiborne barns filled with some of the best prospects in racing and developing such leading sires as Mr. Prospector and Danzig. In 1979, Claiborne won an Eclipse Award for breeding.
In 1984 a bay colt named Swale became the first Kentucky Derby winner owned by Claiborne; Seth, at last, had fulfilled his father's fondest dream. Swale, unlike Gato Del Sol and much in the Claiborne tradition, was regally bred, a son of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. And the dam? None other than the one-eyed Tuerta, at whose birth Bull had kicked the feed tub out of the barn.
Despite his success with Stone Farm, Arthur still had problems; his new work ethic was tainted by his old play ethic. Although he had become a family man with four children and had begun to build a grand stone house on a hilltop, a place suitable for a successful Kentucky breeder, he still suffered bouts of self-destruction. "I always felt like John Wayne, the rancher, going into town for a drink after the cattle drive, shootin' it up in the saloon with the boys. I went into Paris to drink. But one night I landed in the police station for four hours and I was thinkin' about my children and my wife at home, and tears ran down my cheeks. I thought, Ain't this something? Would they be proud of Daddy? That day changed my life. I've hardly had a drink since. That day in the police station was really the bottom for me."
Arthur started climbing toward the top in 1984, when Halo, an expensive stallion, began stud duties at Stone Farm. When one of Halo's sons, Sunday Silence, won this year's Kentucky Derby, Arthur found himself, along with his two co-owners, floating to the winner's circle for the second time in seven years.
Arthur has made a kind of peace with Seth—he was best man at Seth's wedding two years ago, and they have a cordial, if not affectionate, relationship. But Arthur's hostility toward Phipps, while diminished, has not disappeared. Phipps, for all his success in breeding and racing, has never had a Derby winner. When Sunday Silence won the Derby, he beat the odds-on favorite Easy Goer, Phipps's horse. For Arthur the vengeance was sweet. "It was poetic justice," he says. "He once prevented me from having what I most wanted in life, and in the Derby I prevented him from having what he wanted too. I hope he wins the Derby next year—unless I'm in it."
If Sunday Silence should win the Breeders' Cup, it will crown the long comeback for Arthur. At times he wonders how he ever got where he is. "You look back and say, 'How did you do that?' I could have been a half-assed songwriter out in L.A., pickin' a guitar, gettin' drunk a couple of times a week, writin' songs. It's amazing I ended up where I am."
He certainly has left his old life-style. He has had four brief slips in four years. "I can't drink," he says. "Each time I did, it was the same thing. I got a visit from R.E. Morse. And then the depression, guilt, sadness. It's like I'm not even the same person when I drink. Know what I mean? Who was the bad one, anyway, Jekyll or Hyde?"
He looks out the window of his study, past the shelves of gleaming trophies and out across the rolling fields of soft grass. "I think it worked out well for me and for Claiborne," he says. "I'm sure Daddy would be proud of me."