The Argentine experiment
For several years, as his winning totals increased, Winick was known only as a trainer of second-grade horses. In 1959, however, Mrs. Herbert Herff turned over Tudor Era to him, and Winick started the horse in the Man o' War at Aqueduct. It was Winick's first $100,000 race, and Tudor Era won. Other owners began to give him quality horses then, and began to allow him considerable leeway in training and racing them. A born experimenter, Winick also expanded his interests in other directions. "I began reading magazines from the Argentine," he says. "In 1961 I got interested in a horse down there named Sensitivo, flew down to see him, had a vet look him over and bought him for Mr. R. F. Ben-singer." Last year Sensitivo was one of our best distance horses, winning the Gallant Fox and Display handicaps. Winick currently has nine Argentine horses in training. "I believe," he says, "that they have exceptional ability and that American methods will make them run better."
Winick's method with his horses is to be at the track each morning at 6, either at Hialeah or Gulfstream Park. (With over 50 horses to bring to hand it is necessary for him to stable at two tracks—stall space in racing today is too precious for any track to give 50 stalls to any one stable.) He examines each of his horses like a doctor making his morning rounds in a hospital. Instead of taking his horses out to the training track in large groups he prefers training two or three at a time so that he can watch each one closely. He then spends considerable time thinking over what each one did in training and what each should be able to do during the afternoon and in upcoming races.
Of all the horses under Winick's care today, Swapson, the most expensive Thoroughbred yearling ($130,000) ever sold at public auction in the United States, is drawing particular interest. In 1961 Winick tried to buy Swapson at the Keeneland Summer Sales for Ben-singer but John Olin outbid them. Two days after the sale Olin called Winick and said, "Arnold, you liked that colt quite a bit, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Winick.
"Would you like to train him?" asked Olin.
"Yes!" said Winick.
Swapson got shipping sickness in the spring of 1962 and nearly died. Winick stayed up nights with the colt and nursed him back to health, only to have him buck his shins in the early summer. Swapson finally got to the races last fall, won his first race and then was beaten in his second. Last Thursday, Swapson made his first start of 1963 and was third. "He is definitely one of my Derby horses," says Winick, "and he's got the stuff to be one of the best 3-year-olds around."
Winick's skill as a developer of jockeys as well as horses is also on display this year, in the person of 18-year-old apprentice John Beebe, who rides most of the stable's top horses. Beebe, another native of Glenview, was a success on the horse show circuit and once worked as an exercise boy for Carl Hanford, the trainer of Kelso. Two years ago Beebe was out of a job at Christmastime and thumbed through a copy of the Daily Racing Form to see who the top trainers were. He saw Winick's name atop the list at Tropical Park, called him and was hired. Winick gave Beebe his first mount, then his first winner, and Beebe is now the top apprentice at Hialeah and may become the Ronnie Ferraro of 1963.
With the major spring stakes coming up, Arnold Winick will be the man in the East to watch in Thoroughbred racing. In those cities where newspapers are still published, the chances are you will be able to watch him just by looking at the headlines.