His style of running is simply to go to the front and carry the target. There is, however, an extraordinary quickness to him at the starting gate and he rattles away from it as swiftly as Bold Ruler used to do. There is no higher compliment that can be paid to any horse.
There was something about Never Bend's Flamingo victory, though, that was a little distressing. Leaving the 16th pole he bore out badly. The move wasn't noticed at all by the crowd and could be seen only in the head-on shots in the film patrol. Perhaps, as his stable suggests, he shied away from a claque of photographers inside the inner rail. Maybe—but perhaps, instead, he ducked out because he had had as much distance as he could stomach. When horses tire they drift, and Never Bend was going in his first actual race of 1963 and had an excuse for tiring. (He did have a rather easy exhibition race two weeks ago.)
Never Bend goes to the post next on April 19 in the Forerunner at Keeneland. After that he will be in the Stepping Stone at Churchill Downs. In the meantime Trainer Woody Stephens will merely breeze the colt in Columbia, S.C., getting him out of the Florida heat. "I believe," he says, "that this heat over a long period of time has got to sap the energy out of a man or a horse. In Columbia it is cooler, and we will just breeze him easy half miles or five furlongs."
For the next few weeks Never Bend will be out of sight, out of print, but certainly not out of anyone's mind. Right now Candy Spots weighs heavily on Captain Guggenheim's mind, and Never Bend should weigh as much on Rex Ellsworth's. The Derby is strictly a two-horse affair, and the characteristics of the competitors make for an outstanding race—Never Bend is a front-runner; Candy Spots rolls on from behind. You pays your money and you takes your choice—but in either case the payoff on your bet is likely to be modest.