I always heard
that horse racing was the sport of kings and now I know. I have to confess that
it is far too rich for my plebeian blood.
You may have heard
of a filly named Nubile. At Aqueduct on July 6 she dared to run against the
great Cicada and was beaten by only a neck. Next Saturday at Delaware Park,
Nubile will run in the New Castle Stakes. The following Saturday, July 27, she
will run in the Delaware Handicap, the richest race in the world for female
horses. If she should win these two—and you have to give her a chance off her
record—she could earn $156,000 in eight days.
Wouldn't you like
to own her? Unless you happen to be a king, don't answer too fast. I own
her—and, being just a commoner, I'm not sure I like it at all.
dreams of some day owning a racehorse, and I have been a horseplayer for 39
years. Every owner dreams of having a stakes horse, and I have been an owner
for six years. Nubile is my dream come true, the fulfillment of all my
ambitions. I should be delirious with joy. I should be singing from morning
till night. Am I delirious? No. Am I singing? No. What am I? I'm worried,
Owning horses used
to be fun. I started with a $4,000 mare named Wedding Ring. The trainer who
helped me buy her assured me that I couldn't possibly lose, since she was worth
more than that as a broodmare even if she never won a race. She immediately won
a $950 purse at Florida's Sunshine Park. Then she ran third at Delaware Park,
and my delight knew no bounds.
As all too often
happens in horse racing, Wedding Ring went lame. Lame, schmame. All I had to do
was sell her as a broodmare and start over with another horse. But again, as so
often happens in racing, I had been too optimistic. Nobody wanted to buy her as
a broodmare. I tried to give her away in return for her first foal. Still no
takers. So I found myself forced into the breeding business. I put her on a
Kentucky farm and bred her to a young and untried stallion named Distillate—not
so much because of his bloodlines, though his bloodlines were spectacular, but
because at that stage of his career he was free.
veterinarian said Wedding Ring was in foal, the hope that springs almost
eternal in the horseplayer's breast started to spring once more. Perhaps
Wedding Ring had been a bad investment as a racehorse, but now she would drop a
fine big colt that would put my stable in the black.
With my luck being
what it was, she dropped not a colt but a filly. I named her Nubile, which was
another mistake. I thought it was generally known that Nubile is pronounced
"nooble" (to rhyme with ruble) and means ripely marriageable. But even
Fred Capossela at Aqueduct, who is supposed to be the world's most erudite race
caller, pronounces it new-beel and seems to feel that it has some sort of
connection with the auto industry.
Nubile was fun,
though unprofitable, as a 2-year-old. She once worked a half mile in a fast
.46, keeping that hope springing. But she never had enough success to be
worrisome, nothing better than fourth. Then last year, in her first start as a
3-year-old, a $6,000 claiming race at Pimlico, she won so easily that,
paradoxically, all the fun began to disappear. When you have a cheap horse, you
can blithely enter it in claiming races, not caring and sometimes even half
hoping that somebody will take it away from you. You can be pleased when it
runs fourth and earns $125, delighted when it runs third and earns $250,
delirious when it runs second and earns $500 and absolutely out of your mind
when it wins and earns $1,425. When you have a good horse, you start to
Suppose you have
too little faith, enter it in a $10,000 claimer, lose it—then watch it go on to
win a couple of hundred thousand for its new owner? On the other hand, suppose
you keep running the horse over its head, never winning even a nickel in
purses, until you have broken its heart and destroyed its will to win?