Allaire duPont, daughter of a Philadelphia stockbroker, is a pretty wonderful addition to racing herself. She has not only demonstrated her sportsmanship by racing Kelso against all comers, but she has been one of the country's most active sportswomen off the track. As a member of a dynamic clan of sports doers (duPonts race, ride, hunt, fly, glide and even float around in balloons), Allaire is a shade less active today than she was as the young wife of Richard C. duPont in the years before World War II. But not much. She only recently gave up being Master of Foxhounds for the Vicmead Hunt, located near her 800-acre Woodstock Farm in Chesapeake City, Md., but still turns out regularly to follow the hounds as a member of the hunt. One thing she has given up is flying. "My husband was crazy about flying," she says, "and just before the war he got very interested in gliding. We used to go up to Elmira, N.Y. regularly to glide. At one time, I held both the ladies' altitude record, probably about 5,000 feet, and the endurance record—just a couple of hours, I think. Of course, the only reason I held the records, I'm sure, is that there weren't many other lady glider pilots at the time."
Richard duPont went off to war as a special assistant to Air Force General Hap Arnold and took part in the invasion of Sicily. Brought home to test the newest gliders, he was killed in a crash in California in 1943. After the war Allaire gave up flying for good, but her children continue the family tradition. Richard Jr., 26, served as a pilot for Mohawk Airlines for a year and now owns and manages the airport at Middletown, Del., where he also has the Cessna dealership. Allaire's only daughter, Lana, 24, is a licensed pilot herself, but her forte is horses—not so much in racing (although she has a few in her own name with Carl Hanford) as in riding. She is now, in fact, in training at Gladstone, N.J. for a try at making the 1964 Olympic equestrian team as a three-day-event specialist. Her chances of making it may not be 1 to 9, but they are at least even money.
Allaire duPont's racing operation does not compare with the major stables. She has only six horses with Hanford and another half a dozen yearlings on the farm. She has 14 broodmares and one stallion that she owns outright. In addition to these modest holdings, Mrs. duPont owns shares in the syndication of such stallions as Princequillo, Turn-to, Nantallah, Ambiorix, Pied d'Or and Ambehaving, the last probably the best horse she herself owned until Kelso came along.
Kelso was foaled in 1957, the product of Mrs. duPont's Count Fleet mare, Maid of Flight, and the California sprinter, Your Host, whose bravery Allaire admired after he broke a leg but survived to stand successfully at stud. Allaire named him for her friend, Mrs. Kelso Everett, who ran a bureau for people who wanted to play host to their friends and needed advice.
When he was a yearling, it was decided to geld Kelso. He was not particularly intractable—one frequent reason for gelding—but he was a smallish colt. Gelding horses appeals to many trainers because it often promotes their growth, and they also become more manageable. The decision, in which Mrs. duPont concurred, may have cost her close to a million dollars in potential stud fees, but this does not seem to bother her in the least.
At that stage in his life, no one could foresee the quality that lay hidden inside Kelso's scrawny frame, and though he is just about flawless as a runner today, he has never impressed anyone as a picture horse. In his 2-year-old season Kelso raced only three times—winning once, placing twice and earning the grand total of $3,380. The following year he started to hit his stride. Brought along slowly and cautiously, however, Kelso was not trained for any of the Triple Crown races. This is one reason why the general racing public has taken four years to recognize his greatness—a Kentucky Derby winner automatically becomes a hero on the strength of one much-publicized victory.
After a loss in Chicago in midsummer of 1960, Kelso was unbeatable: six successive wins, earnings of $293,310 and his first Horse of the Year title. The next year he won seven of nine starts, $425,565 and another title. In 1962, six wins in 12 races and his third title.
When will Allaire duPont retire her star? Well, she is already making plans for a winter campaign at either Hialeah or Santa Anita after Laurel. Gazing at him fondly and seriously the other day, she remarked, "Oh, you know, one of these days the bubble will burst. But until it does he'll race as long as he can run with the best, hold his own with the best and seems to be enjoying it. If he's ever hurting he'll come home to the farm. That's where he belongs, and he may enjoy that, too."