As the racing crowd picked up and began to move North, Kenny Noe was letting it be known that his new sensation—"I always knew he was a good horse," Kenny was saying—could be had for a cool $40,000.
At Garden State in New Jersey, almost every horseman on the grounds, including Le Vine, came around to Noe's barn to look the colt over, but the price tag scared them off. Also, Ring for Nurse was his usual miserable self in workouts. As Noe was biding his time, his barn caught fire and burned to the ground. Five of his horses ran back into their stalls and were burned to death. Ring for Nurse had sense enough to stay away, and he was the only one who came out of the tragedy unscathed. The months of April and May passed with a lot of old-fashioned horse bartering between Le Vine and Noe.
"I used to go over there four times a week to look at the colt," Le Vine recalled. "I decided I really wanted to buy him—I had tried to find a fault, but just couldn't do it. The trouble was, I didn't have the $40,000 and Kenny wouldn't budge.
"I called all my owners, and I called a lot of other people I knew, but it's a difficult thing to get people to put up that much money for a horse. Now I wanted this horse badly. I called Bob Levy but he wouldn't buy. I couldn't get anything, and I was sweating it out, because I was afraid I would go over there one day and he would be gone. The price came down to $35,000, and still nobody went. Then one Saturday morning at Monmouth he told me he would take $30,000 I ran off looking for a phone booth."
The first person Le Vine called early that Saturday morning, June 7, was Levy. He asked Levy to put up $15,000 and go half with him. "First Bobby wanted to know why Kenny had dropped the price," Le Vine said. "He was suspicious; he said something was probably wrong with him. He hemmed and hawed around, and finally he said he would put up $10,000 if I could get someone to go the other third. I hung up before he could change his mind."
Now Le Vine had another problem. Who else would be sporting enough to put up a quick $10,000 for a racehorse, sight unseen? Why, Frank Chirkinian, of course. "He just popped into my mind," Le Vine said. "We had a horse before, and I knew Frank had the dough, and I knew he swings."
It was 7 a.m. when the phone rang in Chirkinian's motel room in Chicago, where he had gone on business. Chirkinian may swing, but not at 7 a.m. "I was kinda awake," he says, "but when Don mentioned $10,000 that woke me up. I had to admire any guy who would call me up in the middle of the night and ask for $10,000. So I said O.K. He hung up and I went back to bed, and I thought, 'Hey, that was kind of impetuous,' and then I went back to sleep."
Almost before Chirkinian's head hit the pillow in Chicago, Le Vine was back at Noe's barn. "I told him my man wouldn't put up more than $25,000," Le Vine said, "and then I walked away and stayed away for about a half hour. Then I arranged to bump into him again."
They haggled a while longer, and finally Noe, who by this time was probably chiefly concerned with getting Le Vine out of his hair, agreed to sell for $25,000. "I had the check made out so quick you wouldn't believe it," Le Vine said, "and my groom already was on the way over to Kenny's barn with a halter."
The only thing wrong was that there was no money in the bank to cover Le Vine's check. He called Levy back, explained the situation and coerced Levy into wiring the full amount—$25,000—to cover the check.