Ring for Nurse was not exactly an instant success for Le Vine. Once he worked five furlongs in 1:06, which is terribly slow. Then he worked three-quarters of a mile in 1:20, which is even worse. Nobody could understand why Le Vine did not leap off the grandstand roof. "This horse can get himself ready with slow works," he said. "Sure, he's lazy, but this is what I love. He knows what's going on. He relaxes in his stall, but when he gets in a race—bang—he will be beautiful."
Nevertheless, Levy was dumfounded when Le Vine told him that Ring for Nurse would run in an allowance race on June 21 at Monmouth. "You're out of your mind," exploded Levy. "If you want my advice, take him to Liberty Bell and run him against some cheap claimers."
Well, Ring for Nurse won the allowance race by 3� lengths. Then he did go to Liberty Bell, but instead of running against claimers the colt was entered in the Dragoon Stakes on June 28. He won by a neck and set a track record. The partners were delirious with joy, and Levy figured that now would be a good time to unload his share for $10,000. That brought Le Vine storming into Levy's office for a lively conversation that ended with Le Vine saying, "And furthermore, Bobby, I don't want you ever to speak to me again."
"Hey, Don," said Levy, "who do you like in the double today?"
Levy finally decided not to sell his interest, but that was of less concern to Le Vine than the problem of where next to run Ring for Nurse. As Le Vine figured it, there was a choice between the Kindergarten, a $59,000 race at Liberty Bell on Saturday, Aug. 2, or the Sapling at Monmouth the following Thursday.
"The horse looked real good and a $35,000 purse seemed like a lot of money," said Le Vine, "so I thought I'd be real cute. I decided to take a shot at the Kindergarten because all the big guns were going in the Sapling."
Ring for Nurse won the Kindergarten by eight lengths. Somebody offered the partners $100,000 for their colt, but Chirkinian, who by now was feeling like C. V. Whitney, said, "We're frankly planning on going to the Kentucky Derby, and that's why we're not interested in any big profit right now."
The plan was to give the colt a rest after the Kindergarten, so Chirkinian almost choked on his drink Wednesday night, Aug. 6, when the news came that Le Vine had entered Ring for Nurse in the Sapling the next day. "I thought maybe Don should go back to being a stockbroker," he said.
But Le Vine knew what he was doing. "On the Sunday after the Kindergarten he looked like a fresh horse," he said. "He was really on the muscle, like a tiger, shining like bright copper. I called in two vets and we had a consultation. He galloped Wednesday morning and looked good. I went over and quietly put his name in the entry box."
The Sapling field included what so far had been the best 2-year-olds in the country—Insubordination, Irish Castle, Rollicking. Many of the top jockeys—Baeza, Ycaza, Belmonte—came in for the race. Surely, faced with this kind of competition, Ring for Nurse and Mike Miceli were in over their heads. At the start, Ring for Nurse broke quickly, but Miceli took him back. On the stretch turn, Rollicking forced him to the far outside, but Ring for Nurse came on under the whip to win.