Late of a Tuesday night in July 1974, in the crescent-shaped pavilion at the Keeneland Summer Sales, Nelson Bunker Hunt was studying the sales catalog when the pedigree of a yearling filly caught his eye. He leaned over to Ted Curtin, one of his Irish trainers.
"Did you see this filly?" asked Hunt, one of the world's leading thoroughbred breeders and owners.
"No," said Curtin, scanning his list. 'I haven't got her marked."
"Slip out and have a look at her."
Curtin was gone—up the staircase and out the door, to where the yearlings, coming from the barn, are marshaled for the sale. Curtin spotted the filly. "A possibility on paper," he recalls thinking, "but too big, a big, plain filly. Not our type."
He was about to return to the pavilion when, by chance, he spotted a bay colt that attracted him at once—a son of Vaguely Noble, Hunt's own stallion. Curtin liked him in spite of a flaw: the youngster's pastern bones, extending from hoof to ankle, were set too high.
Still, the colt filled Curtin's eye. "It's like you go to a dance and see a woman you like," he says. "She appeals to you. You can't say why, but there's something about her, the way she carries herself, that appeals to you. He was like that. To me an ideal type of horse—compact, athletic-looking, beautifully balanced."
Curtin slipped back into his seat in the sales pavilion.
"There's a colt coming in that we buy," he said.
Hunt was puzzled. "What about the filly?" he asked.