This year the
Kentucky Derby will have its own song-and-dance team. The hoofing will be done
by the appropriately named Tap Shoes, winner of the Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah.
The singing will be done by one of the colt's owners, Arthur B. Hancock III.
When he's not tending to his breeding farm near Paris, Ky., Hancock dabbles in
country music. In fact, he is almost as excited about his first record album,
to be released in June, as he is about Tap Shoes' chances of winning the
The name of the
album, which was recorded at the Sound Emporium in Nashville, is A Horse of a
Different Color, and Tap Shoes will be featured on the cover. Not that the
album's 10 songs, all written and sung by Hancock, have anything to do with
horses. They're mostly good ol' cheatin', drinkin', and lovin' songs with
titles like Divorcee after Dawn and If It's All the Same to You, I'll Be
Leaving in the Morning.
Hancock, 38, is
from one of the oldest and wealthiest of the Bluegrass blueblood families. His
father, the late A.B. (Bull) Hancock Jr., is remembered as perhaps the most
influential breeder of all time. The elder Hancock acquired the splendid
imported sires Princequillo and Nasrullah, and at the time of his death
Claiborne Farm was the home of the great stallions Buckpasser, Herbager,
Nijinski II and Round Table.
Arthur's love of
horses came from his father, his love of music from his mother's side of the
family. As a youngster, he often spent summers in Nashville with his maternal
grandmother, who took him to see Hank Williams at the Grand Ole Opry.
" Williams was
unbelievable," says Hancock. "I remember we sat next to three young
girls who cried the entire day. When I heard he died [in a car accident], I
cried all day."
Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, to be near the pickers and singers. In
Nashville, too, he met an aspiring musician named Kris Kristofferson. Like
Kristofferson, he began to write country songs.
In 1968 Hancock
wrote and recorded a number called What of Tomorrow? which reached No. 1
briefly in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Greenville, S.C. The record sold about
15,000 copies, and Hancock appeared on television with Bobbie Gentry.
"By then I'd
also gone to work for Daddy on the racetrack," Hancock says. "I knew
that to make it in music, I'd have to give up the farm. On the other hand, I
could still work on the farm and write music whenever I felt like it. So I
chose the life of the horse business and farming."
As a college
student, Arthur was known to have a taste for fast cars, pretty women and good
times. His interest in country music added to his reputation as the maverick of
the Hancock clan, and it came as no surprise that, a few months after his
father's death, in 1972, Arthur left Claiborne and struck out on his own. Under
the terms of the will, Claiborne was to be run by executors under the guidance
of a panel of advisers. That was too confining for Arthur, who likes to do
things his own way.
with 100 leased acres and a few broodmares. Today his Stone Farm, which is just
down the road from Claiborne, covers 2,500 acres and is the home of 10
stallions, including Cougar II, Hawaiian Sound and 1976 Kentucky Derby winner