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NASHUA'S SIRE AND MR. FITZ
Whitney Tower
November 01, 1954
In the unpredictable sport of horse racing, 1954's big news has been made by an Aga Khan castoff and a remarkable 80-year-old trainer. Together, Nasrullah and Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons are enjoying some of turfdom's greatest success
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November 01, 1954

Nashua's Sire And Mr. Fitz

In the unpredictable sport of horse racing, 1954's big news has been made by an Aga Khan castoff and a remarkable 80-year-old trainer. Together, Nasrullah and Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons are enjoying some of turfdom's greatest success

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The luck which Mr. Fitz says plays such a vital role in racing also played, it seems, an even more vital role in his own career. After a few frustrating seasons as an 85-pound jockey around the eastern tracks in the 1890s, young Fitz was hustling for rides and eating money with steadily diminishing success. His mother-in-law stepped into the picture in 1900 and told the lean youngster that she had arranged a steady job for him as a motorman on a Philadelphia trolley. "You don't think," says Fitz today, "that I would have lived 80 years by driving one of those things, do you?" On the day he was scheduled to report for his first run, he chanced to meet a friend, Hugh Hodges, who was then training for Colonel Edward deV. Morrell. Hodges offered the young man a job, and from then on horses?not trolleys?were again the center of Fitz's life. The start with Hodges led slowly to an association as a trainer with such racing figures as John Moran, Joseph E. Davis, Herbert L. Pratt, Howard Maxwell and eventually to the successful alliance made with the Phipps and Woodward families.

Nasrullah and Mr. Fitz today live over 600 miles apart, Nasrullah at Hancock's 2,200-acre Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., Fitzsimmons in a two-story, six-room house in Long Island's Ozone Park. Except for the hope that more of Nasrullah's offspring will come to him for training, there is no bond between the two. At Claiborne, Nasrullah lives, as always, like a king?or an Aga Khan. One of 12 active stallions on the place, he shares a concrete and hollow-tile stallion barn with five other horses. In the same barn are Dark Star, Ambiorix, Princequillo, Hill Prince and Turn-To. From 7 to 11 each morning he is turned out in his own private paddock, and spends the rest of the time (except during the February to June breeding season) eating and sleeping?and being paraded out for visitors. "He's actually a pretty spoiled horse," says Hancock. "If visitors want to look at another stallion first, he'll kick up a hell of a fuss in his stall as if to say, 'There's no point in looking at those bums when you can look at me.' In a way perhaps he's right. I think he's the grandest looking horse I ever saw."

CHEERY AND COURTEOUS
Mr. Fitz has no similar necessity to be regarded as No. 1 in his field. Visitors find him cheery and courteous at the training barns, the race track or in the parlor at Ozone Park, ready to talk horses in the manner of a man still looking for his first win. His day is a busy one. Up at 5:30 to supervise the morning workouts, a short midmorning nap, a full afternoon at the track and several evening hours looking at "that damn machine that keeps me up too late" (his favorite programs: Arthur Godfrey, Ed Sullivan). A nonsmoker, Fitz will share an occasional sherry or rum cocktail with guests, spends lots of time puttering around the kitchen or caring for his back-yard rose garden. When he drives home in his 1953 Pontiac, which he handles cautiously and well within speed limits, a few youngsters usually greet him at the walk to inquire about his day's racing success. One afternoon recently a youngster, after escorting him to his front door, confided to a friend, "I have no grandfather, so I pretend Mr. Fitz is my grandfather. He's my idea of one."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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