MADE IN U.S.A.
This is a dark brown, quiet horse. His head is heavy, square, wide between the eyes. He is 22 years old, not particularly handsome and a bit crotchety—he hates for anyone to touch his nose and he raises his head and complains bitterly in a loud whine if his rolled oats are late at mealtime. His name is Bull Lea—and in an era when American breeders rush to import foreign stallions (Nasrullah, Tulyar, Khaled, Princequillo) on the theory that their bloodlines will be superlatively successful in this country, Bull Lea, as American as Saratoga chips, has been pretty successful himself.
Bull Lea was good but not sensational on the track, where he earned $95,000 for Calumet Farm. In his own Kentucky Derby, that of 1938, he finished eighth. But within a few years his sons had begun to make a name for him at Churchill Downs. His first great one was named Citation, and Citation took the Derby in 1948 and went on to win a million dollars. In 1952 it was Bull Lea's son Hill Gail who won the Derby. Between 1941 and 1956 his offspring earned Calumet more than $11 million. And at Churchill Downs last week it was another son of Bull Lea—Iron Liege—who took another Derby for the old man. As a matter of fact, if still another son, Gen. Duke, hadn't turned up with a sore foot in Derby week, Bull Lea's boys might very well have finished 1-2. In the circumstances, and thinking of such sons of foreign sires as Bold Ruler (by Nasrullah), Round Table (by Princequillo) and Shan Pac (by Shannon II), all of whom finished up the track to Iron Liege, old Bull Lea might almost have permitted himself an elderly horse laugh.
At 22 he is the human equivalent of a sexagenarian, but he is still siring sons and daughters. He dozed in his lush stall at Lexington, while his son was winning the Derby. A quarter of a mile away, four foals, all sired by him and as yet unnamed, romped in a meadow—very much as the young, then unnamed Iron Liege romped three years ago this spring.
Down the freshly brushed paths of Calumet in the barn for two-year-olds stood one of his daughters, due to go to the races sometime soon. "That's Gold Flame," a groom said proudly. "A Bull Lea filly. Look out for her. She can go."
FOG IN THE STRETCH
The TV network for the Kentucky Derby was the largest ever—more than 200 stations—and presumably the audience was also the largest ever: millions of Americans who could not be at Churchill Downs but were set, from motives of love, profit, compulsion or plain curiosity, to watch the 83rd running of the Derby. They depended, of course, on one eye, the surrogate Cyclops of the TV camera. Well, Cyclops caught a fine race and once or twice—a commendable novelty in telecasting—gandered at the lighted tote board and actually let watchers see the shifting prerace odds. Alas, Cyclops also got careless.
As Federal Hill, Mr. Jive, Bold Ruler, Iron Liege and the rest came sweeping past the stands on the way to the first turn, a foglike blur spread across your screen. A little less than two minutes later, as announcer Fred Capossela shouted, "Iron Liege has taken the lead, but Gallant Man is closing on the outside!" the fog closed in again.
What was it? Your set? Real fog? The handle-bar mustache of some Kentucky colonel? None of these, said CBS inconsolably next day. Just the out-of-focus bulk of another CBS camera, set up too close to the traversing lens of the first camera.
Cyclops resolves to do better next year. Said CBS: "We'll find a different location, all right."