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Taking a quantum jump
John Papanek
October 10, 1977
Trying to boost their sport into the big time, organizers of the American Jumping Derby offered a $73,000 purse and got Linda Blair to award the blue ribbon
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October 10, 1977

Taking A Quantum Jump

Trying to boost their sport into the big time, organizers of the American Jumping Derby offered a $73,000 purse and got Linda Blair to award the blue ribbon

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But spirits were not affected. In the traditional Calcutta on Saturday night, the derby favorite was Idle Dice, commanding a price of $1,750. The aged gelding, known as The Dice, or Ike, has won more than $250,000 in purses, more than any other horse in America. The ultimate winner, Jet Run, just a baby as jumpers go, brought $1,625—from Baker, his own trainer.

Dixon had recently purchased Jet Run from Fernando Senderos of Mexico, who had won the gold medal in the individual stadium jumping event in the 1975 Pan-American Games with him. The price was whispered to be in the neighborhood of $250,000, which might be the most ever paid in this country for a show horse. "We bought the horse and sold the farm," said Mrs. Dixon, none too convincingly. As was pointed out, last year her husband had paid $6 million for a jumper named Julius Erving.

Of the first 22 horses to try the soggy 18-obstacle, 24-jump course, only four, including Idle Dice, went around with as few as eight faults (four are assessed for each fence knocked down). Then Michael Matz, the 26-year-old Olympian, who had never ridden Jet Run in competition, guided the horse through a perfect round. A bit later, Bernie Traurig rode The Cardinal to a clean run, but he was seven seconds over the 200-second time limit.

Matz accepted the silver Insilco Cup as the leading rider. Baker, jumping up and down, won $7,000 in the Calcutta, Linda Blair pinned one blue ribbon on Jet Run and Mrs. Dixon pocketed $12,000 in mad money. "I only wish Fitzy were here," she said. "But he's in training camp."

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