About one year ago at this time, I had just arrived home from an epic trip that took me back to New Jersey for the first time in 16 years. I saw family, of course, but a big part of my time was spent on my “horse pilgrimage.”
But this post is about where it all began…in the early 60’s when I was about 10 years old.
As a child, I never owned or rode a horse. I was just a kid in the NYC suburbs in love with horses. One time as I lay in bed sick, I learned to draw horses by tracing a small model over and over. I was very good at drawing the heads of horses. At some point, we had a class assignment to create a travel poster and I chose Argentina as my destination. The text read “Come to Argentina…and See the Gauchos!” I drew a running horse with a gaucho with his hat and poncho moving in the wind which was quite good! I probably found a picture and sketched my gaucho from that example.
And then, something happened. I lost touch with horses. I don’t remember if it was because the races weren’t on TV or I just got older and more involved with activities and school.
Fast forward about 55 years…yes, about 55 years or so…as I started to remember my horses from way back when.
As a kid, I remember sitting on Saturday afternoons glued to the old B & W Philco as my mom vacuumed around me. I wasn’t watching cartoons…I was watching racing from Aqueduct Racetrack. I was devoted to the great Kelso, Carry Back, and a less famous competitor named Sunrise County.
What can you say about Kelso? Five times Horse of the Year. 2 mile races? 8 seasons of racing, 63 races, and post-retirement, a second career as a jumper and dressage horse! Stamina, to say the least!
And Carry Back…won the Derby and the Preakness but came up short of the Belmont back in 1961. Carry Back “the little brown colt from the wrong side of the tracks” was a one of those horses who you thought was so far back he could never catch up…but, well watch for yourselves! As a three year old, the Associated Press described him as being a “scrawny, little horse” and weighing no more that 970 pounds…Maybe, but he ran 61 times and was called the “People’s Choice.”
Sunrise County never had the fame and mystique of Kelso and Carry Back, but he is still etched in my mind. Hard to find anything on him, except for a video or two…below the 1962 Wood Memorial, where he earned a foul and was put back to 2nd place…and later in the Derby, he doesn’t show up in the video in contention. Sunrise County ran 41 times, with 10 wins, 10 places and 9 shows. Not famous, but one of those horses who worked hard and showed up and did his job!
So, through the decades, these are the horses that are still with me.
Enjoy the videos…Go back to the early 1960’s and pretend you are a kid on a Saturday afternoon watching the races! Just turn off the cell phone…after all, we didn’t get interrupted by them back then…
Coming soon: The next steps in my return to the horses…