Louisville Magazine

APR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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108 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 4.19 The Prince of Spendthrift Farm Continued from page 59 ose weren't the only two stars coming to Louisville for the 95th Run for the Roses. Top Knight had beaten Arts and Letters in the Florida Derby. A fourth possible star was Dike, a Claiborne Farm horse trained by Lucien Laurin. (Readers will remember Laurin as the trainer later of Riva Ridge and Secretariat.) Dike had won the Wood Memorial in New York under smooth Jorge Velasquez, and owned a Claiborne pedigree filled with imported European blood. e best guess among handicappers was that, if anybody came along late in the Kentucky Derby, it would be Dike. And he did. ere's always more in every horse tale, but the rivalry of Shoemaker and Hartack was real. Shoemaker had given a Derby win to Hartack and horse Iron Liege when Shoemaker, riding Gallant Man, misjudged the finish of the 1957 Derby. Shoemaker had three Derby wins. Hartack had four, one less than the retired Eddie Arcaro, with five. Shoemaker and Arcaro were enormously popular stars, household names of the American sporting scene. Hartack, however, had a hard-bitten edge. He had good friends in the barn area but clashed frequently with reporters. Shoemaker was gentlemanly at all times. But Arcaro would say it for many when he called Hartack "that son-of-a-bitch." In the Derby, Hartack and Shoemaker settled their horses nicely into third and fourth behind speedy Top Knight and longshot Ocean Roar. On the turn for home, Shoemaker slipped Arts and Letters past the tiring leaders on the inside, and Hartack powered around on the outside. Down the stretch, past a roaring crowd, Majestic Prince gained the lead over Arts and Letters. From well back Dike appeared, coming in a drive. Arts and Letters valiantly fought back, but Majestic Prince prevailed by a neck at the wire, with Dike finishing third. One of the greatest stretch battles in Derby history. Two weeks later in Baltimore, Majestic Prince won the Preakness and was favored to take the Belmont Stakes. But Longden had noticed the Prince bearing wide on the Pimlico turns and didn't like it. He did not wish to run his horse in the Belmont, and McMahon agreed. But much like recent experience, when the Triple Crown went decades without a horse being able to win it, the same was true in 1969. It had been 21 years since Citation had won the last one, in 1948, and people were saying the Triple Crown might never happen again. (In 1973, Secretariat kicked off a trio of '70s Triple Crowns. American Pharoah won it in 2015, and Justify did last year.) When McMahon made his announcement about Majestic Prince not running in the Belmont, the New York Post — then, as now, a bastion for the brainless — ran a headline that cried: "Majestic Prince Scared Off by Arts and Letters." Although he agreed with his trainer, McMahon also understood the interest among fans. Majestic Prince would run. In the Belmont, Dike shot to the lead in a surprise. But after a very slow half-mile, Arts and Letters glided to the fore and easily held off Majestic Prince. In footage of the race, one can see the Prince taking second but with a labored stride. Arts and Letters probably would have won anyway — he looked very good — but Majestic Prince came away lame. "When he bore out in the Preakness, that was a warning," Longden later told Christine. "He had a tendon that was weak, and he was tired. He had lost color. I didn't want to run a horse like that in New York. "I was always a believer that you put the horse first, but I was forced to run," Longden added. "It wasn't the mile and a half that stopped my horse; it was that leg of his." Majestic Prince was given the rest of the year off, but when he developed a knot behind his left knee (probably a minor, treatable injury for most horses) he was sent back to Kentucky to stand at stud at Spendthrift Farm. Majestic Prince did not sire a winner of the Kentucky Derby, but his great-grandson, Maria's Mon, sired two: Monarchos in 2001 and Super Saver in 2010. e fortunes of Spendthrift Farm faded in the late 1980s, and the farm and horses were sold off. Combs died in 1990 at the age of 88. But Spendthrift is going strong again today under the ownership of B. Wayne Hughes, with a long roster of stallions and fields full of grazing broodmares and frisky foals. Mahan and his auction team handled the sale of Combs' grand house and the furnishings in it. "Everything in the house, it seemed like a prop, not a work of art," Mahan says. "It was a prop to sell horses, and it was just amazing. He had a wonderful collection of antiques and equine art. But I just thought the reason he had all that was to entertain people from all over the world to sell them horses. You just had that feeling." A RACE About a race Continued from page 63 Several black athletes stepped up to assist the takeover. Members of the Cardinal football team blockaded the entrance when white students, some displaying George Wallace buttons, tried to break in. Medford Lee, a co-captain of the team, had been warned by coaches to "stay away from militants," yet Williams, who joined the players on the steps, recalled that Lee and the other players wound up delaying practice that day. Strickler called the police. Twenty armed riot officers forced their way through and arrested 22 demonstrators, including one unruly counter-protester. Most left without struggle, but Bobby Martin was hauled out of the building by his feet. News photos showed another student, Alvin Bykes, descending the building

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