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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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 4.19 59 Top: Majestic Prince (No. 8) battled Arts and Letters to the Derby finish line. Photo courtesy of Keeneland Library. Bottom: Leslie Combs II (right, at a yearling sale) was a master horse salesman. One client, Florence Nightingale Graham (second from right), founded the cosmetics empire Elizabeth Arden and would ship her horse trainers Eight Hour Cream to rub on her horses' legs. Photo courtesy of Keeneland Library Majestic Prince won twice as a two- year-old, then swept four stakes races at age three in California. e horse rolled to an eight-length victory under regular rider Bill Hartack to come to Kentucky undefeated and was about as heralded as a horse could be. e Kentucky Derby was a month after the Santa Anita Derby, so Longden and Hartack tuned their horse up with a seven-furlong canter in the Stepping Stone Purse on opening day at Churchill Downs, a Saturday one week before the Derby. Meanwhile, Arts and Letters prepped with an easy victory in the Blue Grass Stakes, which was then held 10 days before the Derby at Keeneland. e son of imported stallion Ribot was blooming like the springtime dogwoods in Ken- tucky. Arts and Letters came from the old school. He'd never been close to a sales ring, bred and raced by Paul Mellon, who would later win the Kentucky Derby with Sea Hero. Arts and Letters was trained by Elliott Burch, and jockey Bill Shoemaker never moved a finger on the reins as Arts and Letters cruised to a 15-length victory in the Blue Grass. Now, a length is a racing yardstick, a distance of about nose to rump on a horse. e inside rail at tracks is attached to stan- dards that are generally one length apart. So a spectator can actually count those Continued on page 108 15 lengths. But what this scribe saw that day at Keeneland was a margin that looked more like 25 lengths from Arts and Letters back to second-place Traffic Mark — the widest margin I'd ever seen in person. With all the breeding he had going for him, plus Shoemaker, I was all on board with Arts and Letters for the Kentucky Derby.

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