Introduction to Dickie Jenkins and the legendary racehorse Kelso by Kevin Martin
This project started with an email received in August 2015. Anne Pfhister wrote to tell me of a manuscript in her possession written by Kelso’s exercise rider Dicke Jenkins. Over a year later, it is with gratitude to Ann, Dickie, and Kelso that I make it available here for the first time.
As Anne mentioned in her prologue, Mr. Jenkins delivered his manuscript handwritten and that she transcribed it. I received Anne’s transcription as a typed document. My primary contribution was to break up the manuscript into chapters and edit where I did not think it interfered with the voice of the author. In addition, I made an attempt to identify the players throughout and included full names and titles in brackets where appropriate. I did this for the first mention of people in each chapter since each chapter can be read as a stand-alone story. Other then that, the story as written is Dickie Jenkins’ voice.
Having spent over a year with his work, I have thoroughly analyzed (more likely, over analyzed) it’s author. There are times that I think Dickie presents an unfair picture of some people in his narrative, most notably Carl Hanford. Dickie implies that Carl’s missteps with Kelso could have easily been avoided if he had listened to his exercise rider.
On the other hand, Dickie recounts tales that portray his boss as a fair-minded, kind man with whom he had great admiration. Memory is a tricky thing and perceptions of people and events long ago can evolve, change, and disappear as the past recedes. In the end, the truth is elusive and sometimes unknowable and it’s important to keep that in mind when tapping memories to write history.
As I tried to understand the dynamic with Dickie and Carl, I came to realize that the relationship was not unlike most between the boss and employee. Whatever their relationship, the key aspect of their story together is that both men seemed to understand that Kelso would be the best horse either of them would ever have the privilege of caring for and training.
In Dickie’s memory, they understood and appreciated the moment. The inconsistencies and conflicts that can be found in Dickie’s narrative are a minor footnote to the manuscript as a whole. His work to document his memory of, perhaps, the greatest thoroughbred in American racing history is something I am very grateful to present here. His memory evokes the feelings and emotion of being one of the lucky and privileged few to be among Kelso’s small circle as he ran his way into a racing legend.
Sadly, Mr. Jenkins passed away before completing his manuscript but what he left behind documents his path to Kelso and the first half of the Hall of Fame horse’s career. While it is unfortunate that it’s not complete, I hope that fans and scholars of the mighty Kelso will find it an important contribution to his story.