The following is an excerpt from the memoir of “Dickie” Jenkins. Jenkins served as the primary exercise rider for the legendary racehorse Kelso and was a longtime assistant for trainer Carl Hanford. Click here to read more from his memoir…
Kelso was in the paddock, looking like a racehorse should, nice and thin, legs that didn’t have a pimple on them, feet nice and shiny. Bill Hall, his groom, had him standing tall. I put the yellow ribbon on his forelock, and now all he needed was a jockey.
The best was to come for me, when I saw Eddie [Arcaro] coming down the path to talk to Mrs. du Pont and Carl [Hanford]. He looked up and saw me, and tipped his cap at me. Well, that was sure okay for me. Now the only thing was what Carl was going to tell him to do with Kelso. I’m not a lip reader, but that day, I sure tried.
Eddie walked over, patted me on the knee and said, “Are you ready?”
I answered, “I can’t wait.”
Carl came over and stood by Eddie’s side, waiting for the man to say riders up. When Eddie’s butt hit the saddle, Kelso turned his head, and looked right at me, as if to say, “I can tell this is a good rider from the way he sat.”
“Okay Kelso.” I thought, “Let’s get the job done, and show him what you’ve got.”
Now here we were, going to the gate, and Kelso was being real good. I wanted to say something to Arcaro, but I kept my mouth shut.
All of a sudden, Eddie said, “What’s your name?”
He said, “Have you been galloping this horse long?”
I said, “I broke him in.”
“Then you must know him.”
“What do you think?”
I couldn’t get over the Master asking me what I thought. Well, I was a little shy, trying to talk to him while we were on our way to the gate. He asked me was Kelso fit, and could he come from behind to beat the other horses. I told him yes, but didn’t think he should be too far back there because he was carrying a little more weight than the rest. So I asked if Carl had told him to take him back, and he said he had. That was the last thing I said to Eddie Arcaro before the race.
We got to the gate, and we were on the outside again, but that was okay. At least, he wouldn’t get into trouble out there. When they broke, I could not tell where he was, but when they got to the first turn, I saw that he was back too far. I thought when they got to the backside, I saw him move, but not much, and around the turn at the quarter pole, he wasn’t where he should have been.
I thought Eddie was going to get him beat because when they went behind the tote board, he was not where he could win. When they came from behind the tote board, I could see two horses, but I couldn’t tell who won.
Eddie was pulling Kelso up, and yelled at me that we had won.
Mrs. du Pont was glad we got Eddie to ride Kelso, and Carl sure felt better too. (I couldn’t help but think that if Bill Hartack had known Kelso was going to be this good, he would have gone to Timbuktu to ride him.)
When [Arcaro’s agent] Bones LaBoyne came by the barn the day before the Jerome, I told him that I sure hoped Arcaro could win with Kelso because my car needed tires, and that win would sure would help. Well, Bones went back and told Eddie what I said, and I didn’t tell him that so Arcaro could buy me tires, for I was only kidding, but he bought me a set of new tires Goodyear tires, thank you very much.
Arcaro told Bones that Kelso could have broken the track record if he could have moved down the backside a little faster, but he rode him just like Carl said, so he just sat there until it was time to move.
Read the next chapter Kelso and the Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct