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…
We left the next morning at 7 A.M. We were at Belmont by noon. The Big Apple is where you can find out what kind of horses you have. As for me, I started looking at a stable and stall list. I could see the names of all the big time owners, trainers, and the best horses. The first thing I wanted to do was to make sure Kelso was happy, and do this without anyone thinking I was putting my nose where it shouldn’t be.
Well, here we were at Belmont, and we are in the same barn as George D. Widener, who has a few nice horses (and will later have Jaipur), and Burt Mulholland, one of the nicest men on the track. He always wanted me to come and work for him. I couldn’t believe that I was here, for this was the place I was when I went to work with Mrs. du Pont.
So here we were, our first day at the barn, and Carl [Hanford] and I were on our way to the training track. We were thinking how nice things were at Belmont, and I told him I had been here before which was something Carl did not know about me. Whenever we would pass some big time trainers, they would yell at me, and ask how I was doing, and I think that got Carl to think I knew these people. I liked Belmont, for it was very much a family race track where good friends would talk about the races and what they were doing.
Sometimes, we exercise boys would get together, and we might know five or six of the horses in an eight or nine horse field. Since we knew our horses pretty well, we would talk about each horse we had and what he could do. We would pool our money, and pick the winner about four out of six times which I thought was pretty good. Things aren’t like that anymore, for all the old trainers are either gone or passing faster than you can count. I sure do miss my old buddies.
While we were on our way back to the barn, Carl said, “You know everybody, don’t you? Do you know any of the riders here?”
I said, “I know some, but not personally. But I know one rider, and I think he is the best that has ever been, although I never met him.”
Carl asked who that would be, and I replied, “The Master.”
Carl laughed and said, “You’re not kidding there. Mr. Eddie Arcaro is the best.”
Well, nothing more was said all day about Arcaro, and who we might put on Kelso. Carl was talking about putting Hartack back on him, and I think he would have trouble with that.
We were cleaning tack that morning, and I said, “Carl can I make a suggestion?”
He was right in front of the tack room, and yelled out the door, “What is it?”
I yelled back as loud as I could, “Arcaro!”
Well, I didn’t hear from him, but [Kelso’s groom] Bill [Hall] did. Carl was on the phone, trying to get Bones LaBoyne, Eddie’s agent.
About twenty minutes passed, and here comes Bill. He said, “Dickie, I think maybe he might get him to ride Kelso.”
Thank God. My buddy finally got a good rider, one with class and skills. The Master himself will get the ride of his life, and that was no bull. Arcaro’s brain would not be able to think that Kelso was going to be the best horse he ever has had his ass on (Pardon me), but it is true that he told me so, but he also told me to keep it to myself, and please, to never let Jimmy Jones know that he said that.
As for me, knowing that Eddie Arcaro was going to ride the best horse that ever was, and he being the best jockey that ever was, I thought that this was the best match that ever was.
It was September, and it was starting to get a little cooler in the morning, and staying nice and cool in the afternoons which a race horse likes. He runs faster, better, eats good. It’s just a good time to run a horse.
Read the next chapter Kelso and the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct