The following is a chapter 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…
Let me get back to Belmont Park where I left Mr. Bartnett, and went to work for Marion du Pont Scott of Montpelier, Virginia. Ray Wolf was the trainer, and Albert Foot was the jockey for the jumpers. I was going to try to be a jumping jockey. Well, I rode in my first jumping race on a horse called Beau Pere in a six horse field, and did a good job, although I finished last in a six horse field. I rode in a few other races but didn’t do too well. I messed up in one race which put me out of action for a year.
This is when I started fighting in the jockeys’ room again, and Mr. Wolf didn’t like this one bit. He told me that if I got into another fight, that was it. The next day, I was fighting again. I got into a fight with another jockey named Joe Santo because he was flirting with my girlfriend. Mr. Wolf kept his word and fired me.
I packed my clothes in my two little suitcases, and was heading to the front gate to catch a cab to the train station to go home. On my way down the road, Sid Waters saw me, and told me that he would hire me to ride his jumpers. I said no, and while I was talking to him, a friend of mine, Norman Cox, stopped his car, and asked me where I was going. I told him I was going home.
Norman said, “Dickie, I got a real job that you would like.”
When I asked him where it was, he said that it was in Middletown, Delaware.
Norman added, “I was up there with Doc Lee, riding some of Mrs. du Pont’s horses, and now I am going to the farm to get on some. We run horses right off the farm there. We take some to New York, and some to Delaware Park, and I think it would work out just right for you. I heard about that fight and how Mr. Wolf fired you, so come on and go with me. Did you win the fight, Dickie?”
I sure didn’t want to go there, but he talked me into it. Little did I know that this would be a new start for me. I thought I would go there, work two weeks, and leave when I got my first paycheck.
I stayed 22 years with the best lady in the world (Mrs. Richard C. du Pont). I think I was one of the luckiest fellows in the world, for I had all my dreams come true. Although I didn’t make a lot of money, I had all I could possibly ask for, and thank God that He always had me by the seat of my pants.
Mrs. du Pont had only had four or five young horses, and her trainer just before I came was Phil Goodman. Dr. John Lee was taking his place, and Jim Hoolahan was the farm manager. The day I went to work, April 14, 1953, we had broodmares: White Wash, Pan America, Maid of Flight, [and] Denfore (Although I did break in Ambehaving as a yearling). Maid of Flight [Kelso’s dam] had just stopped training, and was turned out with the other mares. Little did I knew that I would one day be driving our horse van, taking mares to Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey where Your Host [Kelso’s sire] stood stud.
I can’t remember all the two year olds we had, but some I do recall: Bovalawn, Dejedereine, and Lana Belle. Lana Belle was a half-sister to Ambehaving, for her sire was To Market. All of the babies seemed to be fillies that year, and I think we had one colt named Hand Shake. That would be 1954/55 because the following year I had my appendix out, and went home to Jacksonville to get well, but Uncle Sam had a plan for me, as I was drafted into the army.
Before I reported for duty, I took Maid of Flight to New Jersey, and held her while Frank, the stud man, brought Your Host into the breeding shed to cover her. So that’s how close Kelso and I are. She was sent to Bull Hancock’s farm in Paris, Kentucky where Kelso was foaled in 1957, and was later bred to Ambiorix. She had Kelso’s half brother, Amaloft, who only won a couple of races as a three year old.
After the army discharged me, I went straight to Mrs. du Pont’s farm in Middletown, [Delaware]. The place meant so much to me that I never wanted to leave there again.
So that year we had four or five yearlings to break, and one of those was Kelso. We had three riders at that time, Bobby, Bert, and John, if that is what you would call them. Now don’t get me wrong, for I really liked the kids, and they liked me, but they couldn’t ride a boxcar with both doors shut.
John [Block] was one of the nicest boys I ever met, and he sure liked me. I tried to teach him how to gallop horses the right way. He turned out to be pretty darn good, for he rode Kelso in his maiden win, and was second twice, although he should have won them all. That turned out to be Kelso’s two year old campaign.
Dr. John Lee brought Kelso home, and told Mrs. du Pont to sell him now. I don’t want to say that Lee said anything wrong to Mrs. du Pont, but I know that wasn’t a bow I saw in the tendon. It was a hard blood vessel that had gone around the tendon, and it made it look as if Kelso was ready to bow that tendon. This is where the story started about how he was about to bow his tendon.
Mrs. du Pont sent me to the Wilmington Airport to pick up Burley Parks and Sid Waters. When we arrived at the farm, they went into the house with Mrs. du Pont, and I have no idea what they said, but Jim Hoolahan told me to get the Turn To colt and Kelso ready, so they would look as good as we could make them. I brought Kelso out first, and Burley Parks said real fast to put him back in the stall, and bring out that Turn To colt. Anyway, he brought out the Turn To colt.
Read the next chapter: Carl Hanford and Kelso’s 3-year-old debut