Winter in Aiken, South Carolina, 1962

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…

I got into the van, and Kelso looked okay. The van pulled up to the loading ramp, and Kelso was the first off the van. When [his groom] Fitz was leading him down the ramp, he almost got loose, but Fitz had him okay. We got all of the barn traps off, and started to set the stalls up with screen and webbing. The doors had screw eyes which made it better to set the stalls up. While we were setting up the stalls, all these people came over, wanting to know what our outfit was.

When Fitz told them we were Bohemia Stables, they asked if we were the outfit that had Kelso. Fitz told them yes. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw Barry Ryan, and his new wife, Josephine Abercrombie, a very nice lady who was also the owner of Pin Oak farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Mr. Ryan said that we were going to have people here all the time who wanted to get a look at Kelso.

He asked me when Carl [Hanford] was coming, and I told him he should be here any time now. Fitz added that when he left, Carl said he would beat us down here. As soon as he said that, there was Carl. He said he was early, and had come when no one was here.

Carl said, “I saw Dickie’s car in town, and I knew if he wasn’t here, you wouldn’t be either. Barry, how long have you been here?”

Barry said he had been here a week, and then Carl asked if he had an apartment. If he hadn’t, Carl knew where a nice one was. He had gotten one just down the street from me, and that my place was just across the street from John Gaver, the Greentree Stables trainer. I didn’t know that.

Then Carl said, “Well, Dickie, we finally got here, and I’m so tired and sleepy that I can hardly stand up. I see that you, Fitz and Lou got the stall pretty well done, so I’m going back to my apartment to shower and take a nap. I’ll see you later.”

I saw Barry Ryan and his wife walking back to their barn, and I thought I might go over to see his barn. The barn we had was one of the oldest there, but it was nice. We had a bunk for Fitz and Lou which they liked. It was right there at the barn, and they could see everything that was coming and going. I went over to Barry’s barn, and he showed me some of his horses. He asked me if Carl would let him borrow me one morning to work his good mare, Firm Policy. I said I didn’t think he would mind at all. Barry told me that he had a bowling team which he would like me and Carl to join.

I like bowling, but I’m not the best you’ve seen, and I wasn’t sure Carl bowled or not, although I was sure he would try. The next morning, I got out there pretty early, and Fitz was feeding the horses. Lou had to find the muckrake he had made because he doesn’t like to use the wheelbarrow. He was one of the old timers, so a muckrake was all he ever used. Carl got there, and the other exercise boy, Jimmy Dillon, who was living at some trailer park.

Carl said to tack up Kelso and told Jimmy to take the colts to the walking ring, thirty minutes for each. Me and Kelso were in the walking ring, and Carl said to walk out on the track, that he would be right behind us. There was a carload of people heading for the barn, and Carl wanted to get Kelso out of there before they got there.

Carl was following us on the pony. He wanted to jog down the track, hoping that maybe the people would leave. Not a chance. They had their lawn chairs, coffee and donuts, and all that good stuff. So Carl decided to just walk him. We get down to a barn next to the outside fence, and standing there was Jim Mahoney, our old friend from Belmont Park. He yelled at Carl to find out when he had gotten in. Carl told him yesterday.

Jim said, “Boy, did I get tired coming down from Delaware. I got twenty-six head of young horses, and an eight year old horse. I got one filly everyone is high one. She can run. Her name is Lamb Chop. Mr. Walt Perry had her brought here. How is the old man doing? Dickie looks like he is having a good time riding the best horse of the year.”

That morning, Barry and his wife stopped by the bar, and they were talking to Carl, who was laughing his head off. I walked over there with Kelso, and Mrs. Ryan asked me if that was Kelso. When I told her it was, she said, “My goodness, he sure looks like a real light-boned horse. I’ve never seen him up close, but boy, he sure looks like he is ready to run right now.”

I told her not yet. I asked Carl what he was laughing about, and he asked me if I had told Barry that he knew how to bowl. When I said yes, he said his back would break, if he ever picked up one of those balls. I really didn’t know how to bowl, but I had played years ago, and I wasn’t any good. Mrs. Ryan took me to the bowling alley that afternoon, and I practiced just a little. I did real good, and she was sure Barry would be glad to have me on his team.

We did have a good bowling team, and finished second which I thought was pretty good.

Read the next chapter: Back to New York; replacing the retired Eddie Arcaro