Between Races: Repetoire Touches off Bloodline Debate Pros and Cons of Staying Ability Argued Charlie Kenney Cites Case for Happy Argo Bitter Dispute over Morvich is Recalled, Daily Racing Form, 1951-05-02


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BETWEEN RACES * osow ore CHURCHILL DOWNS, Louisville, Ky., May 1. — One of the most interesting facets of Saturdays Kentucky Derby running is the violent but hitherto undercover argument that has been raging in breeding circles over the pedigree of the "rags to riches" Repetoire. This argument is at at its its height height in in the the Blue Blue Grass Grass coun- at at its its height height in in the the Blue Blue Grass Grass coun- country, where, while it hasnt touched off any "shooting feudin" has developed some acrimonious debate, the like of which has preceded no modern day Derby running. The fundamentals of the argument are simply that no horse bred the way Repetoire is can go a mile and a quarter, whereas the host of admirers of Repetoire are just as insistent that the horse, on breeding, not only can go a mile and a quarter, but, come Saturday, will prove it. The argument, which has engrossed the drawing rooms of countless farm mansions in Kentucky, simmers down to the item that Repetoires sire, Happy Argo, was strictly a sprinter, albeit a good one, while his dam, My Hattie, was somewhat obscure, never went a distance. Moreover, My Hattie was sired by the somewhat unpredictable Mad Hatter, one of the more temperamental sons of Fair Play, a family noted for what some term spirit, others just plain equine cussedness. To complicate the argument, some insist that Happy Argo was a flat failure as a sire. AAA In his previous races at a distance, most everyone has been looking for Repetoire to stop, but he has hung on stoutly enough to win. His trainer, Al Jensen, and rider, Pete McLean, are among the few who have confidence that Repetoire will go a real distance, an item we reported a good many columns ago from Laurel. But a Repetoire Touches Off Bloodline Debate Pros and Cons of Staying Ability Argued Charlie Kenney Cites Case for Happy Argo Bitter Dispute Over Morvich Is Recalled host of pedigree pundits insist the colt will "trip over his pedigree" as they so quaintly put it in Kentucky. This is merely a polite way of saying that his pedigree "aint much." This writer is going to present the facts and let the reader draw his own conclusions, but we imagine the only real answer will come Saturday, and the running of the race itself. Happy Argo was a sturdy bay horse, foaled in 1923, by Argosy— Happy Hours. He won the Fall Highweight Handicap with 134 pounds up in 1927 in 1:11 and the Carter Handicap, in which he beat one of the great mares of all time, Black Maria, and the Fleetwing Handicap, to mention a few of his better races. In all, he won 16 of his 34 starts, not a bad average, and, in the stud, sired such as Dr. Almac, Flying Weather, Tight Squeeze, Capt. Argo, Happy Knot, Happy Bucky, Happy Bolivar, and, perhaps the best of all, the good mare, Augury. Before Happy Argo died, his get had won slightly more than a million dollars, although much of this was amassed a nickel and a dime at a time. AAA Charlie Kenney, farm manager for Coldstream, analyzes the cast of Repetoire in this fashion: "Happy Argos sire, Argosy, was considered on the speed side in England, but he was good enough to run second in the Irish Derby of 1917, carrying 124 pounds as against 122 for the winner, First Flier. Happy Argos dam, Happy Hours, won at two miles. On the bottom female line, it is undoubt edly true that after My Hatties third dam, Regret, the family did deteriorate a bit. It also is tiue that Mad Hatter was tempermental. Earl Sande once told me that on occasions, to get Mad Hatter to do his best, he would have to pull sharply on the reins, as if taking up. Mad Hatter wanted to do just the opposite of the will of the rider, and, when the reins were tightened, would run his best, just to be contrary and assert his own mind, I suppose. My Hatties dam, Avenger, was good enough to win the Gazelle Stakes, and her sire, Dis Done, was a good producing sire, and he was by Sardanaple, one of the great sires of Europe. It just seems to me that despite what many term weak points in the pedigree, the mating which produced Repetoire would have every chance to have a "throwback," or a horse which could travel a real distance of ground." AAA As against the Kenney analysis, there are others in Kentucky who roundly condemn Repetoire because of pedigree alone, plus the fact that in his four stakes wins this year, in as many starts, he has never won by any convincing margin. But he has won, nevertheless. Al Jensen, the globetrotting Dane who trains Repetoire, became convinced the colt could run a distance as long ago as last fall in an allowance event when, although as good as bolting to the outside fence on the turn going into the stretch, the son of Happy Argo was narrowly beaten. This race was over a distance, and was a tune up for the Endurance Handicap at Bowie. The bolting caused Repetoire to sustain a slight injury, and he was then layed up for the winter. "Hell go a distance for my money," comments Jensen. "He has gone as far as we asked him, and that is good enough. Also, if you look Continued on Page Thirty-Nine the Z 3| as 0. s. 5 — 5.40 * .70 2j 7.10 10 7.60 60 00 80 ™ - .50 50 .30 *jj 4.80 * Jr. ly _j and 1$. BETWEEN RACES By OSCAR OTIS ______ _____ Continued from Page Forty-Four at Repetoire, you will notice he has the conformation of a stayer. Hes not long, nor is he blocky. His best point is his powerful shoulder." AAA The last great blood line controversary to stir the turf world about a Derby horse occurred back in 1922 when one of the great blood line experts of all time, Dr. M. M. Leach, father of Churchill Downs good will man, "Brownie" Leach, pro-20 claimed that no son of Runnymede would ever go a mile and a quarter in top com-8 pany. The papers in those days were filled with fury as the great debate waked into tens of thousands of words. Morvich won the Derby, all right, but he never lived to win another race of any sort. It was, per- haps, the only time in his life that Dr. Leach had been wrong. He advised Col. E. R. Bradley on choice of mares and mat-ings, advice which produced some four Derby winners and quite a few others who raced boldly in the event, and proved their merit in later years by going on to greatness both on the track and in the stud. Dr. Leach was uncanny in his ability to predict the outcome of given matings. He really took the Morvich win to heart, and it is ironic that he did not live to see Morvich flatten out into an ordinary horse and become only mediocre in the stud. The argument that raged in print saw Dr. Leach lined up against some formidable antagonists, and the Daily Racing Form ran a considerable part of it. He was right about Morvieh, and most critics since have listed the Morvich win as a freak." Morvich was bred by A. B. Spreckels in California, and was sold to Benjamin Block, New York broker. Spreckels also had another three-year-old, Runstar, and he always thought he did the right thing in keeping Runstar, selling Morvich, although his judgment came in for a severe panning after Morvich won the Derby. Runstar later won the old Coffroth Handicap at Tijuana, and Spreckels, who witnessed the race, although quite ill, wept for joy. He felt that his judgment had been vindicated. He died soon after but, unlike Dr. Leach, lived to see his opinions triumphant.

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