Resemblance of Count Turf to Sire Prompted Purchase: Amiel of Belief Count Fleet Possessed Everything That Great Thoroughbred Should, Daily Racing Form, 1951-05-10


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I. -t— : — , . ,i,j — Resemblance of Count Turf To Sire Prompted Purchase Amiel of Belief Count Fleet 1 Possessed Everything That Great Thoroughbred Should By EVAN SHIPMAN Staff Correspondent NEW YORK, N. Y., May 9.— The little girl, Linda Jean, came to the telephone and while we hung on. we could hear Jack Amiel in his apartment, talking on another phone, still answering the congratulations. And when he got to us, he said, "You know winning the Kentucky Derby is a great thing, but Its hard on the woice. Lets get together tomorrow and talk somewhere where its quiet." So we picked him up at his own bar the next afternoon— the Turf Bar, corner of 49th and Broadway — and it was not quiet. The back -Slapping and the hearty handshakes and the salesmen with brief cases, equipped with ideal little notions to commemorate the winner of this 77th running of the Blue Grass Classic, and and the old friends who "just hadnt been able to make it down to Louisville, worse luck," — all were there. So we* ducked, and we found a corner where the nearest thing to a thoroughbred was a tired horse standing in front of a landeau, and the big thing was that nobody knew Jack Amiel, and nobody interrupted us once for a solid hour. Sorting it all out, and trying not to change anything, but only giving it the proper time order, here is what Count Turfs oWner — a big, good-natured man, a little harried: right now, but with plenty of good humor in his expressive brown eyes, and plenty of sound horse-sense, too, for that matter, told us: Model Thoroughbred "Back in the days when I first started to think of owning a racehorse, I used to see Count Fleet at Belmont Park. I used to go back to Mr. John Hertz barn to see him, just to look at him. I thought he was the greatest horse Id ever seen, and I still do. To me, he was the model of everything a thoroughbred ought to be, and I promised myself that when he went to stud, some day I would own one of Count Fleets colts. "By and by, I began racing a small stable, and I made it a practice to go to Saratoga every summer to pick a few yearlings. After breaking them and racing them as two-year-olds, I would sell those that would not do for around New York, and keep the others, always looking for a stake colt. Up to this year, Ive had some fairly nice horses — high class platers, you might call them — but no stake colt. "Well, year before last, I was at Saratoga in August as usual, and I marked the Count Fleets in the sales catalogue to look at in the morning. The year before, I had bought a edit from the California breeder, Dr. Frank Porter Millers consignment. This colt was named Wise Bull, and something that stuck in my mind was that when I got him, he had a tag attached to his halter, and on that tag was written out everything that had ever been wrong with the colt, everything for the buyer to look out for. "Now in this consignment was a colt by Count Fleet, by idol, out of Delmarie by Pompey, and when I had him walked in the morning, before he went into the ring, he had the look of Count Fleet to me, and I wanted him. Believe me, I was the most surprised man in Saratoga when this colt — Count Turf — was knocked down to me for ,700. He was the cheapest of all the Count Fleets at that sale, but, as far as I was concerned, there was nothing cheap in the way he looked. To me, he looked like a champion. Wos Head Shy "Once more, Dr. Miller had written out a tag for the halter. It said that Count Turf was head shy — that some careless groom had abused him at the farm, but that he would get over this with kind treatment. He did get over being head shy. Hes the cleverest colt around the barn now you ever saw. "So that fall, I sent him out to a farm on Long Island to be broken and to winter at the Meadowbrook Farm that Brenda Fra-zier owns out there. I sent Count Turf and five others I had bought* and you may think Im making this up, but when they were turned loose, I pointed out Count Turf to Francis Horan, who breaks the yearlings there, and said, Thats my Derby colt. "The next spring, a year ago, we found out Count Turf could really run. I remember we started him in the Christiana Stakes at Delaware Park. Warren Mehr-tens had the mount. Count Turf opened up a long lead, and then he just got nipped at the wire. A little later, in the Dover Stakes at the same track, Count Turf was badly sloughed by another colt at the start. It looked as if he had no chance. But, once he got running for Mehrtens, he caught the leaders, and got up to win the race. "Horsemen all told me that I had to JOHN J. AMIEL make use of Count Turfs speed, that it was best to let him go right to the front. Ever since the Dover Stakes, I believed that he ought to be reserved off the pace. Not too far off, mind you, but far enough to let him use the one big run I was sure he had to full advantage. All that summer and all last winter, I never found anybody to ride him my way. And I never convinced horsemen that that was the way he ought to be ridden, either." "It got so." Amiel told us, laughing, "that when Id put a jockey up, the boy would get one set of instructions from me, and another from Solly Rutchick the trainer. All this time. Count Turf kept on growing, and looking better and better, but he didnt win races. And I thought I knew the reason. "Now lets go back. You remember I told you I had some fair horses. One of them was Isigny, and he beat some of the best in the handicap division, horses he had no right to beat, like Piet and Energetic. Conn McCreary rode him for me, and Conn said to me before one big mile and a sixteenth race, Im going to give you heart failure, Jack, the way Im going to let Isigny drop right out of it, and Im going td keep taking him back. Dont you worry. Ill be there in the thick of things in the stretch, and we have a real chance to win. McCrearys Judgment Correct "So it all turned out just as Conn McCreary said it would," Amiel recalled. "And Isigny beat those good horses, and now this spring, I remembered what Conn had done for me. I knew Conn would get my point, and I knew he would ride Count Turf the way I wanted him ridden in the Derby." "They were all knocking Conn around New York this spring," Amiel went on. "They said he had a bad seat on a horse. They said he was too late. When a guys running in a little bad luck there isnt anything they wont say. As far as I was concerned, it went in one ear and out the other. I knew Conn McCreary could ride my colt, and, whats a lot more, rate him the way I felt he had to be rated. "When I called Conn down from the jocks room at Jamaica and told him I wanted him to go down to Louisville with me and ride Count Turf, he said, Jack, Ill give everything I have in the world for the chance to ride that colt. " You dont have to give anything, I said. All you have to do is listen to me, and ride him like we plan. "So Conn and Slim Sully and Count Tuff and I made the trip to Kentucky. In the plane I made a map for Conn of all Count Turfs races as I remembered them, and I remembered them pretty well, and I showed him just where and how I thought he might have done better. Not Pushed in Trial "When we got to Churchill Downs I found we were not eligible for the Derby Trial. I was just as glad. I had Conn work the colt a mile and gallop out nine furlongs. Count Turf liked the strip. He always has liked a dirt strip, like Churchill Downs or Delaware. He ran his mile in 1:38%, and when Conn came in, I said, Conn I do not want to criticize you, but Continued on Page Forty-Three Amiel Relates How He Purchased Count Turf Resemblance to Count Fleet, Sire Of Colt, Prompted His Decision Continued from Page Five that was an awfully fast mile. I had not intended you to push him. " Honest, Jack, Conn told me, T was not pushing him at all. Never once did I ask him for a thing. We were just buggy riding. I could have clipped a full second off that if I had made a single move. But I didnt and he had a lot left. "Finally, the morning before the Derby, Conn blew him out, and I didnt want to trust my own watch. I went to the dockers stand, for fear Id be too nervous to catch him right. Well, they caught him in :45% and I caught him a tick faster, in :45%. "Getting off Count Turf after that half in :45%, Conn said to me, Jack, we are really going to win the Kentucky Derby. We are going to win, I tell you. There is nothing in the field with speed like that, and you saw with your own eyes that I had him under double wraps. He had been sure we had a chance before. Now he was certain. Do I have to tell you I was sure all along? "You know what Louisville is the night before the" Derby. Brownie Leach had got Conn and me a room at a hotel, but we didnt want to hang around. We did run into Eddie Arcaro in the restaurant, and he said, Count Turf isnt the kind of colt you bring to the Derby you can quote that." "Its already been quoted," we answered. "Any way," Amiel resumed, "We didnt want to hang around the lobby and talk horses. We went to a picture, and both of us nearly fell asleep. Then we went back up to the room to bed, and there was a long distance call in from California. It was Count Turfs breeder, Dr. Miller. He wanted to wish us good luck, and it made me feel good. Ill bet there was not one other breeder telephoned like that." "Our guess is that you are wrong," we said "Breeders care a lot about that race, just as owners and jockeys do." "Well, it was nice," Amiel insisted. "It sent Conn and me to bed happy to think somebody had faith in us. "Say," Amiel interrupted himself. "Didnt you tell me you saw Count Fleets Derby?" "Yes," we answered. "Colonel Cornog of the 36th armored regiment — he was killed in the invasion, a little after D-Day, went over from where we were stationed in Tennessee, and we drove the jeep. The colonel knew we liked horses." "How did he win?" "Won as he wanted." "Thats the way Ive heard he won," Amiel said happily. "So Im not going to bother describing this race to you. That little girl who answered your call yesterday, she thought wed win. She even fixed a place on my mantle for the big cup before I left for Louisville. Conn thought wed win. Dr. Miller, out in California, he thought wed win. And I thought wed win. I thought so all along." Thats what Jack Amiel told us Tuesday afternoon in the Oak room of the Plaza, and we believed every word of his story. And we think you will, too.

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