OReilly: Tomy Lees Derby to Be Long Remembered; Willie Shoemaker Excels in Finest Hour; Enjoy First Class Exodus From Louisville, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-05


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OReilly I By Tom OReilly , « Tomy Lees Derby to Be Long Remembered Willie Shoemaker Excels in Finest Hour Enjoy First Class Exodus From Louisville Nicest thing about this years Kentucky Derby was the fact that the race turned out to be pretty good, too. Years ago, down there, I interviewed a man sitting by a radio in Stevens clubhouse dining room, who was attending his 14th Derby; had never bothered trying to see one, and said. "I wouldnt miss it for a farm." This year, though, it was worth a peek. Especially that stretch battle between Willie Shoemaker on Tomy Lee and Bill Boland on Sword Dancer. It was the greatest demonstration of riding artistry under the severest kind of pressure that I ever saw in a flat race. It was Willies "finest hour." It didnt last an hour, of course. It just seemed that long. Consequently it deserves language stolen from our times greatest phrase-maker. In his final six long, straining leaps to the finish wire, Tomy Lee put a period to all that has ever been written about fighting blood and the heart of a thoroughbred. At the same time, guiding those six long, heart-taking strides, Shoemaker gave the world one of its greatest race riding lessons. Six strides from home, Tomy Lee was a long nose behind the gallant Sword Dancer. Shoemaker had been whipping and booting for dear life. At that precise moment, having established a subtle rapport between himself and the horse that only genius can accomplish. Shoemaker decided Tomy Lee needed no whip. The horse was doing his utmost. So Willie switched to gentle, encouraging hand-riding. And the thoroughbred responded with that extra something that makes men spend millions to breed them. In six long, straining leaps Tomy Lee got his nose in front of Sword Dancer and right there the race was over. It was the best race I ever saw in Kentucky. The Race After the Race Not the least part of any Kentucky Derby is the problem of getting out of Louisville. Surfeited with distilling, tobacco and racing information, the seeker after "Blue Grass atmosphere," as presented by Wathen Knebelkamp and his merry men, joins a frantic general dispersal that resembles nothing less than the Cimaroon rush at the opening of the Cherokee Strip. I thought I handled my small part in this exodus with great dexterity. Being one of the few former citizens of southeastern Pennsylvania who is cognizant of problems faced by the Strasburg Railroad Company, I hooked a ride aboard the presidents car. For years it has been a secret ambition of mine to ride in the private car of a railroad president. I was coaxed into this desire by the late beloved Harry T. Peters, master of Long Islands Meadow Brook hounds and a close friend of Derbys late Matt Winn. Years ago, under a piece of glass on Harrys old roll-top desk, high above New York Harbor, in the Whitehall Building, I had noticed a nifty card, bearing the coat of arms of the Prince of Wales. Written across this card was an I.O.U. for 50 bucks. It was a memento of the young princes visit to Long Island during an ancient international polo series. Mr. Peters told me the prince, on presenting the card, had asked him where he learned to play poker. "I told him," said Mr. Peters, "that I had learned poker the right way. First in the caboose and then in the presidents car. " " So, when Henry Long, president of the Strasburg Railroad Company, offered me a ride home in his private car — "The Pequae Valley" — my euphoria nearly choked me. Chartered in 1832 and incorporated in 1852. the Strasburg is Americas oldest short line. Stretching four full miles through scenic Lancaster County, Pa., it serves the entire nation via connecting lines. While the original Strasburg, in southern France, is noted for its pate de foie gras, the owners of this line in no way attempt to capitalize on the association. They bow to no rivals as high livers but they can take their goose liver or leave it alone. Train Yard Full of Specials On reaching the Louisville and Nashville yards, I found that of over 100 special cars parked there, "The Pequae Valley" was easily the most distinctive, in the eyes of men, at least. "Dont make em solid like that any more," commented a bronzed man in an engineers cap. "That car should last forever." Investigation revealed that "The Pequae Valley" had been built in 1915 by Democrats during Wilsons administration. Something told me that this historic fact would not bear too mucl. discussion among the company aboard. President Long and the 15 officials with him were all aged-in-the-keg Republicans, many of them being members of the National Association of Manufacturers and one — W. Hensel Brown, an attorney — having actually served as a delegate to the conventions that nominated Eisenhower. I did find the car comfortable, however, and never once had to worry about sitting down on the pin of a Stevenson button. Further probing brought out that "The Pequae Valley" was sold to the Strasburg Railroad by Max Continued on Page Twelre I OReilly on Racing Continued from Page Seven Solomon II., a gentleman who specializes in junking old Pullman cars. When Long and his friends acquired title to the line. Solomon gave them the choice of three cars. The other two he sold to a line in Mexico. What had once been the mens smoking compartment of "The Pequae Valley" has been refurnished into an attractive bar. Framed on one wall is a 00,000 stock certificate made out in the lines name to A, Casey Jones. Near it is a gold model of a special railroad padlock used on switches and manufactured by the Slaymaker Lock Co., of Lancaster, Pa. Sam Slaymaker is one of the lines directors. Another wall contains a Currier and Ives print showing a railway stretching across the plains above the caption, "Westward the course of empire wends its way." Now, unless you plan a short-order restaurant, nothing can be more frustrating than to own a railroad car and have no place to visit. The Strasburg Lines four-mile right-of-way is scenic enough, but a fellow does get tired passing that same apple tree. He might as well go down to the barbers and watch haircuts. So, when word of the Derby reached the stockholders they immediately made contact with their connections along the Ohio. They attended the Derby more for the ride than the race. This was prudent, in view of the way they bet. Tomy Lee was not among their choices. They did, however, have a pleasant day at the park — only one member had his pocket picked — and the poker games aboard were j great. I Among the intrepid group of manufac- turers, lawyers, brokers, etc. aboard, were the following: Henry Long, S. Reed Keator, Raymond D. Buckwalter, 111 A. Daffin, John H. Stauffer. Bernard Malone Zimmerman, Orvill H. Petts, Ben E. Mann, Tom S. Jamieson, Silas E. Thompson, George K. Reynolds, Edward S. Graybill, Joseph Brenneman, John H. Hartman and Paul Gardner. Remembering Harry Peters advice. I watched them play poker in the presidents car. They played just like anybody else. The winners told stories and the losers yelled "Deal!" How I miss the river boats!

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1950s/drf1959050501/drf1959050501_7_2
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Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800