OReilly on Racing: Neither Cups Nor Money Seem To Influence Mr. Fred Turner, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-07


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* SJ3MP:mBL.: V OReilly on Racing Neither Cups Nor Money Seem To Influence Mr. Fred Turner By TOM OREILLY JAMAICA. L. I.. N. Y.. May 6. — A small suspicion lingers in this corner that Tomy Lees victory in the Kentucky Derby is going to make this one of the most interesting racing seasons in years — conversationally speaking. As far as the nation is concerned. Tomy Lee is now "the big horse.- The Derby winner always rates as the champion with the* good people who read as they run. ■ For half of America, like it or not, the racing season opens and closes on the first Saturday of each May, in Louisville. Horsemen know this idea is as false as Bing Crosbys toupee. Horsemen, however, are a minority group, as they discovered when they tried to coax President Eisenhower out to the races. All of which brings us around to Fred Turner Jr.. Tomy Lees Texas owner. Of all the Texans youve ever heard about or seen — from Jim Bowie to Sam Houston and back — Turner is the most. Tall, broad-shouldered, bronzed, clear-eyed, with a fighting nose and chin, Turner, in his middle-50s, is a man to conjure with. Take all the movie versions of an oil-rich, cattle-raising son of the Lone Star State. Add all the tall tales of Panhandle pride "my Texas property is comparatively small, son. Only one square mile — down-: town Dallas" and youll get a fair picture i of the horse-loving owner of Tomy Lee. I When Tomy Lee loses a race, his owners I fine figure takes on the firm air of a movie I sheriff who says, "Ill catch them cattle-rustin so-and-sos if I have to fight every man west of Pecos ! " ! Met Owner Two Days Before Garden State This was the impression I received dur-1 ing my lone meeting with Mr. Turner. It ! was two days before the 1958 Garden State j Stakes in New Jersey. A cab from Phfladel-] phia waited near the stable while the tall Texan chatted of this and that with his wise, old trainer. Frank Childs. Tomy Lee had run second to First Land-i ing in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont i Park. What Mr. Turner had to say about ! the jockey on his horse in that race would I I curl the ears of a blind mule in a coal mine. In fact, that is what he said the boy — who I lost control switching his whip in the stretch — should ride. "This time yesterday morning," he re- ; marked, "I was on a horse myself, roundin . up some cattle. I wouldnt let that boy ride j one o the cows. Properly ridden* Tomy Lee would have walked past First Landing. Well prove it in this race here." Subsequent events proved, of course, that First Landing was an honest two-year-old champion. This is another year, however. As you know, Tomy Lee won the Derby, by a skinny lip, from Sword Dancer, with First Landing a well-beaten third. Now, we come to the curious question as to where Tomy Lee will race again. Naturally, every track in the country wants to attract the Derby winner. This is the point where Mr. Turner takes the spotlight away from his horse. Ordinarily, most owners are enamored of what has been called American racings "Triple Crown." To most horsemen, the Derby is just the first "leg" leading up to the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Mr. I Turner is no ordinary owner, however. Like 50 per cent of America, he considers the I Derby "the big one." From here on out, he is likely to be a bit choosey about where I his Louisville champion appears. What inducements can a race track offer him? Tune-Up in Champagne I Obviously, he is not impressed by Eastern I cups. He didnt exactly endear himself to I New Yorkers when he announced, "I only ran Tomy Lee in the Champagne Stakes because he needed a tune-up for The Garden State, which is the richest race in the world." Many observers at Churchill Downs were amused to notice that after winning the Derby, Tomy Lee walked away under a souvenir blanket that acclaimed on a blazing yellow background, "Garden State Stakes— 1958. If traditional cups don t interest Mr. Turner, then money has an even poorer chance. It has been reported that every time Mr. Turner turns around on one of his three Texas ranches, a new oil well is reported. He is an individualist who plays the races his own way. When war was declared, he took to breeding his thoroughbred stock with his cattle "cutting ponies," and now has one of the greatest bands of utility horses in the entire world. Since the war, he has spent ,000,000 — mostly in Europe — buying horses whose bloodlines attracted him. He studies the Stud Book and then gets in I touch with Bert Kerr of Dublin. Kerr buys what he is told to buy and price is no object. The two have never met. No matter which way you look at him, Mr. Turner is, above all, a fighter. Few men show a greater love for competition. So, maybe it would be a good idea to wait a bit. If Sword Dancer, or some other good three-year-old makes a sweep of his races this summer, a nice, old-fashioned match race could be arranged. Challenge him Western style. Winner take all, including the losing horse! Would that ever pack the park! Ride im. cowboy!

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1950s/drf1959050701/drf1959050701_8_2
Local Identifier: drf1959050701_8_2
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800