Jalap- noun; The dried tuberous root of any of several plants (Pg. 84)
Subtleties- noun; Delicacy or nicety of character or meaning (Pg. 87)
Cadence- noun; To make rhythmical (Pg. 87)
Erratic- adjective; Having no certain or definite course (Pg. 88)
Euphemism- noun; The substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt (Pg. 88)
Grisliest- adjective; Causing a shudder or feeling of horror (Pg. 93)
Striated- adjective; Striped or streaked (Pg. 94)
I have a feeling that since this chapter talks about how dangerous a jockey’s job is, Pollard will get hurt, but act as if it’s nothing.
Chapter 6; Light and Shadow;
The Molino Rojo was a prostitute house, which stood across from the Tijuana Racetrack. It was a temptation to all of the jockeys. Fifty cents was all they needed to have a little fun with a girl of their choice. One girl said that for five dollars she would show them something they would never forget. She smoked a cigarette through a certain part of her body!
In 1928, Red Pollard and George Woolf took the racing world by storm. Red Pollard had brought in more than $20,000 in purse winnings and was ranked 20th in winning percentage among fully employed riders. George Woolf’s total purse winnings were over $100,000 and he was 19th in winning percentage. Pollard was clever and played practical jokes on everyone. He had a good sense of humor and he won the affection of everyone at the track. He would sit and read to the other jockeys for enjoyment. Many feared him for his fist fighting skills as well. He would make of stories and convince the bug boys into thinking something. He would smartass racing officials. No one ever messed with Red because he was one good strong fighter. He would defend small jockeys that were just starting such as Farrell Jones who beat an old jockey in checkers and then got beat up because of it.
Woolf was the king. Crowds loved him. He could get away with anything and everything. Once he lost his pants during a race and the crowd saw everything. He really did not care about it though. In 1930, Woolf met a girl in a San Ysidro train car diner, her name was Genevieve and she was the waitress. In 1931, they married. Pollard was more adventurous, he stayed closer to Tijuana, and partied with the boys.
Since 1917, the manure pile at the racetrack was becoming bigger. It was so big that it almost was larger than the grandstand. The manure fermented and created a lot of heat. The jockeys loved it and would often dig holes to burrow in. This helped them loose weight! In the late 1920’s, after heavy rains, there was a flood. The floodwater came rushing toward the manure pile. The giant pile of manure came rushing toward the track. It took out two railroads and the grandstand, covered the backstretch and the homestretch, split a casino in half, and made its way to the ocean where it vanished. Many of the horses ran away.
A new $3 million racetrack called Agua Caliente was built just down the road. Fitzgerald fired Woolf after he did not show up to a light gallop. Fitzgerald combed the jockeys for a replacement and found Pollard. He rode the horse flawlessly and won.
Woolf was always falling to sleep. He would doze off in mid conversation and snoozing a lot. Woolf made a secret sleeping area in the jockeys’ room. He would sleep until someone called for all the jockeys. Everyone thought it was just one of his eccentricities. Woolf, Genevieve and close friends knew that there was something different. In 1931, soon after Caliente was opened, Woolf discovered he had Type 1 diabetes. He was insulin dependent. They had just discovered insulin about a decade before Woolf was diagnosed so they did trial and error with how much to give him. His diabetes caused him to be nauseous, to vomit, to be thirsty, and to be hungry. Since he was a jockey and they barely eat, this posed a problem. He often became sick because of his blood sugar level. He gained weight and weighed about 115 pounds. He started to just compromise. He rode cheap horses because of his weight. He knew that if he would get a simple cut, he could possibly have to have a limb amputated. To avoid this he used special seats and girths. He would not ride immature young horses but only well behaved ones. The only thing that really ever scared him was fainting on the horse while going forty miles an hour.
At roughly the same time as Woolf’s bad news, Pollard got some too. Pollard was out on a morning workout atop a horse. As he rode, another horse came close to him and a small piece of something came up off the hoof of the horse and jammed into Pollard’s skull over his visual center of his brain. He lost sight in his right eye forever. If they had known of his blindness, they would have banned him for no depth perception and no ability to see horses out of his outside. This injury should have ended his career, but hew was like Woolf, and was not ready to be done. He kept his blindness a secret and continued to be a jockey.
In Mexico, gambling was banned. Since Tijuana was not the place to be since the ban, Woolf and Pollard moved back to the United States and their careers differed. Woolf went back to winning and Pollard began to fail, possibly because of his partial blindness.
Pollard met a jockey agent named Yummy. He was short and fat. He had a harelip and raised his voice to compensate, but just made people cringe. He was very loyal and so the two began traveling around the country together. Many said his career was over. He was losing so much. On August 16, Pollard and Yummy left in Yummy’s car. They were headed down the highway when they hit something that did not give much. The car was totaled. They took all their possessions that were still usable and began to hitchhike. The two ended up in Detroit. The town was sad and poor, but they ignored that and walked right into the Detroit Fair Grounds.
In that very track were Tom Smith and Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit’s behavior was angry and mad ever since they came to Detroit. Smith knew he needed a strong jockey. They had searched all day, and no one at the track wanted Pollard. They began to look for something to eat and somewhere to sleep. Someone pointed out were Howard kept his horses. Yummy ran up to Smith, but all Smith was interested in was Pollard. The two had crossed paths earlier in Pollard’s career. Smith offered his hand to Pollard, who took it. The two walked into the barn where Pollard pulled a sugar cube out for the out of control Seabiscuit. The horse licked it up and the two bonded from the start. This is how Red Pollard, Tom Smith, and Charles Howard met.
Cadre- noun; A group of persons (Pg. 101)
Aphorisms- noun; A tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion (Pg. 101)
Volatility- adjective; Tending or threatening to break out into open violence (Pg. 102)
Prolific- adjective; Producing in large quantities or with great frequency (Pg. 102)
Requisite- adjective; Required or necessary (Pg. 104)
Halcyon- adjective; Rich, wealthy, or prosperous (Pg. 104)
Percolating- adjective; Active, lively, or spirited (Pg. 105)
Squatters- noun; A person who settles on land or occupies property without title, right, or payment of rent (Pg. 106)
Innocuous- adjective; Harmless (Pg. 106)
Ashen- adjective; Extremely pale (Pg. 108)
Circumvent- verb; To go around or bypass (Pg. 108)
Harelip- noun; A congenitally deformed lip, usually the upper one, in which there is a vertical fissure causing it to resemble the cleft lip of a hare (Pg. 111)
Brooding- adjective; Preoccupied with depressing, morbid, or painful memories or thoughts (Pg. 113)
I have a feeling that Woolf and Pollard will both ride Seabiscuit in the end. It will be a classic battle between the two.
Chapter 7; Learn Your Horse;
Seabiscuit was sinister and would not eat. He was 200 pounds underweight. He snapped at anyone that came near him and he was chronically tired. Many wondered what smith was thinking. Smith was always talking about Seabiscuit and making him feel like he was appreciated. Smith’s first task was to calm Seabiscuit down. Even though Seabiscuit was snappy and his ears were pinned, Smith continued to shower him with carrots and affection. Many other animals are brought in stables to become friends with the horses. Smith tried the goat approach. Seabiscuit walked around in circles with the goat in his mouth shaking her back and forth. Then he heaved her over his half door. He then brought in his lead horse Pumpkin. Pumpkin was a veteran horse that calmed other horses down in the stable. Smith put Pumpkin in one stall and Seabiscuit in the next, and then tore down the wall between them. They became friends. The two would work together the rest of their lives. Pumpkin worked so well that Smith began collecting other stable mates for Seabiscuit. He brought in a dog, Pocatell, who slept with Seabiscuit during the night. He also brought in a spider monkey named Jo Jo that also slept with Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit finally started to relax.
The next obstacle was Seabiscuit’s body. He was underweight and sore. Smith made a homemade liniment, painted it on Seabiscuit’s legs, and then wrapped cotton bandages on it so that it would not rub off when he lay in the straw. Then for his weight, Smith gave him a high-quality strain of hay, measured portions of fine white oats, and feed with high calcium content. He used a thick mattress of thick dust-free rice straw for Seabiscuit’s bed.
Seabiscuit became used to Detroit so Smith took him to the track. It was bad. He did the opposite of what the rider wanted him to do. Smith knew what he was seeing. Seabiscuit was not trying to beat the opponents, but rather the handlers who tried to make him run. Luckily, Smith knew how to fix this. Since Seabiscuit was feeding off of the distress of the man on his back. Smith told the rider, “Let him go.” Smith knew that to get him back on pace, Seabiscuit would discover the pleasure of speed, by himself. After about 2 miles, Seabiscuit was exhausted. He had nothing else to do so he returned to the barn. Smith met him with a carrot. The colt had learned a lesson.
Smith decided to see how Pollard would handle the colt. Seabiscuit would not do much for him so he returned to the barn. Pollard said that they need to get rid of the whip, because if you push Seabiscuit, he will push back. Smith knew he found the right jockey.
Smith and Pollard let Seabiscuit do as he pleased. Smith demanded that Seabiscuit never be awoken for any reason when he was sleeping. Seabiscuit milked it for all it is worth. Smith made sure that Seabiscuit chose his own pace and he was always supposed to stop at the finish line. This taught him to be ahead of every other horse by then. There are poles that tell the rider how much farther until the finish line and Pollard found that with every pole, Seabiscuit would run harder. They found another problem with Seabiscuit, he loved the inside rail. Seabiscuit would not run hard if her were not near the inner rail and he would do just about anything to get next to it. So he started to train him away from it. When the track officials do not want the training horses wearing out the inner track, they put up blockades. Therefore, Smith had Seabiscuit go out then and practice since it would keep him away. It kind of worked but after each blockade, Seabiscuit would cut in then out right before the next. The worst thing about Seabiscuit was that he raised hell in the starting gate. Every morning Smith would lead Seabiscuit out to the gates and have him walk inside. He would stand right in front of Seabiscuit’s chest. If Seabiscuit would bang around, Smith would tap him hard in the chest, if he stopped, so would Smith. Every morning Smith would do this. It actually worked. Smith created a very permanent schedule for Seabiscuit, the same everyday. Smith gave Seabiscuit time to trust him and Pollard. When he heard Pollard’s deep voice, he would poke his head out to greet him. Smith did not even need a lead rope for Seabiscuit because he followed his trainer everywhere. Pollard called him Pops. Smith called him Son. Seabiscuit always did as Smith asked. He went through long schooling, but he learned well. After two weeks, Smith and Howard agreed, it was race time.
At his first race, a stakes race, he had bad luck entering with a top filly named Myrtlewood. He was going along good, but he threw his forelegs forward and propped. He was beaten from there, but Pollard pointed him in the right direction and had Seabiscuit just run. He could not beat the filly or Professor Paul who was right on the filly the whole race, but he did manage to get fourth place. He caught up within four lengths of Myrtlewood. This showed Smith that Seabiscuit had speed and courage. Smith and Pollard knew if they could get real speed out of Seabiscuit, he would be a champion. In Seabiscuit’s next race, he took a turn to wide dropping from first to fourth, but he rallied late in the stretch taking second. Smith decided that Seabiscuit was ready for races that were more difficult. He took him to the Governor’s Handicap. It was a big event of the racing season in Detroit. There many good horses like Professor Paul and Azucar, a horse that Woolf used to ride. The early leader was Biography, but Seabiscuit stole that from him. At the last turn, four horses were in it, Seabiscuit, Professor Paul, Azucar, and Biography. The quartet slowly broke down to just Seabiscuit and Professor Paul. Seabiscuit won by a heads length! It was Seabiscuit’s fiftieth race, and he finally understood the game.
Smith wanted to keep Seabiscuit’s talents a secret, so he kept him in Detroit running minor races. He won the Hedrie Handicap. Then Smith shipped him down to Cincinnati’s Handicap. There they realized how truly competitive Seabiscuit was. Smith took Seabiscuit out to train with his sprinting horse, Exhibit. Seabiscuit would go just fast enough that he was ahead of Exhibit, as if he were taunting him. Exhibit refused to work with Seabiscuit ever again. This would become his trademark, he loved to harass and humiliate his competition. Unlike other horses using speed to win, Seabiscuit used intimidation. Smith, seeing Seabiscuit against Exhibit, decided to take him up a notch. He took Seabiscuit to Empire City Racetrack in New York. He entered him in a midlevel stakes race, Scarsdale Handicap, which he won. Seabiscuit finished with ease. Howard came to Smith and said lets head to California, so they did. They took out on a five-day journey to California; lucky Seabiscuit got a railcar all to himself!
- ““He wakes up in the morning like a sly old codger,” said Pollard. “Y’know, the biscuit is like an old gentleman, he hates to get up with the rising sun. When you go to his stall, he lays over like a limp, old rag and peeks out at you with one eye to see whether you get what he’s trying to drive over-that he’s sick as a dog. He’d get away with it if he could, but wise old Tom Smith knows him like a book.”” (Pg. 121)
This is very significant because it shows the relationship of Smith and Seabiscuit and it also shows Seabiscuit’s brains.
- Seabiscuit constantly is hungry, sleeping, lazy, etc. Although he is all of these things he is also a great racer. This is ironic because normally if an athlete were lazy, no matter how much potential they may have, they won’t be as dominate as Seabiscuit.
Curry- verb; To rub and clean (a horse) with a currycomb (Pg.117)
Parlance- noun; A way or manner of speaking (Pg.118)
Puttees- noun; A strip of cloth wound spirally around the leg from ankle to knee (Pg.119)
Beleaguered- adjective; Struggling or stressed (Pg.119)
Careened- verb; To lurch or swerve while in motion (Pg.120)
Coercion- noun; Force (Pg.120)
Volition- noun; The act of willing, choosing, or resolving (Pg.120)
Pliant- adjective; Easily influenced or compliant (Pg.120)
Obstreperousness- adjective; Resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner (Pg.121)
Ardor- noun; Love or passion (Pg.121)
Thwarted- verb; To prevent the occurrence, realization, or attainment of (Pg.122)
Parlance- noun; A way or manner of speaking (Pg.123)
Spellbinder- noun; A powerful speaker who can captivate an audience (Pg.125)
Convexity- noun; A shape that curves or bulges outward (Pg.127)
Tenacity- noun; Persistent determination (Pg.127)
Anthropomorphism- noun; Attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena (Pg.128)
Sadistic- noun; Any enjoyment in being cruel (Pg.129)
Venerable- adjective; Commanding respect because of great age or impressive dignity (Pg.130)
Chapter 8; Fifteen Strides;
The train pulled up into Tanforan in November 1936. It was the end of the season and reporters were waiting for the more important horses that were going to be in the race to come. The horses were Indian Broom, Special Agent, and Rosemont, the king. Smith kept it anonymous that Seabiscuit was good, not even the stable hands. Seabiscuit finally got his weight back and his ribs filled out. When others were out on the track, he would just have Seabiscuit gallop. One day the track was deserted, so they snuck Seabiscuit out, added weights, an exercise rider, and let him loose. As he went, he got faster and faster, Smith had to pull out his stopwatch because no horses ever go there race speed during practice. He did not slow down on his turn as all horses do, he did a perfect turn! Seabiscuit had beaten the track record in practice! He had a 1:36 while the record was 1:38! In another practice, Seabiscuit tied the world record for seven eights of a mile running a 1:22. Smith did not let anyone know what he had seen on the track those days. He set Seabiscuit up with a race, the Bay Bridge Handicap, where two good horses entered. Seabiscuit started and was too eager since not running for so long, so he caught some dirt and fell to his knees. Luckily, Pollard stayed on and the two had to make up some speed. Seabiscuit ended up winning that race by five lengths. Seabiscuit had broken the track record at 1:36 and he ran the fifth-fastest mile ever run. He was in the World’s Fair Handicap, and won. He also beat the track record and came within a second of the world record.
December 18, Seabiscuit stepped on the Santa Anita for the first time. Many of the journalists did not believe he was good, that they would have to see it to believe it. His premiere kept moving back. He was too weary, the track too slippery, or a reoccurring rash. Smith tried everything to get rid of the rash, but it kept multiplying. Seabiscuit became irritable and lost his newfound calm. Seabiscuit gained a lot of weight because his groom was feeding him too much. Ollie, the groomer, would sneak Seabiscuit snacks when he thought Smith was not looking. Smith wanted to fire Ollie, but Seabiscuit loved him. Smith began to start on Seabiscuit’s weight loss. He gave him the jockey’s sweat suits to wear. Ollie continued to over feed Seabiscuit so Smith went to Marcela Howard who had an unspoken way of authority. After she had a talk with Ollie, the snacks stopped. Seabiscuit was far behind and the Santa Anita Handicap was in two weeks. They decided to get him a race that weekend. It was the Huntington Beach Handicap. He had some competition but again won. He was not breathing hard in the winners circle like before. Seabiscuit unfortunately only got fifth in San Antonio Handicap.
Just before the Santa Anita Handicap, reporters were calling Seabiscuit lame because he was just stretching his legs, but the day before the race, Smith took him out and he ran beautifully. Mr. and Mrs. Howard came to watch there horse in victory. Howard bet five thousand on Seabiscuit. Pollard knew his competition was Rosemont, Richards, Rosemont’s jockey, knew his only competition was Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit and Pollard were doing well the whole race and at the end were ahead, but Pollard made the mistake of resting his whip on Seabiscuit’s shoulders causing him to slow and lose rhythm. Rosemont caught up and the two were neck and neck at the end of the race. Two minutes passed to see whom the winner was, it ended up to be Rosemont. Many spectators thought that Seabiscuit had been robbed. Pollard did not have any excuse for why he did not let Seabiscuit loose until the very end. It could have been because of his blindness in his right eye. He might not have seen Rosemont until he could see him out of his left eye or he had bad depth perception on if he could get off of the rail. Neither Smith nor Howard blamed him for the loss, everyone else did.
Pewter- adjective; Consisting or made of any of the various alloys (Pg. 133)
Veiled- verb; To conceal or disguise (Pg. 134)
Clandestine- adjective; Characterized by, done in, or executed with secrecy or concealment (Pg. 135)
Palatial- adjective; Pertaining to, or resembling a palace (Pg. 138)
Portliness- noun; Rather heavy or fat (Pg. 139)
Trepidation- noun; Tremulous fear, alarm, or agitation (Pg. 141)
Russet- noun; Yellowish brown, light brown, or reddish brown (Pg. 142)
Unequivocal- adjective; Clear (Pg. 146)
Din- noun; A loud, confused noise (Pg. 147)
Chapter 9; Gravity;
In 1937, America was seven years into the Depression. Many were trying to get there minds off the poverty and entertain themselves to try to drain out the bad. Many would watch movies or sports. This is how Thoroughbred racing became popular. The Santa Anita Handicap was one of the debut radio events. This is how the world first saw Seabiscuit cross the line, the true Cinderella horse. The reporters were constantly at the stable asking Smith if they could have a photo session or sit on the horse. They would follow the Howards everywhere they went. Pollard, Smith, and the Howards were soon familiar with the gravity of celebrity status. The press began to make up stories such as Smith gave Seabiscuit two quarts of Golden Rod beer before each race. Smith hated the press. He was known to give short answers, walk away in mid question, or stare blankly at the reporter for up to three minutes. Smith did his best to keep press from seeing Seabiscuit train. He would just have the horse gallop when the press was there, but in the afternoon, when the press were watching the races, he would sneak him out to do his real workouts. Once a man walked up to one of his workouts with a stopwatch, Smith walked up asked him to borrow the watch and gave it back cleared. Seabiscuit was prone to gain weight. Therefore, Smith devised a plan to keep his weight down, but without over working him. He would make Seabiscuit think he was racing so that he lost interest in eating. He had three reasons for not letting the press see Seabiscuit train; it kept track racing secretaries away so they could not steal his training methods, it helped the horse stay in racing trim, and finally Smith just loved to see the reporters miserable! Smith had once set up a shocking devise on a park bench and each time someone would sit down, he would shock them! Smith hated the attention, but Howard loved it! He was a natural celebrity. Howard wanted stardom for Seabiscuit, so he would make sure that the reporters knew his itinerary. He would make sure he would be ready for interviews, he would pose with his wife for cameras, he would send Christmas cards of Seabiscuit to the reporters, and he would buy full-page ads about Seabiscuit’s wins.
Howard would ask himself his own questions in front of the press. Pollard had lost his press for the loss in the hundred-grander. Many would ask him harsh questions and they would not care about the answer. There were all sorts of rumors of why Seabiscuit lost. Pollard was drunk, overconfident, or not concentrating. Many blamed him for the loss, saying that if the jockeys would have been switched, Seabiscuit would have won by a long shot. Smith was enraged by the way the press was talking about Pollard; he knew that it was because of Seabiscuit’s swerve. He talked to the reporters for a long time that it was not Pollards fault and that he rode the horse brilliantly. It did not help.
Seabiscuit was ready to run. He had so much fight in him. Pollard rode him and came back with many blisters on his hands. On March 6, 1937, they entered Seabiscuit in the San Juan Capistrano, the stakes finale of Santa Anita winter meeting. There was $10,000 on the line. Pollard and Seabiscuit stepped out on to the track and thousands of fans cheered, which is when they realized how popular Seabiscuit truly was. The race had tough horses, two of which were record holders, and were eager to beat Seabiscuit. George Woolf was on Indian Broom and was going to hang back while Seabiscuit chased Special Agent. Seabiscuit blew by Special Agent and won the race easily by seven lengths beating the track record. A fan yelled, “Bring on Rosemont.” Smith wanted to, but Howard wanted his hometown to see Seabiscuit again, so they headed for Tanforan.
Smith was worried about how much weight Seabiscuit would have to carry so he loaded him with 130 pounds and had Pollard take him on a spin. Seabiscuit blazed through the empty track, or so Smith thought. A photographer had secretly snapped pictures of him practicing and another man timed his run. It was all over the sports section. So Smith thought of another plan to foil the press. Grog, another of Hard Tack’s offspring, looked identical to Seabiscuit. Grog was back in the winner’s circle but Smith had another task for Grog. They clocked Grog in and really sent out Seabiscuit to train. Since the two were almost identical, the press did not know whether that was actually Grog or Seabiscuit. During one practice, Seabiscuit clocked an amazing 1:11 2/5. Sometimes he would send the right horse to train and sometimes he would not. When the reporters would come to the barn to get photo sessions with Seabiscuit they would bring out Grog, and then Smith would let them sit on him. Even Howard was fooled and had a picture painted of “Seabiscuit” but was really Grog. Some would come in, see Seabiscuit’s legs, and think he was Grog.
In the Marchbank Handicap, Seabiscuit had a rematch with Special Agent and Indian Broom. He was ahead and seemed to be slowing down, just until the rest caught him and then he bolted off again and won easily. A few weeks later at the Bay Meadows Handicap, Seabiscuit received a 127-pound impost. Smith did not want to reveal that Seabiscuit was a great weight carrier yet, but Howard insisted. Pollard came to the track weak from trying to make weight for another horse. He passed out in the jockey’s room, and the stewards wanted to have Howard get another rider, but Pollard insisted he ride. Seabiscuit sensed Pollard’s weakness. Seabiscuit won. Pollard was able to make it through the ceremonies, but he had not yet gotten pass the hundred-grander.
At Bay Meadows, Pollard saw Oscar Otis; the person who said about if Pollard was not riding Seabiscuit, Seabiscuit would have won. Pollard went to the parking lot, where Otis was, and exchanged angry words with him, then took a newspaper folded like a bat, and struck Otis across the face. Otis fell to the ground from the blow and had a mark across his face. Pollard just walked away.
Smith was eager to go east. Howard and Pollard agreed. Pollard needed to redeem his rep. They headed East to where some competition was such as Rosemont, Aneroid, and the greatest, War Admiral.
- “Fame is a food that dead men eat/ I have no stomach for such meat.”-Quote originated by Henry Austin Dobson, repeated by Red Pollard (Pg. 158)
This quote is also significant. It shows that Pollard in no way was trying to steal the stardom from Seabiscuit nor was he trying to get any at all. Everyone wanted Seabiscuit to win, even if they were battling against him.
Parochial- adjective; Of or pertaining to a parish (Pg. 151)
Burgeoning- adjective; To grow or develop rapidly (Pg. 151)
Enthralled- verb; To hold spellbound or captivate (Pg. 152)
Advent- noun; A coming into place, view, or being (Pg. 152)
Credulity- noun; Willingness to believe or trust too readily (Pg. 154)
Mollify- verb; To soften in feeling or temper (Pg. 154)
Thwart- verb; To oppose successfully or prevent from accomplishing a purpose (Pg. 156)
Infallibility- adjective; Absolutely trustworthy or sure (Pg. 158)
Excoriation- noun; The act of denouncing or berating severely or flaying verbally (Pg. 159)
Cordoned- noun; A line of people, military posts, or ships stationed around an area to enclose or guard it (Pg. 161)
Adamantly- adverb; Stubbornly or persistently (Pg. 165)
Animosity- noun; A feeling of strong dislike, ill will, or enmity that tends to display itself in action (Pg. 165)
Chapter 10; War Admiral;
Samuel Riddle was the face of Eastern racing and resembled the monopoly man but with out the smile. In 1918, he bought the best horse in racing, Man o’ War. Observers thought that Riddle was too scared to see Man o’ War loose, that he never put him against great contenders. In 1920, Riddle retired Man o’ War, at just three. He won twenty out of twenty-one races and only raced against forty-eight different horses. Riddle hated the press. He told the press they knew nothing of horseracing. Man o’ War was breed and produced many horses that were great, but not as amazing as their sire, Man o’ War. One of his offspring, Brushup, was beautiful, elegant, and fast. Many would come to the ranch to gawk at him. Many said that when Brushup was done racing, no one would remember Man o’ War. As Brushup grew, Riddle renamed him War Admiral. War Admiral loved to run, when he would here the starting bell from his stable, he would try to drag the handlers to the track to run. He had amazing speed, so fast that no horse was even competition for him. In the spring of 1937, War Admiral never was behind anyone, from start to finish. In one start, he was eager to start and when the bell rang, his hind legs out ran his front legs, causing him to gash an inch of skin off his front legs. He gave no indication and finished the race and blood was shooting out of his leg. He won the race, the Triple Crown, his father’s record, and American speed record. He was covered in blood. Tom Smith and Red Pollard where there to see his victory and knew Seabiscuit had competition. War Admiral knew no one in his age bracket could beat him, so they needed to find some competition. That horse would be Seabiscuit.
No one thought much of Seabiscuit, who had a nobody trainer, a forgotten jockey, and who spent most of his races in claiming races. June 26 1937, Seabiscuit was starting his raid of the East, starting with the Brooklyn Handicap. Twenty thousand fans came to see Seabiscuit go up against Rosemont and Aneroid, a local hero. At the start of the race, Seabiscuit shot off to the lead at an alarming pace. Rosemont slowly caught up and inched his way in front, but made a mistake and fell back. Aneroid came up coming closer and closer to the win, but Seabiscuit fought and won! After the win, they trotted past the Fitzsimmon’s barn, and you could tell they were upset they let Seabiscuit go. Many Westerners believed he was the best horse, but the Easterners, thought differently. In July, Seabiscuit won the Butler Handicap. Two weeks later, he won the Yonkers Handicap with 129 pounds, and still broke the track record of 23 years. In August, Seabiscuit was in the Massachusetts Handicap. He and a filly named Fair Knightess were side by side, until she began to weaken. Seabiscuit was carrying 130 pounds, 22 more then Fair Knightess, and still he still beat the track record.
At the New England Turf Writers Association’s annual dinner, Howard received a trophy, and Pollard a memorial whip. The Howards loved Fair Knightess, and bought her from the owners. She moved in and was one of the only horses to keep up with Seabiscuit during morning workouts. The Howards wanted to breed her to Seabiscuit once her racing days were over.
Everyone wanted War Admiral and Seabiscuit to race. War Admiral was back in training after the hoof incident. Seabiscuit was only $2,000 dollars behind War Admiral with $142,030. Many wanted a match between the two. The Los Angeles Daily News held a pole to see who would win, and Seabiscuit was barely the favorite. The Hialeah officials wanted a match between the two. Therefore, they made a formal offering to Howard and Riddle. Howard agreed, but Riddle was against it. Riddle surprised everyone by entering War Admiral in the 1938 hundred-grander, Seabiscuit’s career goal. Smith did not believe him, so he hunted War Admiral for a race.
Seabiscuit was headed towards a record. The most consecutive stakes race wins was eight, Seabiscuit was at seven. Seabiscuit kept getting the heaviest weight in races up to twenty more pounds then competition. Every two to three pounds slows a horse down by a length. There was a problem, Seabiscuit had bad legs, and with the weight, it could make them worse. Smith had a decision to make. Howard said that his limit was 130 pounds. Many accused him of not truly testing his horse. Seabiscuit was scheduled to race at both the Hawthorne Gold Cup, which assigned him 128, and the Narragansett Special, 132, both on September 11. Howard knew that he did not want to hurt Seabiscuit with 132 pounds, but if he did not he would be criticized. The day before the race, it poured. Seabiscuit was known to have bad races on a muddy track. Seabiscuit did not have the mud racing style of leaping instead of running. In addition, he did not like to be hit in the face with mud thrown up from other horses. Also, Smith knew he had bad legs, and the mud would make them worse. Howard had to choose whether to follow his trainer wishes or to help his image. Howard made Seabiscuit run. He finished third ruining his perfect win streak. The criticism started that he should not have had him ruin his perfect winning streak due to Howard.
Muddy tracks were still to come. On October 12, 1937, Seabiscuit won the Continental Handicap putting him in the top earnings spot. Many fans began to chant, “Bring on your War Admiral.” War Admiral was finishing up on his training from his injury. Both horses were entered in the same three races. It seemed that a meeting would be in store.
Smith was proud of Seabiscuit. Many began to watch everything he did because he made just great success. He said that he just had a great horse, and that they ran him as that. As Smith led Seabiscuit into the paddock for the Laurel Handicap, Fitzsimmons approached him. He asked if he could hold the reins of the horse that he had lost as he was saddled. Smith allowed him. Smith later said it was the greatest moment of his life. Seabiscuit won that race as well. It was two weeks until the Washington Handicap and the meeting of War Admiral and Seabiscuit.
A storm came into Maryland, where the Washington Handicap was located, making the track muddier and muddier. Howard still entered him, but was scratched the day of. War Admiral won the race with flying colors. After the race, Howard caught wind that members of the Riddle barn were mocking him for being afraid of War Admiral. Howard was infuriated. The two horses were still entered in two of the same races, but Howard wanted a one on one race. Howard approached Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, 25, about the ordeal. Vanderbilt was very rich from the passing of his father and was an eligible bachelor. Vanderbilt was up for the idea, but Riddle refused. Up came the Pimlico Special, Smith scratched him because of bad weather. Smith was there to watch the race. War Admiral was acting up and endangering others like his sire. The race started and War Admiral was off to a good lead. As War Admiral was coming around the far corner, a horse pulled up to him and glanced over at him, quickly, but War Admiral noticed. It seemed that for the first time War Admiral seemed hesitant after the glance, Smith noticed and knew how to beat War Admiral. Two days after that race, Seabiscuit ran the same distance as War Admiral had, with two more pounds, and broke the track record. After a tong incident, Riddle shelved War Admiral for the season. Seabiscuit carried 130 pounds and was beat the day that he was to run War Admiral, but since he did not show, Esposa, who set a track record, beat him.
Bing Crosby joined forces with Lin, Howard’s son, and made a racing stable called Binglin Stock Farm. They had purchased some horses that they asked Howard to pick up in New York on his way back to the West. They said that he could pick one out and buy one if he liked. One was Kayak II and the other Ligaroti. Smith liked Ligaroti, but Howard wanted Kayak II.
Howard planned a fan get together when they got back to California, but they had to bear the cold trip home.
Both “Grapes of Wrath” and “Seabiscuit” mention Bing Crosby. This is a link between the two books showing they were happening at the same time. They both give you dates, but when they mention the same people, it’s different, it makes you realize that they really were at the same time facing the same common goal, the American Dream.
Appurtenances- noun; Something subordinate to another, more important thing (Pg. 169)
Détente- noun; A relaxing of tension (Pg. 170)
Imperious- adjective; Domineering in a haughty manner (Pg. 170)
Lurid- adjective; gruesome or horrible (Pg. 171)
Anesthetized- verb; To render physically insensible (Pg. 174)
Highballs- noun; A cocktail served in a tall glass and consisting of liquor, such as whiskey, mixed with water or a carbonated beverage (Pg. 174)
Quagmire- noun; An area of miry or boggy ground whose surface yields under the tread such as a bog (Pg. 177)
Liniments- noun; A medicinal fluid rubbed into the skin to soothe pain or relieve stiffness (Pg. 178)
Hellion- noun; A disorderly, troublesome, rowdy, or mischievous person (Pg. 181)
Befuddled- verb; To confuse, as with glib statements or arguments (Pg. 182)
Rescind- verb; To revoke or repeal (Pg. 182)
Emulate- verb; To try to equal or excel (Pg. 183)
Chapter 11; No Pollard, No Seabiscuit;
December 7, 1937, Red Pollard was riding Howard’s colt Exhibit. The two were passing horses one by one. Pollard saw an opening and went for it. A horse named Half Time was coming up and had to slow quickly down to avoid a collision, but couldn’t. Half Time’s jockey was on the ground, as Exhibit won the race, but was disqualified. Pollard faced suspension. The officials banned him from the Tanforan track and asked the state officials to ban him from any California races for the rest of 1937. Howard was stunned. Seabiscuit was to meet War Admiral in the Santa Anita Handicap March 5. His first preparation race was the San Francisco Handicap on December 15. Howard considered Pollard as a son, possibly filling the void of Frankie. Marcela called him Johnny, his childhood name and Charles always called him boy, even though he was almost thirty. Any insult made to Pollard, was like an insult to the Howards. Howard also was beyond that. No other jockey could ride Seabiscuit and bring him back from a race safely.
To make matters worse, War Admiral was named the Horse of the Year by the Turf and Sport Digest. Horse and Horseman magazine named Seabiscuit the Horse of the Year. Unfortunately, the Turf and Sport Digest’s opinion was more important. Then, as Smith predicted, Riddle dropped War Admiral out of the Santa Anita Handicap and announced they were going to Florida for the Hialeah’s Widener Handicap.
Howard announced that if they did not have Pollard, they could not have Seabiscuit. The stewards, not liking to be threatened, suspended him from all mounts. Howard made it clear that if Pollard could not ride Seabiscuit, Seabiscuit would be scratched. The officials decided that his suspension was up on January 1, 1938. Seabiscuit was then scheduled for the New Year’s Handicap on the first day Pollard was back.
The press was now figuring out about Seabiscuit’s early morning workouts in the fog. Many reporters and clockers were there at godly hours in the morning. So, Smith began taking Seabiscuit out late Mondays after the racing was done. He would wait for the last reporter to leave and then he would take Seabiscuit out. The next morning the press found out they were tricked.
The Howards would come to the track all the time. They would be there directly at seven in the morning and then in the afternoon retire to their box to watch the race. They would invite reporters in that had said something bad about Seabiscuit and then ask what he had against him. One day they invited Alfred Vanderbilt up to their box. He met Marcela’s cousin Manuela Hudson. The two fell in love and they were soon engaged. Vanderbilt owed the Howards.
Many waited to see what weight Seabiscuit would be given for the New Year’s Handicap. Howard was persistent about his 130-pound rule. Tracks wanted Seabiscuit to come to their track because he brought fans, exposure, and revenue. If they broke Howard’s rule, then Seabiscuit would not run. If they did follow Howard’s rule, the rivals and journalist would be angry and all over them. Seabiscuit was weighted 132 pounds. He was scratched from the race. In his stall, Seabiscuit was messing around and got a gash above his eye. The next race was the San Pasqual Handicap, was weighted 132 pounds, and therefore was scratched. There were only two more races scheduled before the Santa Anita Handicap. On January 31, after a month at being at the Santa Anita track, the clockers did not have one time on Seabiscuit. That day it started to ran, since Seabiscuit did not workout in the rain, they went to the track kitchen for food. Then two horses on the track appeared, Smith on one, Pollard on the other. Smith waved at the reporters and then Pollard took off on the horse. Afterwards, Smith was joking with the reporters, and laughing about being caught. Paranoia had gotten to some of the reporters after being fooled so much about Smith. Why did Smith wave? Smith smiled when one reporter accused him of it.
Some one called the district attorney’s office saying that someone was preparing to harm Seabiscuit. His name was James Manning and had broken into the barn to shove a sponge up Seabiscuit’s nose making it hard for him to breathe. He was sent from the East. The district attorney took it serious, and had him arrested. Since he had not committed the crime, he was given the choice of being booted from California or serving jail time. The news got out and many were appalled.
The reporters caught on that whenever Howard was at the training track, Seabiscuit was to run. Therefore, Smith used this to his advantage. Whenever Seabiscuit was working out, he would have Howard go to his box with the press, excuse himself for like two minutes to watch Seabiscuit, and be back before they became suspicious. Seabiscuit was ready for his next race, the February 19 1938 San Carlos Handicap. Seabiscuit was weighted 130. Pollard was ready to ride since his suspension. Unfortunately, it rained, leaving the track unsuitable for Seabiscuit to run. Seabiscuit was scratched, but Fair Knightess still was entered. Pollard decided to ride her. In the race was He Did. He was known for wreaking. He Did was right in front of Fair Knightess when he lost control and fell, Fair Knightess had no time to get out of the way and crashed into him, sending her and Pollard into a somersault. Right behind Fair Knightess was Maurice Peters atop Mandingham. He tried to slow, but crashed and sent Fair Knightess on top of Pollard. Peters, with a sprained ankle, got up to help Pollard. He saw that the left side of his chest was crushed. The Howards rushed to his side and went with him in the ambulance to the hospital. Smith stayed behind with Fair Knightess who was paralyzed in the hind end. Smith had x-rays taken because if her back was broken, it was over. At the hospital, Pollard had broken ribs, a collarbone shattered, severe internal injuries, a broken shoulder, and a concussion. He barely was alive. Many newspapers picked up the story, some saying he had been killed. In Edmonton, Pollard’s father had gotten a hold of a newspaper. Three days after the incident, he stabilized. Reporters came in taking pictures after pictures of him. The doctors told him he would not ride for about a year.
Many jockeys knew he would not be able to ride, so they began to try to get the mount by following Smith and Howard around. Howard could not think about replacing him. Pollard told Smith and Howard that Seabiscuit had to run and they needed a jockey. Pollard suggested that George Woolf ride Seabiscuit. Woolf unfortunately was bound in a contract to ride another horse. Therefore, Howard opened up the position. Smith and Howard began to interview by Smith wanted a close friend of Woolf and Pollard named Noel “Spec” Richardson. Smith continued to train Seabiscuit for high weights. In practice, Seabiscuit shaved 10 pounds off his chubby figure getting him in racing shape.
The jockey position was still empty until Sonny Workman rode their colt Ariel Cross and won it beautifully. He was only hired for the San Antonio and if he rode Seabiscuit well, then he would ride him in the Santa Anita Handicap. Howard took Workman to see Pollard to learn about Seabiscuit. Pollard told him not to use the whip! He probably thought he would over due the whips and Seabiscuit would dislike it. Howard and Smith gave him their own instructions telling him to use the whip. Workman chose the rider’s instructions. The San Antonio had two old rivals Indian Broom and Aneroid, both with much less weight than he did. Pollard, in pain, listened to the radio in his hospital bed. He felt out of place. He was here in the hospital while his colt was out running. Workman could not keep Seabiscuit calm. Seabiscuit came out of the gate late. He caught up some from last place. Pollard was cheering him on! Only Indian Broom and Aneroid were ahead of him. He passed Indian Broom, and was aiming for Aneroid. Workman did not whip him, because he did not notice Seabiscuit was playing with Aneroid. He was just toying as if waiting for his jockey to tell him to go, so he never went, letting Aneroid win. Pollard, after being excited, could not believe it. He tried to think of a way to ride the next Saturday, but could not. He asked the nurse to get him one. He deserved one. Pollard was on the rode to alcoholism.
Howard decided to let Workman ride in the Santa Anita Handicap. Smith was mad because Workman had not noticed Seabiscuit’s ears, which means he is not concentrating. Smith insisted and Workman was out. On February 28, Seabiscuit got his plaque for Horse of the Year from Horse and Horseman. Woolf tried his hardest to ride badly to get out of his contract, and it was a success. Woolf had a full laid out detailed chart that had Seabiscuit’s weakness and he explained how he would ride him. Woolf got the job. Woolf made a bet on Seabiscuit to win and then stopped at the hospital to see Pollard. The two talked about Seabiscuit and Woolf promised that if Seabiscuit won, he would give Pollard 10% of the purse.
Sobriquet- noun; A nickname (Pg. 188)
Idiosyncratic- noun; A characteristic, habit, mannerism, or the like, that is peculiar to an individual (Pg. 189)
Ire- noun; Intense anger (Pg. 192)
Phalanx- noun; A number of individuals, esp. persons united for a common purpose (Pg. 195)
Imbibing- verb; To consume (liquids) by drinking (Pg. 203)
Analgesia- noun; Absence of sense of pain (Pg. 203)
Abysmally- adverb; Extremely or hopelessly bad or severe (Pg. 204)
Chapter 12; All I Need Is Luck;
Rain had come again the week before the Santa Anita Handicap. Los Angeles flooded and power went out for days. Smith stayed at Seabiscuit’s side. He acquired a cough. It grew worse until one day Howard came and Smith could barely stand. Howard called an ambulance but Smith refused to go on the ambulance and leave his horses. Eventually the cough subsided. Seabiscuit had constant security. Someone slept with him at night and two other guards had to talk to each other all night so the other did not fall asleep. Then during the day, he had one guard. Smith had a password system and a dog that roamed the barn as security also. Seabiscuit had an electric door that Smith built himself. Seabiscuit was safe. Woolf was not, two days before the race, someone tried to kidnap him. The kidnappers had not been identified so Woolf hired two bodyguards to follow him around. The rain stopped and they began drying the track. Smith and Woolf talked with Pollard about the race and the unfair weights, Seabiscuit with 130, again. Another promising horse, Stagehand, only had 100 pounds, the lowest possible! Woolf knew he was the horse to beat.
On the morning of the race, the Howards went to pick up Pollard at the hospital. He waited in a wheelchair and had to take two doctors and a nurse to the race also. When they arrived, Pollard’s wheelchair would not fit, so he had to walk to a certain spot, the crowd cheered for him! Marcela was very nervous for the start. Woolf was ready for Stagehand, who had an identical brother in the race Sceneshifter.
At the start, Seabiscuit had some trouble, being pushed around by Count Atlas. Woolf almost fell off of Seabiscuit. This horse would not move, and the head runners were farther and farther in the distance. Seabiscuit finally broke free. He was in twelfth place, and was behind another pack of slower horses. He was looking for an opening, and found one that was small and Seabiscuit had to be quick through. Seabiscuit sped through the hole. Seabiscuit was gaining and gaining. He quickly passed Stagehand and was in second with Aneroid to go. Many clockers had been stunned at the stopwatches, which displayed a time of 44 and 1/5, which was two seconds faster than the world record. He passed Aneroid and was in the lead. Stagehand and Sceneshifter switched caps and Stagehand was gaining on Seabiscuit like Rosemont the year before. Stagehand’s jockey was ready to breeze by Seabiscuit with a fresh-legged horse. Stagehand and Seabiscuit were even. Seabiscuit then amazed everyone by accelerating even after he had broken the world record. The two crossed the line at the same time and again no one was sure who had won. The stewards announced the winner was Stagehand. Marcela and Pollard wept. This was twice Seabiscuit had lost what Howard wanted most. Many knew that the race was Seabiscuit’s. He showed amazing speeds for heavy weights and broke records. Woolf was pissed; it was the first time he lost in a photo finish in a stakes race. Seabiscuit stood proud. He did not know he lost. Smith knew they would win next time.
Burly- adjective; Large in bodily size, stout, or sturdy (Pg. 208)
Rapt- adjective; Deeply engrossed or absorbed (Pg. 211)
Undulating- adjective; Having a wavelike or rippled form, surface (Pg. 213)
Whir- verb; To go, fly, revolve, or otherwise move quickly with a humming or buzzing sound (Pg. 215)
Chapter 13; Hardball;
Just after Seabiscuit’s loss, the buzz was that War Admiral just won his 10th consecutive win at Florida’s Hialeah Park. War Admiral ran beautifully and was compared to Seabiscuit’s race that day during the Santa Anita Handicap. It was an obsession to find a meeting race for Seabiscuit and War Admiral. Howard, of course, wanted a race. Riddle, again, declined. He felt like Seabiscuit was below War Admiral and it would be demeaning to War Admiral if he made him run against Seabiscuit. He said he would not have them run together separately, but if Seabiscuit showed up at one of War Admiral’s scheduled races, he would not care. Smith and Howard knew that they didn’t want them to meet at a race with other horses because there would be a third horse that could hold one of the two behind like Count Atlas did to Seabiscuit in the hundred-grander. Howard wanted a match race. Howard sought out Herbert Bayard Swope, the chairman of the New York Racing Commission. He was from War Admiral’s home turf and would be one of the one’s to convince Riddle of the match. Swope said he would try.
Everyone was talking about the foul that Count Atlas had done to Seabiscuit during the hundred-grander. They saw it as a conspiracy, like the kidnapping or sponging. A group of reporters went to the stewards to see the video they had made of the races. They watched and expected to just see Count Atlas fouling him, but they saw more. They gave them back to the stewards and they saw that Woolf had whipped Johnny Adams. He admitted and was suspended for the rest of the meet. Adams was not penalized. Howard was angry and had Woolf’s back. He explained that Woolf just whipped him to stop trying to ruin such a good horse’s chances at the purse. He then came at War Admiral for being allowed to start outside the gate since he kicks and bucks in the gate. Howard said that maybe he would try that with Seabiscuit since it works so well.
Howard had to find a new jockey. Seabiscuit was to race in Tijuana during Woolf’s suspension, so he hired Spec Richardson. Problem was that no one wanted to race Seabiscuit who weighted at 135 pounds. Luckily, the minimum 100-pound weight limit is not a rule in Mexico that some horses rode with less than 100. After that, seven horses entered. As they arrived, fans and paparazzi swarmed them. Seabiscuit, being around cameras all the time, seemed to strike poses, dubbing him a “movie star.” Pollard was finally well enough to travel, so there he was back in Tijuana. The town was very poor compared to when Pollard and Woolf where there. The Molino Rojo was shut down and turned into a school! Officials began making it easier for Seabiscuit fans to come to the track by widening roads and hiring extra personal. This did not help, traffic was terrible and many fans were stuck in it. They did not have enough seating or food. The race was easily won, he bolted from the starting gate and every time he passed a photographer, he would perk up and raise his tail posing. It took two days to clean up the town after the race.
March 29, 1938, Seabiscuit arrived in Tanforan. Swope, being true to his word, got Howard that race. It was the Suburban Handicap on Memorial Day, May 30, 1938. Howard decided to play hardball and decline the race; he wanted a one-on-one race. He said that he wanted the race run at Belmont, equal weights, between September 15 and October 1, and a much higher purse such as 100,000. He was tailoring to Riddle’s desires. War Admiral’s home track was Belmont. It was an offer that was hard to refuse because every term Howard set was a bribe to get Riddle to race. It would make him look like the good person and if his horse lost then he could blame Howard for the conditions. Howard accidentally let it slip that there was a negotiation. The press was all over it and America was over excited. Swope was trapped and had to agree. He rushed to get things ready. The board was thinking of approving the race. Belmont was getting ready, but many other tracks were making offers and Howard was listening since Belmont did not have turns and was far away. Then there came up talk about two races. Riddle sat down with Swope, and only wanted to have the race earlier so the horses would not be tired or injured. Everyone awaited April 12, which was the day the officials would approve the race or decline.
Red Pollard and Fair Knightess stepped out on the track together after two months ago wrecking. Fair Knightess had been brought back from partial paralysis by Smith’s hard labors. Pollard got up on Seabiscuit to see how he held up. He was fine. The telegram came and Howard had a one-on-one race. There was no purse though. The race would be Memorial Day. Howard agreed to the new date. He had only one condition. If Pollard could not race, there would be no race. Riddle and Swope had a phone conversation where Riddle boasted about how War Admiral was going to cream Seabiscuit. The X-Rays showed that Pollard’s fractures had healed and with training, he would be able to ride in May. Howard called Swope and accepted the race.
Before the big day, Howard had entered Seabiscuit in a race for charity in Bay Meadows. It was April 16. Seabiscuit was assigned 136 pounds but Howard was able to shave off three. Every other horse was carrying 20 fewer pounds than Seabiscuit. Woolf was to be the jockey and was able to fatten up making his Diabetes happy. Seabiscuit easily won the race and broke the track record. For Woolf, the race was bittersweet, he thought it would be the last time he would ride that magnificent horse.
Next on the agenda was the Pimlico’s Dixie Handicap and after that it was to New York to face War Admiral. They were in the rail car and Seabiscuit started to walk in circles. Smith was there to read him to sleep. Smith got a dark feeling that something was not quite right with Seabiscuit. Smith knew something about one-on-one races and the horse who sped to the lead first, normally won. His next task would have to be how to get Seabiscuit to bolt from the start. On the way to the Dixie Handicap, Smith cancelled it because he needed to work with Seabiscuit.
Flanks- noun; The section of flesh on the body of a person or an animal between the last rib and the hip (Pg. 222)
Augmented- verb; To make (something already developed or well under way) greater, as in size, extent, or quantity (Pg. 226)
Extolling- verb; To praise highly (Pg. 229)
Epaulets- noun; A shoulder ornament, especially a fringed strap worn on military uniforms (Pg. 234)
Chapter 14; The Wise We Boys;
April 26, Seabiscuit arrived in New York. The polls had already opened before they arrived and many were betting on War Admiral, few on Seabiscuit. Oscar Otis found he was the only journalist who thought Seabiscuit could win. On April 28, Pollard arrived with Woolf, showing it was possible for him not to ride. As soon as Pollard arrived, hard training began. Since there was no doors to the starting gates, Smith wanted to sharpen Seabiscuit’s reaction to the bell. They repeated a drill where Smith held a bell and smacked Seabiscuit to go at the same time to get him to run hard at that sound. Seabiscuit caught on quickly and soon was bolting before the whip hit him. Pollard also needed training for the quick start, so he was sent out on quick sprinters. He was still stiff but was starting to look like the rider he once was. The second phase of starting gate training was not letting Seabiscuit relax in the gate and be whooped by War Admiral. The third phase was to let Seabiscuit become use to horses throwing fits in the starting gates. Since horses alert from clues to each other, Seabiscuit might start banging around in the gates if War Admiral does. So Smith brought out Chanceview and let him bang around while Seabiscuit watched.
On May 4, the two horses were brought out for pre race photos. War Admiral was a handful throwing his saddle off and rearing up. He was spooked by a train whistle and listened shortly for the photographers to get their pictures. Seabiscuit was up next and was very calm and strutted in as if he owned the place. He stood still with Pollard on him until the photo shoot was done.
Smith was his same non-talking self and reporters tried and tried to get things out of him, but they could not. Howard must have forced Smith to let the reporters in the barn, unlike War Admiral’s trainer George Conway who was afraid that War Admiral would get spooked and bump his head. May 14 he would not let the press in the barn anymore. Everyone in the Howard barn stopped talking. In a workout, Seabiscuit ran an unusually slow time. Smith could not find the problem. He tried to practice in secrecy. The press found out he was trying to fool them again. Since Smith would not talk, they would not write about Seabiscuit. That plan failed because the public wanted to hear about Seabiscuit. They called their conflict with Smith “the Battle of Long Island.” Then they formed a conspiracy called the “Wise We Boys.” They had a clocker at the track 24/7 and had reporters following Smith around 24/7 also. They took shifts and then had meeting when they shared their information. They found that Smith liked to train at 8:00 at night. A clocker hid in a tree and got Seabiscuit’s time. Then Smith retaliated by bringing Seabiscuit over to the practice track to practice in broad daylight. The clockers and reporters thought they had broken into Tom Smith’s ways, but Seabiscuit never showed. Smith had led him back to the main track secretively. Then he decided to use hiding in plain sight. Therefore, he scheduled a practice run on the main track right after the last race. The clockers and reporters would think he would be tricking them, but really, he was not. To work on the track right after a race, you have to have permission from the stewards, so Smith called instead of walking. A reporter picked up because the stewards were in a meeting. Once again, they fooled Smith. They spied through peepholes at that practice and saw Smith smiling. Possibly, he was smiling because he knew he was talking to a reporter so he practiced Grog instead.
May 20, Smith led Seabiscuit down to the track, let him warm up, and then put him in the starting gate. It was clear that Seabiscuit was different because he began banging around like Chanceview. He then went out of the gate strong, but decelerated and would not respond to the whip. It was his best time at Belmont, but unfortunately, it was a slow time. Smith really needed Howard, but he and Marcela were on a cruise. They had no idea what was even happening. A week before the match race, Pollard rode Fair Knightess in her first race since the incident. It was in the Handspring Handicap and she was a long shot. The two were unbeatable and won easily. Pollard was ready to go. Seabiscuit was not ready. His speed was gone and Smith did not know why. Press and fans were pressuring Smith about Seabiscuit’s condition. Smith made a decision that there would be no match race. Smith had noticed that War Admiral was in worse shape than Seabiscuit, running slower times. Smith was not sure if the slow times were just ploys to trick him. He sent a message to the Howards on their cruise, and told them to come to Belmont. The Howards found Belmont stressful with all the accusations and they wanted to know if this was another trick of Smiths. Howard set up a day he would run the race in practice for the reporters and clockers. Smith took Seabiscuit out for a short gallop to warm up before the practice. While he galloped, he watched Seabiscuit’s knees, and found the problem. There was a hint of soreness. Howard had a hard decision, let him run, lose, and hurt himself or face the disappointment. The horses were everywhere and were talked about constantly. Smith and Howard talked about it in his cottage for hours, then emerged and got ready for Seabiscuit’s showing. Everyone was ready to watch him practice when the announcer said that there would be no race.
Howard had thoughts of retiring Seabiscuit, but Smith knew he had more to give. He called the Belmont and asked them to reschedule the race for the fall so that Seabiscuit was ready, they considered. War Admiral was to retire at the end of the season. The officials offered War Admiral a race that weekend when the match race was planned. They accepted, but at the last moment scratched without reason. C.V. Whitney, the main man at the Belmont track, would not ever reschedule the match race after what they were through. Many other tracks did not want the match race either. Therefore, they would have to follow War Admiral. The two would meet June 19 during the Massachusetts Handicap.
Gangplank- noun; A flat plank or small, movable, bridgelike structure for use by persons boarding or leaving a ship at a pier (Pg. 238)
Mercurial- adjective; Changeable (Pg. 241)
Albeit- conjunction; Although (Pg. 243)
Curmudgeonly- noun; Bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person (Pg. 244)
Incongruity- noun; The quality of disagreeing (Pg. 248)
Ubiquitous- adjective; existing or being everywhere (Pg. 252)
Seabiscuit back then was a Paris Hilton. The press could not get enough of the horse. They snuck around trying to catch him, just like they do to Paris.
Chapter 15; Fortune’s Fool;
June 23, 1938, Seabiscuit and Pollard were back in the swing of things. Seabiscuit was itching to run and blew the track away. There were six days until the meeting with War Admiral, and they were ready. After their practicing, they went back to the barn where Pollard met up with his old friend Bert Blume. Blume was in some trouble because there was no rider to ride his colt. Pollard said he would ride him. Pollard probably should not have ridden him because he was immature and he had a major race soon. The colt lost control and slammed into a barn corner. Pollard was screaming. His right leg had almost been sheared off. The bone was showing. They called ambulances and Smith. They took him to the hospital in a little one-person car. Blume never forgave himself and he sat in the barn and sobbed. The hospital was only 5 minutes from the track, but none of the helpers knew where it was. Forty-five minutes later an ambulance with Smith pulled up to them and got Pollard. They drove and no one could find it with the heavy traffic. Pollard yelled at them to stop and told Smith to get him a beer from a liquor store. Smith did not because he did not like Pollard’s drinking habits. Yummy was there to help him though. They finally arrived at the hospital. Yummy called all his friends and stayed by his side all night. Howard was called and had all the best orthopedic specialists on planes. They saved it from amputation, but he would probably never walk again. Smith got Woolf to come to Massachusetts. Pollard stabilized.
Smith prepared Kayak for a race at Suffolk. He showed promise after being trained by Smith’s son Jimmy. He had gotten second place and Smith thought he is going to be very good.
Seabiscuit did well under Woolf. He was running very good times and his knee soreness was almost gone. War Admiral was himself too. He was acting up and refusing to run. June 26, Smith led Seabiscuit out on the rain soaked track. He ran an amazing time. He was ready. Smith entered him in the race, although it was raining. Kayak ran his race well and had an excellent time.
David Alexander, host of NBC, came in to interview Pollard and Woolf. They interviewed Pollard in his hospital room. Alexander knew of Pollard’s mischievousness and came prepared with scripts. Pollard read his and Woolf his. As they came to the part about race tactics, Pollard dropped his script and he went off and said some crazy stuff. NBC did not find it funny and had to transcript the interview.
The rain stopped on the racing day. In the morning, he took Seabiscuit out and ran beautifully. He was in the race. Howard bet everything on Seabiscuit that he had in his pockets. Forty minutes before the race, Smith found a sore spot on Seabiscuit’s leg that must have come from that morning. The horse could not race. He was 5 minutes passed the time that scratches had to be in and he would have to file for special scratch form. No one believed him when he told them that Seabiscuit was injured. They wanted him to race, but no one could force his injured horse to run. They brought in Howard to confirm the injury. He did not want to scratch again, so he compromised that if two veterinarians say he is injured, he is scratched. Smith was right, and the veterinarians said he would probably never run again. Many booed at the sight of him not running. Everyone was disappointed and no Howard charm could fix this. They watched the race; War Admiral got caught in a hole and had a gash on his hoof. He came in third. Everything was going wrong for the Howards and Riddle. No one wanted a match between the two because they would not race.
- When Pollard rode that colt, Seabiscuit was finally healed and ready to race. It’s was ironic because he got injured just when The Biscuit was healed.
Guttural- adjective; Of or pertaining to the throat (Pg. 259)
Teetotaler- noun; A person who abstains totally from intoxicating drink (Pg. 260)
Supine- adjective; Lying on the back, face or front upward (Pg. 263)
Assuaged- verb; To make milder or less severe (Pg. 263)
Poultices- noun; A soft moist mass of bread, meal, clay, or other adhesive substance, usually heated, spread on cloth, and applied to warm, moisten, or stimulate an aching or inflamed part of the body (Pg. 268)
Chapter 16; I Know My Horse;
Seabiscuit arrived in Arlington Park near Chicago. As he came out of his railcar, the press was everywhere. The reporters did not believe that Seabiscuit was hurt since he walked so soundly out of the railcar. Smith did not talk to the reporters; he hopped up on Pumpkin and let Seabiscuit to the barn. Seabiscuit was indeed injured but not as bad as the veterinarians thought. Smith brought him back to his healthy self. The public pressure was on the Howard barn. Arlington Park announced that if it rained, Seabiscuit would probably be scratched. On race day, rain came, of course. Seabiscuit was not in shape and most in his barn knew he would not win, but they were pressured, and as long as it was not raining during the race, Seabiscuit would run. Seabiscuit came in second, and the myth was broken. They were headed for California.
The new Hollywood Park was offering a $50,000 purse for the Hollywood Gold Cup. Bing Crosby and Lin’s horse Ligaroti were racing in it. Ligaroti had just beaten the horse that was considered the second best horse in California. It was a family affair. Seabiscuit was assigned 133 pounds. Many thought that Seabiscuit’s days were behind him. He had to run a big race and win. The race was scheduled for July 16, a week after arriving in California, so Smith would exercise Seabiscuit in his railcar. Many would gather at the stops and cheer him on.
July 11, 1938 was Seabiscuit’s first workout at Hollywood. Smith did not like the track because it was deep and crumbly. Seabiscuit flew on his workouts. Many thought they were faking his injury because he looked amazing. The stewards did not want to be caught in another “Seabiscuit” problem and have him scratch at the last moment, so they hired a veterinarian to observe him and see if his injury was real. Smith was angry and said if he did not think Seabiscuit could run, he would not. He knew his horse the best, and no veterinarian was going to check him. The vet came anyway. Smith stood in his way and slammed the door in his face. The vet then left. The stewards wanted to see him practice. He did and blew them away. They then followed him as he cooled and there was no lameness. Then Smith got them angry by saying Seabiscuit was a “Doubtful Starter” on his entry form. The stewards were angry and sent the boy back for Smith. They said that if Seabiscuit is not a positive yes, they were denying his entry completely. Smith said he would definitely race if no one checked out his horse.
On July 16, Seabiscuit was running for the Gold Cup. He was weighted 133 pounds. Seabiscuit had a bad start and sank further back. Smith knew he was having trouble with the gritty track, sinking with each step. Woolf knew he could not gain with Seabiscuit’s hooves sinking, so he waited for the others to get tired. Since Seabiscuit was built shorter, it was harder for him to see around big tall horses. He could not tell if it was Ligaroti in the front of Specify. He saw it was Ligaroti and edged closer without asking for Seabiscuit’s best. He was running out of time so he tapped Seabiscuit twice and he took off gaining on Specify, then Seabiscuit was on hot pursuit. Seabiscuit won and broke the track record! Everyone knew that Seabiscuit was not lame and they stayed late to apologize. Smith even smiled
Chapter 17; The Dingbustingest Contest You Ever Clapped An Eye On;
Lin Howard was used to having everything go his way, but lately it was not. He was in a mood were something crazy sounds sensible. Lin wanted to beat his father in racing by creaming Seabiscuit with his horse Ligaroti. Ligaroti was the second best horse in the west. He so wanted to be number one. Charles Howard would bloat about Seabiscuit all the time. He enjoyed it even more when Lin was around. Lin propositioned a race between Seabiscuit and Ligaroti. Crosby lit up for his track Del Mar. Del Mar had attendance troubles and a Seabiscuit showing would boost his attendance. Howard was not so sure about the idea. Howard saw merits such as a purse win could get Seabiscuit closer to Beau’s money winning mark and Smith might enjoy racing a horse trained by his son just as Howard would. Howard gave in. The purse was $25,000, Seabiscuit would carry 130 pounds, and Ligaroti would carry 115. Seabiscuit was itching to run. Smith had enough with the reporters and had to move his stall. Howard received a phone call from an official that someone placed a $5,000 bet on Ligaroti challenging him to $15,000. Howard agreed. The anonymous bettor was Lin. Lin and Crosby had certain sections for fans. They put up posters for more marketing. Many thought it was just to make Seabiscuit’s bankroll larger. The two jockeys Woolf and Richardson made a deal that whoever won, they would split the purse between them.
The two horses started side by side, ripping down the track. Seabiscuit got the lead. They were inching back and forth; first Seabiscuit would be in the lead, then Ligaroti, and so on. They were speeding down the track and Richardson was playing every card. Richardson kept yelling at Woolf to distract him. Ligaroti weakened and Richardson reached out and grabbed Seabiscuit’s saddlecloth. Woolf told him to let go, but he did not. Ligaroti caught up and then Richardson grabbed Woolf’s whip hand, Woolf tried to wiggle out but he could not. Then he locked his leg with Woolf’s so that if Seabiscuit moved forward, Woolf would fall off. He knew he could not move forward but move Richardson back. He broke his hand free, grabbed Ligaroti slowed him down and let Seabiscuit barely take the wire. He broke the track record by 4 seconds carrying 130 pounds, Richardson and Ligaroti. Seabiscuit won! The stewards saw everything. Richardson went up the stairs and claimed that Woolf fouled him. He said he had, but explained that Richardson fouled first. The ruling stood, Seabiscuit had won. The two jockeys retired to the jockey’s room and snapped at each other. The two jockeys were called in the next morning and were both suspended. They were possibly suspended from the California tracks until January 1, 1939.
The press knew something was up. They were waiting for someone to slip and they did. An anonymous article was written that accused Woolf of admitting to make the race close and since Richardson was gaining, he had to resort to dirty riding. It also accused Richardson of making a bet that Ligaroti would win and he wanted to cash in on it. The story was picked up nationwide. Both denied ever saying or doing either of those things.
Howard saw the story and he was enraged, he could not sit by and let them say this. He explained to reporters that it was not their plan. Their plan was to get far ahead of him. That plan did not work, he explained, because both had record shattering times. Howard challenged the anonymous writer to explain his facts. The California Turf Writers Association saw that unofficial information was causing problems so they published exactly what had happened. Howard had no idea of how to get another rider. Lin inadvertently helped him by showing the filmed race to press and stewards. The tape showed that Richardson committed every foul and Woolf only acted as self-defense. The press wanted Woolf’s suspension overturned. The board decided that since the race was a non-betting race that they were allowed to lift the suspension off both jockeys. After he was back, Howard announced they were going east to find War Admiral. They got on the train and they were off.
Crooning- verb; To hum or sing softly (Pg. 284)
Zeal- noun; Enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance (Pg. 290)
Chicanery- noun; Trickery or deception by quibbling or sophistry (Pg. 290)
Libelous- adjective; Containing, constituting, or involving a libel (Pg. 292)
Chagrined- noun; A feeling of vexation, marked by disappointment or humiliation (Pg. 292)
Chapter 18; Deal;
The fall of 1938 approached and Red Pollard was not doing well. They did multiple surgeries re breaking it and resetting it, but it would not heal. He was no longer strong but was now a skeleton. He weighed 86 pounds and his face aged so much he could have passed for 60 on his 29th birthday. He told his friends he would ride again, but they did not believe him, and neither did he. Red read into Emerson’s vision of natural polarities which things were balanced, such as darkness by lightness or loss by gain. Pollard was falling in love with his private nurse, Agnes Conlon, which every patient adored. She was out of his league and girlfriend to a physician. She was the opposite of Pollard. While she would tend to his leg, he would read her quotes and he told her his dark secret of his blindness and trusted her completely. That fall, Pollard proposed to her. She found something about him appealing. She was sure he was dying, but she still said yes. He sent a letter to his family about the engagement. Agnes, sort of, yearned to be like Pollard.
Alfred Vanderbilt was back from his honeymoon with Marcela’s cousin. He had not ever given up on the match between War Admiral and Seabiscuit. He waited until both were peaked and September 1938 seemed perfect. Riddle, at a society dinner, announced he would put up $25,000 dollars as forfeit money against Seabiscuit. Howard was all over it. He brought in the press and said he would race him at anytime and any place. Vanderbilt jumped on the deal. He wanted to get his racetrack in it. He could only offer part of the hundred-grand prize money. In addition, Riddle vowed never to race at Pimlico due to one of his starters using tongs. Suddenly, Riddle backed out of his offer. He was going to finish the planned season for War Admiral and then retire him at four.
September 20, at the Manhattan Handicap, Seabiscuit came in third due to the track’s condition. September 28, he was due to race in the Havre de Grace Handicap in Maryland. Everyone thought that the chances of the two horses racing was gone, everyone except Vanderbilt. In Maryland, Seabiscuit won, raising his stocks. Vanderbilt used this advantage and got Howard in on the plan, and then it was time to work on Riddle. He had so much trouble getting a hold of Riddle that he almost gave up. Vanderbilt got Riddle to listen, and he proposed that he make the Pimlico Special a two-horse event. Both Seabiscuit and War Admiral had won the distance he was pushing and he set the date of November 1. He had a problem because both owners wanted a $100,000 purse and they were shocked when they found out it was $15,000. To make sure that both would run, there was a forfeit fee of $5,000. Riddle would race if each horse carried 120 pounds, George Cassidy as the starter (he was from Belmont), and the horses start in a walking start and not a gate one. The first two demands were fulfilled, but the third, they were not sure about. War Admiral would have an advantage because he breaks quicker than Seabiscuit. The horse that breaks faster, typically wins. In addition, War Admiral had done the start before and Seabiscuit had never done it. Smith said he would do it if the signal to go were a bell not a flag. Vanderbilt agreed and Howard sent his forfeit fee check. Vanderbilt had Howard, now he just needed Riddle. He had to race across town to get the contract to Riddle before he left. He got him to sign it and nothing was stopping the race of the century now. Smith was secretly happy that Riddle wanted the walk up. He had something up his sleeve. Smith said he was going to grab the lead from War Admiral, and he did not even know it.
Pollard was lying in his hospital bed when Woolf called to ask him how to ride the race. He thought that War Admiral was going to smoke Seabiscuit in the start. Pollard told him to go full throttle to the first turn and then on the backstretch, do something crazy, like let him catch up. Pollard was sure that if Woolf let War Admiral challenge him, Seabiscuit would run harder and faster. Then once War Admiral gives him the look, race him hard. Pollard knew that everything he was asking Woolf to do was going against the reinsmanship handbook, but he had to trust him. Woolf agreed to do what Pollard said and Smith and Woolf went to work.
The starter bell rang a lot like an alarm clock. Smith made his own starter that sounded like that one and headed to the track with Seabiscuit. He stood behind Seabiscuit and pressed the bell, making Seabiscuit rocket start. Woolf started his career with walking starts and knew how to handle them. Everyday, Seabiscuit became better at the start, and eventually nailed it every time. He then took Seabiscuit back to the barn and let the press in to stare at “Seabiscuit” who was really Grog.
For the next month, all America could talk about were Seabiscuit and War Admiral. People were taking sides and arguing back and forth about who would win. People who had never watched racing before were choosing sides. As October came, it began to get more stressful around the track. Smith spent his time working with Kayak, who won two more races. Charley Kurtsinger, jockey of War Admiral, was trying to convince his wife that if she came and watched, he would win the race. He was in a horse accident earlier in the season and she could not watch him ride any more. The Howards were nervous too. Marcela went to Mass every morning and she slept with her prayer beads. A few days before the race it rained and fortunately, the sun came out. Both horses wanted the rail. If Seabiscuit got it, they believed that he might have a chance, if War Admiral got it; they thought it was over before it began.
Pollard’s days were spent with David Alexander. He was in love and he was about to start walking again. He started to become optimistic and thought he could maybe ride again. He was back to his old self, playing tricks on people. He knew that Seabiscuit would win. Although, he knew no one could ride him better and he wished he would be there to ride him. As Alexander left, Pollard said that the Biscuit would win by four.
War Admiral’s team stayed confident. Conway would watch Seabiscuit’s training. Everyone in the Riddle barn knew that Smith was trying to have Seabiscuit break faster than War Admiral, but it was crazy-talk. Kurtsinger was gloating about how he knew that it would not even be a race. The Howard barn was happy that they thought this way. Pollard lied about what he said the plan was and no one let them in on it.
Pollard told Woolf that if he wanted to win, he had to ride War Admiral. Howard boasted about how he thought Seabiscuit would beat him out of the start. The journalist’s were waiting until Tuesday evening to fill in the Horse of the Year. Woolf came onto the track one night to look at the track. It was wet. He was looking for the hardest driest path to take Seabiscuit on. He found a tractor had been on the track and it’s wheels had made a dry hard path near the rail. He knew that he had to get on that lane and follow it. Then after he knew the path, he left.
Ruminated- verb; To chew the cud (Pg. 298)
Tersely- adverb; Neatly or effectively concise (Pg. 309)
Chapter 19; The Second Civil War;
Jervis Spencer walked the track observing the ground. If the ground was unsuitable to run, the race was off. Everyone awaited his decision. There had been rain, but there was hope that the race would go on. He announced that the race was on. Marcela Howard received a prerace gift of a Dalmatian puppy they named Match because of the match race. Howard received a bet from Pollard that said he wanted to bet $200 for Seabiscuit was going to win by five. Howard did, and placed in $25,000 of his own. Woolf and Howard walked around together talking of the race. As they walked, they ran into Jim Fitzsimmons. The three talked about the plan that would hopefully lead Seabiscuit to the win. Vanderbilt had the race on a Tuesday because he hoped the attendance would be within Pimlico’s 16,000. It did not help, people were coming from everywhere and it was much over the capacity. There were 40,000 people in attendance and another 10,000 that could not get in, but where still all around the track. As the horses were saddled, Marcela pinned a medal of Saint Christopher to bring him luck. Everyone was nervous, besides Woolf, who was extremely calm.
The starter’s bell would not work, so they had to borrow Smith’s homemade one. Some had later thought that Smith might have had something to do with the bell not working for he had the look in his eye. Another problem had begun. Two assistant starters for War Admiral showed up, Smith complained that he could not have assistant starters. Therefore, War Admiral had to be without his extra helpers when he misbehaves at the start.
At four, the two horses came to the track to start. War Admiral came out first weaving and nodding. Seabiscuit came out with is head down as if he were something gathering beneath him, as if he were coiling up. There were an estimated 40 million listening to Clem McCarthy’s broadcast on NBC. F.D.R, the current president, was so enamored with the broadcast that he kept a group of advisors waiting until the race was over. Many reporters had picked War Admiral, some five percent chose Seabiscuit. The bets had been on War Admiral, but many in the crowd were there for Seabiscuit, the underdog. Gladys Phipps watched Seabiscuit with pride. When Seabiscuit hit it big she went back to retrieve Hard Tack and he was now worth 1,000. Fitzsimmons nearby had betted on Seabiscuit.
Woolf knew that War Admiral was hard to keep calm during the start, so he rode Seabiscuit on a short warm up while War Admiral was feisty. As the two rode around the track, they stopped on the backstretch and looked at the crowd and War Admiral. They had to restart twice because both times a horse did something weird. The third time the horses were exactly even and hit the line at the same time. The bell sounded and they were off together.
The two sprinted down the homestretch even with their speed increasing. The crowd was stunned as Seabiscuit slowly passed War Admiral who could barely keep up trying his hardest. They were rallying and a half-length ahead of War Admiral. Fans in the infield were reaching out trying to touch Seabiscuit. Neither Woolf nor Seabiscuit saw them. Woolf had his eye on the tractor imprint, but War Admiral was on it. He knew he had to get far enough ahead of him to get on the imprint. By the time they passed the finish line the first time, they were two lengths ahead. Woolf brought Seabiscuit over into the tractor wheel imprints. War Admiral had been trained all week for stamina, while Seabiscuit had not been. Kurtsinger made a new plan to let Seabiscuit exhaust himself and then pass him. After the first turn, Woolf remembered Pollard’s advice to let War Admiral come even. Therefore, Woolf slowed Seabiscuit down enough to make Kurtsinger choose to commit to the outside or to slow down also. Kurtsinger went to the outside. Woolf called to Kurtsinger and told him to catch up. Kurtsinger gave War Admiral one crack of a whip and he was even with Seabiscuit. Kurtsinger thought he was going to win, the grandstand was nervous. Woolf loosened the reins and the rest of the race was up to Seabiscuit. The two were even and their strides were exactly together. People in the crowd were fainting and jumping up and down. Woolf and Seabiscuit both watched War Admiral. War Admiral glared back at Seabiscuit and Seabiscuit’s ears flattened and one horse was going to crack. Woolf saw that War Admiral’s eye was rolling in its socket showing he was in pain. War Admiral’s tongue came out and Seabiscuit had broken him. War Admiral fell behind. Seabiscuit was ahead by three lengths. Woolf looked back and saw in War Admiral’s eyes that his heart was broken. Woolf knew that War Admiral would not be good for another race. Seabiscuit headed for the wire, and sailed across four lengths ahead of War Admiral. Fans poured out onto the track after the win.
Howard and Marcela were overcome with joy and Marcela’s eyes were teary. Samuel Riddle gave them a small smile and left the track. Howard, Smith, and Vanderbilt sprinted down through the fans to get to Seabiscuit and Woolf. Seabiscuit had run the mile and three sixteenths in 1:56 and three fifths. Fans were all over Seabiscuit and Woolf as they walked towards the winner’s circle. Fans wanting souvenirs tore the Chrysanthemum blanket that was on Seabiscuit apart. Kurtsinger brought War Admiral in front of the grandstand. He had run his best race ever, but it had not been good enough. War Admiral walked back to his barn and would finish out his season with two minor races, winning both, and would become a great sire for breeding. Woolf wished that Pollard could have ridden Seabiscuit that day. Kurtsinger was in the jockey’s room and was silently crying as he explained that War Admiral did his best, but Seabiscuit would not give up. Smith spent some time with Seabiscuit after the race. Seabiscuit played in his stall as if he had not even raced yet. Howard invited the reporters to his hotel room and explained that Seabiscuit, who was almost six, would train to win the Santa Anita Handicap. Seabiscuit was finally voted Horse of the Year. Smith arrived the next morning at four. He saw that Seabiscuit was still sleeping and he deserved his rest, so he left.
In Massachusetts, press had come to Pollard. Alexander came to congratulate him and Pollard knew that Seabiscuit would do that. He received an envelope from Woolf that had half the jockey’s purse. It had $1,500 in it.
- ““The weather was clear, the track fast
War Admiral broke first and finished last.”” –Red Pollard (Pg. 328)
This is significant because most thought Seabiscuit would loose and was strong enough for War Admiral, but it goes to show what nice weather and Seabiscuit can do.
Scrim- noun; A cotton or linen fabric of open weave used for bunting, curtains, etc (Pg. 313)
Nullifying- verb; to render or declare legally void or inoperative (Pg. 320)
Pointillism- noun; a theory and technique developed by the neo-impressionists, based on the principle that juxtaposed dots of pure color, as blue and yellow, are optically mixed into the resulting hue, as green, by the viewer (Pg. 322)
Chapter 20; “All Four Of His Legs Are Broken”;
It was mid-November and Pollard was out of the hospital. He used crutches and he still was weak and old looking. He was homeless and had no money. The Howards invited him to come and stay with them at Ridgewood. Agnes went with him to the airport, and Pollard promised once he was established he would send for her and they would marry. Pollard arrived in California and went to the Tanforan. There he met up with Russ McGirr who had hired him early in his career. McGirr hugged him and cried. Pollard was determined to race again. He started to walk without the crutches but broke his leg stepping in a hidden hole. The same doctor that tried to save Howard’s son in the car accident, Doc Babcock, examined Pollard’s leg. He discovered that the doctors in Massachusetts had set it wrong and that he was sure he could set it and it would heal. Therefore, Pollard underwent the rebreaking of his leg. Woolf drove back to California from Maryland. When he arrived, he heard that Pollard was back in the hospital, and so he rushed to see him. He spent several days there.
Seabiscuit was still in Maryland and had not practiced for days because it had snowed. He was getting fat so Smith took him to South Carolina. Howard had scheduled Seabiscuit for the Santa Anita Handicap and the Widener Challenge Cup on the same day. He figured that the Santa Anita Handicap would give Seabiscuit the biggest weight of his career and he wanted to try to make them lower it by threatening to have him race in the Widener Challenge Cup instead. In South Carolina, people were coming from far and wide just to see Seabiscuit practice. He was not even going to race in South Carolina. Late in December, during a workout, Seabiscuit’s leg got hurt again and he began to gain weight. Smith bandaged all his legs for protective reasons. He was so sick of Reporters asking why they were bandaged that he lied and said that, “All four of his legs are broken.” The reporter ran and published it and soon it was all over the country. Howard had just arrived in California and was constantly mobbed by fans and reporters about the match race. He was waiting for the weight assignment of the Santa Anita Handicap. Howard read the article about Seabiscuit’s legs and knew they were false because he knew that Smith would have called him straight away. The next morning Smith cleared the story by saying that a stupid reporter saw his after workout bandages and drew a conclusion.
Howard’s plan did not work because the Santa Anita Handicap gave Seabiscuit 134 impost. On December 26, Smith wanted to bring Seabiscuit home because he was worried about his leg and wanted to be at his home base if trouble struck. Howard told him to come back to California. Seabiscuit was racing in the handicap. The next night, Seabiscuit left the east coast forever. In the year of 1938, Seabiscuit had gotten the most press out of any major subject that year. He beat Roosevelt, Hitler and Mussolini in news coverage.
They arrived at Santa Anita. The only problem with Seabiscuit now was his weight. He had gained thirty pounds. Smith took him out to the track in a sweat suit. He no longer tried to hide his workouts since the match race was over and the weights were decided. Since they were not hiding Seabiscuit anymore, the public came to his workout sessions. Every time there were about ten thousand or more spectators. Seabiscuit was running the fast and was going around the turns so recklessly that Smith was afraid he would not be able to hold his arc on the turn. Smith pulled off his shoes and Howard cast them into silver ashtrays for the reporters. Smith got an idea to design new turn-gripping shoes.
As Seabiscuit was roaring around the Santa Anita track, Kayak was turning into quite the horse. Kayak was able to keep up with Seabiscuit in practice, was always beaten in the end, but showed promise. Kayak was also entered in the Santa Anita Handicap. They kept his speed a secret so they would give him a low weight, which they did. He was given 110. With the weights out, they showed Kayak’s speed, who roared around the track, and almost broke a track record in a practice race.
They wanted to put Seabiscuit in a prep race too but something always interfered. Finally, in February, he was entered in the Los Angeles Handicap. Race day was sunny and warm. Smith felt the prerace jitters but felt they were darker this time. He had thoughts of scratching the aging animal. He and Howard discussed it and Smith had no valid reason, so Seabiscuit would run. As Seabiscuit ran, he was putting two thousand pounds on his front legs. He switched lead legs to his bad one. Today was pulling away from Seabiscuit so Woolf gave him a crack of the whip and away he went. Woolf heard a crack. Seabiscuit caught himself and resumed running. Woolf thought that if Pollard was on him he could have detected a change in his step. He then tried to catch Today on the homestretch. When he cracked the whip to get him to go faster, he felt the pain in Seabiscuit. As he finished second, Woolf slowed Seabiscuit down so that he would not run on his injury. He got off and looked, there was no blood, and it looked normal. Smith and Howard sprinted down to Seabiscuit. They were shouting at Woolf asking why he kept riding, but he thought he had just stumbled.
Smith watched as Seabiscuit walked back to the barn that his ankle was hurting him. They rapped his ankle in bandages dipped in ice water laced with Epsom salts. They kept walking him to make sure he had a cool down after the race. The Howard barn was devastated. After Seabiscuit was cooled down, Smith observed Seabiscuit’s leg. There was no skin broken and there was no disturbed hair. Seabiscuit had stopped limping. A veterinarian came to check up on him. He said it was hard to tell what was wrong because it needed time to declare itself. The Vet thought it was in the knee not the ankle as Smith thought. As Seabiscuit slept that night, Howard and Smith took turns pouring ice water on his liniments. When he awoke the next morning, Smith and Howard were there. He went to stand and got up normally and as he bent to get hay off the floor to eat, he leaned on his bad leg and nothing happened. Then as they had him walk, he did not even take a lame step. Then smith told him to take a sharp left turn and the horse bobbled proving that Smith was right, it was the ankle. The vet took x-rays and it was not a fracture. There was something wrong with the suspensory ligaments. If the ligament were ruptured, the horse’s career would be over. Slowly he improved. Smith inched him back into racing and he was going to appear in the hundred-grander.
Kayak had just won the San Carlos Handicap and he broke the track record. This reinsured them that he was in the race too, and he could possibly be competition for Seabiscuit. Smith moved Seabiscuit’s special safety door to Kayaks. A week later, Smith escorted Kayak to the Santa Anita Handicap, not Seabiscuit. Kayak won the 1939 Santa Anita Handicap. The Howards were overjoyed, but they wanted it to be Seabiscuit.
Crestfallen- adjective; Dejected, dispirited, or discouraged (Pg. 332)
Bucolic- adjective; Of or pertaining to shepherds (Pg. 333)
Forlorn- adjective; Lonely and sad (Pg. 341)
When I first read the title of the chapter I was terrified! Seabiscuit would never win the Santa Anita Handicap if that was true! Then when it happened I was mortified, I was so into the story that I was about to go and become a vet for his sake. I was positive he would have to make a comeback, he had too!
Chapter 21; A Long, Hard Pull;
On April 10, 1939, Agnes Conlon arrived in California. Pollard’s leg was set correctly and was on its way to healing. The doctors told him he could not race again. If he would, he would be crippled for life. He wanted to give Agnes the wedding present she wanted so he sent her all his money. Instead of buying a diamond watch, she bought another ticket west for her mom. When she arrived, Marcela had paid for a beautiful wedding for the two. Agnes had only brought a navy suit since she thought that the wedding would be very small and casual. Smith left east with Kayak and left Seabiscuit behind. Seabiscuit had been bred to seven different horses including Fair Knightess. He would walk on his lame leg in his new home. He was not ready for retirement. The Howards were sad that Seabiscuit was not racing anymore. They would spend much of their time with Seabiscuit at the farm. Howard hoped he would race again.
After Pollard returned from his honeymoon on Catalina Island, he came back to the farm and took Seabiscuit out in the meadow on a lead rope. The two would limp together as they walked. A vet, Sonny Greenburg, looked at Seabiscuit’s leg and thought he would never race again. At first when Pollard would take out Seabiscuit, he could not go far, but he built up his endurance and the two went farther every day. Seabiscuit had a new groom named Harry Bradshaw. Smith pulled strings to get this groom to come. He took his job very seriously and he was known for his skills tending lameness. Agnes still thought that Red did not have much time. He was so crippled and weak. Pollard was now far into alcoholism. Slowly, Seabiscuit and Pollard healed. Pollard walked with a cane instead of crutches now. He wore weighted shoes to build leg muscle and he wore a brace to keep his bones from buckling. Seabiscuit’s walk had no lameness. One day they strapped a saddle to his back and Howard lifted Pollard on top of him. Pollard was too weak to hold the horse so Howard would get on top of another horse and lead the two around. Their walks would become faster and longer each day. Seabiscuit was ready to run. One day a deer was in the middle of Howard’s track and bolted out right in front of Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit bolted out after him and somehow Pollard held on.
Tom Smith was down south in Hollywood Park with Kayak. He was having a hard season. First Seabiscuit and now Kayak. Kayak was hurt when something blew out in front of him and he spooked and ended up with a gash. After he was back to racing, Kayak got hurt again. Smith hoped that one day The Biscuit would be back.
Pollard slowly would bring Seabiscuit to canter for longer lengths each day. Howard was always afraid they might re injure Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit became stronger and sounder. Everyone at the ranch thought that Howard and Smith might be right and he may stage a comeback. Everyone outside the ranch thought it was a crazy idea. They began to take pounds off of Seabiscuit. They cut down on his eating and started using the sweat suit again. By the end of the summer, Seabiscuit was doing great. He was going for five miles a day. Pollard noticed that instead of his usual gait that he stabbed out a foreleg as he ran, it was a smooth beautiful gait. Seabiscuit was back in racing shape. Pollard, still weak, was able to hang on and control him. Seabiscuit wanted to race again, more than anything in the world. In the fall, Smith came back to look at Seabiscuit. He was impressed with how Pollard had done. They all thought that Seabiscuit was ready for another shot at the Santa Anita Handicap. Seabiscuit’s comeback was almost unheard of. He had been off so long, he was older, and he raced eighty-five times.
Agnes became pregnant. She could not believe that weak Pollard could have fathered a baby. When Pollard found out, he was happy and scared. He was still living off the Howards. He had no money, no home, and no job. He so badly wanted to ride Seabiscuit, but Howard would only let him come along for now.
- ““Our wheels went wrong together, but we were good for each other,” he said. “Out there among the hooting owls, we both got sound again”” –Red Pollard (Pg. 352)
This is significant because even though both Red and Seabiscuit became hurt, they still both race the biggest race, and win!
Demurely- adjective; Characterized by shyness and modesty (Pg. 348)
Eluded- verb; To avoid or escape by speed, cleverness, or trickery (Pg. 353)
Chapter 22; Four Good Legs Between Us;
Howard pulled off a big entrance for the Howard crew when they arrived at the Santa Anita track. Smith and Seabiscuit walked down to the barn and Smith moved him right into Kayak’s stall. Many fans came to see the horse as well as Woolf. Smith knew that it was controversial bringing the horse back so he led Seabiscuit out and said if anyone wanted to inspect Seabiscuit’s body for lameness, they could. The 1940 hundred-grander was three months away on March 2. Smith began to prepare Seabiscuit. He was twenty pounds overweight, so they muzzled him at night to prevent him eating his bedding and he wore the sweat suit when practicing. Smith felt like Seabiscuit was ready to cut loose. On December 19, Seabiscuit went out on his first fast workout since the injury and came back perfectly fine. The weights were in and Seabiscuit was assigned 130 and Kayak 129. He could not believe that a horse that was off a year would be assigned such a high impost. The next highest number was 114. Smith was angry and started to yell. As 1940 came, the track was muddy preventing Seabiscuit from practicing. The rain did not stop. Seabiscuit had to scratch race after race. Kayak had lost his first match of 1940 and no Howard horse had won yet. Seabiscuit was still a superstar even though he was not training.
When Pollard hung up his tack in the jockey’s room, he found that the jockey society was in an uproar. Many were becoming injured and Tommy Luther wanted to help. Therefore, he and a few other jockeys started a group that would help the injured jockeys. They would pay 10 cents to each mount and $20 a year. Christopher Fitzgerald, a steward, accused him of trying to start a union and he was banned from ever riding anywhere that year again. The meetings of his group continued and many came such as Woolf, Spec Richardson, and Harry Richards. Pollard never went because he refused to. He needed to be in that group more than anyone was. He had nearly escaped two injuries and was now trying to ride again to support he new coming baby. It seemed that if you went it was a union against stewards, owners, and trainers and Pollard did not want to offend the Howards.
Pollard tried to start his career again. He went to Tanforan and had few mounts. He had not won, he looked weak, and he came off two of his mounts in fierce pain. Pollard was determined to get mounts so he headed to Santa Anita. There Yummy began to try to get him mounts. Red and Agnes rented a home near the track and he began to build his strength. Yummy roamed the backstretch for mounts but no trainer wanted to be the one to cripple Pollard. Pollard was only Howard’s jockey. He had to ask him for a mount. Smith wanted Pollard for the hundred-grander but the Howards were afraid of crippling him. Finally, Howard let him ride a filly in a race, but snatched him off at the last moment because it was raining. Howard never let him have a mount. Pollard did not know how he was going to pay for the baby. Pollard could not even convince himself that he was okay. Smith noticed that Howard was not going to let Pollard ride the hundred-grander so Woolf came in to gallop Seabiscuit. Either Woolf or Buddy Haas, Kayak’s jockey, was thought to ride Seabiscuit in the big race. Pollard was upset when he watched Woolf canter Seabiscuit. He wanted to ride him so bad.
Pollard was a binge drinker and since he would drink so much, he had extremely bad hangovers. He never was drunk when riding though. Yummy realized that if Pollard began to drink heavily, he would loose his chances of riding Seabiscuit. He tried to prevent Pollard from drinking. He followed him around 24/7 and made a deal that if he would win the race, he would sneak Pollard some bow-wow wine in the winner’s circle. Smith and Howard were feeling tension. These two men where completely different and Seabiscuit had brought them together. When they were under pressure like in the winter of 1940, they became more controlling. Howard tried to push Smith into something Seabiscuit was not ready for and Smith snapped. He told him to find another trainer if he did not like the way he did his training.
It was the end of January and Seabiscuit had not raced yet. It was still raining but Smith could not wait. He took both horses out and Pollard was allowed to ride Seabiscuit for speed. Seabiscuit had a 1:13 time and both the horse and jockey returned in one piece. The next day he ran an even better time. Smith entered Seabiscuit in the San Felipe Handicap January 30. Pollard awaited the decision of the jockey. Smith told him he would. Howard said as long as he was fit to, if he was not, Woolf would take the mount. Woolf and Pollard had a fight about Seabiscuit, ending their friendship.
The day of the race came and it was raining. He was scratched. The next week he was scratched again. Howard needed to get his mind of the horse, so he paid for a jockey’s baseball team. They used the traditional red and white colors and the triangle of the Howard barn. They used his horses names on the back of the jersey’s instead of theirs. Seabiscuit was gaining weight and he had not raced yet. They race was weeks away and his chances of racing were slimming. Woolf could not wait for them to decide him or Pollard so he signed to ride another horse, Heelfly.
On February 9, Seabiscuit was entered in the La Jolla Handicap. Pollard got the mount. It was not a good race. He came in third with Woolf’s horse, Heelfly flying past him mid-race. Pollard cried afterwards. Smith was not upset, he knew the horse was out of shape and he ran like he was. Pollard and Yummy made a bet for Seabiscuit to win the Santa Anita Handicap. A week later, Kayak and Seabiscuit were in the San Carlos Handicap, the same race where Fair Knightess and Pollard had fallen. During the race, Pollard asked Seabiscuit to run, but he would not. He came in sixth and Kayak eighth. Smith had two weeks until the big race; he did not know whether Seabiscuit had it in him. Pollard could not stop thinking about the race. He propped at the half-mile pole. He had not done that since 1936. He was not sure if The Biscuit had done it in a mischievous way or what. Before Seabiscuit’s final prep race, Howard filled in the entry with the jockey space blank. He also sent a $500 retainer check to Buddy Haas.
A distraught Pollard visited David Alexander. Pollard wanted one more chance to lead Seabiscuit to victory. His leg was in bad shape, but he wanted that mount. He asked Alexander to try to get Howard to give him the mount. Alexander asked and Howard did not want to cripple Pollard. “Alexander told him it was better to break a man’s leg than his heart” (Pg. 366).
The day before the San Antonio, Howard was nervous because his barn was in trouble. His two leading horses Seabiscuit and Kayak were coming out of injuries and both were not doing so well. The day of the race, Pollard climbed on Seabiscuit for the mount. Howard was nervous and did not bet on either of his horses. Marcela did not even come. Smith watched Seabiscuit and saw something he had not seen for a year, he leaned to Howard and said, “It’s Seabiscuit, wire to wire” (Pg. 367). Howard ran to the betting booth and emptied his pockets for Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit grabbed the lead and won the race, with Kayak in second. Smith and Howard ran down to the horses. It was Pollards first win since 1938. Pollard was gleaming as he came out of the jockey’s room to applause. He said all he and The Biscuit need is a fast track. Pollard won the mount on Seabiscuit and Buddy Haas got Kayak. As they went home, it started to rain.
Kapok- noun; The silky down that invests the seeds of a silk-cotton tree (Pg. 355)
Trounced- verb; To beat severely (Pg. 357)
Naysayer- noun; A person who habitually expresses negative or pessimistic views (Pg. 360)
Doffed- verb; To take off (Pg. 367)
Chapter 23; One Hundred Grand;
The week of the race arrived and it rained constantly. Smith had no choice but to run him in the mud. Kayak and Seabiscuit worked together early in the week. When he took the two back to the barn Kayak took a lunge at Seabiscuit because Seabiscuit had clearly taunted him. Kayak ran well in rain and Seabiscuit did not. Two days before the race, the rains stopped and the track slowly dried. March 2, Seabiscuit and Kayak were entered for the race and they would run rain or shine. Pollard rode Seabiscuit at an amazing time at the practice.
Fans arrived very early to get seats. They came from practically every state. The Grandstand was filled, the parking was all gone, and fans were still pouring in. There were seventy-eight thousand people in attendance.
Pollard left for the race with a Saint Christopher medal necklace around his neck. He promised Agnes to bring her flowers from the winner’s wreath. At the track, Pollard had his leg bandages removed. Yummy was there with Pollard from start to finish. He also had brought the bow-wow wine. Alexander was there with him also. Smith lifted him up onto Seabiscuit. Howard stood by nervous as ever and Marcela decided not to watch because she was so nervous. As Seabiscuit stepped out onto the track, the crowd roared. Rival horsemen said that if they did not win, they wanted to The Biscuit to win. Pollard looked like he was ready to win. In the barn, Marcela quickly decided to watch and she sprinted to the grandstand.
The bell rang and the Seabiscuit went. Pollard could feel his stride, which was back to normal. Whichcee was in the lead. Pollard had Seabiscuit break him by running behind him and wearing him out. Pollard looked like a lion poised to kill. They came around the final turn and Whichcee started to break, but Wedding Call was gaining. Suddenly, Wedding Call bumped Seabiscuit and he fell behind the two who made a wall that he could not pass. Pollard felt that there was no way. Finally, a hole opened between the two, it was small, but he had to try. Seabiscuit had the lead. Through all of this, Pollard felt peaceful and he felt apart of the horse. Everything was gone and it was just the two running. Kayak caught up with Seabiscuit and Pollard knew without looking. Seabiscuit played with Kayak. The last time he could. Pollard asked him to run and grew away from Kayak for the win.
Smith and Howard sprinted to the track. Agnes was in tears. Yummy was excited. The fans were celebrating and jumping up and down. Seabiscuit ran the race setting a new track record of 2:01 2/5 which was unbroken for a decade. It is the second fastest mile and a quarter in American racing history. Pollard had tears streaking down his cheeks. Howard and Smith congratulated the two. Kayak and Seabiscuit stood in the winner’s circle and had many pictures taken of them. Pollard felt the flower blanket thrown on him. Yummy snuck the alcohol under it and Pollard acted as if he was smelling the flowers. Pollard jumped off and had the winner’s blanket torn from his back and ripped into pieces for souvenirs before he could get the promised flowers for his wife. The Fans were fighting to get to Pollard to shake his hand. Pollard went to the jockey’s room and changed. Woolf was across the room and both knew their fighting was over.
The Howards were back at the barn watching their two horses cool out. Many wondered what was next for Seabiscuit. “In six years, Seabiscuit had won thirty-three races and set thirteen track records at eight tracks over six distances. He had smashed a world record in the shortest of sprints, one half mile, yet had the stamina to run in track record time at one and five-eighths miles. Many of history’s greatest horses had faltered under 128 pounds or more; Seabiscuit had set two track records under 133 pounds and four more under 130 while conceding massive amounts of weight to his opponents. He was literally worth his weight in gold, having earned a world record $437, 730, nearly sixty times his price” (Pg. 380-381). Seabiscuit’s career would end here. Howard decided that the horse had achieved greatness and he needed to have his rest. Smith had hoped he would retire him and so did Pollard.
Charles and Marcela celebrated at the Turf Club Ball. Howard hoped that Smith would show up, but he did not. Red, Agnes, Alexander, and Yummy celebrated at Woolf’s tavern The Derby. Woolf built it for his retirement. It was decked out in cowboy memorabilia. The depression was ending and war was coming. Pollard slowly slipped out of history. Smith woke the next morning and walked down the shed rows. It was dark and the horses did not see Smith, but they knew he was there.
- “In six years, Seabiscuit had won thirty-three races and set thirteen track records at eight tracks over six distances. He had smashed a world record in the shortest of sprints, one half mile, yet had the stamina to run in track record time at one and five-eighths miles. Many of history’s greatest horses had faltered under 128 pounds or more; Seabiscuit had set two track records under 133 pounds and four more under 130 while conceding massive amounts of weight to his opponents. He was literally worth his weight in gold, having earned a world record $437, 730, nearly sixty times his price.” (Pg. 380-381)
This is significant because it describes and lists everything that Seabiscuit achieved even though he seemed as though he was worthless.
Prattled- verb; To talk in a foolish or simple-minded way (Pg. 375)
Plaintive- adjective; Expressing sorrow or melancholy (Pg. 377)
Regal- adjective; For pertaining to a king (Pg. 379)
In April of 1940, Seabiscuit left the racetrack for the last time. There were many requests for Seabiscuit to appear at racetracks for more races, but Howard declined them all. He thought Seabiscuit needed his rest. Howard sent Seabiscuit to Ridgewood. He planned a homecoming party in which he invited everyone he could think of. There he showed the public Seabiscuit’s first foal named First Biscuit. Smith did not go to the homecoming, he liked to say goodbye at the track. Smith led Seabiscuit away and said his goodbyes with tears in his eyes.
Woolf continued to jockey. In 1942 when he rode Whirlaway in the Triple Crown race, the horse beat Seabiscuit’s earning record. Pollard was there cheering him on. Reporters asked if this was the best horse he had ever ridden and he said that Seabiscuit was the greatest horse he ever rode. On a January day in 1946, Woolf, 35, was asked by one of his friends to ride his horse Please Me. He agreed but decided not to use his lucky kangaroo-leather saddle. Woolf was looking weak from his diabetes. As he rode Please Me, Woolf became unconscious, fell off the horse during the race, and hit his head on the ground. Many came to give their condolences to Genevieve, 32, and now widowed. Three years after his death, a George Woolf memorial statue was unveiled at the Santa Anita track. There the statue of Woolf stood gazing at the statue of Seabiscuit. The statue was of Woolf, standing as he always does, holding his lucky saddle and standing confidently.
Howard tried to get Smith named the best trainer in 1940, but Smith did not feel he deserved it. The two stayed together until 1943 because Smith had a back surgery and Howard had to replace him. Smith went east and signed with owner Elizabeth Arden Graham. She was a cosmetic queen and insisted that her horses’ stalls be perfumed, her horses’ wear makeup, and her horses’ be pampered with creams. She fired her employees for weird reasons such as for bad hair. She was drawn to Smith. He then became the best trainer in America. One day while Smith was in Graham’s box, Samuel Riddle, who was in his last years of life, hobbled in and told Smith that he and Woolf were the only ones who ever out did him. He was still upset that Seabiscuit had beat War Admiral and had avoided Smith. November 1, 1945, one of Smith’s grooms was caught spraying a decongestant up a horse’s nose. There are no medications to be used in horse racing, so Smith was in trouble. Smith said he had nothing to do with it. Smith was banned from racing for a whole year. In his seventy years of life, he had never been without racing. Graham was loyal and as soon as he was cleared, he was hired again. He won her the Kentucky Derby with her horse Jet Pilot. Smith’s reputation was ruined though. The officials would follow him around and try to catch him doing illegal things. He parted with Graham and went to train a horse at Santa Anita. When he was seventy-eight, a stroke paralyzed him. His family took care of him at home until that became too hard and then he was sent to die in a clinic. In 1957, Smith was buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California. Hardly anyone came to his funeral.
Pollard continued to try to ride. Agnes was afraid that something would happen. The two took a vacation and talked about their future. When Pollard came back, he announced that he was done riding. Howard offered Pollard a job as a stable agent. In May 1940, Pollard limped down the shed to find someone who could drive because Agnes was in labor. He fainted at the hospital and was admitted along with his wife. She had a little girl named Norah, after Pollard’s sister, and she had a deep baritone voice just like his. A few years later, he would have a son, John. Pollard took out a trainer’s license but he quit because he was not doing very well. He once again, went back to being a jockey. The war had hit Santa Anita, the horses were shipped out and families were shipped in. The track became housing for soldiers and their families. In 1943, Pollard joined the military. He was in such bad shape from his leg that three recruiting offices rejected him. He once again went back to racing. Agnes was fed up with following Pollard around so the family moved east to Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He was back in the bush leagues of racing, right where he started. He would spend weeks on the rode racing by himself. He fell off so often that he had “semiannual comebacks.” He was sometimes denied medical care and once he walked out on a broken hip. He broke his back and that left him with one leg shorter than the other. He nearly died in one spill that left him with missing teeth. Agnes feared for him but she never confronted him. She knew this was his life and he loved it. Pollard taught his kids poetry, but not about horses. He never let them come to watch him either. In 1955, at the age of forty-six, he called his racing career to an end. Pollard ended up sorting mail at the track post office and working as a valet. His injured body worsened with age and he fought alcoholism but never won. In the waning days of Pollard’s life, he stopped talking. No one is sure it was physical or he did not want to talk anymore. In 1980, Agnes found out she had cancer. She was in the hospital and the kids could not take care of him so they stuck him in a nursing home. In 1981, he died, not saying a word. Agnes was there with him as he passed. Agnes died two weeks later.
Seabiscuit and Howard grew old together at Ridgewood. Howard invited visitors to come and watch Seabiscuit. His foals were just like him and Howard treated them as if they were his kids. He took them to training and many flocked to see them race. He took pictures of Seabiscuit and his foal and made Christmas cards out of them. Chicago’s Arlington Park racetrack made on card into a giant mural. Not many of Seabiscuit’s foals were good. Hollywood made a movie of Seabiscuit’s life and made a bad movie called The Story of Seabiscuit. Howard made Seabiscuit a cow herder to keep in moving. Howard helped the war effort by donating and sending Seabiscuit’s hooves. Howard’s heart was weak and Marcela nursed him through his waning years. Seabiscuit died on May 17, 1947. He died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 14. Howard was overcome with grief. He buried Seabiscuit in a secret place on the ranch. He planted an oak seed to mark the grave. Howard only told his sons the location. Three years later, Howard’s heart would fail him.
Insouciance- noun; Blithe lack of concern (Pg. 389)
Atomizer- noun; An apparatus for reducing liquids to a fine spray, as for medicinal or cosmetic application (Pg. 391)
Nefarious- adjective; Extremely wicked or villainous (Pg. 392)