Elocutionist and the Triple Crown Denied

ElocutionistI loved horse racing when I was a kid. I used to handicap all the races during the county fair. But that year, I had been paying attention to the Grade I Stakes races. And I had set my sights on a horse named “Elocutionist.” He was one of the most promising three year olds out there. This morning, I got it into my head to find out whatever happened to this fine horse. But I had a bit of a hard time finding him, because I mis-remembered his name. I thought he was called “Elocutioner.” Google really thought I meant “Electrocutioner.” I didn’t.

Luckily, I knew a bit about the horse, so I was able to find him. He was born on 4 March 1973. The following year, nouveau riche commodities trader Eugene C Cashman went looking for a colt for his new horse racing stable. He was with his trainer, Paul T Adwell. The two of them narrowed down the horse they wanted to buy to just two colts. They flipped a coin and it came up “Elocutionist.” The horse they passed on was named “Bold Forbes.” Remember that name, because it will come up shortly.

In 1975, Elocutionist was placed in the two-year-old season. He started late, however, and only ran in four races. But he won every one of those races. So he looked rather good for the three-year-old season and the Triple Crown. In his first five races, he placed third, second, and then first three times. This qualified him for the Kentucky Derby.

There were really only three horses entered who were highly rated: Honest Pleasure, Elocutionist, and the horse Cashman almost bought instead, Bold Forbes. All them them were rated effectively the same. And they didn’t disappoint. But Elocutionist was a fundamentally different kind of horse. Bold Forbes led from the start, with Honest Pleasure right behind but not challenging for the lead. Elocutionist ran fourth almost the whole race. In the final stretch, Honest Pleasure broke too late and was unable to catch Bold Forbes. Elocutionist tried to come from behind, but the two other horses were too far ahead. They finished: Bold Forbes, Honest Pleasure, and Elocutionist.

Coming into the Preakness, people had given up on Elocutionist. The final odds were: Honest Pleasure at 0.9-1; Bold Forbes at 1.1-1; and Elocutionist at 10-1. Oh, yea of little faith! In this race, Bold Forbes and Honest Pleasure fought each other for the lead for the first six furlongs. At the first turn, Elocutionist was five lengths back from third place. On the final turn, he was in fifth place. But in the home stretch, Elocutionist came on like a freight train — winning by three and a half lengths. The announcer sounds stunned. It’s very exciting:

Honest Pleasure didn’t even place. Bold Forbes came in third place. I think this is interesting, because in the end, the two horses that Cashman couldn’t decide on turned out to be even in these two major battles.

Sadly, the Preakness was Elocutionist’s last race. In training for the Belmont Stakes, he was injured and put out to stud. Bold Forbes went on to win that race. But interestingly, Honest Pleasure, who also skipped Belmont, went on to have an exceptional career and make the most money of the three horses. But Elocutionist ended his career with an amazing record. He never ran in a race that he didn’t show in. He had 9 wins, 1 place, and 2 shows. He died in 1995 after a fairly successful career as a sire.

4 thoughts on “Elocutionist and the Triple Crown Denied

  1. You might check out the David Milch horse-racing TV series, “Luck.” It’s a bit of a mess in several of the plot threads. But it’s got that same “Deadwood” sympathy for people on the margins of society.

    For good and ill, the races themselves are terrifically filmed, dramatic and exciting. I guess that killed several horses; you simply can’t run horses really fast over and over again for editing coverage purposes without this happening. It’s too bad Milch didn’t have the budget to use CGI for those sequences.

    We probably should ban horse racing for the dangers it presents to horses (and jockeys!) But on the list on animal cruelties we should stop, horse racing places pretty far down on the list beneath Big Ag and species extinction, so let’s tackle those problems first.

    • I’ve requested the first season. I’ll let you know. I got the first season of Veep and I really liked it. But I’m not enjoying the second season. It’s still funny, but the characters are made even more horrible than they were the first.

      Yeah, I’m not sure how I feel about horse racing. I don’t know enough about it. But it is a dangerous business. Given the money that is in it, you would assume it is bad for the horses. But I really don’t know. I have read that even when jockeys fall off, horses still try to win races, so they want to run. But that kind of anaerobic exercise can’t be good.

      • Don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone on “Veep” to get nicer! It stays pretty funny. Tony Hale is brilliant, but you already knew that. I’m a Matt Walsh fan, too. Quite a lot of that cast. (The guy who plays “Jonah” really teeters the edge between funny-annoying and annoying-annoying; it’s a tough job, he pulls it off well. The women besides Louis-Dreyfuss are uniformly terrific.) It might be more pleasant in batch doses; since none of the characters ever really develop, they can be tiresome when binge-watched.

        I dunno anything about horse racing. I’m taking Milch’s word for it that the accidents on “Luck” were unavoidable and part of the sport, since he says he’s a horse lover. It’s an odd show; a mess with a lot of heart. Even when I didn’t quite get what was going on, I found it very interesting. That world is a terrific subculture for drama.

        • I liked the second half of the second season more. Yes, the Gary character is very sweet. I like him a lot. And I like Mike. I feel very much like him — for both good and ill. I like Amy and feel sorry for her. I’ve even come to sympathize with Jonah. Dan, on the other hand, is a psychopath. And I mean that literally. Amy’s boyfriend during the season turned out to be a total loser and I was happy when she blew him off at the end. The Selina Meyer character is perhaps a bit too believable. Overall, however, I think the people in Washington are better with their cognitive dissonance. Here, no one cares about anything but their own success. I think that’s true in Washington, but I also think they all convince themselves that they stand for higher goals. But that might not make as good a show.

          A horse owning and loving friend of mine has told me that I am allowed to like horse racing. But it was with the stipulation that it is the equivalent of running 8-year-old children in races. It’s all about the economics. The industry doesn’t want the cost of caring for and training a horse for eight years, even though they are faster.

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