Hail to Reason, 1960

I resume with Charles Hatton’s description of 1960 champion two-year-old Hail to Reason from the 1961 American Racing Manual.

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Hail to Reason will be remembered along with Dice, Thingumabob, Inchcape and other sensational two-year-olds, as one of those who “strutted a brief hour” on the racing stage, then vanished suddenly and dramatically into the wings at the height of the applause. The up-like-a-rocket, down-like-a-stick career of those and others like them leave a void, and a sense of bright promise unfulfilled. Skylarking, Perdita and on back to Tremont, the turf’s passing show has been stolen momentarily by bit players who burst upon the scene and captured the audience with their genius then, pou-f-f, were gone, leaving us to linger over what might have been. There can be no question in the minds of those who saw Hail to Reason that Miss Patrice Jacobs’ handsome brown with the star significantly mantling his brow was one of Nature’s favorite works of art, a colt to challenge Munnings and Stainforth, perfectly equipped, though not destined, to rewrite racing records.

It is generally accepted by the critics, as an arbitrary yardstick for measuring true thoroughbred merit, that a really good horse should win at least 50 per cent of his races. In his small way, Hail to Reason qualifies through having won nine of 18 starts. His rudely shortened career began on January 21 at Santa Anita and terminated on September 10 at Atlantic City, for ten days later a mishap intruded when he broke a sesamoid galloping at Aqueduct.

A Busy Nine Months

Actually, Hail to Reason made more public appearances, and crowded more action into nine months than did the unbeaten Colin, St. Simon or Ormonde in all their careers, if we may say so without the reader’s supposing we associate him with them as proven super horses.

Indeed, astute trainer Hirsch Jacobs, who bred Hail to Reason in partnership with Isidor Bieber, was subjected to a good deal of thinly veiled criticism for making so much use of the son of Turn-to and Nothirdchance. But Jacobs’ policies are shaped by a long experience and he adheres to one of racing his horses rather than training them once they are fit. Nor did the circumstances surrounding the colt’s mishap lend themselves to his critics as either vindication or a justification of their meddling.

Though he began casually by losing five little maiden races, Hail to Reason left the fans applauding and “quit while he was ahead,” $328,434 richer before taxes.

The Youthful, Tremont, Great American, Sanford, Sapling, Hopeful and World’s Playground were placed to his credit and from July, when finally he “arrived,” until his accident in September he had a monopoly on the East’s coveted two-year-old prizes. The richest races, such as the Champagne and the Garden State, were still to come and at his mercy when “fate,” as Jacobs called it, intervened in behalf of his rivals, whom he had reduced to a preposterously presumptuous crew.

First Landing with a record total earnings of $396,460 and Warfare with $394,610 earned more money [at two] than did Hail to Reason, or “Hail,” as his fair young owner fondly calls him. But prize money is frequently and rather notoriously misleading as a measure of horses’ relative qualities. With all due respect for First Landing and the hapless Warfare the difference is one of fortune rather than class. Tremont won 13-for-13 at two and earned a princely $39,135 in ’86, when Mr. Fitz’ late aide-de-camp “Fish” Tappen galloped him, and Domino was for 38 years the record money-winning two-year-old through amassing $170,890 in winning all his nine starts. “He lived before his time,” Bernard M. Baruch, who well remembers “The Black Whirlwind” of the Gay Nineties, once told us. Even during the decade just passed, in 1952, Native Dancer collected “only” $230,495 in winning all his nine starts. Money has indeed gone out of style when racing men discuss the comparative worth of thoroughbreds.

Disagree Over Best Race

When Hail to Reason stumbled, or, more likely, stepped on a shoe lost on the Aqueduct course, for he was only galloping under light restraint and has good action, those who reported the shocking news were in mild disagreement over his best race. A slow beginner, he turned imminent defeat into a resounding victory in the Sapling, a performance this observer did not see. But it seems unlikely if any hero of the Hopeful can have been more impressive than Miss Jacobs’ colt when he looped the field and won lengthily in 1:16. Many good horses have won the Hopeful, including marvelous Man o’ War, “the only” Regret, Boojum, Whirlaway, Native Dancer and Nashua. For whatever a single race is worth, none approached Hail to Reason’s time nor won more gladly.

The colt almost unanimously acclaimed the 1960 two-year-old champion comes of interesting breeding. When first the Messrs. Jacobs and Bieber began their partnership, they pursued the policy of W. Hal Bishop, and “Buck” Foreman before him and trafficked in platers, replenishing their stable with readymade horses and a halter. In late years, they have bred a large majority of the horses they race. Theirs was a bold venture, for they were not millionaire sportsmen and few market breeders would continue in business if they had to race the output of their studs. But the Jacobs bloodstock have placed the partners among America’s highest ranking breeders for eight or ten years. (The produce of their stud won 208 races and $782,078, placing them seventh in ’59.)

A Shrewd Purchase

Casting about for mares whose breeding and individuality suggested them as candidates for their stud, Jacobs obtained Galla Colors quite reasonably, for about $12,000, and two days later she was en route to the Maryland farm. Galla Colors was by Sir Gallahad III out of Rouge et Noir, by St. Germans out of Baton Rouge. It is a fine old Jeffords family, one that has produced such as Firethorn, the CCA Oaks winner Creole Maid, the Travers winner Natchez and the Coastal champion Bobby Brocato.

Walter M. Jeffords, who saddened his many friend passing away last fall, is credited also with having developed the family of the resolute Bally Ache. The names of Pharos, Plucky Liege and Man o’ War recur in Hail to Reason’s pedigree, but not sufficiently close up to call him inbred. No breeder we know considers anything repetitious after the third remove inbreeding. Indeed those in Kentucky invest fortunes in stallions and mares to avoid a surfeit of the same blood at their studs, and the degeneracy that all history and experience has taught them is the consequence.

Bred to Blue Swords, who was Count Fleet’s unshakeable “shadow” at three, Galla Colors produced Nothirdchance. The filly was so named by Bieber in the passionate hope the Allies would not give Germany a third chance, a subject on which he held strong feelings, pointing out that the spirit of Barbarossa had prevailed in Germany since the beginning of time, to the endless unrest of peace loving peoples. Perhaps you have already guessed, if you read the papers, that this explains also the name of Hail to Reason. Nothirdchance was a fairly keen racing tool, as the late Evan Shipman would say, and won the Acorn of 1951. Her pedigree hoped for some class and stamina. No secretary writes races too long for one whose tabular pedigree cannonades names like St. Germans, Man o’ War, Blue Larkspur and Sir Gallahad III, assuming the subject is sound.

More of the same elusive elements found in Nothirdchance’s pedigree were introduced in Hail to Reason’s genealogical makeup when the mare was presented to the court of Capt. Harry F. Guggenheim’s rising young start Turn-to, who won the Garden State and Flamingo with ruffles and a flourish and appeared a champion before he bowed when training for the Derby. Turn-to had the dash of the Royal Chargers and some of the stamina inherent in the diminutive black mare Source Sucree, by Admiral Drake out of Lavendula, by Pharos. This is the popular Perfume family. Source Sucree also bred Cagire II, a stayer of mark abroad. Unfortunately, Turn-to inherited, along with the aforesaid qualities, a tendency toward lightness below the knee that compromises the worth of numerous Royal Chargers. He “went” in a tendon while future favorite for the Run for the Roses.

Product of Selective Breeding

Individually, Hail to reason is one of those rare products of selective breeding who is better than either of his immediate parents. He was quite the “cover boy” of the 1960 two-year-olds. As noted in the monograph on Bald Eagle the big brown has much the same classical format, style and elegance of that stallion, another of the Nearco tribe.

It will be noted that despite the difference in their ages, Hail to Reason was equally as tall as Berlo, girthed two inches more than Bald Eagle, paralleled Berlo’s ostentatious width across the hips and had precisely as extensive thrust and leverage in the length of the hind limbs as either of the older champions. He was what any turfman would consider a “well-grown two-year-old.”

Apart from this he had a certain panache, a kind of personal magnetism that immediately identified him to veteran racing men as a horse above the common herd. Hail to Reason always hit the race track mornings in a series of bounds, expressing his joie de vivre, while his movements were marked by a controlled fluency that foretold even those unfamiliar railbirds who asked his name “here is a runner.”

Playful Young Stallion

Hail to Reason at home was interested in all that went on about him, playfully nippy as any young stallion, with an intelligent gleam in his large, luminous eyes. He was coltish but had none of the standard Nearco moodiness in his psyche and indeed submitted quite happily to becoming Miss Jacobs’ special pet, allowing her to take liberties that might get any stranger’s arm amputated. The sight of her seated in a chair reading a book in the very entrance of his stall while he looked over her shoulder was something to curl one’s hair.

In the paddock, on parade and in the heat of conflict Hail to Reason was a dutiful, well behaved colt who never said “no.”

Hail to Reason’s head is lean, bony and elegant with good width between the eyes, deep jowls and a great deal of quality about the muzzle. The ears are delicately tapered and the throatlatch arched, extending smoothly into a nicely, not too heavily crested neck and joining the withers imperceptibly as one could wish. His frontispiece is pure calendar art. His back is shorter than long and with a pleasing dip, spreading over broad, arching loins into a pelvis of fair length and less drooping and “chopped off” than is the hallmark of the Nearcos. In accordance with this structure of the top line over the croup, his hind legs are reasonably straight. A slight tendency toward curbiness in the left hock is the only very noticeable deviation from the norm in his underpinning.

Hail to Reason’s hocks are broad and flat boned and he has much length from the point of the hip to the hock, whiles his knees are also set on low, like a greyhound’s. This is desirable for the obvious reason that it comes to greater leverage and at the same time providing less long tendons in which to develop stresses and trouble. His pasterns are the correct, 45-degree angle and are broad, as are his cannons. He is neat about the coronary band and his hoofs could not be blacker.

The Jacobs’ colt is deep bodied, with handsomely sprung ribs, no noticeable distance between the back rib and stifle and no objectionable tendency toward light flanks, connoting weak constitutions. He is neither too wide, nor too narrow in the front fork, and tracks fairly true at all paces. His stride is collected syncopated. “Dancer” Hyams and other veteran paddock observers note that he carries his head a trifle high, not because he is a high couraged individual rather than the reverse as this manner of going usually implies. He usually does not wear a shadow roll to lower his head. Hail to Reason “ran his race” on fast, muddy and sloppy tracks and seven different jockeys got on well with him. Blinkers were part of his accoutrements, when we saw him race, as were rundown bandages.

Jacobs describes him as a most comfortable “shipper,” which is implicit in his busy itinerary. Withal he is a colt of much self confidence and assurance. His coat is thin and full of quality, verging on black and at Saratoga it glistened and shimmered in the sun with the patina of fine old polished ebony. As you might imagine, he cut quite a fetching picture diving and dancing postward under Miss Jacobs’ pretty pink colors.

Bobby Ussery rode Hail to Reason in all his stakes victories, signing on as his regular rider in midseason. He grew very fond of the colt and felt a sense of the keenest personal disappointment when the shattering news of the tall brown’s mishap reached him. Once attaining the apex of his form in July, the only race the colt lost was in the sporting Saratoga Special, when he finished sixth at a weight disadvantage of ten pounds he spotted the winner Bronzerullah, a colt he had repeatedly beaten. He bucked his shins, it was said.

Hail to Reason had to be a gamester to win the Sapling and indeed unremitting courage was his signature. Slow as usual leaving the gate, he was on the outside and met some delaying action but fought bravely on and thrilled a slightly incredulous crowd as he got up to win by half his length. It was a bruising race, in which the cards were stacked against him, but he would not be denied.

Now, Hail to Reason’s future is at stud, and it seems safe to say he has a future there. Racing’s loss is bloodstock’s gain.

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2 Responses to Hail to Reason, 1960

  1. fmitchell07 says:

    Racing’s loss was bloodstock’s gain, indeed.

    Looking back at Hail to Reason, Buckpasser, and others knocked out of the Triple Crown by mischance, it is not so amazing that none won it till Secretariat came along.

    What might have been!

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