Never Bend, 1962

Charles Hatton discourses on 1962 champion 2-year-old Never Bend from the 1963 American Racing Manual.

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Never Bend was heralded as “a runner” long before he came to the races. Unlike so many other promising newcomers, he proved not merely a fast work horse but a genuine racehorse, indeed ultimately was acknowledged and hailed the champion.

Astute racing men of long standing were more impressed with Capt. Guggenheim’s homebred brown son of Nasrullah than any two-year-old since the luckless Warfare, another who could win from any position and according to any stratagem.

The one chink discovered in Never Bend’s armor was manifest in the richest race of the eastern season, when he failed signally in the mud for the Garden State.

Wrenched Himself Behind in Mud

He had become intimidated when he wrenched himself behind working in the mud at Saratoga. It is conceivable trainer “Woody” Stephens can restore Never Bend’s confidence in such going, though it seems unlikely he will care to risk injury to the colt training him in deep footing if this can be avoided.

Not all Nasrullahs have developed foibles such as compromised the potential earnings of Jaipur, Nasrina, Nashua, and some others of both note and notoriety. Never Bend is sometimes a bit washy in the paddock, but he is all business at the races. It is perfectly possible that, like Bald Eagle, Noor and Bold Ruler, he will continue a willing performer instead of becoming cunning and sour, as many entire horses do in the process of maturing.

Never Bend is out of Lalun, a granddaughter of Djebel in male line and a representative, in very good standing, of a fine old family developed in this country by Col. E. R. Bradley. Never Bend is the latest of a long line of cracks descending from Nan Dayell, the ancestress of unbeaten Colin, Dr. Freeland, Many Stings and Swivel. Moreover, he comes from the immediate branch of the family which produced Bloodroot and Be Faithful.

We said that Never Bend sometimes breaks out in the saddling enclosure. So did the intense Be Faithful. She was inbred and had a habit of carrying her tongue out of the corner of her mouth, as did her sire Bimelech, who sulked in a Widener he was overconfidently expected to win. The inbreeding in Lalun is to Black Toney, who wore a breastplate in training and ran the fence of his paddock at Idle Hour.

Never Bend’s Pedigree Blended

Never Bend’s pedigree is a blend of French, English and American blood (including some American blood from Djebel and Nasrullah), and there is a great deal of class concentrated in his escutcheon.

Lalun herself won the Kentucky Oaks, was second in the Coaching Club and defeated the older mares in a Beldame at three.

One may at least say with confidence that there is no hereditary reason Never Bend will fail to stay the distances of the classics. “His dam preferred to go a distance,” Capt. Guggenheim recalls, while there never has been any question about the stamina of the Nasrullahs.

Dr. Gilman, a keen student, went around Never Bend with a tape last October 23. He sizes up the photogenic youngster as follows:

Height, 16 hands

Girth, 74 inches

Point of shoulder to point of shoulder, 17 1/2 inches

Withers to point of shoulder, 31 inches

Elbow to ground, 39 1/4 inches

Point of shoulder to point of hip, 46 inches

Point of hip to point of hip, 26 inches

Point of hip to point of hock, 41 inches

Poll to withers, 39 inches

Buttock to ground, 55 inches

Point of shoulder to buttock, 66 inches

Circumference of cannon under knee, 9 1/4 inches.

These are the dimensions of a rather well grown and developed two-year-old. In coloration, Never Bend recalls his sire in that he is a seal brown with no pronounced markings. Since his dam also is brown, he could not very readily have been any other hue. Nasrullah was not “a pure dominant,” but like his sire Nearco got few chestnuts.

Head Reveals French Influence

Never Bend has an attractive head, showing some of the French influence through Lalun. In the main, French horses have refined features. Count de Brignace notes that the nearer the Mediterranean thoroughbreds are reared, the more like Arabs they are likely to appear. Your old time American horseman, accustomed to the heavy headed Himyars, would think Never Bend has a filly’s head. Europeans would say enthusiastically “it is full of blood.” Tastes differ.

Never Bend has an arching throatlatch, excellent rein length with a bit of a crest, well laid shoulders and the deep, round rib-cage characteristic of the Nearco tribe. His back is just long enough for a saddle and fits superbly into a particularly broad and flat loin and croup, there being no indication of the ilium to mar the esthetic effect as in many three-cornered, weedy specimens.

In fact, we would say Never Bend is the best two-year-old through the loin and pelvis seen all season, exceedingly strong and smooth. Nor did we see one who had cleaner, flintier bone about the limbs and pasterns. In these parts, he is truly “all quality” as they say at Newmarket.

There is only one facet of Never Bend’s conformation which affronts the eye of the fastidious. These could wish his hind legs were more perpendicular. His hocks are out a trifle more than the degree allowed by the captious. We are very particular about this in America, but horsemen across the Atlantic do not seem to mind it at all.

“Perhaps that is because of the rolling, hilly courses over there,” George D. Widener has surmised. “Such construction might actually be desirable on certain courses.”

Indeed, the French authority Fred d’Osten has a theory the thoroughbred there is evoluting toward a greyhound construction of the hind legs, and regards this as an asset. At the same time, there can be no blinking the fact that most of America’s worthwhile stayers have come equipped with straight hind legs, set well under them to afford a pendulistic swing which is less tiring on flat surfaces than are crooked hocks.

Never Bend has springy pasterns, nor are these too “spool-like,” as the late Jack Keene complained of light-boned individuals. His hoofs are shapely and black as one could hope. Actually, it is no superstition white hoofs tend to be soft and porous, for it is noted that most horses having hoof trouble are likely to experience this first in the hoofs having white horns.

Remarkable Facility of Accelerating

Never Bend is a colt of feline agility in action. He has a remarkable facility of accelerating and slipping through openings as they appear, and the pluck to move inside as well as outside. As the season progressed, he developed the ability to break like a flash, so was less frequently at a disadvantage in scrimmaging for positions. Several times during the year, it appears rival had him securely pocketed, but he was elusive as a will o’ the wisp.

It will be surprising if Never Bend fails to add materially to his importance.

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Never Bend did not disgrace himself at age three. He won six of 13 starts that year, including the Flamingo Stakes and Yankee Handicap. He finished second to three-year-old champion Chateaugay in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness Stakes to Candy Spots and Chateaugay. Never Bend fared far better than those two rivals at stud.

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