Sir Gaylord, 1961-1962

The first part of this post is Charles Hatton’s description of Sir Gaylord, one of the leading two-year-olds of 1961, from the 1962 American Racing Manual.


Sir Gaylord enjoyed a certain vogue and was compared with Jaipur and the Midlands’ headlong flier Ridan. He was a stablemate of Cicada, both bred and raced by Christopher T. Chenery. And he is representational of the high type of two-year-old the young sire Turn-to, heir apparent to Royal Charger, has been sending to the races. Himself a brittle if brilliant two-year-old, Turn-to also is the sire of Hail to Reason and First Landing.

Sir Gaylord is a horseman’s type of horse, flawless in the essentials though he is plainer rather than pretty. Dr. Gilman measured him for us last autumn at Belmont Park. The tabular picture of the colt’s conformation follows:

Height, 15 3 1/2 hands

Point of shoulder to point of shoulder, 18 inches

Girth, 73 1/2 inches

Withers to point of shoulder, 30 inches

Elbow to ground, 38 inches

Point of shoulder to point of hip, 48 inches

Point of hip to point of hip, 24 inches

Point of hip to buttock, 26 inches

Poll to withers, 41 inches

Buttock to ground, 55 inches

Circumference of cannon under knee, 9 inches

Point of hip to point of hock, 42 inches

When Sir Gaylord and his kinsman Jaipur moved postward together for the Hopeful which the latter won lengthily as Sir Gaylord sprawled in the slick going, it was noted that both are of the Nearco type. This is to say they are heavy, deep-bodied animals of medium height. Both also are dark bays. Sir Gaylord looks to have somewhat more length of torso but this is deceptive, according to Dr. Gilman’s factual study. His croup does not slope in quite such pronounced degree as Jaipur’s and others of the tribe and indeed Jaipur’s owner and breeder, George D. Widener, was quoted to the effect that he preferred the Chenery colt’s hind leg.

Sir Gaylord is a thoroughly masculine individual with a forceful look about the head and eye. He is whole colored, or nearly so, with a breedy neck, well-sprung ribs, no suggestion of weakness about the abdomen and well-developed quarters, forearms and gaskins. He has unusual rein length. For all his embonpoint, there is nothing actually coarse about the Virginian. He sometimes carries his ears a little slack, though they are not lopped like Bowl of Flowers’. The profile is slightly convex, as the Nearco’s are, but the throatlatch arches nicely into the neck.

Sir Gaylord has a strong, straight loin and a muscular shoulder of medium length. There is adequate space between his jowl plates to accommodate the passage of oxygen to his lungs. The late Billy Walker, pilot of Ten Broeck, was a stickler for this detail.

Perhaps the most admirable aspect of the Chenery colt’s conformation is the most important, his running gear. His limbs are well under him and have grand bone, flat and hard rather than large and porous. It is the density and not the size of the bone that matters. The knees are closely knit, the pasterns are the right length and at a 45-degree angle, the cannons short, forearms relatively long. Many lighter-boned horses tend toward what Jack Keene criticized as “spool-like pasterns,” but Sir Gaylord’s are broad and extend into well-developed coronary bands and black hoofs.

The articulation and broad, flat bone of Sir Gaylord’s hocks are something to delight any student of these things. Though he has no Hanover close up, the chunky brown had hocks comparable in their flawless structure to those strong joints, the very fulcrum of speed, seen in so many of his descendants. As one would guess, it follows quite naturally that Sir Gaylord has coordination and a fluent manner of moving under saddle. He is a lovely “goer,” not particularly long, but always in cadence, as the French say, moving with a liberty and dash that is a joy to watch. He could pirouette on a dime.

No very great use of Sir Gaylord’s clever, syncopated action was made early in his races at two. He was quite capable of a withering furlong in :11 around the turn, when given his head. Though his action was more pleasing than that of his arch rival, Jaipur, who ran with his head in the air and shorter strides, he was less at home in soft going. The rich fall stakes were accompanied by a rainy season which did nothing to enhance Sir Gaylord’s earnings. Wisely, in view of his early training, Chenery had him unwound after the Champagne, in which he was several pounds below par. Chenery regards two-year-old racing as a means toward an end, not an end in itself.

Unlike his sociable stablemate, the filly Cicada, Sir Gaylord is a “he horse” about the barn and at the races. He has the disposition of a good hunting dog. His only foible is his antipathy for stable ponies, a species he detests with a passion since one injured him slightly as a yearling. He wears blinkers but not because he is timid. A scion of the crack English miler Royal Charger, Sir Gaylord is out of Somethingroyal, a beautiful little bay Princequillo mare. “She showed exceptional promise in training but was the victim of a mishap,” as trainer Hayes recalls.

Of course Princequillo is a great source of sustained speed and classicism. Since he seems sound and was raced conservatively at two, it is possible that Sir Gaylord will continue to be a factor in important stakes at three and later.


Sir Gaylord did continue to be a factor in important stakes at three. Hatton did not write a profile of Sir Gaylord for the 1963 American Racing Manual, but he did write about the most important races of that year. The following is pieced together from that section.

A note or two before proceeding though. Somethingroyal, dam of Sir Gaylord, is remembered for quite another reason as well. Jaipur, arch rival of Sir Gaylord at two, will be featured with a Hatton profile of his own one of these days. Not because Jaipur became an influential sire (as Sir Gaylord did). Just for the GRINS of it. Back to Hatton from the 1963 American Racing Manual.


Racing among the three-year-olds contributed a great deal to the thrills and excitement of the 1962 season. There was an element of high drama in the photo finishes evolving on the Wood, Preakness, Jersey Derby, Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes and other important fixtures. Indeed, the Travers produced one of the rarest races any of this generation has been privileged to witness, with Jaipur and Ridan, the pride of the East and the West, engaging in a breathtaking head and head struggle every desperate yard of a mile and a quarter.

Jaipur Won “Remarkable” Match

George D. Widener’s sometimes brilliant, sometimes irresponsible colt Jaipur won that memorable “match” and was voted the title in his division. Neither Jaipur nor Ridan could compare himself favorably with the mature horses, as Mongo did in the all-age events. But Jaipur in the Belmont Stakes proclaimed himself one of those exceptional animals, “a fast stayer.” . . .

The three-year-old campaign began prosaically enough. Ridan and Sir Gaylord were the most prominent of those pointing for Miami’s late winter stakes while Sir Ribot and Royal Attack were drilling for the Santa Anita Derby. Admiral’s Voyage strutted every racing stage, appearing in Florida, New Orleans and Los Angeles. Jaipur, waxing fat at Hialeah, was awaiting spring racing and the Belmont Stakes.

In the events leading up to the $100,000 Flamingo of nine furlongs on March 3, Ridan flashed the verve and dash which had characterized his two-year-old performances. But in Sir Gaylord he found a rival who seemed perfectly capable of running by him whenever the idea appealed to him. Twice the Chenery colt yoked Ridan atop the stretch and left him spent and reeling in his wake.

Sir Gaylord Did Not “Pull Up”

Sir Gaylord won smashing victories in the seven furlongs Bahamas on February 7 and the nine furlongs Everglades on February 21. Many will always be convinced that, except for the intervention of an unkind fate, Sir Gaylord would have established himself pounds and lengths the best of his generation.

In the Everglades, Sir Gaylord had been struck into by Ridan at the clubhouse turn. He won the race with ruffles and a flourish, by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:48 2/5. Decidedly finished resolutely to be second before the weary Ridan and Prego. But Sir Gaylord did not “pull up.” He had rapped his off fore sharply. X-rays showed no fracture. Owner Chenery decided to forego the Flamingo, however, to afford the handsome son of Turn-to every chance of being ready for the Kentucky Derby.

Regretfully, it was announced Sir Gaylord would miss also the Florida Derby and would not reappear until the Churchill Downs meeting, in a preparatory race for “The Run for the Roses,” as the late Bill Corum dubbed this classic. . . .

With the decision of the Blue Grass [won by Ridan], a caravan of the turf’s followers moved happily up the road to “Derby Town.” The meeting opened April 28 with the 7 furlongs Stepping Stone Purse. The reappearance of Sir Gaylord, and the circumstance that he was to meet the Far West’s promising Sir Ribot, gave this dash a certain importance and feather.

Four ridiculous colts masquerading as potential classicists went to the post with them and the crowd of 17,700 expressed its conviction in no uncertain terms in making Sir Gaylord 1 to 5, though he was to give Sir Ribot three pounds. The track was fast.

Valenzuela relaxed Sir Gaylord coming out of the gate in the chute at the end of the backstretch and contented himself with following in striking position as Sir Ribot chased Doc Jocoy until that one stopped after a half in :45 3/5. Slow and surely, with calm deliberation, Valenzuela let Sir Gaylord go to Sir Ribot and wear him down in midstretch.

Ray York called on the Ribot colt, who fought back gallantly, but to no avail. Sir Gaylord beat him a handy length and three-quarters in 1:22 2/5, then went on out a mile in 1:35 2/5, 9 furlongs in 1:48 3/5 and the Derby distance in 2:02 2/5. Sir Ribot also went the Derby distance, in a more leisured 2:07 4/5.

Just Missed Track Record

Sir Gaylord was within two-fifths of the track mark for 7 furlongs and his work was eminently satisfactory to trainer Hayes. It also was reassuring to those whose confidence had been somewhat shaken at the sight of the elan with which Ridan dispatched the Blue Grass field. . . .

The witching hour of Derby Day was fast approaching and now a cruel, ironic quirk of luck intruded on the setting for the histrionics. By exercising the utmost patience and skill, trainer Hayes had succeeded in bringing back Sir Gaylord to his best form. On the morning before the race, Sir Gaylord fractured the sesamoid in his right fore fetlock while opening up for his engagement a breezing half-mile in :49 2/5.

Injury Stuns Racing World

The little world of racing reeled under the announcement, much as it had when Gen. Duke was forced to decline honors which seemed already his a few years before. Owner Chenery had indicated that Cicada would forfeit the Oaks to start in the Derby if anything untoward befell Sir Gaylord. Confronted with the necessity of making this choice he exercised his prerogative of reconsidering and the filly ran in and won the Oaks.

Concurrent with the report Sir Gaylord would retire to stud . . .


Sir Gaylord was more than successful at stud. Getting back to his contemporaries, Decidedly won the Kentucky Derby, with Roman Line second and Ridan third as the 11-10 favorite. Greek Money won the Preakness, with Ridan second and Roman Line third. Jaipur won the Belmont, with Admiral’s Voyage second and Crimson Satan third. Jaipur also won the Travers that year and was champion three-year-old.

Not one of the above was nearly as good at stud as Sir Gaylord. Next time out we will examine Sir Gaylord as a fourth-generation ancestor of more contemporary foals.

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