Ta Wee, 1970

Charles Hatton on 1970 champion sprinter Ta Wee from the 1971 American Racing Manual.


Ta Wee was quite the sweetheart of the turf in 1970, when she again was the champion of the sprinters, winning five of seven races and $111,868 and concluding her career with a brilliant victory in the Interborough Handicap while carrying 142 pounds.

Always she was the favorite, and always her doting public looked for her at the front end of her fields, while she placed second in the only two races in which she let them down. One is reminded of Algy Daingerfield’s observation, in the course of a symposium on the relative merits of Colin and Sysonby one winter’s afternoon at tea time in The Jockey Club. Casting a vote of confidence in unbeaten Colin, he explained:

“I always knew where to look for Colin in a race–leading the field.”

An amiable filly, it was postulated that Ta Wee could be rated, and conjectured that she thus would conceivably stay middle distances. The subjective may think what they like, and welcome. Sprinting was her forte, and this she could do better than any other of the fast set among the nation’s 30,000 plus horses in training. Pickings are comparatively slim for horses of limited stamina, however fast they may be, but stable manager John Nerud did not care to be experimental, campaigning her at distances best suited to her extraordinary gifts, which seems the intelligent policy.

The one occasion on which Dr. Fager’s square-set little half-sister essayed a distance was in a mile and a sixteenth turf race as a three-year-old in ’69, and she was unplaced after hitting the front at one stage. Nerud was reminded “The good doctor” was the only one of the gift mare Aspidistra’s frisky produce much inclined to “go across the street” in a manner of speaking.

Carrying Highweights Her Forte

The tremendous thing about Ta Wee was her regularity and the capacity to carry imposts practically unheard of since Pan Zareta’s day. Previous to winning the dramatic Interborough under 142, she had carried 140 successfully in the Fall Highweight and won the Regret at Monmouth with 136 on her sturdy scapulas.

Even these imposts could not stagger her, nor were her connections the least shaken contemplating them. They rose splendidly to the occasion and so did Ta Wee, and their sporting attitude was exemplary in the midst of so much artful dodging, dissembling and proselytizing. So many of their contemporaries are more cautious than valorous. Of course heavy weights are tiring, and there is greater risk that a horse will strike himself when he is tired. But horses often work carrying 130 to 135 pounds, and there is a dim suspicion there are better weight carriers and more versatile animals in training than meet the eye.

Reminded of John E. Madden’s very quotable observation “Records live, opinions die,” Nerud was anxious to have Ta Wee put her superiority on record. Simply and unsubtly as that. There are champions in every division every year, but those who carry their weight, As Exterminator, Man o’ War, Osmand, Old Rosebud, Pan Zareta and Roseben did, are remembered best and longest.

None of these would have been so topping and so rare in the hands of those transparent strategists who quibble over a pound as if it were hemlock. Some undeserving animals have won divisional titles, but posterity is never deceived.

We wish that we might say Ta Wee is a young racemare of unspeakable grandeur physically, one who looks the part strikingly as “The Beautiful” La Tosca or her prototype Pan Zareta, in which the fine points were finer so to speak. But failing aesthetic appeal, she is constructed for utility, and is all over the exceptional sprinter. She is built like a sub chaser, rather underslung and with a level top line and vast hips and quarters that Shoo Fly the quarter horse might envy.

Stands Precisely 15 Hands, 3 Inches

Dr. M. A. Gilman measured her late in her three-year-old form and found she stands precisely 15.3, girths 75 1/2 inches and short-legged and short-backed, measures 37 inches from the elbow to the ground and 44 1/2 inches from the point of the shoulder to the point of the hip.

She has fair length from hip to hock . . . and good bone with 8 1/2 inches below the knee.

In describing her last year for these pages it was observed that, “There is a guarantee of tremendous thrust about her loins, stifles and gaskins.” She was even more obvious in this connection at four, though little changed in other of her points.

She has a well-muscled scapula, which rises to near the top of her withers, which are rather low. The humerus is almost equal the length of the scapula and is well placed for liberty of action. Her shoulder is not loaded, but the forearms are not notably strong. If she hadn’t got such construction she couldn’t handle weight with such facility.

Overall there is something rather cobby about the true sprinting type and in this respect Ta Wee seems to favor her dam, who is a fat little mare. Her people will be gratified if she is so prolific in runners. Also like her dam, she is a bay with black points, and her only conspicuous marking is a star and abbreviated connecting stripe or “lantern” in her profile.

Both her sire Intentionally and maternal grandsire Better Self liked the first mile the best, and the former won a memorable Withers, while he got another fast horse in In Reality. Intentionally has the treacherous War Relic and the weight carrier Discovery superimposed on the family of Ballantrae, whence came also Equipoise and Seabiscuit. She traces to the Whitney mare through Fitz Herbert’s deceptively skinny daughter Escarpolette, winner of 38 races. Fitz Herbert was a bit better than historians ever credited him with being. Also in Intentionally’s pedigree one finds Percentage, a useful sprinter and patriarch of the best quarter horses.

Better Self has proved a reliable source of broodmares. But had anyone suggested Draymont and Tea Caddy would turn up in the credentials of two such stellar performers as Dr. Fager and Ta Wee people would have thought he must be mad.

Those who try to explain Ta Wee still find it maddening but there it is.

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