Nodouble, 1969

Charles Hatton on 1969 champion handicap horse Nodouble from the 1970 American Racing Manual.

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Broad and not insupportable claims were staked out for Nodouble as the cleverest handicapper of 1969. His record sparkles with victories in the prestigious Brooklyn and such other purse proud events as the Santa Anita Handicap, Hawthorne Gold Cup and Californian, and his earning for the year were $454,250.

One would think any of the equine species might be a little self satisfied and smug with that, but Nodouble aimed high, aspiring to Horse of the Year honors, even entertaining some notion of venturing to Longchamp for Paris’ top-hat-and-tails race, the Arc de Triomphe. With these soaring objectives in mind, his campaign was one long, defeating series of frustrations.

You can’t win ’em all,” it is philosophized. It is a pretty euphemy. Of course, O’Kelly’s Eclipse not only won them all, it became necessary to wager he would distance his field, winning by a furlong. His performances were limited by his own excellence. Indeed, he broke up English racing two centuries ago to the extent a syndicate was formed with the transparent object of assassinating his owners. Eclipse’s fame raised O’Kelly from service as a sedan carrier and sometimes debtors’ prisoner to the respectability of a baronial estate. Retired to stud, Eclipse created the modern thoroughbred. He had a full brother called Garrick who was not worth a plugged shilling.

In our own time Colin, Ribot, Pharis, Hurry On and The Tetrarch retired unbeaten. The first named was bowed by a tight bandage in his final work for the Belmont, in which he tried to pull up, while The Tetrarch had awfully long cannons and tendons, not mention a sway back like Glencoe’s.

Gene Goff need not feel badly about Nodouble’s reverses, though they are not his custom, and certainly the owner takes them in good part. Valorously enough, Nodouble tried Arts and Letters three times, in the Metropolitan, the Woodward and then the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and always he was the runner-up. But he was burdened with 129 to 111 on the three-year-old in the Met Mile. Moreover, the Rokeby colt racing into the stretch miraculously found a hole big enough for a Mack truck, and took full advantage of the opportunity.

Conversely, the “Arkansas Traveler” had perforce to take the overland. This left his backers conjugating some irregular verbs. Nodouble excelled Arts and Letters in only one way, in their manner of going. Arts and Letters was the better doer, eating like a baby sitter, and in the long run, toward the close of the season’s campaign, he left his older rival spectacularly out of touch in the Gold Cup.

Poor Appetite in Younger Years

Nodouble’s attendants advise he was a rather picky, fastidious doer as a yearling and two-year-old and in consequence he inclines to be slim and wiry, even though his appetite has improved. Suddenly last summer, at Saratoga in August he was withdrawn from a Whitney renewal he apparently had at his mercy, “to be afforded a respite.” He seemed not to come back quite so good as he had been in late winter and spring.

He was to compete for the United Nations on the grass, but his astute trainer, Bert Sonnier, declined when his charge expressed some rigid resentment to the yielding surface. Following the ignominy of the Gold Cup, in which he collected a bruised heel, he accepted an invitation to the Washington, D.C., International. But on arrival at Laurel he developed a temperature, turned his tail to the feed box, and sensibly was stopped to recuperate against a late winter campaign. He had very much a jaded look about him.

Failing his main objectives, Nodouble still managed to compile a splendid record of achievement in the year’s handicaps. His charts were parables of equine fortitude. The bright chestnut is very possibly the “most horse” ever bred in the state of Arkansas,

Victory over Damascus at Detroit

A four-year-old in 1969, he had beaten the bushes at two, and first attracted national notice at three when he beat Damascus at Detroit, then won a Hawthorne Gold Cup to confirm that he had arrived.

People had been incredulous when he downed both Damascus and that horse’s “second” Hedevar, in the Michigan Mile and One-Eighth, but he picked up 117 and ran a mile and a quarter in 1:59 1/5 in the Hawthorne race.

Nodouble is homegrown, sired by Noholme II, a curvaceous little red horse Goff imported from Australia in 1960. Not minding desperately, indeed not caring at all that he was practically exiled in Arkansas, Noholme II got 10 winners from 12 foals in his first crop, some of them out of distressingly moderate mares. He became the leading sire of two-year-olds with his second crop in 1967, when he hd a fantastic total of 24 winners and five placed horses from 33 starters. Not surprisingly, Noholme II now has been syndicated rather well, for $1,020,000, to stand in Ocala, Florida. Noholme II’s pedigree is more exultant than some baroque tapestry of mesalliances. Suffice it to say he is by “the remarkable” Star Kingdom and is Hyperion’s grandson.

By and large, the Stud Book is an amorphous mass of evidence documenting breeders’ mistakes. But Goff did not err when he sent the mare Abla-Jay to Noholme II and Nodouble resulted. Oddly, Abla-Jay did not make a reserve of $100,000 when run through an auction at Ocala last October, though pronounced again in foal to Noholme II.

Dam Traces to Domino

Bluntly, Abla-Jay was no better than she should have been until she was presented at Noholme II’s court, winning eight little races and $22,186 in a pillar-to-post career. But she is a Double Jay and from that scion of Domino, a flier bowed in both tendons as a yearling, she can have inherited some transmittable factors for speed and resolution. Domino, appropriately the color of bitter chocolate although miscalled “The Black Whirlwind,” twice came back bleeding from a foot when Henry of Navarre beat him. His descendant Double Jay was very like him in that he proved a performer of inflexible courage despite frightful running gear. Domino sired only 20 foals, but made an indelible impression on the Stud Book.

Nodouble’s next dam was Ablamucha, by the Latin American Don Bingo, a good handicapper who went in and out of pedigrees almost as rapidly as Star Shoot and Sun Beau, however. Ablamucha won unobstrusively, once setting a mile and three sixteenths track record at Pomona. She produced six other winners, some of them by those sterling progenitors Cock Crow and My Radar. The combination of genes is not more predictable than when three bells will coincide on a slot machine.

The third dam was the Challenger II mare Sweet Betty, out of the really worthwhile Betty Dalme. Admittedly, Nodouble’s is not a particularly inspired, battle cry of a pedigree in the first removes of the bottom half, and yet the genes took their million-to-one chance and fused in the winning combination. From somewhere, Nodouble inherited the spark we call “the will to win.”

Nodouble is about 16 hands, with a flashy red coat and a long star. He is constructed along homogenous lines and is a nicely balanced, workmanlike racehorse, with no exaggerated physical features. He is neither conspicuously lengthy nor leggy. His somewhat sickle hocks and long hind cannons spoil him for the captious critic, and yet there is no consonant influence on his action, which is highly precisioned and indeed is his salient attribute mechanically.

He is a hard puller and in condition moves with such spirit and eclat he catches the eye among scores of horses on the racetrack with him mornings. He pulls up with the reluctance of a piece worker taking a coffee break, and once last August ran off several furlongs after working a serious mile and an eighth. He is not a blinker horse and in the Woodward found a second run and went at Arts and letters again after appearing “a dead cock in the pit” as the late Walter Jeffords would say.

Has Right Sort of Pasterns

All of which may tell you something of his competitive instincts. He has fair rein length, forks up nicely and may boast some depth through the heart, though his torso is not thick through. His muscling is that of the middle distance runner, and he has lovely, broad, flat bone and the right sort of pasterns, albeit his ankles appear coarse. These bear most of the stress of racing and training and are unattractive aspects of his conformation shared perhaps by 70 per cent of the animals subjected to our hard courses.

Owner Goff can hardly help hoping that eventually Nodouble will carry on the Hyperion prepotency and it will be surprising if he disappoints that popular turfman.

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