Nodouble, 1970

Charles Hatton on 1970 champion handicap horse Nodouble from the 1971 American Racing Manual.


Nodouble stamped himself indubitably as a horse of class in 1969, when it appeared that he was surpassed only by the younger three-year-old Arts and Letters, and he returned to action as a five-year-old in 1970. Exceot for brief flashes of his old form, his frequently interrupted campaign was an anticlimax and finally he retired to stud in California. Performing for his breeder, Gene Goff, the enormously popular “Arkansas Traveler” made seven starts during the season, winning the San Pasqual in February and the prestigious Metropolitan on Memorial Day, and finished third in the Californian for total earnings of $121,140.

This record would look good on most his species, but did nothing for Nodouble’s charisma. On the rare occasions he was good, the son of Noholme II was very good, however. It was quite a feat to shoulder 128 pounds and race to a new Santa Anita course record of 1:40 2/5 for a mile and a sixteenth in the San Pasqual, incidentally conceding Dewan eight pounds. Again, he was prodigious running down the flying Reviewer and carrying 126 to a new course record of 1:34 3/5 for the famed Metropolitan Mile, over a surface and distance negotiated by many of our greatest horses since Race King dead-heated Sysonby for the Met as the track opened in 1905.

The Metropolitan was a desperate struggle, moving the most blasé sophisticates to think it one of 1970’s more exciting races. Reviewer was “Hawkins’ Hoss” at the time, and many a stable strategist would have got stuffy about giving him three pounds, but sport owner Goff decreed Nodouble must take his chance, and the old horse brought it off, though he never won again, indeed ran only twice more. Three weeks later he was fifth to Fast Hilarious in the Michigan Mile and One-Eighth, when it was said he failed to get hold of the track.

He developed a blood infection soon thereafter which sidelined him four months, until the Vosburgh at Aqueduct October 24. This was to serve as a preliminary to the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and trainer Bert Sonnier produced him in radiant condition bodily. But his charge was never in the hunt. He did not have it, so didn’t flaunt it, in a manner of speaking. In the desponding circumstances, it was concluded discretion would be the better part of valor, and that it was a bit much to expect him to concern himself with a race of two searching miles at weight for age a week later, so his retirement was announced.

Reviewer ran only once again after the Metropolitan actually, winning the Nassau County June 22 and Dewan quixotically attempted to give him nine pounds. We would not care to say he was brittle legged, but it was with difficulty he was kept sound. He is a heavily topped horse and eventually was retired to stud, like his arch rival. Appalling scores of horses sustained broken bones on the rather adamant and unyielding surfaces in 1970, of a sort dictated by long meetings.

Nodouble individually has enough foibles to give him the persona of something of a character and make him interesting. In the first place, there is the strange metamorphosis which transformed him from a delicate, undernourished bad doer as a rather weedy green two-year-old, when he ran in a claimer, into a bit of a gourmet. Then there are the stories, perhaps apocryphal, he was provided with a padded stall. Again, there is the joie de vivre he displays at exercise. He is not unlike the three-year-old leader Personality in that he is a vigorous puller and will run off given half a chance. Unlike the latter, he is not “a blinker horse” in active competition.

Developed Well With Maturity

Nodouble developed aesthetically as he matured, furnishing out into a really quite fetching specimen, what with his coat of burnished copper, his attractive star, and superb balance. He is what Hard Boots would term “a neat horse,” one having a bit of quality and little suggestion of coarseness.

His only obvious faults are his overlong hind cannons, and associated sickle hocks, while his humerus is not particularly well placed and he looks sort of second hand below the knee.

In fine, he is “a rum ‘un to look at, and a good ‘un to go,” as they say at Newmarket.

Dr. M. A. Gilman, the NYRA’s official veterinarian, detailed Nodouble’s anatomical specifications for us last July as follows:

Height, 16 hands

Point of shoulder to point of shoulder, 15 ½ inches

Girth, 71 inches

Withers to point of shoulder, 27 ½ inches

Elbow to ground, 38 inches

Point of shoulder to point of hip, 45 inches

Point of hip to point of hip, 27 inches

Point of hip to point of hock, 40 inches

Point of hip to buttock, 24 inches

Poll to withers, 37 inches

Buttock to ground, 53 inches

Point of shoulder to buttock, 67 inches

Circumference of cannon under knee, 8 ¼ inches

If it strikes you from his girth that Nodouble is anything but barrel chested, perhaps that is because her ribs were not sprung as a youngster. Once a thin animal’s rib cage is set, it is no good trying to give him the chest expansion of a big doer in training. And yet nobody ever accused Nodouble of wanting in heart and the lung capacity to stay.

Handles Weight Reasonably Well

The critic also may be struck by the relatively short distance from hip to hock. It is a curious fact that despite this and the angulation of the hock area Nodouble is among the most fluent movers. Also that he handles weight reasonably well, for sickle hocks like long backs are supposed to limit a horse’s abulity to do this. One is reminded of Pennant, who was one of the the most stylish of horses, excepting his hocks were a bit behind him. Despite this he won the Pimlico Handicap under 132 and gave Friar Rock weight and a beating.

Nodouble has a nice head, what with a slight bulge between large, liquid eyes, the Arab dish and a broad muzzle, while the jowl is flat and the throatlatch clean and arching. He has rather a straight neck, a withers neither too sharp nor broad and forks up nicely in front, neither too wide nor with both forelegs coming out of the same hole, as horsemen say.

When thoroughly tightened fro a race, his middlepiece looks rather racy, as one would suspect from his vital statistics quoted above. But he is well coupled about the loin and flank. His croup is sloping. One has the impression that when he has let down, the Goff campaigner will furnish out into a masculine individual with not too much excess flesh, which can be a strain on a stallion’s heart.

Descends From Hyperion

The salient aspect of Nodouble’s pedigree is his tail-male descendance from Hyperion, a little 15.2 hands stallion who gained worldwide celebrity as a sire of sires. Noholme II, our subject’s male parent, is slightly larger than that. His pedigree is redundant in Epsom Derby winners. Hyperion was by Gainsborough. . . . 

Nodouble’s dam, Abla-Jay, ignited no woods in training but is a daughter of the two-year-old champion Double Jay, who won middle distance handicaps when his tragic underpinning would permit, and who was himself by Balladier out of Wood Axton’s useful campaigner Broomshot, daughter of Whisk Broom II. This observer’s first acquaintance with racing concurred with the appearance of the last Himyars and Dominos. The line they established through Commando was for many horse generations our reliable source of sheer zip, while Himyar founded a less populous line through King James, Spur, Questionnaire, etc., whose members could “stay a week” as Marshal Lilly would say picturesquely.

This is hard bottomed, old fashioned American blood, tempered in the crucible of our demanding system of racing. Nodouble’s second dam Ablamucha introduces some outside blood, as a daughter of the Latin American Don Bingo. The third dam was by Challenger II, sire of Challedon and Gallorette and himself a son of the stout English stayer Swynford.


Nodouble did more than OK at stud. He was the leading sire of 1981. Ditto for Reviewer. He was the sire of Ruffian.

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One Response to Nodouble, 1970

  1. Double Jay says:

    Thank you! Love those bloodlines! A lot of brilliant horses. Such potent blood. Since they are in Dr. Joe Irwin’s pedigree, they are special to me.

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