Kelso, 1964

Charles Hatton on 1960-1964 Horse of the Year Kelso from the 1965 American Racing Manual.


Kelso is a magnificent performer, one of the great geldings of turf history.

At age seven in 1964, Mrs. Richard C. du Pont’s homebred became Horse of the Year a fifth consecutive season, the richest ever of his species with earnings of $1,893,362, and in the Washington, D.C., International defeated the best field which could be mustered against him from all about the Free World and behind the Iron Curtain.

He has won five Jockey Club Gold Cups and emulated Whisk Broom II and Tom Fool by winning the Handicap Triple Crown, comprised of the Metropolitan, Suburban and Brooklyn, in the same year.

He has successfully carried 136 pounds and has set assorted time records at various distances on the turf and sandy loam.

No horse of the last decade has so captured the public’s imagination. Blase and sophisticated patrons of the Big A-on-the-Subway are popularly supposed to be utterly devoid of sentiment regarding the thoroughbred, referring to them by their program numbers. And yet when Kelso yoked Gun Bow and beat him desperate inches in a dramatic stretch duel for the Aqueduct, these same fans gave vent to the most terrifying crescendo of rooting ever heard on any race track.

It was a mad scene. Even those who backed Gun Bow forgot their wagers and shrilled encouragement to Kelso as he bent valorously to his task and whittled away his flying rival’s lead.

Kelo’s name will be inscribed in the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame, a pantheon of turf celebrities, and it will always be engraved  in the turf fans’ affections. . . .

Mr. Fitz has well said it is what one cannot see that counts most in a thoroughbred. “Kelly” has these innate qualities in excelsis. In his case they amount to  a touch of genius.

As everyone knows Kelso is a son of Your Host and the Count Fleet mare Maid of Flight. His pedigree is a rather casual alliance of Hyperion, Mahmoud, Man o’ War, Whisk Broom II and Black Toney. The names regarded individually are impressive enough, but they come to an uneasy blend of imported and Americanized strains. Any number of thoroughbreds still to break their maidens are equipped with fully as much breeding. . . .

Kelso is directly traceable in tail female to one of the Eastern mares, imported from the desert. Perhaps through some sport of the thoroughbred genes he inherited more of the Eastern horses’ hardihood and resolute character than did his contemporaries. His family was introduced in America through Col. E. R. Bradley’s importation of the Marco mare Macaroon, who is his fifth dam. . . .

Mrs du Pont did not consider such [distant pedigree factors] in sending Maid of Flight to Your Host. A horse lover’s sentiment had as much as anything else to do with the crossing which produced Kelso. Your Host’s long and valorous struggle to live after shattering a shoulder won Mrs. du Pont’s profound admiration and she bought shares in him when he retired to stud in New Jersey, not far from her modest Eastern Shore farm. . . .

16 Hands Plus at Seven Years of Age

Kelso developed from a skinny and wire-hung 15 3 1/2 hands when he appeared at three into  a performer of some bodily substance and standing 16 hands plus at seven last season, when he had attained his maximum growth. In thoroughly tight racing condition his measurements are as follows:

Height, 16 hands plus

Girth, 73 inches

Withers to point of shoulder, 29 1/2 inches

Elbow to ground, 40 inches

Point of shoulder to point of hip, 48 inches

Point of hip to point of hip, 24 inches

Point of hip to point of hock, 43 1/2 inches

Point of hip to buttock, 26 inches

Poll to withers, 40 1/2 inches

Buttock to ground, 45 inches

Point of shoulder to buttock, 69 inches

Circumference of cannon below knee, 9 1/4 inches

Regarding Kelso physically in comparison with other noted geldings of our acquaintance, we would say he has more quality and is less skinny naturally than was Exterminator, and that he has more height and length than had Old Rosebud or his rival Roamer.

Kelso is neither a Your Host nor a Count Fleet in appearance. He is of quite a distinctive greyhound type and is not the sort to fit into a mould and say of him that he is typical of some specific ancestor.

He is quite the aristocrat about the head, with a fine muzzle, prominent cheek bones, a bright eye and delicately turned ear. . . .

Kelso’s head shows all the exquisite quality of his ancestor Hyperion’s, or his kinsman Swaps’. He has good rein length, and his neck is rather light and uncrested, in the way of most geldings. The wither is fairly sharp and the back has a slight dip, while the top line rises again at the ilium and he has a long pelvis.

Seen relaxed in his stall, Kelso looks a bit kitty-cornered behind. But when the gluteus maximum muscles over the loin . . . are tightened through exertion he is not merely round but extraordinarily strong behind the saddle.

Kelso has a deep middle, though we have seen horses whose ribs were better sprung. His limbs are a study, with long forearms, short flat cannons, excellent definition of tendons, springy pasterns at a 45-degree angle and no waste lumber anywhere. There are those who could wish he were a trifle straighter through the hocks.

Possesses Long, Lean Muscles

The Horse of the Year’s muscling is of the long and lean variety rather than gladiatorial or knotted like a sprinter’s. He is a very supple goer in action and has a stride near 24 feet when fully extended. . . .

The only flaw in the claret-colored bay Kelso’s physique is his Achilles heel, to coin a cliche. The walls on the inside of his hind hooves are very high, and his feet are thin so that trainer Carl Hanford was reluctant to change his plates any more than absolutely necessary. This may have caused him to forfeit the chance of winning even more money than he did. You see the Man o’ War is decided at the Big A, where stickers are verboten on the turf, while they are permissible at Laurel, scene of the Washington, D.C., International, which follows closely on the heels of the New York race. Hanford at length decided against starting Kelso for both, choosing to await the International, because it would involve changing his charge’s shoes.

It speaks for Kelso’s pendulistic, controlled action that he can run through a plowed field or up a tin roof if necessary, and that he can handle weight comfortably.

Geldings normally shed late, and Kelso seems to be at the height of his prowess in the fall, though he has beaten all those other horses in early-season events such as the Gulfstream Park and the Campbell.

Temperamentally he is a completely uncomplicated individual, given to no tantrums nor peccadilloes. On the contrary he is downright Chesterfieldian. Mrs du Pont gives parties in his honor at her Woodstock Farm where he joins the guest for chocolate sundaes. A less sensible horse would long since have been spoiled. We dare say Mrs. du Pont could hunt him.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s