T. V. Lark–1961

Charles Hatton on 1961 champion turf horse T. V. Lark from the 1962 American Racing Manual.


T. V. Lark’s story presents the familiar metamorphosis of the ugly duckling who became a swan. By the wafer-thin Nasrullah horse Indian Hemp, and with two crosses fairly close up of the plain Swynford in his pedigree, T. V. Lark was unsuitable for modeling weather vanes in his youth, when he could elicit only $12,000. As he matured, the bay burgeoned along sturdier lines, assuming the port and muscularity of individuals in the bottom half of his pedigree, including those rugged specimens Heelfly and Bull Dog. We regret to say his hind legs still are not very straight, but he made Kelso look even thinner and more lithe than that gelding really is as they ran side by side at Laurel, where he won the 1961 turf course title.

T. V. Lark’s pedigree has no very objective design. His first two dams were nonwinners and highly “unselective.” But his maternal grandsire, Heelfly, had a certain nuisance value for War Admiral and is out of the good Oaks filly Canfli [destined to become the third dam of Lady Pitt]. The fourth dam is the matriarchal Ruddy Light, whom we saw win a Debutante. T. V. Lark is an amalgam of American, French, English, and Irish blood and if one explores his pedigree there is not really a weak strain in it. In this wise, it recalls Carry Back’s, in that the cumulative quality has made a resounding impact on racing.

Type of Course No Concern

Unlike Carry Back’s, T. V. Lark’s pedigree does not resemble a meteorological survey in a low pressure area. T. V. Lark runs on the main course and turf with equal facility just so long as he can hear his hoofs rattle. In the course of his career, he beat two Horses of the Year in Kelso and Sword Dancer. . . .

Between the hot blood of Nasrullah and the cold blood of Swynford it is not surprising T. V. Lark has a foible. He is a “one-man horse” and trainer Paul Parker is the only one of the homo sapiens he will allow to handle him. His trust is not misplaced. In Parker’s solicitous care he won 14 of 41 starts and $646,527 in his last two campaigns, and was sold for a large sum by Chase McCoy to the Madden syndicate just before the Washington, D.C., International. He and Kelso at Laurel proved “fast stayers,” of the extremely rare order of Princequillo, when they reduced a mile and a half to a sprint, running every furlong as if they were going only six. One sees few such exhibitions of sustained speed in a lifetime. If either is a one-run horse, his run is from flagfall to finish.

In our study of T. V. Lark’s conformation in these profiles a year ago, we wrote: “He developed into a 16-hander of considerable substance. His shoulders became sheathed in long, supple muscles. His barrel was round and he became strong over the loins. As he grew to his ample frame, T. V. Lark developed more coordination, enabling him to handle his weight and stay on splendidly. He ‘ran off his hocks,’ after the fashion of Round Table, and they were set low to the ground, implemented by attractive development of the propulsive extensor pedis muscles.

“His legs are fairly well under him and his neck began to assume a graceful arch. We suppose there are handsomer heads in the National Museum of Racing but T. V. Lark’s has good width between the eyes, in the area of the brain pan. Parenthetically, it is true that horses do no run on their heads and yet one will notice that when riders wish them to accelerate, they push on their mounts’ necks, just behind their heads. This tends to enforce a longer stride, with greater thrust and impetus forward. Professor Chubb finds that approximately 60 to 65 percent of a Thoroughbred’s weight, exclusive of the jockey, is carried forward, the hind quarters serving as the impulse, or the springs.”

Races Without Blinkers

It is refreshing, concerning T. V. Lark, to note that he races without blinkers. So too do Kelso and Carry Back. In recent years on our turf all too many trainers have taken little pride in such matters. They ignore the implicit “knock” against one of their charges and often needlessly equip them with the rogue’s badge, which was invented for cowards. These are the same trainers who are not abashed when one of their charges is beaten 100 yards. But we are not trainers’ consciences and have no wish to moralize. Suffice it to say “all the more credit to T. V. Lark,” a generous and genuine champion.

Dr. M. A. Gilman troubled to measure young Madden’s potential progenitor at Belmont Park last fall, soon after the International. His report follows:

Height                                                              16.3 hands

Girth                                                                72 inches

Point of shoulder to point of shoulder         72 inches

Point of shoulder to withers                         29 inches

Elbow to ground                                             40 inches

Point of shoulder to point of hip                   45 1/2 inches

Point of hip to point of hip                             24 inches

Hip to hock                                                      42 inches

Hip to buttock                                                 26 inches

Poll to withers                                                 40 1/2 inches

Buttock to ground                                           56 inches

Cannon below knee                                         9 1/4 inches


T. V. Lark raced again in 1962 and retired to stud in 1963 with a record of 72-19-13-6 for earnings of $902,194. He became leading sire in 1974.

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One Response to T. V. Lark–1961

  1. Dennis Tierney says:

    Two memories of TV Lark. Early 1961, at Santa Anita ,he was continually assigned high weights in the handicaps based on his previous summer’s mid-west form (Santa Anita assigned weights for all big races before the meeting began). Resultantly, many a longshot ran with top weight. Secondly, I vividly remember watching a televised race at Garden State (Gardenia?) when the announcer Tommy Roberts announced that TV Lark had beaten Kelso in the International (not a happy moment for me).

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