Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

Everything from mosquitoes in Texas (a fear of Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis which kept away many of the European horses), to prolonged rain, fog and a lackluster field of nine horses, combined to make the 20th running of the $150,000 Washington, D.C., International a study in adversity.

Paul Mellon’s 3-year-old homebred Run the Gantlet won by 6 lengths over the soft turf in the slowest time ever recorded for the race – running 1 1/2 miles in 2:503⁄5, 264⁄5 seconds slower than Kelso’s 1964 course record. But it was noted that Rokeby Stable’s son of Tom Rolfe “evidenced genuine class. He did exactly what a good horse should do: perform well on any kind of surface.”

Said Mellon before the race, with water dripping from his nose as he spoke: “I prefer it this way to having a fast track for every race. If all the tracks were the same, there’d be no fun. It would make every- thing in racing seem artificial.” It was the Rokeby team’s third International win.

  • A feature on Kelso’s private groom, Martha Rosmeisl – hired to care for the world’s richest money winner after his longtime groom Lawrence “Fitzy” Fitzpatrick died in August 1968 – provided a close look at the great gelding’s day-to-day care. A German-born and raised horsewoman who got to know Kelso through her connections with Olympic riders Donnan Sharp Plumb and Michael Plumb (the latter rode Kelso in his five-day appearance at Madison Square Garden in 1968), Rosmeisl would ride Kelso near the end of the summer to get him fit for Allaire duPont, who hunted him with the Vicmead Hounds.

    “Kelso is like any great personality. Like Beethoven or Van Gogh. Although he is great, that doesn’t make him easy to get along with. He is a complicated horse, and very intelligent,” she said.

    Kelso’s routine was many ways like that of any hunter, except that he’d get a few hundred visitors every week and still had a loyal fan club. Rosmeisl would give each visitor a short lecture on Kelso’s achievements and a look at the great Thoroughbred. Visitors who didn’t take Kelso seriously would irritate his caretaker. “He was the greatest, and some people tell you this or that horse beat him. Some people don’t come to see Kelso, they just come to look around because they’ve never been to a horse farm.”

  • Cohoes, the sire of classic winner Quadrangle and champion steeplechaser Shadow Brook, made the move from Kentucky to Shannondale Farm in Maryland. The 17-year-old stallion would stand in 1972 for a $2,000 live foal fee. With his offspring having earned approximately $3 million, only one other stallion doing active stud duty in Maryland (Nearctic) sired the earners of more money.

    The farm near Glenwood was owned by veterinarian George Murnan, whose practice included Laurel Race Track.

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