by Murray Brown
John Simpson would typically say, “If Tar Heel had been a yearling being led right into a gross sales ring in the present day, he probably wouldn’t get a single bid. He was coarse boned, again on his knees, had quick pasterns, sickle hocks, had a sway again and he had a head that exemplified the time period jughead. Aside from that, he was an ideal particular person.”
One may ask, why did a horse with such questionable conformation prove to change into the nice racehorse and sire that he turned?
If one had been asking this scribe, the reply would probably be, “I don’t know.” If the query was requested after being given a while to mull it over, my response could be pedigree, pedigree and extra pedigree. Though not the proper particular person, Tar Heel was bred within the purple.
He was sired by one of many biggest stallions our breed has ever identified, Billy Direct, and out of the beautifully-bred Volomite mare Leta Lengthy.
One may argue that Billy Direct was one of many biggest sires the breed has ever identified. He was a foal of 1934. He took a 2-year-old report of two.04.12 on the kite formed observe in Outdated Orchard Seaside, ME. His 3-year-old report was 1.58. At 4, he went in opposition to the clock at Lexington and paced in 1.55, eclipsing Dan Patch’s 37-year-old report of 1.55.1/4.
By means of historical past there have been a number of questions raised about Billy Direct’s, for lack of a greater time period, “authenticity.”
The primary associated to his age. My pal and colleague Dean Hoffman wrote a column on this periodical the place his beginning yr was questioned. The monument to him which stands in Tennessee lists his foaling yr as 1931. USTA information listing it as 1934. He raced as a foal of 1934 and all of the information listing him as having been foaled that yr. Which is correct? We are going to by no means know for positive.
The second query that adopted the horse into his stud profession was how “clear” was he when he raced. There have been some outdated timers who claimed that Billy Direct raced on heroin. There have been people who stated his eyes appeared as if they had been coming out of his head when he took his world report at The Crimson Mile in Lexington in 1938. For the needs of this text, allow us to say, whether or not or not he raced “clear,” he was nonetheless a really quick horse.
On the conclusion of his racing profession, he was retired to stud at Peninsula farm in northern Ohio. After two years there, he was moved to Hanover Shoe Farms on a lease deal. It was at Hanover the place Billy Direct would notice his true greatness as a sire. You will need to perceive that Hanover had by no means beforehand stood a pacing-bred stallion. Their broodmare band consisted nearly completely of trotting-bred mares, with only a few, if any pacers. So, what to do? They bred him to mares with trotting pedigrees in fact. One of many few pacing-bred mares he was bred to was Adieu, a sister to the nice racehorse and sire Adios. From that mating ensued Evalina Hanover, a quick mare who took a report of 1.59.2, however extra importantly turned the dam of the nice racehorse and sire Bye Bye Byrd.
The overwhelming majority of the mares booked to him had been trottingbred. They included the primary Little Brown Jug winner Ensign Hanover, one other Jug winner Dudley Hanover and a horse which may have been a Jug winner, Direct Rhythm, if he had not had the misfortune of getting been foaled the identical yr as Tar Heel and Solicitor.
Kenny Hamm the excellent horseman, stallioneer and yearling chief at Hanover took care of Billy Direct. He described the horse as being very variety and extremely smart. Sadly, he was a nervous type who would typically even savage himself. The breed misplaced an amazing horse who was simply reaching his true potential when he handed from an obvious coronary heart assault on the age of 13.
Tar Heel’s Leta Lengthy was bred and owned by the tobacco magnate W N Reynolds till the latter’s loss of life in 1951.
Delvin Miller, who was the contract coach for Mr. Reynolds recalled receiving a cellphone name one late night that there was a black new child foal out free one night at Mr. Reynolds’ Tanglewood Farm in Winston-Salem, N.C. The younger colt was quickly gathered up and returned to his mom. That foal was to be named Tar Heel, in honor of the house state of North Carolina. He was the primary foal of the Volomite mare Leta Lengthy. He was not solely the primary, he was additionally the most effective foal from his dam who was to change into an distinctive producer having 4 in 2:00, extraordinary manufacturing for that period.
Leta Lengthy was a good race mare, taking a report of two.03.3/4 on the tempo and incomes $9,321 in her racing profession. She was educated and raced by Miller. John Simpson advised this story about her: Miller had her into race at Roosevelt Raceway one night. She was Miller’s solely drive that night time. His pal Johnny Simpson was right down to drive a number of. Miller requested Simpson if he would drive her for him. Simpson requested Miller about her. “She’s not a lot,” was the response. “When you can shield her and race her from a gap you may have the ability to get a test.” Simpson warmed her up. She felt actually good to him. He thought to himself, ‘She is likely to be price a guess.’ He despatched Cy Geers as much as the grandstand to guess $200 for him. She ended up successful pretty simply and paying boxcar numbers.
Leta Lengthy, though not an amazing race filly was exquisitely bred — to not be a pacer, however a trotter. She was by the trotting stallion Volomite who was an equal alternative sire. He was identified for siring extraordinary horses — each trotters and pacers. Her dam the Mr.Mcelwyn mare Rosette was out of a sister to the nice racehorse and sire Scotland who stood at historic Walnut Corridor Farm alongside Volomite. The quick maternal household was to provide the nice trotters and sires Hickory Smoke and Hickory Satisfaction, and on the pacing finish, the famous matron Maggie Counsel, dam of six in 2:00.
Although Mr. Reynolds was the proprietor, Miller made all choices concerning Reynolds’ horse holdings. He determined to breed Leta Lengthy to Billy Direct who was starting to make waves at Hanover. Little did anyone know that this was going to be Billy Direct’s final season at stud. The horse was destined to move that very same yr.
Tar Heel was educated and raced by Miller. He didn’t all the time drive him as a result of he had a trio of remarkable colts that yr. Along with Tar Heel, he additionally had the blindingly quick Solicitor and one other good Billy Direct son in Direct Rhythm. Tar Heel was the most effective of his class at 2 and three. At 3, he gained the best of all pacing races the Little Brown Jug, though he may not have been the most effective horse that day. Del Cameron was driving him and Delvin was behind Solicitor. Tar Heel had gained a warmth. Within the deciding warmth, it was thought that his entry mate Solicitor was all set to go by him, however didn’t. They had been a betting entry owned and educated by the identical folks. They raced as a betting entry. If certainly that was the case — no foul, no hurt. I used to be a fly on the wall one night when Miller was requested the query. He neither confirmed, nor denied the query.
Nearing the conclusion of Tar Heel’s 3-year-old season, Mr. Reynolds died. All his horses had been to be dispersed at Harrisburg that fall. The 2 gems within the consignment had been the colts Tar Heel and Solicitor. They had been each anticipated to deliver report costs at public sale — they usually did. Solicitor introduced an eye-popping $100,000. Tar Heel was subsequent on the public sale block and he exceeded Solicitor’s worth bringing an unbelievable $125,000. Each costs had been information for the time. Each horses had been bought by Lawrence B. Sheppard, the proprietor of Hanover Shoe Farms.
When requested after the sale which of the 2 did he consider would change into the higher sire, his response in typical no holds barred Sheppard trend was, “How the hell would I do know? If I knew I wouldn’t have purchased each of them.” Though Solicitor was to sire the nice Overtrick, Tar Heel would change into the higher sire — significantly better.
Writer’s be aware. When you occur to be within the presence of Steve Jones of Cameo Hills Farm, ask him to play the sale of Tar Heel on the 1951 Harrisburg Sale for you. He has it recorded on his cellphone. It was a one-of-a-kind public sale expertise.Famed auctioneer George Swinebroad was at his highest. I believe it took one thing like 10 minutes to promote simply the one horse.
Tar Heel was introduced again to race at 4. He didn’t excel that yr, though he did decrease his report to 1:57 in a time trial.
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