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Podcast #28: BOOK READING: Pipedreamer
Podcast Date:
10-15-2008
File Size: 4.2MB
Download File

I have known well over one thousand horses. Some I quickly forgot, and they deserved forgetting. You remember well the great ones, and you think of them often. You appreciate their vital role in the development of your career. There were others that were not necessarily great, nor even close to it, but they were characters, with charm or personality or goofiness. Some were really not very good horses-but refused to believe it! These are the ones that touch your heart and make the game so wonderful.

We had one that was the character of characters. He was the quintessence of goofiness. He thought he was invincible . . . though he was not. His name was Pipedreamer, and he was nutty as a fruitcake!

Most of us in business have, on occasion, let our hearts rule our heads. In racing, if our hearts were not influential factors in our make-ups, we would probably be pursuing some other enterprise.

That's what happened when I bought Pipedreamer in England. I saw him first at Royal Ascot, where he was one of twenty-eight horses in the Britannia Stakes. With a crowd of sixty-thousand - including Queen Elizabeth - cheering him on, this tiny black horse, his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth crazily, shot out of the pack about thirty yards from home - like a seed popping out of a grape - and won by two lengths. I fell in love with him, as one would be smitten by a three-legged dog, perhaps.

A few days later, when he had been returned to his home stable at Lambourne, I drove there to inspect him. What a disaster he was. Physically, he was most unattractive; and from a soundness standpoint, he was quite ill-suited to be a racehorse. He was a little fellow and seemed frail. He might have weighed as much as eight hundred pounds. He made a terrible wheezing sound when he ran and had a rather strange-looking growth on one ankle. He had one testicle to his name (and future prospects of using that one in a stud career were not very bright!). He was plagued with a heart murmur. His demeanor was eccentric, to be charitable. I should have beaten a hasty retreat.

That fall he was put in a public auction, and I bought him for thirty-two thousand dollars.

Someone asked me why I would pay anything at all for such a wreck. I said, "Because I have seen him run. And he's a running son of a bitch!"

I sent him to Florida to the racing stable at Hialeah, and we decided to run him in the Appleton Handicap at Gulfstream on opening day in January. We gave the ride to the stylish French jockey Jean Cruguet.

As the race unfolded, Cruguet sensed a slow pace up front, and with a half-mile left, he let out a notch on Pipedreamer. Wham! Suddenly Pipedreamer was six on top! And he never looked back. He cruised home with two and a half lengths to spare, and what a sight he was. I can see old "Pipes" now, running with his head up in the air like a goose, roaring down that grassy stretch at Gulfstream. His long tongue was flapping in the breeze, and his eyes were about to pop out of his head. What a wonderful day!

Pipes campaigned up and down the Eastern Seaboard, never intimidated, never in doubt, and whipping many a good horse.

When his racing days were over, we were even able to find a place where this little shrimp could stand at stud - Kansas.

Hell, it didn't matter to Pipedreamer. Kansas, Royal Ascot, Gulfstream . . . they were all the same to him. He was just a little working guy . . . with one testicle to his name.

This is Cot Campbell and this is my view… from my book Memoirs of a Longshot.

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