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Podcast #51: REMINISCING: Dogwood Stable Newsletter
Podcast Date:
01-19-2011
File Size: 4.8MB
Download File

The Dogwood Stable Newsletter, a thrice yearly publication, has now existed for close to 35 years, and, if I do say so myself, it is extremely popular. Free, of course… has a circulation of 5,000, and it's not very difficult to acquire a subscription. If you have even the most cursory interest in Dogwood Stable, you can receive it.

One reason it is popular is that it does not seek to sell anyone anything. While we do not exactly hide our light under any bushels, we do present any accomplishments in what I would term a playful way. I would describe its personality as puckish, salty, irreverent.

While racehorses are what we are about, we understand that excitement, fun, glamour are what make the game go. Therefore, we don't fill up the eight-page newsletter with one picture after another of horses hurling themselves across the finish line, nor are we fond of yearlings posing in front of white board fences.

The official name of this publication is simply Dogwood Stable Newsletter. It is edited by Mary Jane Howell, and it comes out in January, May and September. That's about enough. Takes a lot of work.

We are very honest in it. If the stable has been going dismally, we say we have been going dismally. It happens to everyone, and people respect candor. They also know when you're handing them a line of bull.

Mary Jane asks Anne, my wife, that is, to write a diary during Saratoga, or when we run in the Derby or Breeders' Cup, and this is immensely popular. This concentrates on the social side of horse racing, and serves a sort of a poor man's Vanity Fair.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the life of the Dogwood newsletter was the introduction many years ago of Sheikh Bin Had. At a time when the horse business was all atwitter over the Arab potentates entering the game, we decided we needed our own Arab. We invented Sheikh Bin Had. To play the role, we found a midget bellman at an Atlanta hotel, hired him and dressed him up in flowing robes and an Arab headdress, and transported him to Dogwood Farm in West Georgia in a chauffeur-driven limo. The Sheikh was photographed extensively examining our horses, while Ron Stevens, our farm manager at the time, and I were obsequiously showing him around. Then our newsletter came out with a lead story saying that Sheikh Bin Had, known as "The Desert Mouse," had come to Dogwood to purchase shares in horses for each of his 21 wives. Most people saw the spoof, but - shockingly - a hell of a lot of them did not. One night at home we got a call from one of America's leading bloodstock agents asking, "Is that Sheikh really on the level?"

We were on to a good thing, and we kept the Sheikh alive for several years, with him and his connections capering about in a variety of outlandish scenarios. We created wife number one, an exceedingly disagreeable looking fat woman in a harem costume. And - in a challenging feat of casting - one issue even depicted all of the 21 wives. Not easily accomplished in a Georgia farm community.

All in all, it was not exactly politically correct, but the Sheikh Bin Had era delighted most of the newsletter readers, and we had great fun with it.

The Dogwood Stable Newsletter began as a flimsy four-page black and white publication that DID show a number of horses crossing the finish line, but today - 115 issues later, I really think it is a rather toney piece, and I know that it is eagerly anticipated by a lot of people, and is good enough so that no one has made an attempt to copy or better it. Much credit to Mary Jane Howell, who makes it happen and gets a big kick out of it. Major contributors to its looks and sharpness are Ruthie Bowen and Margaret Foster at the Bell Group in Lexington.

It is our way of presenting ourselves to the world.

This is Cot Campbell, and this is my view.

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