For Paula Turner, who first read this book as
a young girl, and whose dream came true.
The following sports column written by Jim Neville appeared in newspapers throughout the United States on November 14.
This is an obituary. There are two reasons why you read it here rather than in the special section which this newspaper devotes to the deceased. Number one, my subject is a horse. Number two, he isn’t dead yet.
But for me and the millions of others whose sole contact with our racing thoroughbreds is at the track he’s as good as dead. For once a racehorse leaves us to spend the rest of his life in retirement at a stock farm he’s gone forever as far as we’re concerned. Certainly we think of him again whenever his sons and daughters appear on the track for the first time. But his colts and fillies are distinct individuals in themselves and we look upon them as such. Never do we say with any degree of honesty, “Here he is again!”
So it was with sincere sympathy and sadness that we watched Satan step onto the Belmont Park track yesterday for his last look around before being shipped home to Hopeful Farm in permanent retirement.
Satan, sired by the Black, had a racing career that was much too short for one who had so much speed yet to give. He was unbeaten at two, three and four years of age, winning some of our greatest classics. Last season he lost only one race, the San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita Park, California, in December. He ran that race, we learned later, with a stone pounded deep inside his right forefoot. Yet he wouldn’t quit. Although he was running on only three legs it took a photo finish for Night Wind to beat him to the wire in race record time!
X-ray photographs taken after the race disclosed a fractured sesamoid, one of the small bones in the ankle. The injured leg was put in a cast and Satan was shipped home. We were sure that he had reached the end of his racing career. But during the spring encouraging reports reached us. The injured leg had healed and Henry Dailey was putting Satan back in training. By summer the burly black horse was stabled at Belmont Park, and during his works he looked as powerful as we all remembered him. But Henry Dailey wasn’t satisfied. He took Satan along slowly, never asking too much of him, never quite ready to race him. Only last month did Henry step up Satan’s works. And then the great horse went sore again in the injured leg. Last week it was decided that to prevent further injury Satan would be retired permanently.
Yesterday, at the insistence of the track management, Satan took his last look around Belmont Park—the scene of so many of his brilliant wins. And for the thousands who packed the stands, it was a sad but thrilling moment when he came out of the paddock gate between the seventh and eighth races.
The weight of a rider might have aggravated his injury at this time, so he was led out by Henry Dailey, riding Hopeful Farm’s gray stable pony, Napoleon. As Satan pranced there was no evidence of the leg injury that had brought his racing days to an end. He stepped lightly and a little faster at the crowd’s first and most thunderous ovation. He looked very beautiful and very gay with black and white ribbons braided into his mane. He was the picture of health and energy. That he could look as he did and yet be able to race no more accounted for the wealth of feeling which moved so deeply all who watched him.