For Sale

Forums

Photos

Politics
Login to PonyBox!               Create Account
Was the Greatest Racehorse a Gelding
 By mosquito   •   8th Feb 2010   •   9,115 views   •   10 comments
Kelso HorseSince we recently had a story about Man O’War, I thought this month’s biography should take at look at what may have been his greatest descendant – his great grandson Kelso. Born in 1957, Kelso didn’t have the looks of his great grandfather, but he sure had his speed.

Nobody ever said Kelso was destined to be fast and famous. Kelso’s trouble started before he was even born. His sire, Your Host, was a pretty good racehorse, but he was lucky to be alive. In the last race of his career, he broke down badly. His owner tried to save him, but after treatments Your Host still had one shorter leg, and was going to need lots of help for the rest of his life. His owner wanted to put him down, but his Californian fans protested, going straight to Your Host’s insurance company, and Your Host was saved. The insurance company actually paid Your Host’s owner, and bought the horse just to save him, and he went off to stud in Kentucky.

Even though Kelso was born at the prestigious Claiborne Stud in Kentucky, he was his mother’s first foal, and frankly he was a disappointment. He was scrawny, some even said he was a runt, and worst of all he was real problem to handle. His owners had him gelded in the hope that he would behave himself, but it didn’t make any difference – in fact, he got even more ornery! He was so grumpy and intractable his owners even hired a chaplain just for Kelso in the hope God could talk some sense into him!

Kelso won a minor race at two, but at three he didn’t see the racecourse until his triple crown races were over. If he wasn’t pretty, at least his attitude meant he had determination. He hated to have another horse in front, and that meant he needed a strong jockey. That’s why he ended up with some of the best riders: the likes of Willie Shoemaker and Eddie Arcaro. By the end of his three year old year, he’d won 8 of 9 starts, equaled Man O’War’s record in one race and despite missing all three triple crown races earned the Horse of the Year Eclipse award!

Kelso was a dirt specialist, but he also won on grass. He was a handicapper, but he won carrying almost 140 pounds. He won stakes races. He beat older horses, then he beat younger horses. When his behavior didn’t get the best of him – he knocked himself out messing around in the starting stalls before the Brooklyn Handicap, but he still started even though he was so dizzy he didn’t run well – he could beat the best in the world. He won the Washington International, in a performance that was one of the greatest horse races ever, when Kelso and Gun Bow dueled it out in the straight, leaving the foreign horses far behind. When Gun Bow’s rider was asked if he was surprised when it looked like he had the race won at the last turn but the Kelso just rode up and passed him, he said, ‘No, that was about when I was expecting him to show up’.

But that was nothing – he went on to win Horse of the Year for the next four years – making him the only five time Horse of the Year winner ever. He won the Jockey Club Gold Cup 5 times in a row, and the Woodward 3 times. He won 39 of 63 starts, still holds the 2 mile record, and raced for 8 years. This may be why some of racing’s greats are geldings – they don’t need to hurry off to the stud farm. His career only ended because of a hairline fracture of his sesamoid bone, but that didn’t stop him either – during his retirement he made regular visits to the show ring as a hunter/jumper and went out on weekends as a foxhunter! His racing determination paid off – Kelso was quickly respected for his fearless jumping of big fences in the ring and the field.

Kelso won his last six races, and finished up with nearly 2 million dollars in winnings – amazing for the 1960’s, and a record that lasted for 13 years! When Blood Horse ranked the top 100 horses of the twentieth century, Kelso raked 4th – Man O War was 1st!

But Kelso wasn’t just a winner, he was a traveler. He raced on fourteen tracks in six states, and picked up a following of fans unlike any other horse. But keeping Kelso happy was hard work. His owners bought him lots of dogs, so he was one racehorse that had pets. He also wouldn’t travel without his best friend, a racehorse named Sea Spirit, known as Pete, who was Kelso’s companion for fifteen years.

When Kelso retired, he continued to host his fans, and became known as the racehorse with the most fan mail! He even had his own mailbox. The photo below of Kelso with the US flag is the postcard Kelso sent back to everyone who wrote him a letter. Kelso and another racing great, Forego, made a special appearance at Belmont Park in 1983. Kelso got a standing ovation from the crowd of over 32000 people. Sadly, after Kelso and Pete made the journey back to Maryland, Kelso got a bad case of colic and died suddenly.

I was fortunate enough myself to meet Kelso at one of his birthday parties at Woodstock Farm in Maryland, before he passed away at the age of 26. Meeting a great horse like Kelso was an experience I’ll never forget!

Want to know more? There are a few books about Kelso:
• Kelso: The Horse of Gold by Linda Kennedy (2007)
• Kelso : Thoroughbred Legends by Steve Haskin (2003)
Was the Greatest Racehorse a Gelding
Was the Greatest Racehorse a Gelding
Was the Greatest Racehorse a Gelding
Horse News More In This Category:  Horse Stories      Horse News More From This Author:  mosquito
Treasure Island  
That was a great article. I loved reading about Kelso. I will have to check those books out. I adore Seabiscuit and have read a few others about other racehorses, so they should be really interesting.
  Feb 8, 2010  •  3,205 views
 
Dreamer100  
My favorite race horse is Secretariat but Kelso sounds amazing also! Especially being a gelding!
  Feb 8, 2010  •  3,156 views
 
Springtime  
I remember Kelso well. He was a very impressive racehorse.
  Feb 9, 2010  •  3,208 views
 
Royal Palm Ranch  
I love Kelso, he was a really good horse, and this is a very interesting article
  Feb 9, 2010  •  3,190 views
 
Willow Farm  
Great article!! I've never heard of Kelso until now, thanks for writing!
  Feb 9, 2010  •  3,248 views
 
Nicolelettman  
he is so pretty and his color is buttiful
  Feb 9, 2010  •  3,176 views
 
DiamondAndVegas  
Wow. Would have never known. Beautifully written piece.
  Feb 10, 2010  •  3,171 views
 
Dragons Dreams  
Very well written, and thank for the bibliography, I will check those out!
  Feb 10, 2010  •  3,176 views
 
Clarence Fender  
Kelso was voted horse of the year 5 consecutive times. He won the 2 mile Jockey Club Gold Cup 5 consecutive times That's the equivalent of winning the Breeder's Cup 5 times. As a 7 year old, Kelso set the World Record on dirt for 2 miles. Eleven days later he set an American Record on grass. He holds the 3 fastest times for 2 miles. Prove Out holds the 4th fastest. KELSO was truly a "GREAT HORSE!"
  25 days ago  •  3,199 views
 
Cruisin Past Curfew  
Aww, sweet article. Keslso is beautiful in my eyes!
  Apr 4, 2012  •  3,153 views
 More News by mosquito
Old Joe - Chapter 5   10th Nov 2012   •   979 views
Old Joe - Chapter 5 I couldn’t believe my eyes. For having been so little there before, it looked like a whole town had been turned inside out. Ben shook his head, and walked down to the trail slowly, carefully, picking out way around what was now debris but doubtless once had been the treasures of a family. Luke hopped off Snowy, and started to scurry around and pick up whate . . .
 
Your Horse From the Ground Up - The Hindquarters   21st Oct 2012   •   5400 views
Your Horse From the Ground Up - The Hindquarters We’ve seen how the lower legs and hoof all work together to help the horse move, even without any muscles there. Now let’s start looking at how the muscles of the horse really give him power, speed, and balance. Where better to start than the actual ‘engine’ of the horse, the hindquarters? The horse gets almost all of the power and energy for movement fo . . .
 
Your Horse from the Ground Up - The Lower Leg - Part 2   8th Sep 2012   •   7485 views
Your Horse from the Ground Up - The Lower Leg - Part 2 We’ve taken a look at the solid structures of the lower leg – the bones – now let’s see what makes those bones move. First of all, remember that there are no muscles below the knee or the hock, so there’s no actual ‘engine’ to move these bones. It all comes from a network of ligaments and tendons that connect to muscles higher up the leg. The neat part of th . . .
 
Old Joe - Chapter 4   25th Aug 2012   •   1080 views
Old Joe - Chapter 4 There was no shelter, no trees, nothing. Ben called again and we turned further right, angling away from the train. We were going uphill, and that seemed even more foolish to me until we reached the crest. What goes up, goes down, and Ben was seeking shelter on the other side of a little ridge that had been running alongside the trail. The heavens opened; fi . . .
 
Old Joe - Chapter 3   5th Aug 2012   •   1081 views
Old Joe - Chapter 3 It wasn’t long before Luke rode up alongside us on Snowy. I couldn’t see him for my blinkers, but I could hear Snowy’s little quick hoofbeats and smell his carroty breath. Snowy reached over and gave me a nip on my muzzle; I turned my head to tell him off, when I saw what he was trying to tell me. As I tipped my head and peered off to the south through my bl . . .
 
Old Joe - Chapter 2   29th Jul 2012   •   1151 views
Old Joe - Chapter 2 As the sun grew higher in the sky, the dew dried on the grass, and the last few lingering clouds fluttered and disappeared. The bright blue sky – with that deep blue of a cold morning – changed to a softer hue, as a muggy haze began to crawl out of the west. I don’t mind working in the heat, but the trouble with Appalachian weather is the air gets so damp t . . .
 
Your Horse From the Ground Up - The Lower Leg - Part 1   19th Jul 2012   •   4996 views
Your Horse From the Ground Up - The Lower Leg - Part 1 Now that we have the foundations – the hoof – let’s move up our horse and find out a little more about how he moves. In this article we’ll visit the lower leg. For the most part, the front and hind legs (below the knee and hock) are pretty much the same, but after this feature, we’ll have to take the front half and back half of the horse separately. First . . .
 
Old Joe - Chapter 1   15th Jul 2012   •   1252 views
Old Joe - Chapter 1 I heard the rooster crow, and shifted in my stall to try and stretch as much as I could. First he crows, then Farmer Ben comes along, Bess and I have breakfast, and we get to work. Sunday was yesterday, when we got brushed up nice, Amy put a ribbon in our forelocks, and we took the wagon to church. If yesterday was Sunday, that meant today we had a week of w . . .
 
  View All News by mosquito
Retraining a Racehorse – First Dressage Show On the way to the dressage arena, he was rather excited by the unfamiliar atmosphere. He considered spooking at the dressage letters, but decided that watching them warily would work just as well – since I decided not to . . .
The Many Moods of Mares Explained Mares are wonderful, amazing creatures. Although usually less ‘flashy’ than their male counterparts, it’s a well-known fact that mares frequently offer double the performance, and often put in twice the effort. Mares sim . . .
Young Horse Dictionary In this article, I will providing definitions for what our commands mean to the young horses we’re trying to train. This article is for entertainment purposes only. What you say: "Bad horse." What he hears: "Excellen . . .
The Bit Dictionary - Snaffles - Part 2 of 3 The following is a list of various popular snaffles, how they work, and for what purpose they are best used. This article explored only the sides of the bits, and not the mouthpieces. The action of any bit becomes very d . . .
A Horses Guide on How to Train Your Human Well, I suppose it’s now or never. The first thing you have to realize is that training your human from the ground is not enough. Good ground manners and special awareness in a human are important, but these behaviours s . . .
Flatwork for Showjumping It may sound surprising to say, but ‘showjumping’ is actually not all about ‘jumping’. When faced with a big course of jumps, the horse’s physical jump can only take it so far. What matters is what happens between the ju . . .
Cross Country 101 - Part Three A trakehner is a type of cross country jump consisting of a pole suspended over a ditch. These jumps often prove a huge problem, especially for up and coming eventers, simply because of the intimidating nature of the fen . . .
National Junior Championships – Part Three In a pathetic lapse of concentration that I am still kicking myself for, I went ahead and ‘showjumped’ the fence – getting my weight off his back and leaning forwards, rather than keeping my seat in the saddle and leanin . . .
Moonfire - Fixing a Rearing Problem - Part 1 It all started around November 2011 – I couldn’t tell you what caused it. Sometimes there is no cause – young horses are constantly going through phases, which are seldom triggered by anything at all – and this was just . . .
April 20th 2013 Showjumping Competition With Finola The weekend of April 20th saw my official showjumping debut for 2013. Since the South African Junior Championships in December, my horses were given a well deserved holiday, before slowly building back up to competition . . .
 
Terms & Conditions     Privacy     About Us     Contact Us     Moderators
Ponybox LLC  All Rights Reserved 2002 - 2014