May 1928: John D. Hertz hopes he never owns another Derby favorite

“Chicago, May 22 (A.P.). – If John D. Hertz, owner of Reigh Count, had to choose between raising Kentucky Derby winners or remaining as head of the Yellow Cab Co., the machine would win, throttled down.

Mr. Hertz made known today some of the griefs of one who owns a heavily played Derby favorite, and he made known for the first time that Reigh Count very nearly failed to start at all because of an injury two days before the race.

It was a slight cut above the hoof on the right foreleg. Complications were feared. Hertz and Ben Michell, the trainer, were the only ones who knew about it.

“We discussed the question of whether we should tell the public of the mishap,” he said. “If we announced the injury, the betting odds would go up. Then, should he win, folks would have said, ‘they wanted to increase the odds, so they sent out a false story.’ On the contrary, if Reigh Count lost, they would say we were making excuses. I don’t want to own another Derby favorite. It’s no recreation. The knowledge that hundreds of thousands of persons are betting on your horse, and the realization that any of a score of things may prevent his winning, takes the joy out of the sport.”

Hertz said the Derby winner would run in both the East and middle West this summer.

“If the American Derby at Arlington were not on the same date as the Belmont Stakes, we would certainly enter Reigh Count here,” he said, “but we feel the West needs representation in the big race at Belmont, where the pride of the East will run for the biggest purse of the year. That’s why we are sending him East, and I am sure he will win.”

Anita Peabody, his stablemate, probably will enter the Kentucky Oaks, June 2, Hertz indicated.” (The Washington Post, 05/23/1928)

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