On champion Decathlon’s unorthodox running style

“Physically handicapped horses, like their human counterparts, sometimes scale to great heights. One of the more telling cases is that of King Ranch’s Assault, Triple Crown winner of 1946, which had a club foot. Now along comes Decathlon.

Considered the fastest sprinter among the 3-year-olds, which not only was born with a club-footed left fore hoof, but seriously aggravated his right fore hoof by jamming a nail through it after a workout at Hialeah early in the winter of 1955.

Decathlon almost did not survive the blow, but after five weeks, trainer Rollie Shepp succeeded in getting the colt to step on his hoof again. There has been a noticeable effect in the colt’s running action ever since.

The son of Olympia-Dog Blessed races as if he were shot from a rifle. He throws his injured member out to the side in a “straddling” gesture that makes him appear as if he were in a spinning, trajectory flight towards the wire.”
(Walter Haight / The Washington Post and Times Herald, 04/11/1956)


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