August 1947: Quarter horse Barbra B defeats Fair Truckle (GB) in a 2 furlong match race at Hollywood Park

Quarter Horse Barbra B defeats Thoroughbred Fair Truckle (GB) in two furlong match race at Hollywood Park on August 4, 1947. Two months later, Fair Truckle would go on to set a new world record for six furlongs (1:08 2/5) at Golden Gate Fields in October 1947. In the stud, Fair Truckle would become the damsire of Soldier Girl, who equaled the world record for five furlongs (:56 2/5) at Del Mar in August 1964. Photo available from historicimages.com, part number neb63238.


“INGLEWOOD, Calif., Aug. 4 (AP) – Barbara B [sic], champion quarter horse of the Arizona-New Mexico bush tracks, stepped out of her class today and handed a proud thoroughbred, Fair Truckle, a fancy whipping in a quarter-mile dash for a winner-take-all purse authoritatively reported to be $100,000.

The little brown four-year-old filly, bred as a cow boy pony, simply was too fast for the expensive importation from Ireland, owned by the wealthy turfman Charles S. Howard. A wild cheer went up from an estimated 5,000 spectators, as Barbara B [sic] sprinted over the finish line two and one-half lengths in front in 21 3-5 seconds.

It was a colorful crowd, from the southwestern cow country, which walked through the open gate to watch the seldom-if-ever saga of the tracks. Clad mostly in wide-brimmed hats, boots and overall trousers, they occupied the boxes where last Saturday a fashionably dressed movie crowd helped close out the Hollywood Park season.

Aboard Fair Truckle, four-year-old son of Fair Trial by Truckle, was the veteran Johnny Longden. Up on Barbara B [sic], a not so costly importation from the Arizona ranch country, sired by a cheap thoroughbred and whose dam was a $30 mare, was Tony L. Licata, who has been riding Arizona tracks.

Barbara B’s [sic] owner, Roy Gill, of Tucson, was a spectator, but an attack of influenza kept Fair Truckle’s boss, C. S. Howard, in bed. His son, Bob, did the honors for the family.

Melville Haskell, president of the Quarter-Horse Racing Association of Arizona, apparently settled on the $100,000 nature of the purse. “I know it’s $100,000,” he declared, “but I guess the owners didn’t want too much said about that and we of the Quarter-Horse Association don’t either, because we look on this as more of a sporting proposition.”

The elder Howard earlier had spiked reports that his share was $50,000, describing it as “much less.” Each owner had posted a $10,000 forfeit.

Sporting proposition or no, there was plenty of cash in sight. Many of the visitors, from Arizona, New Mexico, and as far distant as Texas, were literally bulging with coin and greenbacks. Thousands of dollars in side bets changed hands. There was no pari-mutuel betting.

Hollywood Park officially took no part in the event, beyond leaving the gate open. The event had been advertised as closed to the public and otherwise the crowd might have been larger.

The race was set from a regulation starting gate set back forty-five feet from the quarter pole, a condition agreed upon because Barbara B [sic] wasn’t used to fancy gates. Before today, her trainer Lyo Lee, had claimed a time of 22 3-5 seconds for her over the quarter, but told reporters he feared the change in altitude from the New Mexico tracks where she had been running might tell on her.

She has been racing only a year, Gill picking her up for $3,000 after her original owners had decided she might be worth more racing than for calf roping. Each horse carried 110 pounds.

Contrary to appearances from the grandstand, Fair Truckle was out of the gate first, but Barbara B [sic] within a few strides grabbed the lead and Licata said he knew the race was in the bag from then on.

Longden was more specific.” (New York Herald Tribune, 08/05/1947)


“A recent composition in this corner dealt with the famous match race of a few years back when the quarter horse Barbra B outlegged the thoroughbred Fair Truckle two days after a regular Hollywood Park meeting.

It was a noteworthy event, for the late Charles S. (for Seabiscuit) Howard put up $50,000 in the belief that his Fair Truckle could fly a quarter of a mile faster than Barbra B, owned by Roy Gill of Arizona.

The cover that concealed the monetary problems attendant to a match race of such fiscal magnitude was pried off for us by Ralph W. Bilby, a well-known Tucson who is attorney and corporation director for the Gill brothers – Roy, Emmett and Adolph, successful and prosperous cattle ranchers.

Fair Truckle had been regarded as the forerunner of jet propulsion. Hailed as the fastest thing on four feet for a quarter of a mile, the Howard charger’s fame spread until it reached the ears of Roy Gill. A few discreet inquiries revealed that Howard was prepared to back his speedster with 50 grand against anything the quarter horse people could come up with short of a motorcycle. Gill promptly cranked up Barbra B.

Scores of Arizona cowpokes and ranch owners immediately beseeched Gill for a piece of his action. He retained $30,000 for his own interests, and let the rest of it out in bets ranging all the way from $50 to $500.

The day before the race Gill telephoned Bilby, who was vacationing in La Jolla, asking him to help him get the bets squared away.

“So I did,” Bilby explained. “Roy handed me a bundle of currency about a foot high. Did you ever try to count out $50,000 in 5s, 10s, 20s and nothing bigger than a century note? Don’t do it unless you get backed into a corner.

I’ll bet I counted that stuff 40 times trying to make it come out even Finally I was satisfied there was $50,000. I took it out to Hollywood Park with me and went over to an armored car we had hired for the occasion.

Pretty soon Mr. Howard’s emissary showed up. He was a suave, sophisticated, well-dressed gentleman who looked as if he had just stepped out of the U.S. Mint. I handed him my bundle. He counted it carefully and finally said, with great dignity, ‘I make 50.’

Then he extracted a thin envelope from his inside coat pocket. In it were 50 new, crisp $1000 bills. I determined not to let this guy make me look like a big hayshaker from Arizona, so I made a neat pile of them and replied, ‘I, too, make 50.’

As you know, Barbra B won by about two lengths. Outside was the armored car with $100,000 in it. I figured we’d leave it right there. But the moment the race was over, most of the people who had a chunk of Roy’s bet came up and demanded their money.

So out to the truck we went and I counted out what each man had coming to him. In the meantime, the armored wagon had departed and I had about $65,000 left. I put it in an envelope, stuck it in my pocket and we made for the nearest establishment specializing in liquid resuscitation. Well, one revitalizing led to another. Heaven only knows how many different spots we checked size and quality, but I recall we reached our hotel about 3 a.m.

Early the next morning I opened one eye. It was quite a trick, all things considered. Then panic set in and I hit the floor with both feet, grabbed for the light switch and tried to think what I’d done with the 65 grand. You know where it was? In an envelope on top of the dresser about eight feet from a door we’d forgotten to lock. I died a thousand deaths waiting for the bank to open so I could deposit it to Gill’s account in Tucson.

But if my nerves were a little quick then, you should have seen them when I picked up the morning paper. On the front page was a story about a grocer who had been killed that very night for a lousy 500 bucks. What do you suppose they would have done to me for $65,000?”
(Ned Cronin / Los Angeles Times, 05/09/1955)

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