Calumet farm's Horace Allyn (Jimmy) Jones, the reigning money-winning trainer of Thoroughbred racing, appears daily in two editions. Mornings he is, by his own description, "the most raggedy guy at the race track," dominating the circus-like atmosphere of the stables, with grooms, exercise boys, invited guests and uninvited eccentrics as his admiring companions. Afternoons Jimmy Jones undergoes a complete transformation. Along about the time the daily double closes, he blossoms out as one of the sharpest dressers in the clubhouse crowd and hobnobs with the high and the mighty and the celebrated. In both editions Jimmy Jones is affable and gloriously garrulous-reserving always the honest man's right to blow his top without notice or apology.
On the opening day of the recent Hialeah meeting, the afternoon edition of Jimmy Jones stood on the track just outside the winner's circle. He wore a dark green suit and a gold tie and a brown pork-pie hat, and he held the strap of his binoculars in his hand, swinging them back and forth. A short man, stocky, he looked hard and fit and, with his brown hair and round, tanned, smiling face, he appeared to be younger than his years.
At the moment Hialeah was presenting an added attraction between the fourth and fifth races, a "parade of champions." Seven of the champions already had taken their places in a line facing the grandstand. There was Bold Ruler, considered by some to be the Horse of the Year, and Idun, Gallant Man, Pucker Up, Jewel's Reward, Bayou and Nadir. Now the voice on the public-address system introduced the last of the champions: "And, finally, presenting the great 6-year-old, Bardstown!"
With an exercise boy up in silks of devil's-red and blue, Bardstown pranced stylishly out on the track and took his place in the awesome array of horseflesh that was outlined against a background of palm trees and winging flamingos.
March 17, 1958
The track announcer had a final word before the grandstand and clubhouse erupted in applause.
"Bardstown," he said, his voice echoing over the infield in the momentary silence of the spectators, "bred and owned by Calumet Farm of Lexington, Kentucky—the New York Yankees of racing."
A man standing next to him nudged Jimmy Jones. Jimmy turned instantly and put out his hand.
"Hello there, how are you?" said Jimmy cordially. "Glad to see you, yes, sir."
"Jimmy," said the man, "how do you react when they compare Calumet to the Yankees? I mean, what's your reaction to that, do you take it as a compliment or what?"
Jimmy switched the strap from one hand to the other and rubbed his nose, frowning over the question, pulling his ear, squirming in the trousers of his dark green suit.
"Why," he said finally, "yes. Yes, I take it as a compliment. Nobody would object to being compared to the Yankees. They like to win, too."
He took off his hat and scratched his head.
"But," he said, examining the lining of his hat and putting it back on, "there's one thing you've got to consider. To be completely accurate, you've got to remember that we don't buy talent like the Yankees often do. We make our own, breed our own, that is. To be a really accurate comparison, why, the Yankees would have to—well, they couldn't breed 'em, I guess, but you'd have to assume that they develop all their ballplayers from the sandlot level."
(Actually, Calumet and the Yankees have a great deal in common. Both are deadly serious big business operations that concentrate on winning the big ones and always think of replacements for their stars while they are still in their prime. Both have long records of successes: while the Yankees have been winning 12 pennants and nine world championships since 1940, Calumet has been America's leading money-winning stable 10 times for a total take of more than $13 million. The parallel is striking all down the line, and at the barn and dugout, the training and managing level, it is downright uncanny. For both Casey Stengel and Jimmy Jones are extraordinarily gifted with gab and, by a further astonishing coincidence, both are Missourians, born within 120 miles of each other, Casey at Kansas City, Jimmy at Parnell, a town of 400 population up near the Iowa border. Finally, both Stengel and Jones generate a slightly manic air around them which strangers sometimes take for confusion. Nothing could be more at odds with the truth, however, for both Missouri men know precisely what they are about every minute and are unexcelled at bringing out the best in the ballplayers and race horses that their front offices deliver to them.)
The "parade of champions" was breaking up now, and all the horses except Bardstown were led off the track. Jimmy Jones raised a hand and signaled the exercise boy to take him around the track at an easy gallop. This had the effect of giving Calumet the big finale all to itself, but Jimmy Jones quickly disclaimed that intention.
"Just thought the folks would like to see him go around the track," he said, "and, besides, it's a good opportunity for him to work before a big crowd. Why, right now he thinks he's in a race."
The man standing next to Jones took a companion by the arm and drew him forward.
"Jimmy," he said, "I'd like you to meet my friend here." Then, turning to the friend, the man invoked the approved introductory form of the race track: "Jack, say hello to Jimmy Jones."
"Glad to know you, yes, sir, glad to see you," said Jimmy.
"It's an honor to meet you, Mr. Jones," said the other man. "I was sorry to see your father is in the hospital."
(The legendary Ben Jones, the senior member of the most successful father-and-son training team in racing history, had undergone major surgery the day before.)
"What's the report on B.A., Jimmy?" said the first man.
"Getting along just fine," said Jimmy. "The doctor says he's amazed at how well he came through. He should be back at the track before this meeting is over." (Plain Ben did better than that: he was back by Lincoln's Birthday.)
Out on the track Bardstown had come galloping down the stretch and across the finish line, probably thinking he had never won a race so easily in his life. Jimmy Jones turned and started for his box in the clubhouse, swinging his binoculars, acknowledging greetings, waving to celebrities (like Gene Tunney), bowing to the ladies and singing out, "Hello there, how are you!" so cordially to those race fans he could not immediately place that they never noticed he had not called them by name.
This was a morning—or maybe, it was several mornings rolled into one. A little before 6 o'clock, the moon rode high over the stable area and the stars were still bright in the sky. At Calumet's Barn AA a radio blared as grooms and exercise boys went about their chores, getting ready for the day that would really begin with the arrival of the morning edition of Trainer Jimmy Jones.
The grooms ministered lovingly to their horses. Wendell Griffin removed the bandages from the legs of Iron Liege and shook his head as he confided: "I scolded him a while ago and I wish I hadn't. I hate to scold Mike [Wendell's name for last year's Kentucky Derby winner], but he just wouldn't mind. I had to scold him."
A voice rose angrily down the line: "Now just git your big fat rump ovah theah!" The horse shifted position, and the groom glared at him and glanced around to see if anyone was looking. Then he moved a couple of steps and put his arm around the horse's neck and whispered in his ear.
Freddie Randolph, who gallops Iron Liege, walked along the row, and then Pinky Brown, who is still galloping horses at near 70 (of course, he doesn't wear his hearing aid when he's riding), hurried along, and then Charles (Slow and Easy) Martin sauntered out with a basket of stuff to dump on the refuse pile. It was pretty obvious how Slow and Easy got his nickname.
"How I got my nickname," said Lewis (Dogwagon) Wilson, a loose-jointed exercise boy for Rosewood and Smileytown, "was at Delaware Park. It was a real hot summer and the dogs around the stables were feeling the heat, just lying around, panting. I had a Ford model A station wagon there, so one day I got to feeling sorry for the dogs and so I rounded 'em all up and loaded 'em in the station wagon and took 'em swimming. They just loved it and so they come looking for me next day. There was no two ways about it, I had to take 'em swimming every day. Then somebody yelled out one day when I was driving back with the station wagon full of dogs, 'Here comes the dog wagon!' That's how I got the nickname."
Dogwagon threw back his head and laughed. "I like nicknames," he said, pointing to Freddie Randolph as he walked by. "I have given him the name of Freddie the Freeloader. But that is a very important man there. It so happens that he rubbed Shut Out at one time and he gallops Iron Liege—the only man in the history of horse racing to rub one Kentucky Derby winner and gallop another. Am I right about that, Freddie?"
Freddie grinned and nodded.
"Last year at Churchill Downs," Dogwagon went on, "just before the Derby, Freddie went up to Mr. Jimmy Jones and said, 'Mr. Jimmy, I smell roses.' Mr. Jimmy says, 'Are you sure, Freddie?' Freddie says, 'Mr. Jimmy, I am so sure I am not even going to watch the race except on television. That is how strong I smell the roses. We are going to win, Mr. Jimmy.'
"But I am the one who told Mr. Jimmy and Mr. Ben that we had won the Derby. They couldn't tell from what they could see of that close finish. I ran up the box and yelled, 'Mr. Jimmy, Mr. Ben, we won, we won!' Mr. Jimmy says, 'Are you sure about that, Dogwagon?' I said, 'May I drop dead on this spot, we won! Come on down to the winner's circle.' "
Dogwagon drew himself up. "Maybe you saw the picture taken after the race. Wendell Griffin leading Iron Liege along, and me walking alongside, bowing to the crowd. They had it in LIFE magazine."
Dogwagon raised his cap as if saluting the memory. Then he chuckled and said: "Getting back to dogs. We have just the three now. There's Buck over there, he's Mr. Jimmy's bird dog. [Buck was asleep at the end of a leash attached to an overhead trolley.] Then there is the black dog, Okie, over there, and somewhere around here is Vicky, the toy bulldog. Vicky is the only toy bulldog in history who is also a pointer. She learned it from Buck. Buck is pointing every minute. He points sparrows, butterflies and mice. One time I went hunting with Mr. Jimmy when Buck was but a year old. He hadn't any training and he had to point on instinct alone. We hadn't gone very far into the woods when suddenly Buck froze up into a point. Mr. Jimmy stopped dead in his tracks. 'Sh-sh!' he whispers, 'don't move a muscle, Dogwagon. Buck's got something here.' Then Mr. Jimmy raised up his gun and waited."
Dogwagon bent over and held his sides.
"Oh, man," he laughed, "we must have stood there—Mr. Jimmy and me and Buck—for three minutes, just frozen in our tracks. Finally, I said, 'Mr. Jimmy, I think I see what he's pointing there.' Mr. Jimmy says, 'Sh-sh-sh!' Then after another minute he says, 'Well, what is he pointing, Dogwagon?' I walked into the bush before he could stop me and picked it up. It was a beer can."
Dogwagon sobered. "We don't have the pets we used to," he said. "That cat you see shadowboxing over there is a fairly new pet. He is quite a young cat and he just walked in on us at Garden State last fall. When we shipped out, he hopped aboard the van. That cat does not fear man or beast. All the dogs back away from him. He gets along fine with horses and sleeps in the various stalls. But, generally speaking, we don't have the pets that some other stables have, such as goats, roosters and such as that. At one time somebody sent Mr. Jimmy some fighting chickens and we kept them for a while until finally Mr. Jimmy decided to ship them to some friends out in Missouri where they could get some action. I happened to be the one who crated them up and put them on the train. I asked the baggage man to look after them and I handed him six cans of dog food.
" 'What's this for?' he says. I said, 'That's the feed for the chickens.' He said, 'You can't feed fighting birds on dog food!' I said, 'Well, these fighting birds have been eating nothing else and it just so happens they are the property of Mr. Jimmy Jones, the greatest horse trainer in history.' The baggage man could not answer that. He took the dog food and later on Mr. Jimmy's friends wrote him a letter saying that the fighting chickens had arrived in Missouri in very good shape and just rarin' to go."
Suddenly headlights swept the dimly lit stable area as a black Cadillac pulled into a parking space down near the kitchen where the stable personnel eat. At once things began to happen. In the tack room Stable Agent Dee Brooks looked up from his adding machine and then reached over and plugged in the coffeepot. Everyone who was moving (except Slow and Easy) quickened his pace just a little and those who were sitting down got up and made motions of some kind.
Out of the shadows bustled the morning edition of Jimmy Jones, wearing a shapeless sport jacket, baggy slacks, an open shirt and an old hat with a feather in it.
Some visitors were waiting. "Hello there, good morning, how are you?" exclaimed Jimmy Jones, shaking hands. "Well, I've got to get started on my rounds. We take the first set out as soon as it's light. You're welcome to walk around if you'd like to."
The grooms had their horses ready for inspection, leg bandages off. Jones went from stall to stall, kneeling down, feeling the legs of A Glitter, Pintor Lea and Iron Liege and the others along the row. Speaking for the benefit of his guests, he said: "Ten thousand years ago—oh, a hundred thousand, for all I know—the horse was a four-toed animal. Now, in the process of evolution he lost three of the toes, and all that's left is this sliver of bone running up and down the front and back. It's as fragile as a lady's wristwatch, and it's a constant source of wonder to me how this slim little ankle can support all the power and thrust of such a powerful body."
He exchanged a word with Wendell Griffin. They both liked the looks of Iron Liege, due to run that day. Griffin said: "I just hope that vet gets around on time now. [Horses get a special checkup on the day of the race.] Those vets take their time. I think that's the kind of job I'd like to have, getting maybe $25 a day and sleeping until 9 o'clock in the morning."
Jones said, "He'll be around, Wendell." As he walked on, he added: "Old Wendell gets higher'n a Georgia pine when his horse is racing."
He walked along, stopping, kneeling down, running his sensitive, expert hands down the legs of the horses. At the last stall he made a left turn briskly and started down the other side. At the stall of Kentucky Pride, a Triple Crown candidate, he said, "Here's a colt we've got hopes for. He was inclined to be a bit brittle, a little windy and he's green, but he's rather promising. And this is Tim Tarn here, he's a little sounder, but he's not without his faults."
(Tim Tam, as it later developed, displayed very few faults for the balance of the Hialeah meeting. He won the Everglades and the $100,000 Flamingo in succession. Kentucky Pride won two races in a row, was second in the Bahamas, then was second to Tim Tarn in the Everglades. Both remain prime prospects for the other great 3-year-old classics.)
"Well," said Jones, completing his inspection of other Derby candidates, including the well-regarded Seventy Six and Temple Hill, "I guess we still got time to get coffeed up."
Over coffee, Jones spoke of his 3-year-olds. "I don't feel nearly as good or as optimistic as I did this time last year when we had Iron Liege and Gen. Duke coming along. [Gen. Duke had to be scratched at Churchill Downs because of an injury.] Of course, it's too early to tell what these horses can do at the Derby distance and against stronger competition."
("To hear them tell it," an old-timer said later over coffee in the track kitchen, "Jimmy and Ben Jones never feel as optimistic as they did this time last year. But they're always three or four deep in fine Derby prospects, and then, like as not, they got another one hidden away in the barns.")
Sipping his coffee, casting sidelong glances at the Daily Racing Form, wetting a finger as he turned the pages, Jimmy Jones talked on: "Sometimes I think there's an overproduction of horses in this country. There are few outstanding ones when you consider all the horses that are produced. There are only a half dozen great stallions in the world. Well, I guess it's not surprising when you stop to think about it. Look at all the people there are in the world and then consider how few really outstanding men there have been in all history, I mean of the stature and caliber of a Lincoln or Churchill."
Jimmy swirled his coffee in the cup and drank it down.
"I'm of the opinion that we're producing a more brittle horse than we did in the old days. And I attribute that to the fact that horses are running themselves off the land. The soil is being depleted, the grasses aren't giving the foals the minerals and other bodybuilding elements that they used to get. Something has to be done to bring back the soil.
"At Calumet most of our young breeding stock is too much dominated by the Bull Lea and the Blenheim strains. We desperately need an outcross. To get what we need, I guess we'd have to buy into a syndicate. Our present breeding stock would cross with a Nasrullah like ham and eggs."
Now it was getting light. A groom brought Jones's horse up to the tack room, and Jimmy, glancing up, said, "Well, here we go." He went outside and stood on a box, swung himself into the saddle and led the first set down the long corridor of pine trees and out onto the track. Riding beside him was Dogwagon on Rosewood. In this role Dogwagon sees himself as playing Tonto to Jimmy Jones's Lone Ranger and therefore feels constrained to address Jones as "Kemo Sabay," just as the Indian addresses the Masked Man on radio and television. Dogwagon cagily does not overplay his part, but when he slips into it, Jones is a pushover for it.
It worked this morning and Dogwagon was emboldened to bring up a financial matter as they rode along. Jones listened carefully and then exploded: "Dogwagon, you've got me crazy. One day you want an advance on your pay. Next day you want a personal loan. Then you give me $3 on the advance and borrow $5 more on a personal loan. How in the hell, Dogwagon, am I going to keep it all straight! Will you kindly tell me that?"
Dogwagon rode thoughtfully along for a minute. Finally he said carefully: "Kemo Sabay, I suggest you get yourself an IBM machine."
Out on the track Jones was all business. He told the exercise boys what horses he wanted breezed. He led other horses down to the starting gate and let them sniff it like curious puppies. Sitting erect in the saddle that he was born to out in Missouri, his lips moved in Hamletlike soliloquies as he pondered his strategy for upcoming races. He weighed pros and cons aloud to himself, and now and then he raised his voice a little as he came to firm decisions like: "I'm not going to run Bardstown in the Widener, and my mind's made up on that."
Between sets, Jimmy leaned on the rail outside the tack room and chatted with anybody who happened along. Moody Jolley, trainer for Claiborne Farm, which has a prime Kentucky Derby hopeful in Nadir, sauntered over and talked shop. They harked back to Whirlaway, the great equine oddball that Ben Jones turned into a Triple Crown winner in 1941. "And a good thing for us, too," said Jones. "If it hadn't been for Whirlaway, Mr. Wright [Warren Wright, founder of Calumet Farm, who died in 1950] would have run us Joneses right down the road."
"Mr. Hancock [the late A. B. Hancock, famous Kentucky breeder]," said Moody Jolley, "didn't care about bloodlines in breeding. He looked at conformations."
"That's my idea," said Jones. "I don't like to follow a pattern. Match your dam up with your sire so's to overcome the weaknesses of one strain with the strong points of the other. You take Bull Lea, he's got the disposition, but he wasn't so good in the mud. That's why we crossed with the Blenheim strain, which didn't have the disposition but produced good mudders."
"Bull Lea," said a man standing nearby, "wasn't much of a runner."
Jimmy Jones turned to him. "Oh," he said, "that's not altogether true. He was overextended in his early races. Why, he won the Blue Grass Stakes just before the Derby and it took too much out of him and he couldn't come back in time or he might have won the Derby." He pointed an accusing finger at the man. "Hell's bells," he said, "put you on the track right now and make you run half a mile or so and you won't eat for a week. You're not in shape! Same with Bull Lea, he didn't have time to rest up before the Derby."
Jones decided to ride Ben's horse, Tennessee, out with the final set. When he had gone, Wendell Griffin, a lean, soft-voiced man in his 30s, walked over and shook his head in admiration. "The greatest champion Ben Jones ever produced," he said firmly, "is Jimmy Jones." He looked around, but nobody gave him an argument.
"That man," said Wendell, "would be a big success in whatever he went into. Why? Because he's broad-minded. He's so broad-minded that he can discuss any subject you name from the model T Ford to the jet airplane. He understands the stock market through and through. He flies his own airplane. He was in the horse patrol of the Coast Guard during the war. He can ride a motorcycle. He was mayor of the city of Parnell, Missouri at one time. Bring up any subject you care to name and Jimmy Jones will discuss it with you. But here's what you want to remember. No matter what he's talking about—football, racing or the Russians—Jimmy Jones never stops thinking of his horses and what he's planning to do with every horse in this stable. His mind is working every second." Wendell paused and then jerked a thumb in the direction of Buck the bird dog, frantically pointing various objects around the stable. "Jimmy Jones," said Wendell, "taught that dog just everything he knows."
Wendell started away and then stopped.
"Mr. Ben Jones," he said, "is one of the greatest trainers the world has ever known. But just think about this. Ben taught Jimmy everything he knew and then Jimmy put his own education to work on top of that. [Jones had two years, majoring in veterinary medicine, at Northwest Missouri State Teachers College.] Mr. Ben Jones himself has said in the papers that Jimmy Jones is the finest horseman in America. And I'll say this on top of that. I'm just a groom and it's come back to me that one time Jimmy Jones referred to me as 'a drifter,' but I'll say this. Any horse that goes into a race under the Calumet colors, you can be sure that everything that could possibly be done to make that horse ready has been done. Nothing has been left undone."
Later in the morning, while the boys were cooling out the horses from the last set, Jimmy Jones finished his study of the charts in the Racing Form and came out of the tack room and took a look around. He blew up. "Who is supposed to be doing the raking up around here?"
Slowly walking their horses, the exercise boys spoke out in denial of responsibility.
"One, two, three, four," cried Jones, pointing at one after another. "All right. That's four perfect men! Now let's try to find the imperfect ones!" He waited an instant and then, his voice heavy with sarcasm, he said: "Or maybe I'd better take over the raking and let somebody else train the horses. How about that?"
An exercise boy stopped his horse and, raising his voice, he began to deliver an impassioned self-eulogy, reciting a long record of singular devotion to duty. He stated, with rising emotion, that whenever he had been told to rake, he raked. Never, he went on, in all his years with Calumet had he, for a single instant, sloughed off any task to which he was assigned. On the contrary, he concluded as he led his horse back into the circle, he had given conspicuously more service than he was paid for.
Jones had been listening intently, rubbing his nose, tugging his ear, scratching his head and occasionally seizing the seat of his pants. Now he replied. He stated, in effect, that what he had just heard was a lot of buncombe and that what he wanted around there was not talk, but somebody to rake the buncombe out of the walking rings. "I want," he declared, "a couple of men assigned to raking. Let them work on raking from payday to payday and then two more men take over. Now let's get that straight or else I'll do the raking and somebody else can do the training."
He turned and started away, then stopped and called out: "Sometimes I think there's a right way to do things and then there's the Calumet way."
Nobody said anything, and Jones walked a few steps more and turned again for a final word: "I can stand a screwball, but hate a shirker!"
He hurried on toward the tack room.
There was another few seconds of silence and then the voice of Dog-wagon rang out.
"That man," cried Dogwagon admiringly, "is a perfectionist!"
A stranger blocked Jones's way into the tack room. He wore a beatific smile and when he opened his mouth, he contributed a fine breath of bourbon to the stable area's morning fragrances.
"Doggone it, Jimmy Jones," he exclaimed in a deep southern accent, "somebody ought to write up your life story!"
"What?" said Jones, startled. It was plain that he did not know the man.
"Jimmy," said the Southerner, "tell me how come you're so short and your daddy's so tall?"
"He's not so tall," said Jimmy.
"No?" said the southern man. "Why, I'd say he stands six feet."
"He's about five nine."
"You're five eight I'd say."
"Lord, no," said Jimmy, "I'm five six."
The southern man nodded as he grasped the railing. "How old would you be, Jimmy?"
Jimmy Jones cocked his head and started scratching himself. It seemed for a second he might be debating the pertinence of this discussion. Finally he said: "I'm 51. Last November."
"Why," said the southern man, "you could pass for 40."
Jimmy reached into his pocket and drew out his glasses and put them on. "I don't know about that," he said.
"I see you wear bifocals," said the Southerner.
Jimmy turned to Skeets Meadors, the horse photographer from Lexington, who had stopped to listen.
"None of the Joneses were tall men," he said. Skeets nodded.
"My granddaddy," Jimmy went on, "was five six, same as I am. I never heard of any Jones who went to six feet, and since I'm the last of the line I guess there won't be any."
"Is it true," said Skeets, "that your grandfather founded that Missouri town you come from?"
"Parnell, Missouri," said Jimmy. "Yes, he did. He was born in Indiana and as a young man he went to Iowa and became a bullwhacker and then a cattle buyer. One time he decided he'd go to Texas and so he headed south over the Iowa line into Missouri, and around where Parnell is now he liked the looks of the country—it's fine blue-grass country there—and so he didn't go any farther. He settled down and the town grew up around him. I've often thought if my grandfather had continued on to Texas and settled there, why, I'd probably be owner of a stable today instead of working for one."
The southern man took off his hat and slapped his thigh with it.
"Doggone it, Jimmy," he cried. "You've got a wonderful life story if it could be written up properly!"
Jimmy turned to Skeets.
"Parnell was a kind of Wyatt Earp town when I was a kid," he said. "There were three parks and they had racks all around and on Saturday nights they'd be filled with horses and rigs. It was a real western town in those days. Three livery stables, a general store, couple of saloons, several churches. You'd see very few automobiles. I'm going back to about 1913 or 1914 now. Of course, there were quite a few machines in the cities in those days, comparatively speaking, but the country towns were still horse towns."
"Who remembers," cried the southern man, "who remembers the Pope-Toledo automobile?"
"Yes," said Jimmy, "and there was the Haynes and the Locomobile and the Mitchell and the Maytag. The Maytag was made in Iowa." He turned to Skeets and then cocked his head as if debating a weighty problem. After a minute he shook a finger under Skeets's nose.
"By golly," he said, "I wouldn't be surprised if the Maytag car was manufactured by the same people who make the washing machine!"
"In other words, Jimmy Jones," said the southern man, "you grew up on a horse!"
Jimmy looked at his shoes.
"I was galloping horses when I was 9," he said. "I've been around race tracks since I was able to walk. The old leaky-roof tracks, the county fairs, the punkin shows. My father took me to Juarez, Mexico—that was when racing was shut down in this country—and I was only 7 at the time. They used to hustle me across the border into Texas when Pancho Villa would come to town. But I can remember Villa's soldiers. The big thing I can remember about them is that very few of them had shoes. They'd kill a man for his shoes."
Buck the bird dog raced up and stopped before Jones, who reached down and patted his head.
The southern man blinked and said, "That's a fine-looking dog. I expect he's a Missouri dog?"
"No," said Jimmy, "he happens to be a California dog. I got him when we were out there for the Golden Gate Handicap four years ago."
The southern man was suddenly apologetic.
"Jimmy," he said, "you'll have to excuse me. I got to run along. I ain't had breakfast yet."
"That's all right," said Jimmy.
"Glad to see you doing so well, Jimmy," said the man. "You've got a very good thing of it here."
"Well," laughed Jimmy, "it's a tough way of making an easy living."
The man went off and Jimmy Jones suddenly called out to another man cutting across the stable area.
"Hey, Doc," he cried, "Doc Southard!"
Dr. N. E. Southard, a Hialeah vet, stopped and turned around.
"What," called Jimmy, "do you find best for growing feet?"
"Pine tar," answered the doc, "the old-fashioned country remedy, pine tar."
"Thanks, Doc," said Jimmy. He called to a groom walking a big, handsome stallion around the ring. "Get some pine tar and put it on Gen. Duke's feet when you take him in." Then he said as an aside: "It'll act as lubricant and also as a kind of irritant to promote the growth."
A boy came up and said without preliminary that one of the grooms had just telephoned and said that he wouldn't be around.
"Why not!" exclaimed Jones.
"He said he just don't feel like working any more for a while."
"Damn," muttered Jimmy.
"There's a fellow sitting on the bench over there, he's looking for work. He claims he's had a lot of experience."
Jimmy hurried over to a young man in need of a shave. "You looking for work?" he said.
The young man nodded with a minimum of enthusiasm.
"All right," said Jimmy briskly, "I'll give you a trial. You go see Dee Brooks and he'll tell you what to do and show you where you sleep."
The new Calumet groom got up slowly and said, "Sure do thank you, Mr. Jones." He sauntered off, looking for the stable agent.
"That's what you're up against in this business!" Jones blurted. (Actually, thanks to Jimmy Jones's ability to get along with all kinds of people, Calumet has a minimum turn over in stable personnel.)
Two men hurried up to Jones in an obvious state of excitement. One man turned to the other and said, "Say hello to Jimmy Jones." Then, before the introduction could even be acknowledged, he cried, "Jimmy, give me 15 minutes of your time!"
His excitement communicated itself to Jones. "What for?" he demanded, scratching himself under the arms.
"To go see the greatest horse in the world!"
"The Argentine horse?"
"Yes, sir. He's going to stand in California and he's down to the airport right now waiting for a connection!"
"Let's go!" exclaimed Jimmy, starting off. He stopped and held up his hands. "Wait a minute, I got an appointment with the dentist!"
"Won't take you 15 minutes," the man protested.
Jimmy bit his lip, then decided: "Let's go!" He broke into a half run for his Cadillac. When he was at the wheel, he found he didn't have the keys. "Pinky's got 'em!" he rasped in exasperation. (Pinky Brown rubs the Cadillac as well as horses.) Jones jumped out of the car and ran looking for Pinky. In a moment he was back with the keys, and the Cadillac was roaring down the road toward the gate. Just before reaching the gate Jimmy suddenly slammed on the brakes and made a screaming right turn into the fence. He watched the two men in the other car turn into the highway and go racing off.
Jimmy backed up the Cadillac and pointed it back for the Calumet barn.
"I haven't got time to go chasing to the airport," he said calmly. "I got a dental appointment in half an hour."
Later in the afternoon, Jones did stop by the airport to see the great Yatasto. He wasn't there. He had been shipped out to California the night before.
The afternoon edition of Jimmy Jones sat in his clubhouse box. He wore an all-brown ensemble. Seated next to him was pretty Peggy Jones, the Aurora, Illinois girl he married 29 years ago when he was learning the trainer's art from his father at Hawthorne in Chicago. The childless Joneses live in a handsome ranch house in Miami Springs, a few minutes from Hialeah and just down the street from the lavish bachelor home of Bill Hartack, who rides for Calumet in most of the important races.
Hartack, as it happened this afternoon, gave Jimmy Jones and the crowd a more varied display of his talents than usual. In the sixth race, riding for Hasty House Farms, he drove Can Trust through an opening that would have given pause to a veteran subway rider in New York's rush hour. The crowd gasped in admiration at Hartack's skill and daring as he finished three-quarters of a length ahead of King's Castle.
In the seventh race, the $26,150 Jasmine Stakes, Hartack rode Calumet's heavily favored filly, A Glitter. She started well and held on with the leaders, and then suddenly Jimmy Jones, his neck cords bulging, was on his feet, swearing softly, as A Glitter began to bear out badly at the three-furlong pole to finish an ignominious eighth.
A man leaned over from the neighboring box and said: "What the devil happened there, Jimmy?"
Jimmy shook his head. "I don't know what got into her," he said.
"Has she shown any tendency to run out in training?"
"Why, no," said Jimmy. "No, not at all. I guess the crowd must have bothered her." He turned to a guest in his own box and charged: "Hell, you might make a whale of a speech in a group of just two or three people, but put you up in a public auditorium before 10,000 people and you'd probably make a fool of yourself!"
Jones's guest nodded miserably, appearing to hate himself for his inadequacy as a public speaker before large gatherings.
Another man, a racing writer, turned up and asked why Kentucky Pride had been entered in a race only a few days after his 2½-length victory at six furlongs. (This was before Kentucky Pride lost his first race in the Bahamas.)
"Well," said Jimmy, "that happened to be a race that exactly fit Kentucky Pride at that stage of his training."
"Then why did you scratch him? Because of the mud?"
"No," said Jimmy, "I scratched him because I took a look at him in the morning and I just didn't like his appearance."
Jimmy Jones had Tim Tarn in the eighth race this day. After going down to the paddock to give last-minute instructions to Hartack, he returned to his box. Again his horse was a top-heavy favorite. Waiting for the horses to go to the post, the guest who had just been denounced for his theoretical lack of stage presence before a big crowd offered the opinion that Hialeah was a beautiful track.
"Hialeah has done more for southern Florida," said Jones firmly, "than anything else except the sunshine."
"They're off!" said the voice on the loudspeakers.
Hartack handled Tim Tam (it seemed to some observers) like a man driving a Thunderbird in a race with model Ts. He held him just back of the leaders until the stretch and then forged ahead with a clear track ahead of him. Yet at the finish Tim Tam appeared to be under restraint and, unaccountably, veering in toward the rail, threatening to crowd the second horse, Beau Daumier.
Red-faced, Jimmy Jones watched and blurted something like, "There may be a protest on this." The numbers of Tim Tam, Beau Daumier and Big Freeze went up on the board in that order as Jimmy hurried down to the winner's circle, muttering, "Pinky [the 68-year-old exercise boy] could have won on that horse!"
There was a buzz of comment running through the crowd. "Tim Tam lugged in!" pronounced a self-appointed judge. "Hartack was just showing off there!" cried another.
Now the board spelled out "inquiry," indicating a claim of foul by the jockey of the second horse.
Hartack, who ordinarily explains nothing to anybody, called a track employee in the jockeys' room: "Just tried to cut it as fine as I could, that's all!"
Outside a man said: "That was bad for Tim Tam. A horse might get the idea that's what's expected of him at the finish."
Jimmy Jones, moving around, swinging his binoculars, was in command of himself again.
"No cause to take the number down," he said. "Possibly a reprimand would be in order."
"What was Hartack doing, Jimmy?" a spectator said. "Was he showing off?"
"No, no, no," scoffed Jimmy. "That boy doesn't have to show off. If he did veer in a little, it was something that happened—well, it was an accidental result of experimentation on Hartack's part."
The claim of foul was disallowed. Tim Tarn's number stayed up on the board and his backers were rewarded with 90¢ profit on a $2 investment.
Back in his box for the final race of the afternoon, Jones was all amiability again, receiving visitors, chatting with neighbors, following the conversations into such categories as the intelligence quotient of flamingos, the crime rate in Miami, the optical illusion that makes Mount Wilson appear to be sitting just back of the infield at Santa Anita, the Depression of the 1930s as viewed from Parnell, Missouri, the reason behind Calumet's easing off of its racing schedule last August. "We'd won a million dollars by then," Jones explained, "and we figured the thing to do was to concentrate on getting puckered up for 1958."
It had been a full day, and tomorrow would be another. It would bring any number of unexpected developments, that was certain. But it was also certain that the day would be stamped with the trademarks of "the Jones boys." And these are thorough attention to the smallest details of training (down to smelling the hay samples before authorizing a purchase), following through on every order for every horse in the barns, patience and the careful study of the condition book to see that no Calumet horse is overmatched at any stage of his training. Maybe all this won't be enough to make it another million-dollar year, but of this a man can be sure: the Calumet entries in the big ones will be as ready as it is possible to make them. And if anything happens at the very last moment, look out for the one they've got hidden in the barn.
Just before post time for the last race, Gene E. Mori, son of the president of Hialeah, stopped by and spoke to Jimmy Jones. When he had gone on, Jones said quietly, perhaps to himself: "That boy is as bright as they come. I believe he'd be capable of taking over when his father steps down. Of course, they say the son of an outstanding father never does quite measure up to him. That's supposed to be the rule."
Say hello to Jimmy Jones, exception to a rule.