At the Pin Oak show in Houston last week Miss Kathryn Means won the five-gaited amateur stake on her flashy chestnut gelding, King Lee, a horse her father had proclaimed he would not sell for $20,000. A few minutes later it was disclosed that J. C. Means had sold King Lee, but only because the price was right—reportedly $20,000.05. Actually, the sale was one proud father's typically Texas gesture to another, in this case Henry Kaufmann of Omaha, Neb.
Mr. Kaufmann bought King Lee for his 15-year-old daughter, Judy, who had ridden her La Fitte's Gay Scandal to victory in the three-gaited amateur stake the same evening. Kathryn Means evidently was a happy participant in this pleasant surprise, partly because she is believed to have another horse as good as King Lee in reserve. This would truly be something, for King Lee, one of the top horses in the amateur division, has a worshipful following that might well make an Elvis Presley jealous.
Even so, at Pin Oak, the nation's richest and most luxuriously appointed show, he was only one of many stars. A future stablemate of his, for instance, Vanity Again, was driven to first place and the championship award in the amateur fine harness stake by Judy's mother, Mrs. Henry Kaufmann. And one of the most beautiful horses to be found anywhere, Jean McLean Davis' Enchanted Hour, took a double win under the guidance of Lee Roby, who rode her to victory in the mare class and then again in the $5,500 grand championship five-gaited stake.
This could, in fact, be Enchanted Hour's year. A difficult and temperamental show horse, her manners in the past have not been as praiseworthy as her appearance, but this time her performance was nearly flawless, and despite some bobbles in the five-gaited stake, the judges felt that in both performance and looks she outclassed Martha Burton's speedy The Sabre, shown by Tuck Higgins.
That great and sensational favorite, The Lemon Drop Kid, was present, and he won both of his classes. This year, however, he is not winning them as outstandingly and as decisively as in the past. It is well known that Lemon is a difficult horse to drive and that Jay Utz was one of the few who had the key. Since Jay suffered a heart attack, the role of showing Lemon has fallen on Bob McCray, and a tougher task is hard to imagine. The consensus of opinion seems to be that he drives Lemon well enough to win most of the time, but not yet well enough to make him the undefeatable horse he was.
A week earlier, at Devon, Pa., the biggest outdoor show in the country was held—in fact, with 800 horses and ponies on the grounds, it was the largest outdoor horse show in the world. As at Pin Oak, the setting was worthy of the quality horses displayed, with the rails and jumps all painted a fresh white and "Devon blue." Its brightest star, by common agreement, was Adolph Mogavero, trainer-rider for Mrs. Jane Messler's Oak Ridge Farm of Pittsford, N.Y. By winning no less than six of the nine jumping classes, he earned for Oak Ridge's First Chance the championship title and for Sonora the reserve championship. Ending up one and two at a show of Devon's stature is a rarely achieved feat. Nor was this victory a sudden streak of luck; Adolph, despite an operation on his leg earlier this spring, pulled the same stunt at the Syracuse and Buffalo shows that preceded Devon. If these early successes are any indication, Adolph and Oak Ridge's three jumpers—Acapulco being the third, who did well at Buffalo—should be tops in their division this year.
Another horse-and-rider combination that spelled trouble for the other competitors at Devon was young Laurie Ratliff of Pass Christian, Miss. Laurie, after winning a large share of the classes in Miami last winter, decided she would like to go north (SI, March 3). North she went and she won the ladies' working hunter class on her 15th birthday with her big brown gelding, Cottage Den. Then she climaxed the victory by winning the champion lady's hunter event over such trusted favorites as Mrs. Deane Rucker's Spanish Mint and Mrs. Henry Paxson's Chappaqua. Even with that she wasn't finished—her Cottage Den was also named the working hunter champion.
From Mexico comes word that Brigadier General Humberto Mariles, longtime lion of the international classes, has retired—for this year, anyway. Mariles, plagued by an inner-ear infection which has destroyed his balance, will be operated on this month. The results will determine whether or not he ever rides again. Although the general has stepped down from the saddle he has not stepped out of the show ring. He will be judging the international events at Toronto's Royal Winter Fair next November and has been invited to bring a team to New York's National Horse Show. As of now, his team may consist of his daughter Vicky, his son Humberto, Lieut. Roberto Vi√±als and Gonzalo Alfaro.