Kelso proved himself one of the finest Thoroughbreds in American racing at Aqueduct last Saturday when he captured the third leg in the triple crown of New York handicaps, the Brooklyn, very impressively. His time, 2:01 3/5, was two-fifths of a second off the track record for the mile and a quarter. He had to cross a picket line as well as the finish line to do it, when stable employees went out on strike, and he also had to carry 136 pounds. Tom Fool, in 1953, was the last horse to carry 136 successfully in the Brooklyn and to win that race as well as the Metropolitan and Suburban. The only other horse to win all three races, Whisk Broom II, did it in 1913, carrying 130 pounds in the Brooklyn. (A horse called The Picket won the Brooklyn in 1904, but there was no strike at the track where it was held that year.)
Eddie Arcaro, who has ridden Kelso in the last 10 of his 11 straight victories, gave him a brilliant ride, belying recent suggestions that the Old Master was losing his grip. Kelso appeared somewhat skittish on the way to the paddock and tried to sit down in the starting gate. Arcaro, nevertheless, got him off fourth and kept him no worse than third until the last eighth of a mile. At one point in the backstretch, though third, he was 16 lengths behind the front-running Divine Comedy. In that last eighth of a mile, Kelso's magnificent long stride disposed of Divine Comedy and the oncoming Yorky by a length and a quarter.
Afterward in the jockey room somebody asked Arcaro, "You were really beating that horse, Eddie, weren't you?" "I frappéed his rump," Arcaro replied and added that he didn't begin whipping until the head of the stretch. "I wasn't going to chase that front one. If he was going to win it that way there was nothing I could do about it." In the winner's circle Kelso was a very tired horse. His owner, Mrs. Richard C. duPont, and his trainer, Carl Hanford, deserve a lot of credit for refusing to overrace their prize, and it is doubtful whether Kelso will run in the Man o' War on the turf next Saturday.
Kelso has not been defeated since July 23, 1960 when he ran eighth to T.V. Lark in the Arlington Classic in Chicago. Since then this 4-year-old gelding (by Your Host—Maid of Flight, by Count Fleet) has won the Choice, the Jerome, the Discovery, the Lawrence Realization, the Hawthorne Gold Cup, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Metropolitan, the Whitney, the Suburban and the Brooklyn and has earned $559,745 in his 16 starts.
As he ambles around the walking ring, Kelso hardly reveals the immense strength he possesses. Though sleek and long, he is not an exceptionally big horse like Man o' War or a muscular picture horse like his grandsire, Count Fleet. But when he is in full flight in the stretch his power is astonishing, and in the last yards of a race there is nothing running today that can equal him in courage. These qualities are so well recognized by many fans that they have sent him off at almost prohibitive odds in his last nine starts.
Kelso was chosen Horse of the Year in 1960, and it is almost certain he will win that honor again this year. Jockey Bill Boland, who finished ninth in the 10-horse Brooklyn field on King Ranch's Mamboreta, shook his head slowly after the race and said of Kelso, "That's the greatest horse I've ever seen." There are many who agree with him.