Someday, when John Galbreath is about 126 years old and suddenly finds himself with no more skyscrapers to build, no towns to move, no great stallions to smuggle out of Europe and no critical problems with which to confront baseball's owners, he will die, and the next day's papers will contain the sort of extravagant praise that truly larger-than-life men seldom have a chance to read about themselves. But none of the eulogies will approach the tacit eloquence of the road sign outside Mount Sterling, Ohio. It says HOME OF JOHN W. GALBREATH, and it doesn't explain, presuming that if you don't know who Galbreath is you don't know where you are anyway.
Actually, there is much unknown about Galbreath, even in Ohio's Madison and Pickaway counties, because this earnest little giant has hustled in unobtrusive, almost diffident ways his considerable wonders to perform, ever since he threw his 116 pounds into action as Mount Sterling High School's fullback, about the time Dorais and Rockne were showing the world an easier way than three yards and a cloud of dust. There is no way the nonachieving bulk of a society can really understand the superachiever like Galbreath, a man who regularly changes the faces of large cities with strokes of his pen, yet who strives as unceasingly and mightily for success as he did when he was waiting on tables to make tuition at Ohio University, 50 years and many millions of dollars ago.
There is, however, this clue to the essence of John Galbreath: he is a fan. A sucker fan, the worst and the best kind. Only a fan could have loved the dreary kind of Pittsburgh Pirates who began nibbling at Galbreath's bankroll in 1946 and had gobbled up $1,900,000 after 12 years. It would take several generations of Chateaugays to bring back the fortune he has invested in horse racing. And Galbreath's patronage of Ohio State, "helping" the university to attract such talent as Vic Janowicz and Jerry Lucas, can never avail him anything but a box on the 50-yard line and the right to sing Fight the Team as loudly as the most wide-eyed sophomore.
More significantly, however, John Wilmer Galbreath is a fan of the free-enterprise system, an all-season sport in which he can be a participant, a star—a superstar. If Darby Dan Farm, with its Ohio bluegrass, and the Pirates, even without Galbreath's pet, Danny Murtaugh, are his toys, so is the whole open market. To young John Galbreath, counting his money as he left the Athens, Ohio campus in 1920, real estate was going to be an adventure, an arena in which he could match his wits and his powers of persuasion against any man's. Like most young men, Galbreath believed he could win the game within the rules. Unlike most elderly men, Galbreath today can look back on a 50-year record that bears out his early belief. His hungry-eagle mien would frighten some men away from a poker table, but if they gave a Lady Byng trophy for sportsmanship in the big league of real estate, Galbreath would have retired it years ago. If Galbreath has any detractors, either in sport or business, they are as hard to find as atheists in the Vatican.
Galbreath is a multimillionaire, and the ruling heads of horse racing and baseball capitalize repeatedly on his capacity as a getter-of-things-done—planning of the "super" track at Aqueduct, resolution of baseball's expansion crisis of 1960, modernization of the Saratoga racing plant, refinement of baseball's pension plan in 1957, re-creation of Belmont Park and the search for a successor to Ford Frick are all projects of which Galbreath took charge, officially and otherwise. He is certainly not the wealthiest man in America, nor the most powerful. He is, however, one of the few very rich, very powerful men who can sing impassioned praises of free economy without sounding like the keynoter at a political fund-raising dinner. He speaks often of the pride and glory of private ownership, as many successful men do, yet he can make the case for success without embarrassing an audience of failures. He can because, insofar as the concept of enlightened self-interest can be epitomized, it is the story of John Galbreath's life.
It would enhance the Horatio Alger (an award he won in 1960) aspect of the story to say it began in Galbreath's birthplace, Derby, Ohio, when he started selling horseradish at age 10. But, Galbreath says, "All the kids did that. We just dug up the roots and grated them. My father had a farm kind of farm, the small kind you don't see much anymore. We didn't have much, so we all had to work. But we weren't poor. We had enough." Not enough to send a son through college, but young John had a sideline to his dishwashing and table-waiting at Ohio U. "I had a darkroom set up in the basement," he says. "I used to go around to the schools and take pictures of the kids and sell them to the parents."
The money Galbreath counted after graduation came to a bit more than $100, and he knew what he had to do with it. "You couldn't sell real estate in 1920 without a car," he says, "so I used it as a down payment on a Model T. The balance was $700. By the time I made the first $100 payment, after three months, the full price was down to $600. Three months later it was $500. After six months I owed a balance the same as a new car was worth." Galbreath had misjudged Henry Ford's capacity to mass-produce the horseless carriage. There would be a few times when he would overestimate the viability of the capitalist system, but never again would he underestimate it. He and his Model T plunged into the wonders of Ohio real estate with a how-long-has-this-been-going-on fervor, and free enterprise went to work for John Galbreath forevermore.
"Yes, I suppose I do have just about everything I want," Galbreath said recently, guiding his Lincoln convertible skillfully over the winding road of 3,900-acre Darby Dan Farm, a few miles from his birthplace. "But that's not all there is to success. Success is what a man thinks it is."
In his three-score-and-eight (a figure barely credible to a "young" man after dogging the 120-steps-per-minute pace of Darby Dan's squire through an all-day tour of two farms), Galbreath has never taken an alcoholic beverage orally. He inhaled a little, however, on Oct. 13, 1960, the day he became The Man Who Has Everything. Shortly before 4 o'clock that afternoon Yogi Berra loped forlornly toward the left-field wall of Forbes Field and became a spectator as Bill Mazeroski's home run sailed over the trees to end one of the most implausible World Series in history. After 14 years of Dino Restelli and Clem Koshorek and Ron Necciai and accounts payable for the annual seine haul of bonus boys who couldn't even look like baseball players, John Galbreath had a world champion. Hugging Manager Murtaugh in the champagne haze of the clubhouse as the Pirates showered each other in baseball's most orgiastic ritual of the past decade, Galbreath could have counted a number of other assets.
In shining splendor at 150 East 42nd Street in Manhattan towered his Socony Mobil building, 42 stories and $43 million of what FORTUNE termed "one of the most skillfully executed deals in real estate history"; negotiated, built and owned by the Galbreath Corporation, only one of many projects but standing symbolically as the centerpiece of an empire that was grossing more than $75 million annually and would soon approach $100 million.
In sheening splendor at the other Darby Dan (the "little" 618-acre Kentucky Darby Dan at Lexington) stood Mr. and Mrs. Galbreath's splendid stallion Swaps, his and her half each looking worth at least the $1 million each chipped in for him. Several stalls away stood the newcomer, Ribot, the Rocky Marciano of European racing, unbeaten in 16 starts, only one of which really exerted him, and Galbreath's for five years for a $1,350,000 rental. Between them stood Sailor, the great speedball Decathlon, Helioscope and old Errard, and Summer Tan, Mrs. Galbreath's pet, whose mistake was being foaled in the year of Swaps and Nashua. If there was anything to the theories of breeding—and Galbreath is a devout believer in the bloodstock traditions—that stallion barn contained the seeds of a Kentucky Derby winner.
The winner was on the grounds already, though nobody suspected it. Swaps's first union with Banquet Bell had produced the filly Primonetta, Galbreath's first real champion, and they had been brought together again. On Feb. 29, 1960, Banquet Bell had brought forth a chestnut colt that looked just like his daddy, a record-wrecker who is, in the consensus of expert horsemen, the handsomest steed since Man o' War. But in that fall of 1960, when Chateau-gay was taken from his mother, the father-son resemblance was strictly visual.
In the bluegrass paddocks Chateaugay did not gambol with the abandon of the other weanlings, and when he tried he pulled up wheezing like an asthmatic. "It was a little valve in his throat," says Galbreath. "It's not uncommon and it could be corrected." Galbreath, whether he is considering the structural "adjustments" necessary to make a 42-story building feasible in the earthquake belt of Los Angeles or changing the composition of Ohio soil, recognizes few problems that cannot be solved by common sense. A sensible surgeon was called in, and Chateaugay's pipes were repaired.
Chateaugay raced only five times as a 2-year-old. "We mostly just weed out our horses in the 2-year-old season," said Jim Conway, Darby Dan's trainer at the time. "These people aren't interested in winning races. They want to develop a classic horse." Chateaugay didn't appear classic after three quarters of a mile at Churchill Downs in May 1963. Laying 10 lengths off the leaders, he seemed to be running like the 9-to-l shot he was tabbed. In the final sixteenth, however, he ran down the gallant Never Bend to win a clear victory.
Most horsemen solemnly agree that the Kentucky Derby is the carnival antithesis of all that is pure and fine in Thoroughbred racing, an ill-timed, overlong rodeo for callow 3-year-olds on a questionable racing surface. But Galbreath the fan prevailed over Galbreath the classicist that afternoon at Louisville. In the Pirates' clubhouse he had said no thrill could ever match beating the Yankees in a World Series. But the Derby was something else. "Nobody can possibly know how really thrilled you can be until he experiences it," Galbreath said. "I guess you'd say that we've hit our peak in both sports now." And, he estimated at the time, the heights had been scaled on an investment of slightly more than $5 million in racing and marginally less in baseball.
Chateaugay put his credentials beyond question when he won the Belmont, too, rolling the mile and a half over a sticky track with the ease of—well, Ribot, twice winner of France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and sire of two sons who won it. All indications were that Chateaugay would reach full fruition as a handicap horse, but ankle trouble plagued him through his 4-year-old season. When he ran badly at Hialeah early in 1965, Galbreath hustled him to Lexington for a late start in the stud, despite Conway's outspoken desire to "persist with the horse."
"They're real people," Conway said at the time. "As fine owners as I've dealt with. But primarily they're breeders. They're worried about his value in the stud if he gets beat. Hell, you could sell him for a million right now."
Olin Gentry, the soft-selling hardboot who manages Darby Dan's breeding operations, mutes his oaths into euphemisms like "karsh" when there are ladies present. He said karsh one afternoon last October as Mr. and Mrs. Galbreath and some visitors sat on camp chairs outside a barn at Lexington to see Chateaugay paraded before them. Always big and bright-eyed, the horse had "filled out," as stallions do when they grow older and are allowed to lead a more natural life than the stern, artificial regimen of racing, and the sun glittered on his rich chestnut coat. "Karsh," Gentry said. "I never seen a better-looking horse than Swaps, but cronny if this one ain't close to him."
"Has the same rear end," Galbreath said expansively. "See that good, long muscle—not all knotted up. He looks like a stud horse already."
Half an hour earlier Galbreath's private plane (the four-seater, because the 10-seater was in for repairs) had landed at Lexington airport and his chauffeur, Robert, was waiting. "We'll eat first," Galbreath said, glancing at his watch. "Just a sandwich. Then we'll have time to look at some of the weanlings." Robert carefully braked the car in front of the airport restaurant, aware that Galbreath's door is always open and one leg is out before the car makes a complete stop. "We'll be here from 12 to 15 minutes," he told Robert.
John Galbreath is not usually so vague about the timing of his appointments, but this was a heady day. Sea Bird, winner of the Epsom Derby and the French Arc, was in the air, headed for Lexington to join Darby Dan's stallion band. He had been leased for five years for $1,500,000, "just a little more" than Ribot's rental, and assignments had been made for him with 28 mares, three of them Galbreath's and one his wife's. "I already gave him a check," said Dorothy Bryan Galbreath. "I deal with my husband as if he were a total stranger. After all, I've only been married to him for 10 years."
(Mrs. Galbreath then told a tale out of school. Widowed by the death of Russell Firestone in 1951, she had married Galbreath, a widower, in 1955. After a couple of years they had combined their racing stables under Darby Dan colors, and the marriage was otherwise eminently successful also—except for a few minor details that had not worked out exactly as she had envisioned. If these little things really troubled her, Mrs. Galbreath's sister had suggested, why did she not simply go to John and tell him so? "I thought about it for a minute," Mrs. Galbreath said, "and then I said: 'Well, I don't know him that well.' ")
After 10 years she knew her husband well enough to realize that the arrival of Sea Bird would not be the only thing to occupy John's Sunday, and Mrs. Galbreath was prepared for an exacting day. It began with 8:30 breakfast, later than usual because there were houseguests in the sprawling ranch-chateau on the bank of Darby Creek. By orange-juice time Galbreath had read Coach Woody Hayes's explanations of Ohio State's weird 11-10 conquest of Minnesota the day before and noted that the local press was less than assiduous in second-guessing Hayes's decision not to try an easy field goal in the fading minutes of the first half.
Though Galbreath in word and deed is a faithful alumnus of Ohio University, having served on its board of trustees for 24 years and erected a chapel on the campus as a shrine to his first wife, whom he met there, he is clearly an Ohio State buff. On the eve of the homecoming game he had been host to hundreds, including Hayes and many of his faculty brothers, most of the press, other visiting firemen in town for the game and assorted OSU followers, in Darby House, the spacious, well-appointed party hall Galbreath maintains at Darby Dan for such purposes.
"I don't see any conflict there," Galbreath says. "If you live around Columbus you just are an Ohio State fan because...well, because football is so big around here." Columbus is Galbreath's town, and he goes to Rotary whenever he can. But he budgets his time for rooting as he budgets his time for everything, and he may have been the only fan within 100 miles of Broad and High Streets who was through talking about the Ohio State victory before he finished breakfast that Sunday morning.
"Look here," he said between pancakes, ushering a visitor to the window. He pointed to a large flock of geese, gathered on an island in Darby Creek. "Real Canadian honkers. They stop here every year. We really enjoy them."
Breakfast was over, and it was almost time to go watch a set of yearlings gallop. But not quite. "Have you seen Graustark?" he asked, glancing at his watch. Not too many people have seen Graustark, who raced three times as a 2-year-old last season before being stopped with splint trouble. Ribot, in his nine seasons, has gotten some outstanding runners (witness the one-two finish of Tom Rolfe and Dapper Dan in the 1965 Preakness), but Graustark in his three easy victories appeared to be Darby Dan's first Ribot product who might be "more than just a horse."
"This is just film patrol," Galbreath said, setting up the projector, "but you can get an idea how easily he does it." The films showed how easily Graustark won, up to three-quarters of a mile. "Looks as if he'd want to go on, doesn't it?" Galbreath said as the film ended. "Sometimes these things happen for the best. He may be a better 3-year-old because he wasn't overraced at 2."
(It would be nice if Graustark wins Galbreath some prizes at 3, because he cost him a trainer at 2. When August came and Graustark was still heading a division of horses trained by Olin Gentry's nephew, Lloyd, Jim Conway submitted his resignation. "They never told me anything about Graustark, or any of those horses they sent to St. Lucie last winter," Conway said. "I could see the way things were. Mr. Galbreath came to my house and said he'd let me have the horse, but I said it was too late." This obviously disturbed Galbreath, whose first question recently to a mutual acquaintance was how Jimmy was doing. Jimmy, he was told, had 12 horses in his public stable and seemed to be doing well enough. "I'm glad," Galbreath said. "He's a good fellow and he deserves the best.")
"Why," he said suddenly to the houseguest who stood at parade rest in the living room, "do you have your hat on?"
"I keep my hat on when I'm with you," the houseguest said. "I never know when we'll be going somewhere." Minutes later the party was at the grandstand of the nine-furlong training track. "That's Lake Chateaugay in the middle of the infield," Galbreath said. "This was all lowland, and we had to fill it in." Four yearlings passed in review, the exercise boys stopping them for inspection. "That's the Gallant Man," Galbreath said, "and the Bold Ruler. Look as big as 2-year-olds, don't they?" The yearlings galloped easily and pulled up at the far turn. "I like that Hail to Reason colt," Galbreath said. "He's got a real easy way of going. Real good action. I think he's a router."
The first act of the yearling show was over, and it was time to move on. While five persons moved hesitantly toward three cars, Galbreath demonstrated the fundamental error a Mount Sterling football coach committed many years ago by making a fullback of a boy who was born to call signals. "George will drive these folks to the airport in that car," he said. George would drive them to Gal-breath's private 4,700-foot landing strip to be flown to the Columbus airport, "because it would be silly to drive."
"You take that car back to the house," he instructed Mrs. Galbreath, "and we'll go in this one, so we'll have 10 minutes to talk." The convertible rolled past some of the 35 miles of white fence, painted by hand by Janowicz and other athletes working their way through Ohio State until a machine was conceived that did it more efficiently. Suddenly the car halted, and Galbreath was out of it before the springs stopped rocking. "Here," he said, leaping to the second plank of the five-foot fence and vaulting over the top into a field of grass. "I want you to see something. Ever see better blue-grass than that?" The visitor accepted the handful of grass and agreed that it was as green as any he had seen behind the barns at Louisville.
"We grow our own," Galbreath said as the convertible hurtled over dirt roads and across a wooden bridge over Darby Creek. "Hay, alfalfa, oats—but not all our own because we want the nutritional benefits that might come from the soil in other parts. We plant about 1,200 acres. That field there has been planted in clover, but next year it'll be hay. The man in charge of the planting and the soil, rotating the crops, is a retired professor of agronomy at Ohio State. That's all he does now, full time."
The car stopped again at a pen that contained whiteface steers. "We keep about 400 of them," Galbreath said. "Oh, we make a profit on the beef, but it's a byproduct. We want them because they're good for the soil. If you research it I think you'll find the English breeding farms that have produced the best horses over the years are those that have cattle. Our bluegrass paddocks are almost completely free of parasites, and parasites kill more horses than anything."
Passing a heavily wooded area surrounded by a chain fence, Galbreath pointed. "We have deer in there," he said, "and American buffalo. Too bad you can't see any now. We really like them. This woodland here isn't used for anything, but we keep it that way because it looks so pretty.
"This is the part that would really make a fine golf course," Galbreath said, pulling the car up a deep grassy slope and stopping. "Look at those cattle grazing on those rolling hills. So peaceful and so beautiful. Right behind us, that's an Indian burial mound. They wanted to dig it up, but we want to keep it the way it is. I love this spot here better than any place in the world. It's so peaceful."
More peaceful than the Continental Can building at 633 Third Avenue, New York, or the Erieview redevelopment on the Cleveland lakefront or the Columbus boardroom at 100 East Broad Street or the Hong Kong suburb where Galbreath hopes to build at least 10,000 units in housing.
Flying to Lexington to see his horses, Galbreath had said, was such a joy that he'd like to be able to do it once every couple of weeks. "But we just don't have the time," Mrs. Galbreath said. He'd like to see more of his Pirates, too. "I guess I don't see more than 15 games a year," Galbreath said.
It would be simple enough for Galbreath to liquidate a few assets and just relax. He and several generations of Galbreaths could then take in Hialeah and Saratoga and follow the Buckeyes and the Pirates and hunt and fish, or just sit on that Indian mound and watch the cattle grazing. So why, at age 68, does he keep two planes and four pilots busy, going from appointment to appointment, hustling like an undersized shortstop trying to make the varsity at Mount Sterling High School? There are valid reasons why a man strenuously active for 50 years ought not stop work completely, but is there a reason why he should knock himself out?
"Be-cause," Galbreath said, and he struck karate blows on the steering wheel in cadence with the words that followed heartily and happily: "Because it's so damned much fun. That's why. There's no nonsense about that.
"The thing about success is the desire and the motivation. As Branch Rickey said, they're the important things, and if a man has them he can be successful. Some people aren't interested in success; they want security. I'm not against that, because success is what a man wants it to be. Part of success is to be doing what you want to do."
The sandwich at the Lexington airport took almost 22 minutes, but there still was time to inspect weanlings before Sea Bird was due. The chauffeur wheeled the party up to the barn, where Olin Gentry was waiting and camp chairs were set out. The first filly, Gentry noted, was "a little straight in the pasterns." Her sire was Ribot. "Not too straight when she walks," Galbreath observed.
Gentry's praise of the second filly, by Swaps out of Doricharger, was also faint. "She's got a lot of class, Olin," Galbreath said. Mrs. Galbreath made a double check in her book for the next filly—by Swaps-Mah Pak—and Galbreath pointed out that the dam was one of the Aly Khan mares he had spoken about on the plane. A Swaps colt, Gentry said, was rather on the spare side. "I don't care if they're not big, heavy things," Galbreath said. "They can go a long way."
Head winds made Sea Bird late, but he had shipped well. He was neither "broken out" (sweating) nor trembling when he came down the ramp. Galbreath sighed deeply when the liver-colored 3-year-old was bedded down for the night, and not only because the doctor had found that a cut in the bottom of his left front hoof was not serious and his temperature was a normal 100.5°. The problem of buying or leasing a European stallion is not one of direct bargaining, in which Galbreath has never had difficulty, but a question of what the neighbors will say. While there is much optimistic talk about the happy blending of American and European bloodlines, the traffic in really outstanding stallions has been pretty much one-way. From Nasrullah and Princequillo through Ribot, the good ones have gone West. "They can't, or won't, pay the cost of our good stallions," Galbreath said, "and there is resentment when we take one away from Europe." The grumbling about the Yankee dollar was especially audible in the case of Ribot, who had seemed to come closest to the 56-year goal of his breeder, the late Federico Tesio, "...to breed and raise a horse which, over any distance, could carry the heaviest weight in the shortest time." When the stall door was closed on Sea Bird, Galbreath seemed to have spirited him off the Continent with a minimum of static, and he was relieved.
The reason for the secrecy about the negotiations to renew Ribot's lease last year, Galbreath said at the time, was that premature publicity might stir opposition and balk the deal. This would mean not only failure but embarrassment, and Galbreath finds them equally distasteful. He remembers his attempt to gain control of the Terminal Group, the 35-acre core of Cleveland's downtown, in 1950. His venture, widely publicized as a success, collapsed on the eve of the signing. Preliminary engineering and planning work cost Galbreath an irretrievable $100,000, but that wasn't what annoyed him most. He fretted that people would call him a showoff for announcing the deal prematurely. He was afraid people would doubt his word.
The sanctity of the word has always been so important to Galbreath that he uses very few of them. He prides himself on having succeeded as a grand-scale salesman without using con. "If you can't say it directly, it's better unsaid," is a quotation attributed to him. "I don't know whether I ever put it exactly that way," Galbreath said recently, "but I know you have to be forthright with a man. He can't have trust in you unless he knows he can believe what you say."
Galbreath has a habit of returning to the scenes of his projects to reassure himself that he did not mislead anyone. A few years ago he checked back on his first major selling job, an idea born of Depression desperation which burgeoned into the first of the Galbreath package deals. "Thirty million dollars' worth of property changed hands," Galbreath says proudly, "and nobody lost a dime."
Within two years after he had left Ohio U., Galbreath found his adventure as a real-estate salesman rewarding enough to go into business for himself. He was doing well up to 1929. By the early 1930s a number of banks and insurance companies in Ohio, as everywhere else, found themselves in the real-estate business. They were loaded with foreclosed properties and there were no takers. Galbreath had no money either, but he had an idea. There were a number of citizens around Columbus who hadn't been busted out, and he suggested they use their own free-and-clear holdings as security to buy the foreclosed properties, to be resold at a better time. "I sold them the idea," Galbreath says, "but they had the faith. They believed in the future of this country." They believed $7 million worth in the Columbus area, and Galbreath collected a 5% fee as agent. He had made the ogre of Depression work for him, and in the process he had saved the fiscal structure of his community from complete collapse. He had raised the ante for the first of his package deals, the sale of 297 Akron, Ohio houses in one transaction in 1937.
Galbreath had arrived, and his spectacular success became the topic, as success will, of jibes from his colleagues and/or competitors. The guy ("I think his name was Miller") might have been kidding at that Ohio Association of Real Estate Boards meeting in 1941 when he said: "John, how would you like to buy a town?" Galbreath asked some questions. The Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation was disturbed about the decrepit condition of its company town, one of the vestiges of feudalism that had been regenerated by the industrial revolution at McDonald, Ohio. The tenant workers, it seemed, felt more like sharecroppers than shareholders and let "their" town go to pot for lack of initiative to maintain, much less improve, it. Galbreath bought the town, 275 houses for $600,000, a third cash and the balance a mortgage from a lending institution that was perhaps amazed but certainly convinced by Galbreath's straightforward line of persuasion. After paint, putty and plumbing, he offered the houses back to tenants at down payments as low as 10% and sold them all.
That was the first of "40 or more" rehabilitations of company towns around the United States, Galbreath says. An associate puts the figure closer to 60. In any case, considering that some of the projects made landed gentry of tenants for as little as $16 a month, they are only marginally significant in the making of Galbreath's fortune. "There isn't much profit in them," he says. "But that's not the point. The idea is to do something constructive for people. I've never had a greater pleasure than sitting across a table from a man and handing him a document that says his home is his own. This is the only country in the world where there are more owners than tenants, and that's its real strength.
"Oh, it's a delight to be in a position to be able to give people pride and motivation. You should see the improvements they make. We checked one project a year after it was finished, and the people had spent a million dollars of their own money. They had acquired a sense of dignity."
John Galbreath served coffee in silver in the wall-to-wall comfort of his offices at 100 East Broad Street and discussed his little projects for the people. He was taking time from the big projects—"about 15 of them," he said, "not including a number of operations already done, which we have to supervise." Such as the Socony Mobil and Continental Can edifices in New York, and the U.S. Steel-Mellon Bank building on William Penn Place in Pittsburgh. It had been a long time between the Model T and the Lincoln, between horseradish and Hong Kong, between Tommy Boy and Sea Bird.
"I was a polo player back in the '30s," Galbreath said. "Not a very good one, but I bought Tommy Boy for $400 because I wanted to breed some polo ponies. I bought some mares for $100 each from a man at a county fair at Dayton. We ran the mares at Beulah Park [outside Columbus] and won some races." The first winner was Martha Long, on May 17, 1935, and it was also a long way from her to Primonetta.
Driving to the Lexington airport after Sea Bird had been put to bed, Mrs. Galbreath was struggling for a name for a colt by Swaps out of Big Effort. She wanted the name to be special because she had decided the colt would be. "I hate to waste a good name," she said. "I named a colt David Ha-rum, which I thought was a delightful name for a Swaps colt, but he couldn"t run."
The men were discussing the weanlings and the prospects. Primonetta was in foal to Bold Ruler, for example. There is always some question of the ability of Bold Ruler progeny to "carry their speed," but Gentry, two bourbons to the good while the boss had a cup of tea, suggested that wouldn't be a problem if the mother was Primonetta. She had won the Alabama Stakes, which is the classic race for a filly to win. "That's a mile and a quarter," Galbreath said, "and if it had been a mile and a half she'd have won by more." No, sir, the men agreed, there wasn't any question that a colt by Bold Ruler out of Primonetta would carry his speed. Nor, the way they spoke, any doubt that the foal would be a colt. Then there was that yearling colt out of one of Aly Khan's Nearco mares.
"Well, anyway," Mrs. Galbreath said, "we're having fun liking what we got." And wouldn't that have to be one of the elements of success? Karsh, yes. Cronny if it ain't.
RIBOT, the Italian stallion, has not mellowed with age (14) and has regular temper tantrums, especially when he is too close to...
SWAPS, also foaled in the vintage year of 1952 and purchased by Galbreath for $2 million. In the open market, these two plus...
SEA BIRD, French champion leased by Darby Dan for $300,000 a year, probably would bring a price in excess of $8 million.