Q-Racing Blog: Lookin' Back

Learning history will help fans as they go forward.

Q-Racing Journal

“Don’t look back, because somebody might be gainin’ on you,” hall of fame pitcher Satchel Paige said.

Sound advice for many of life’s experiences, but in horseracing it’s a good idea to look back and build a solid appreciation for the horsemen and horses that built racing, both American Quarter Horse Racing and Thoroughbred racing.

I’m an admitted racehorse history addict, probably in need of a 12-step program. At the age of 12, I was memorizing the Quarter Horse Journal and once beat up my angry younger brother when he threw my annual stallion edition at a brick fireplace wall and the magazine broke into pieces. (I think it was the last time I fought.) At that same time, Bob Denhardt was my favorite author. At Colorado State University, I was a journalism major and would go to the library between classes to read older issues of The Bloodhorse and The Thoroughbred Record.

After nearly 40 years, I still get paid to write what is the first recounting of racing history.

But, it’s not about me. You are who counts.

There are many options to use to increase your appreciation of racing history.

First is the Internet. I sure didn’t have that when I was a kid or in college. You do. Don’t trust everything you read, but explore horses and history. I highly recommend reading all the sections of The 6666 Story. There are biographies of the horsemen and horses in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.

Second are books. There are Denhardt, Walt Wiggins and Nelson Nye books available at www.amazon.com. Start with Denhardt’s “Quarter Horses: A Story of Two Centuries,” Wiggins’ “Great American Speedhorse” and Nye’s “Complete Book of the Quarter Horse.” Nye gets hyperbolic, but still offers insight.

I consider Rich Chamberlain’s monthly Quarter Paths column in the Q-Racing Journal a monthly history lesson, essentially a never-ending book written chapter-by-chapter. If Rich writes it, it is well sourced or personal experience and is dependable. He started the Quarter Paths column in January 1988 and I would like to see all of them available online through a special section on the AQHA website. It would be a tremendous resource. Meantime, a few of the best are compiled and sold as an online booklet at AQHA’s Outfitters store.

Third are museums and halls of fame. If you have never been to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum, then go the next time you roll through Amarillo on I-40. Plan on taking a couple of hours to relax and learn. There is a superb collection from all aspects of Quarter Horse history, from ranching to racing. It is time well spent. Then there is the Ruidoso Downs’ Racehorse Hall of Fame at the track. (Full disclosure: I’m the curator.) It has an excellent memorabilia collection that is not limited to New Mexico racing or Quarter Horse racing. Plus, you can go to the races.

Every year when inductions are made to either hall of fame, it is a reminder that we need to look back and respect our history. Sure, there are folks with plenty of different opinions on important racing issues these days. But, we have one common bond: Our history that needs to be understood and preserved.


*I hope you all have a great holiday weekend, and enjoy the top-flight racing around the country.

It’s rich with top horses running. Pollsters including First Valiant Sign (July 4 Rainbow Futurity (G1) trials at Ruidoso), Ivan James (July 4 Firecracker Futurity (G2) at Delta), A Tres Of Paint (July 3, Rainbow Futurity (G1) trials at Ruidoso), Moonist (July 5, Vessels Maturity (G1) at Los Alamitos) and Gold Digging Ashley (July 5, Rainbow Derby (G1) trials at Ruidoso) are all scheduled to make appearances. Champions Kiss My Hocks and Jess Walking Thru will also face the starter in the Rainbow Derby trials.

*If you’re at Les Bois Park or Indiana Grand on Saturday, be sure to say hello to Wrangler Racing Aces Jennifer Hancock and Martha Claussen, respectively. They will have handicapping insight and giveaways for fans!

*Comments? Write to jrnlracing@aqha.org.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit www.aqharacing.com.