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Your Host and Kelso

Everyone knows who 5 time Horse of the Year Kelso is, but do you know about his sire Your Host? Yo Tambien, a regular on the board and chat room for this site, has contributed a wonderful history about him so read and enjoy.

Your Host - the Magnificent Cripple

Your Host - C, 1947 / Alibhai - out of Boudoir II by Mahmoud

"It's what you can't see that matters." With this quote, famous trainer "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons summed up the true nature of champions. And few horses illustrated this better than Your Host. Son of the famous imported stallion Alibhai, Your Host looked something of a disappointment at first. He was a runty looking colt. He had very low withers and was light in the flank. His right eye and ear were set a full inch higher than the left side. He suffered an injury as a weanling that left his neck somewhat twisted. He also had (gasp!) 4 white stockings. He ran with his twisted neck low, and his head somewhat tilted to the side. If you see a picture of him running, he literally looks like a hunchback!

But he could run like the wind! He was all heart and determination, and was one of the most courageous animals you would ever want to meet. His regular exercise rider, Tuffy Morlan, said he was nervous and headstrong as a youngster and not always easy to rate. In addition, he made the observation that Your Host was "…to proud to ever ask for favors." As a 2-year-old, he was seriously ill and only his will to live and the skill of the veterinarians saved his life. After he recovered, he destroyed a good field in the Del Mar Futurity.

Because of his odd appearance, he was variously known as "Old Sidewinder" or "The Twister." In starting his 3-year-old campaign, he won the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby. He went back east to run in the Kentucky Derby. Based on his race record, he was a heavy favorite for the 1950 Derby. But based on his looks, the press named him "The Freak."

He did not do well in the Derby. After leading at the mile, he faded and came home badly beaten and exhausted. Some contend the distance was beyond his stamina. There was another story that the broken end of a hypodermic needle was found in him. Regardless, he came back to win the Kent States, the Dick Wells, the Sheridan, the Golden State Breeders and the Thanksgiving Day Handicaps.

In 1951, he came back to the races as a 4year old. He still looked skinny, had an awkward motion, and was very light. But he could still run, and his jockey, Eric Guerin, had a hard time holding him back.

In the 1951 Santa Catalina Handicap, he carried high weight of 130 lbs. The saddle slipped forward over his withers at the 5/8ths pole, and it was all his jockey could do to stay on. He basically the reins away and grabbed the colt's mane just to hang on! The crowd watched in amazement as the small colt weaved his way across the track, keeping his unbalanced jockey from falling off!!!! With his jockey precariously balanced, Your Host went on to win the race in a new track record time of 1:48 1/5 for the 1 1/8 mile.

Tragedy struck on January 13 at the San Pasqual Handicap. His jockey could no longer restrain Your Host who rapidly moved up on the field. he clipped heels with Renown and went down, throwing his jockey clear. The crowd was stunned into absolute silence as the horse struggled to get back up. He had fractured the ulna bone of his right foreleg in 4 places. His right shoulder and upper arm were shattered. His exercise rider, Tuffy Morlan was the first to get to him. Morlan related "There he stood, broken and in horrible pain, but his funny cock-eyed head was up and he whinnied at me, a faint, desperate sound. It was the first time he had ever asked me for help. I knew he needed me then and I could do nothing but take him by the head and weep. I don't think I ever felt so empty and lost as at that moment."

Both Morlan and the crowd in attendance sadly thought this was the end of the valiant little warrior, Your Host. With his shattered upper leg and shoulder, he was taken off the track and his owners and the vets agonized over their decision for him.

He was such a valiant fighter, but the injury seemed too severe to be saved. The vets had decided that he could not be saved, but his spirit would not quit and he refused to go down. Something about him reached as far away as England. Lloyds of London had insured Your Host to the tune of $250,000. They paid off on the policy, bought him and saved his life.

He was moved to the Circle S. Ranch of George Stratton and was cared for by Dr. John Walker. Recovery was slow and difficult. Remember that this was 1951! Various methods for immobilizing the shoulder and leg were tried. They tried suspending him in a sling hung from the rafters in his stall. Finally, they packed him in sand to keep him immobilized. It was touch and go, but Your Host never gave up. He didn't panic or thrash or ruin the setting in his leg. He didn't loose his will to live. He grimly hung on and slowly, he recovered from the injury. However, he never put that right foot firmly on the ground again. His leg remained twisted and shortened. A mere shadow of the incredible speed it had help produce.

So, the cull, the oddly shaped "Freak", the awkward running "Twister", the misshapen "Sidewinder", was sent to stud. What did he produce? In his first crops in California, he sired stakes winners Miss Todd, Social Climber, and Blen Host. He also sired Windy Sands who in turned sired of Crystal Water.

He was then sent to the Meadow view Farms in New Jersey. There, he was bred to Maid of Flight (daughter of Count Fleet - granddaughter of Man O' War) and sired KELSO, FIVE TIME Horse of the Year KELSO.

If nothing else, Your Host is proof that confirmation is a lot easier to breed than spirit and courage.

Final race totals for Your Host: 23 starts, 13 wins - $384,795 (in 1950's dollars!)

© Yo Tambien, 1998

Photos courtesy of Yo Tambien

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