Sports Illustrated featured an article on May 7, 1962 by the noted horse-racing writer Whitney Tower pertaining to the upcoming Kentucky Derby. In an age way before the Internet, the Derby was actually run on Saturday, May 5, 1962, but Sports Illustrated published the May 7, 1962 issue the previous week.
Tower informed his readers that the eight candidates with “valid credentials” were “Sir Gaylord and his stablemate, the brilliant filly Cicada, Ridan, Sir Ribot, Decidedly, Sunrise County, Admiral’s Voyage and Donut King. Add to this list Crimson Satan, though his excuses for losing are now wearing thinner than a second-hand kimono, and Royal attack. Clearly, the number of legitimate choices is limited.”
Tower focused his assessment on Sir Gaylord:
“The role of Derby favorite will almost certainly go to Sir Gaylord, who won last week’s Stepping Stone at Churchill Downs—a seven-furlong prep—by nearly two lengths over Sir Ribot. Out of action since suffering an ankle injury at Hialeah after he won the Everglades, Sir Gaylord came within two-fifths of a second of the track record and was then officially timed over the Derby distance in 2:02 2/5. (But a horseman sitting beside [trainer] Casey Hayes, who trains Sir Gaylord for Christopher T. Chenery, clocked the colt running out the mile in 1:34 3/5 and the mile and a quarter in 2:01 4/5.) For a horse that had not raced in over two months that was impressive, to say the least.”
On the Friday morning before the Derby, heartbreak for Sir Gaylord’s connections ensued as the colt suffered a career-ending hairline fracture in his right foreleg. Chenery, his owner, could have substituted future Hall-of-Famer Cicada in his place, but opted to run her in the Kentucky Oaks, which she won.
Sir Gaylord was impeccably bred, by the brilliant Turn-To and out of the Princequillo mare Somethingroyal, also the dam of Secretariat. Thus Sir Gaylord was a half brother to Secretariat (sired by Bold Ruler).
It was no surprise that the blue-blooded Sir Gaylord was a highly successful sire in the United States and France, with his progeny including Sir Ivor, who won the 1968 Epsom Derby and became a champion broodmare sire in his own right.
The star-crossed Sir Gaylord won ten races from 18 starts and had earnings of $237,404, equivalent to nearly $2 million in 2017 dollars. He died in France in 1981.
Intriguing questions abound in Kentucky Derby history: What if Sir Gaylord had been able to run in the race? Or Cicada in his place?
Copyright © 2017 Horse Racing Business
The series on Kentucky Derby history began on February 20 and ends on May 1.