Tap The Till didn’t look like a future star. He had slightly deformed withers, and his legs sported the tell-tale scars of pin-firing. But Terry Haake Morrison knew the minute she saw him that he was special. He could jump.
Legendary breeder and owner Mrs. A.C. Randolph watched with an eagle eye as Nancy Baroody rode a small chestnut mare around the shed row of Randolph’s barn on a cold winter day. After a few turns around the barn, Randolph nodded. Baroody would do.
Incantation came into Robin Fairclough’s life by chance when she was a junior rider, but the black Thoroughbred made a big impression.
“He came to us for a client, for Andrea Kenyon, to ride,” said Fairclough. Kenyon was the daughter of New Jersey horse show announcer Thomas G. Kenyon. But Incantation had a good spook to him, so Fairclough took him in junior and regular hunter classes during the 1973 season and into 1974.
“He was always a super jumper. He could be a little spooky, but he always jumped in really good form,” said Fairclough.
In 1961, Bernie Traurig’s future looked bright. The teenager from Syosset, N.Y., had won the ASPCA Maclay Finals and the AHSA Medal Finals aboard Troublemaker, but no one yet knew if he’d go on in the sport. His father had college in mind for his son, while all Traurig could think about was horses.
It took a Thoroughbred named Gimlet to cement Traurig’s path and propel him to success in the hunters before he even turned 18.
Red Shoes may not have been much to look at, but Betsy Gerson Densen can look back with a smile when she thinks of the chestnut Thoroughbred mare who carried her to multiple open jumper championships and all the way to the steps of the U.S. Equestrian Team headquarters in Gladstone, N.J., in 1965.
Pam Hall Mahony got a few odd looks as she hurried through the airport in her breeches, boots and show shirt on a spring day in the late 1970s. She was on her way to look at a horse, and she had no time to change from a day of showing.
What horse could be such a priority? Mahony’s trainer at the time, Ronnie Mutch, had gotten word that a very special Thoroughbred was up for sale, and he knew there wasn’t a moment to waste if Mahony wanted him.
Dianne Grod hooked her arms over the fence and called out, “Papa, Papa!” The big chestnut horse at the top of the hill lifted his head.
“Then he came running full tilt to me. I thought he was going to jump out; he went absolutely berserk when he heard me,” Grod said. She hadn’t seen The Godfather in more than five years, but the Thoroughbred remembered her. They’d both been through quite a bit in the time they were separated, but their bond, formed over many, many grand prix courses, remained.