Ralph Nester: The Fillies ~ “And, they’re off…”



Mr. and Mrs. Sasso were leaving next day for the Keeneland Sales. As they got in their car, I went to see them.  He told me to stop and they’d be out, so I drove up in my new pickup, he never even noticed it… His last speech to me was that they were we are going to the sales.  And, then he said, “I still don’t see why you needed those two hammers.”  I told him I could take one back, and he said, “No, I don’t want you to take it back, but watch what you spend.”  So off they went with him shaking my hand and Mrs. Sasso with that very friendly and happy smile.

Well, a couple days later he called me and told me that they weren’t going to buy any horses, but they did. He told me I better get some stalls ready.  I asked how many; he said seven.  The next day he called again and he told me I better get a few more stalls ready in the yearling barn, about twenty-two. They bought a total of twenty-nine yearlings.  I think the highest price he paid was $2700 for a beautiful dark chestnut filly and $1500 for another chestnut filly.   Mrs. Sasso had an eye for a nice horse… The dark chestnut was Lovely Gypsy and had a very crooked left front knee, and the $1500 mare’s name was Lady Diplomat.  Lovely Gypsy went on to win the Miss Chicago Stakes and was second or third to Moccasin in the Barbara Fritche Stakes at Bowie and Bows and Bangles Stakes for Charlie Whittingham.  Lady Diplomat was a stakes-place horse.

Owner: Leonard P. Sasso
Breeder: Mrs. Frank C. Rand, Jr. State Bred: KY
Winnings: 44 Starts: 10 – 4 – 9, $107,252
At 2:
3rd: Astarita Stakes
At 4:
1st: Gallorette Handicap
2nd: Distaff Handicap
3rd: Barbara Fritchie Handicap., Colonial Handicap., Nellie Morse Handicap
At 5:
1st: Margate Handicap.
3rd: New Castle Stakes., Sheepshead Bay Handicap

There was also colt out of Gay Hostess, (dam of Lovely Gypsy) and Raise a Native who sold the next year for $250,000.  It was Majestic Prince.

Frank Whitley had Lovely Gypsy and he was going to Aiken for the winter, so he sent Lovely Gypsy to the farm for me to keep her going for a month.  I lunged her with tack on in a deep sand paddock where we broke yearlings.  It really kept her in great shape.  She was a beauty as good lookin’  a filly as California Chrome with that special deep rich chestnut color;  hers was richer and deeper if you can imagine that.  She was a sweetheart of a filly.

Owner: Leonard P. Sasso
Breeder: Leslie Combs II, State Bred: KY
Winnings: 41 Starts: 12 – 7 – 4,  $95,198
1st: Miss Chicago Stakes., Bangles and Beads Handicap
2nd: Polly Drummond Stakes.
3rd: Sorority Stakes
Half sibling to the stakes winners Majestic Prince and Crowned Prince Co-holder of Suffolk Downs track record for 4.5f, :51 4/5 (JRD

Finally, the first flight after thirty days of training.  I went to La Guardia to fly with her along with twenty-six of Buddy Jacobson’s horses.  His help didn’t speak English and I wasn’t fluent in anything but ‘southern language’ so we had to load twenty-seven horses up that long ramp.

When it came time to load my filly, we loaded her on a van with a hydraulic lift body; we were raised up about thirty feet. They had opened the tail section of plane, it actually swung open to the side and I had to back my filly into a single stall.  I looked down and prayed she didn’t jump over the side… I was bound and determined to hold on to the shank.  It was a five and a half hour trip with heavy wind and turbulence on a prop jet. We landed in California, bound for Santa Anita Racetrack. I had to hold her head up in one of the drops in the air as her knees buckled briefly.


We got to Charles Whittingham’s barn at Santa Anita. It was a beautiful setting, I fell in love with it.  I was there for a couple of days and got about two hours of sleep, I wasn’t going to miss a thing. The next day they tried just galloping her, but she ran off and the clocker thought she set a track record.  A week later, she won the Bangles and Beads Stakes easily.

I’m not positive but, I think that was the same year I took a few yearlings to Frank Whitley at Aiken, SC Training Center and I saw them unloading Ruffian.  I got to pet her as Whitley said to me, “We have high hopes for this one.”





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s