Ralph Nester – 1970 Early Training Days

The year was 1970…I was putting a stable together; friends were sending me horses. I was scouting on my own and getting advice from other trainers.

First, I went to Mrs. Samuel duPont at Hextonia Stables in Georgetown, Maryland on the Sassafras River.

pimlico allaire

My brother Howard and I looked at this one filly who was sired by Map Maker, a stallion that Allaire duPont had bred and raced.  We liked her looks, so we told Mrs. duPont we’d take her;  we bought her “on the cuff” – a term used in the business when no money exchanges hands.   The trainer or new owner supplies the training expenses and the  breeder supplies the horse and a then determined amount of percentage of the winning purses is discussed, usually a 50/50 spilt.   We won with her at Pocono Downs.

Another acquisition was a nice colt owned by Lewis Gelb from England, a huge training outfit, as I remember he had about a hundred horse in training at the time.   They only kept the best horses for themselves and weeded out the less talented runners.  Well, a dear friend of mine, Dr. Fisher trained this colt, his name was PERFECT NUMBER.   I was moving to Poconos, so the doc sent him to me there and we won with him also.  I picked up another owner, Samuel Siple from Lewisville, Pennsylvania through Sam Cronk, a leading trainer at Delaware Park for a couple years.   He had an older horse that had bred mares so I was hesitant, and he had a knee that would only flex about one-third its range, but a big good looking horse with decent breeding.  He had Your Host somewhere in his lines (KELSO’S sire), so I couldn’t be choosy!   We won with him, too,  at Dover Downs.

I bought another filly for Mr. Siple at Dover from a trainer that needed shipping money to go back to Rockingham Park.   Her name was NO JUSTICE, I was lunging her for two weeks.  I hadn’t even put a saddle on her as she had been out of training for three months, and Dover Downs was struggling to open and Buck Petrillo who owned Sunview Farms helped Buckston, the owner, open Dover.  Opening night, Buck tells my brother they were struggling for entries, so Dover Downs Racing secretary calls the farm and me and needed NO JUSTICE.  I talked to my brother Howard after I told them she wasn’t ready to run.  My brother said, “A horse can run a half-mile out of the field. The race is a 3-1/2 furlong sprint, open to colts and geldings.   Go ahead and enter her.”  So, hesitantly I did.  Well, when the gates opened it was NO JUSTICE first out of the gate and I thought, “not bad.”  They went down the backside and headed into the sharp turns at Dover Downs and she was still on the front end just breezing along.   At the head of the short stretch, she had opened a length lead and was starting to open up more.  When she got to 70 yrd pole, I started cheering quietly!  She won by about 2-1/2 lengths and wouldn’t blow out a match!   So much for knowing how to train and horsemenship,  my brother won that race for me, not me.

The next horse I  got was a filly named was Straight Squall.   I bought her from King Ranch from a Maury Fox, who was a car dealer in Pennsylvania.   A friend and fellow trainer, Sam Cronk, had sent to me as his barn was full and he couldn’t take any more horses.  We were stabled at Sunview Farms then, 1970, a small training center in Glasgow, Delaware, a half-mile training track.  Standing at stud there was a horse called FREE FRANCE, the last known living son of Man o’ War!  I  loved the name Straight Squall; I bought her from Henry Forest Stable and owner Richard J. Kleberg, the owner of King Ranch.  The famous Running W brand that is now on the ford line of  pickup trucks… I won with her at Pocono Downs.


Another one I had for Mr. Siple was COFFEE PARTY,  a horse of a different color.   I ran her and she got beat a head, neck, nose and a quarter mile. I had her fit. I ran her twice with same result.  I called Mr. Siple and told him to pick her up she had to be sired by a shetland pony and out of a draft mare!   Running wasn’t her gig.  That old green van brought me another filly from my brother and Buck Petrillo,  a grey mare by one of the fastest horses Arnold Winnick had had in training, Eagle Scout.  That horse blew the turn at Pimlico.  AND WENT UP AND OVER THE OUTSIDE RAIL and ended up in the grandstand section! He was banned from that racetrack for life!
Grandstand Showing Crowd, Pimlico Race Track Baltimore, MD

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