Miscellaneous

Notice

George Plimpton

 

Last year this office received a letter from an English writer who reported that at the racetrack he had put a fiver on a horse named Paris Review—largely a sentimental choice (since he has published in this magazine) but also because the odds (33-1) seemed to beg a flyer bet—and that the horse had finished so far back in the pack he was writing to suggest a warning to others who might be swayed by such sentiments.

We have looked into the matter. Paris Review, a chestnut with a handsome star on his forehead, was born in 1972 in the U.S.A. (by Noholme II out of Pride of Paris), bought by John Hay Whitney’s Greentree Stables at the Saratoga Stakes, and named by Mr. Whitney soon after.

Mr. Whitney (who subscribes to the literary Paris Review) takes considerable pains in naming his horses, which is a traditional practice at the Greentree Stables: some of the triumphs of nomenclature over the years have included Hash by Questionnaire out of Delicacy, Stage Door Johnny by Prince John out of Peroxide Blonde, Straphanger by Gallant Man out of Alice Sit Down, and Bribe by Delta Judge out of Paper Gold.

As soon as Mr. Whitney pondered and came up with Paris Review the horse was sent to England to be trained by the Hon. Jeremy Tree. Mr. Tree, who has been handling Mr. Whitney’s horses abroad since 1967, has his establishment at Marlboro in Wiltshire, southwest of London—lovely, rolling country with long vistas and usually a small wood on top of the downs.

Paris Review had a successful year as a two-year-old. He came in 4th in his first race (the Riverhead Maiden Plate) at Kempton, then went on to win the Prince of Wales Stakes at York (see photos), a third in the Flying Childers Stakes, and a first at Ascot in the Cornwallis Stakes. His last race in 1974 was in France—at Longchamps in the PRix du Petit Couvert in which he finished fourth and collected 9000 francs (£790) ... just about enough to cover the expenses of being sent there.

 

A divergence: in the early days of the literary Paris Review, two or three of those involved with the magazine often went out to Longchamps on race day, not to the grandstand, but to set out a picnic on the grass to talk about the magazine on the far side of the racetrack, spreading down a blanket, in deference to girl friends, just a few feet off the back-stretch fence. It was quiet out there, under the trees, and from time to time the horses would come around from the other side, bunched up, and the jockeys yelling at each other, a sudden quick clatter of sound, and sometimes there was a horse far off the pace who went by alone, the heavy sound of his breathing, and the creak of saddle leather, and the jockey riding up high, letting him coast. And then the girls, who had been leaning up against the fence, would come back to the blanket as the faint cheers went up from the people across the way in the grandstand beginning to urge the horses down the home stretch. There was always too much talk about the magazine; the girls were bored, and when it was time for the next race, they went and waited at the fence for the horses to appear against the top of the back stretch.

 

Jeremy Tree thought that Paris Review was going to win the Prix de Petit Couvert. “That trouble with Paris Review, as it turned out,” he reported recently, “was that although he was a straightforward sort of horse he suffered from what we call ‘soft bones’—a painful business that you’d call ‘sore shins’ in a human. Horses usually grow out of ‘soft bones’ but Paris Review never did. It bothered him—especially on hard courses ... and unfortunately in 1975 the ground wasn’t as soft as it might have been. Too bad. A lot more rain and he would have been a top sprinter.”

Paris Review finished out of the money in his last three races in 1975 (presumably the English correspondent was witness to one of these failures), but, as it was, he won a career total of £8101.44 (his best win was at the COrnwallis Stakes (Grade 3) where he won £3,130.44) which is not bad at all. He was sold for a handsome sum (over £20,000) at the turn of this year to a buyer in Australia. He was flown there and now stands at stud ... The Australians tantalized and hopeful that the Noholme bloodline qualities (Noholme was a famous Australian racer and sire—No Double his most famous issue) might show up successfuly in his progeny.

This office has resisted the temptation to offer any meaningful parallels between the equine and the literary Paris Reviews despite such suggestive starting points as ‘soft bones,’ ‘straight forward,’ and being entered in the Prix de Petit Couvert, their fiscal potentials, and so forth. But it cannot resist (in the spirit of Mr. Whitney’s pleasure in finding appropriate names for his colts) passing on to the Australians a few suggestions of titles of poems and stories ‘out of’ the literary Paris Review which could be applied to Paris Review’s offspring. We would like the following: Looking Backward; Last Comes the Raven; Ho Ho Ho Caribou; Phenomenal Feelings; Travel Dust; Chest of Energy; The Flying Fix (!); Mister Horse. If there were not a limit imposed by the Racing Commission on the number of letters possible in a horse’s name, we would offer these two poem titles, Going Downtown to Buy Some Pills, and (our favorite) Nimble Rays of Day Bring Oxygen to the Blood. For the record, the ‘sires’ of these titles are in order: Robert Bly, Italo Calvino, Joseph Ceravolo, Keith Cohen, Jim Dine, Michael Benedikt, Philip Lamantia, Ron Padgett and the two lengthy titles are by Jack Callom and Tom Clark respectively. I do not think that any of the above would mind having a horse race under their nomenclative banner.

Love what you've read? Subscribe to The Paris Review.