Cute Hair Cuts For 5 Yr Old Girls With Bangs 50 Years Ago: "1968 Was a Horrific Year"

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50 Years Ago: "1968 Was a Horrific Year"

1968 was a terrible year

Horses are big business in Kentucky, and even schoolchildren knew about the controversy in Louisville 50 years ago. It started with horse racing on the first Saturday in May as far as we knew.

With Kentucky Governor Louie Nunn and presidential candidate Richard Nixon watching from the stands, Dancer’s Image emerged last, 14 lengths back to pass 13 horses and cross the wire a length and a half ahead of Forward Pass. Nunn laughed as Nixon dramatically tore his losing ticket in half.

But Nixon could be a little hasty, depending on which horse he chose. Three days after the race, Churchill Downs stewards had Boston car dealer Peter Fuller return the trophy and purse and named Forward Pass the winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby. Tests after the race revealed that Dancer’s Image had phenylbutazone in his blood sample.

It is an anti-inflammatory pain reliever that is routinely used today when horses suffer from swollen joints. But in 1968 it was illegal at Kentucky racetracks. Fuller’s vet prescribed it during training, but allowed it to clear from the horse’s bloodstream for six days before the race. Fuller, his veterinarian and the horse’s trainer were unable to explain why Dancer’s Image still had phenylbutazone in his system on race day.

I was a weird 8th grader who was fluent in Racing Form past performance charts and had memorized a lot of racing trivia. But we were also a politically aware family. My dad ran for the House of Representatives on “Clean Gene” McCarthy’s anti-war slate in Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District. Bobby Kennedy was running for the presidential nomination across the river in Indiana.

Martin Luther King was shot just a month before the 1968 Derby, but a year earlier he was in Louisville to help local blacks led by his brother AD King protest housing discrimination.

Local residents had disrupted the race at Churchill Downs the previous year and wanted to disrupt the 1967 Derby, but King convinced them to hold protests in the city center as there was a risk of chaos at the track.

In April 1968, Fuller entered Dancer’s Image in the mood for the Derby, Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York.

When his horse won, Fuller presented the purse to the recently widowed Coretta Scott King. I’ve seen two different numbers, $62,000 and $77,415. Either way, it was a lot of money in 1968 dollars. He didn’t publish it, but it was common knowledge at the track and the race announcer mentioned it on TV.

The gift made Fuller friends and enemies. There was hate mail. There were anonymous death threats. A mysterious fire broke out in one of his stables. So he asked Churchill Downs management to provide additional security. They refused.

Fuller was a pretty demanding guy. He was a former Marine and the son of a former Republican governor. His father was one of the richest men in America, and Fuller himself was no slouch.

After growing up in a household of 11 housekeepers, Fuller was used to having to act. It was customary for Derby horse owners to provide four tickets. He asked for 50.

The brash, hardworking Yankee may have alienated the courtier Southerners he was supposed to be trying to charm. Instead, he made dismissive remarks about “rednecks.”

The bottom line is that he didn’t get extra security from Churchill Downs, and he didn’t recruit his own. He recalled that the security guard at his competition barn was “an old guy in a chair, sleeping.”

Fuller later said he believed it was “fixed” that an unknown intruder entered his horse’s barn to inject the disqualifying phenylbutazone. Either that or the blood sample was fake.

Fuller appealed the track stewards’ decision to the Kentucky Racing Commission and lost. He took his case to court and won in 1970. Dancer’s Image was again the winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby.

But then the state of Kentucky took that decision to a federal appeals court and won the case against Fuller and Dancer’s image. It was final. Fuller said he spent $250,000 on the futile lawsuits.

A billboard at his horse farm in New Hampshire defiantly boasts that it is the home of 1968 Kentucky Derby winner Dancer’s Image. But this sign is false.

Forward Pass is the winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby. The colt was no fluke, either, winning the Preakness and narrowly missing a Triple Crown sweep on June 1 after leading the Belmont to the last sixteen pole.

Three days later, as the 13-year-olds began their summer vacation, another tragedy occurred in the real world, the second in two months. it made horse racing seem terribly frivolous.

“Give me your weary, your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, your wretched waste on your teeming shore,” wrote the poet Emma Lazarus, addressing the Old World. “Send me these, storm-tossed. I raise my lamp to the golden door.”

And so Palestinian immigrant Bishara Sirhan brought her family to America. The poet also told the Old World to “keep, ancient lands, the luxury of your stories.” But when Bishara brought her 12-year-old son, Sirhan Sirhan, to California, he brought a huge ego and centuries-old hatred to his American sanctuary.

The younger Sirhan had a Western look as a teenager, with a pompadour hair style, and even in his old age, today he looks like a suave gentleman. But he testified in court that he killed Bobby Kennedy “with malice 20 years before.” His diary confirmed that he resented Jews and a New York senator who favored the sale of fighter jets to Israel.

He pointed to a Los Angeles hotel where Kennedy would watch the primary election results with supporters. Kennedy won the California and South Dakota presidential primaries on June 4. Incumbent Lyndon Johnson had long since dropped out of the race. There were high hopes among Americans who supported the late President John F. Kennedy eight years earlier.

As Bobby Kennedy left the party through the hotel kitchen, Sirhan intercepted him and put three bullets into him, one in the head and two in the back. Like phenylbutazone, Sirhan also canceled the victory. And in my mind’s eye I can see Richard Nixon shredding his Derby ticket again.

Of course, it’s anyone’s guess how different the world might be if Bobby Kennedy had been elected president that November instead of Richard Nixon. Like his older brother, he had a penchant for adultery. But he was a practicing Catholic under the influence of Cardinal Spellman. Unlike his younger brother Teddy, he did not try to reconcile public order with his personal vice.

If elder brother John’s solitary nomination to the Supreme Court is any indication. A court that had three Bobby Kennedy nominations might have ruled differently in Roe v. Wade.

Byron White, JFK’s appointment to the Court, not only dissented from Roe, but all subsequent decisions that applied it as binding precedent. Nixon, unlike JFK, appointed pro-abortion Justices Lewis Powell and Harry Blackmun to the court, as well as pro-abortion Chief Justice Warren Burger.

If Bobby Kennedy, instead of Richard Nixon, had filled those Supreme Court vacancies with the same justices as Byron White, they might have joined with William Rehnquist and White to form a 5-4 majority to protect the unborn. Tens of millions of American children may have been spared the abortion holocaust that followed Roe v. Wade and continues today. Thanks to Sirhan Sirhan and the people who welcomed him into our country, we will never know.

“1968,” said Fuller, “was a terrible year.”

by Bart Stinson

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