Jan 7, 2009

Monday, December 22, 2008


Did you happen to notice that there was no Peb cartoon on the cover of Daily Racing Form on October 25, Breeders' Cup day? Evidently not many people were aware of its absence for the first time in the history of Breeders' Cup.

The Form chose to cut ties with beloved artist Pierre Bellocq, citing financial reasons, late in the Saratoga meeting. The 82-year-old Frenchman (a dual US citizen) graced the pages of the paper for five decades as the preeminent sporting artist in the world.

The still lively octogenarian is currently painting a mural at Del Mar. He has in recent years completed two Kentucky Derby themed murals at Churchill Downs and others at Belmont and Aqueduct.

Peb's body of work earned him an Eclipse Special Award in 1980. His whimsical, impish humor brought to life the unique world of Thoroughbred racing. Race fans started the day with a smile when they picked up Daily Racing Form and saw Peb's work on the cover.

His talent was not limited to horses. He was hired by Daily Racing Form owner Walter Annenberg to draw cartoons on the editorial page of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was once nominated for a Pulitzer prize. He also joined his son Remi, a cartoonist in his own right, in helping create an international circuit for amateur riders.

Peb's art adorns the walls of the world's top racetracks and numerous private collections, including one at Gallagher's Steak House, just down W. 52nd Street from the offices of the Morning Telegraph, antecedent of Daily Racing Form. It depicts a mob of well known celebrities partying in the famed eatery. You won't miss Josephine Baker.

Still, it's a pity that Peb did not get the sendoff he deserved. His legions of fans would have filled Saratoga to say good-bye. A collector's edition would have sold out thousands of Daily Racing Forms. T-shirts of the elfin Gallic humorist would be all the rage.

Peb has a few new irons in the fire at the moment with various racing entities. He won't need to stand in any baguette lines.