Mar 10, 2009

Fasig-Tipton company has been in the news lately after its well received first auction since being taken over by Dubai investors.It made me think about Peter Lovemore was an international star when it came to selling at auction. It might be horses or it might be tobacco; it might be Sydney or Kildare. We became friends during his stint in Los Angeles for Fasig-Tipton in the early 1980s.

Jerry McMahon ran the show during the brief California tenure of Fasig-Tipton before founding the highly successful Barretts Sale. Peter and I were hired to work the first sale the company offered at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. We toiled alongside F-T senior auctioneer Laddie Dance.

I had my eye on a mare in the sale and I asked Laddie if I might sit out reading the pedigree on the horse I wished to buy.
"Well, I wouldn't let you if this was Saratoga," he said. "But this isn't Saratoga so go ahead."

Peter covered me from the stand while I doffed my Fasig-Tipton blazer and made a winning bid of $l2,000 to secure a mare named Reserve Account. She had aleady produced a $361,000 stakes-winner named Sanger Chief who was capable of sprinting in 1.08 for six furlongs. The foal she was carrying was a full-sister to Sanger Chief and that filly became Canadian Mischief, the first stakes-winner bred under my name when she won the Longacres Lassie, one of many reasons that I loved the now defunct Seattle track. Two victories in the Longaces Derby later on only made for more affectionate memories.

Peter almost succeeded in arranging a tour of his homeland of Zimbabwe. The country was the pride of Africa in those days, not the national disaster that it became under the rule of Robert Mugabe.

Peter returned to Zimbabwe to marry and establish his business. He got to know Mrs. Mugabe who had an interest in racing. Peter had told her that I had recently toured Russia and wrote articles about its racing history for publications back home.
Through Peter,Mrs. Mugabe issued an invitation to do the same for Zimbabwe. Mrs. Mugabe was a declared Marxist and I hesitated having witnessed first hand the police state that was the USSR in 1985. Perhaps she thought me one of Lenin's "useful idiots' that could be put to use espousing her cause. At any rate, I declined, more because of a divorce that left me a single parent than any ideological resistance. Years later I wish that I had gone to experience that culture while it was thriving.

Meanwhile Peter finally pulled up stakes and moved to Capetown after finally giving up on the lawless Mugabe government.