Feb 10, 2011


Once I was asked what was my favorite interview in a quarter century of televised Thoroughbred racing. The answer was easy. "Paul Mellon and Mack Miller after they won the Champagne at Belmont with Sea Hero,", I said.

It was with some trepidation that I awaited their entry to the winner's circle. I fretted during the two-minute commercial, wondering how I might connect with these titans of the turf.

I worried needlessly. The pair cavorted with joy, slapping hands and generally laughing it up. Our discussion was brief and to the point, mainly that the Kentucky Derby was the ultimate goal, which they annexed a few months hence.

The recent death of trainer Miller brought forth accolades from all who had the privilege to know him. He liked to wonder how he got so lucky.

"I really only had two jobs in my career. One was with Charles Engelhard (owner of Nijinsky). Engelhard was known to subsist on a diet of champagne and chocolate and suffered severe gout which forced him to use a cane when in his 40s".

Upon Engelhard's premature demise, Miller was hired by Yale man Paul Mellon.
Mellon already had an Epsom Derby under his belt with Mill Reef.

The universally loved Miller could do it all, having bought some mares from the Engelhard estate and raced them to win important races with longtime partner Smiser West.

Your correspondent got into the act with the purchase of the mare Song of Syria from West who went on to produce champion Chilukki for Canadian owner Norman McAllister.

Some of the Mack Miller magic must have rubbed off again when I bought a yearling Thunder Gulch filly named Tweedside for another Canadian, Eugene Melnyk. She went on to win Grade I races. As I signed the ticket I heard Smiser tell Mack, "gee, Mack I thought we'd get more than $l00,000".