Mr. McMillen Masters Proper Care and Feeding of Damon Runyon

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Evening News/June 27, 1925

“What has become of  that noble race horse, Damon Runyon, that you wrote of before the Kentucky Derby? Have they shipped it to the glue works, or what?”

The writer will overlook the veiled insinuation contained in the last sentence and divulge the most recent information at hand concerning the whereabouts of a much maligned steed.

Damon Runyon has parted company with his breeder and former owner, Mr. John E. Madden, and is now with Mr. J. McMillen, of Cleveland, Ohio. Damon Runyon is getting ready to win many horse races for Mr. McMilllen, who has discovered what is, or rather what was, the matter with him.

This was more than Mr. John E. Madden could learn. Mr. Madden never did really understand Damon Runyon. The gallant equine won few races in Mr. Madden’s colors, but at all times it was apparent that Damon Runyon wasn’t entirely content. 

Something was wrong somewhere.

It remained for Mr. McMillen to ascertain the trouble.

A confidential report has reached the writer from Cleveland, signed by Mr. Danny Winkler, formerly of New York, but now associated with Mr. McMillen. 

He writes that Mr. McMillen in building a million-dollar race track near Cleveland, which opens on July 18, and is to be known as Thistle Down. He adds the information that Damon Runyon is in secret training, has reached the pink of condition and will have few excuses.

Now then, Mr. Winkler doesn’t so state, but the inference is plain that Mr. McMillen is building the race track for Damon Runyon. 

No doubt Mr. McMillen made a close study of the races Damon Runyon didn’t win for John E. Madden, and having numerous opportunities for this study, discovered exactly what the writer suspected all the time, to wit, that the race tracks on which he was running didn’t suit Damon Runyon.

The writer long ago made up his mind from observation at a distance of Damon Runyon’s races that there was something wrong with those tracks. An analysis of Damon Runyon’s time showed him the trouble. The tracks were too long. There were evidently too many furlongs to a mile. 

What Damon Runyon undoubtedly needed to show his mettle, the writer concluded, was a track that had no more than two furlongs to the mile.

On a two-furlong track the writer felt Damon Runyon would be absolutely unbeatable, if properly trained, and not raced too often. 

That is very likely Mr. J. McMillen’s thought in building the track for Damon Runyon. He will probably have everything arranged to the liking of the gallant animal; and thus will get great results. 

It is with no intention of giving a device to a horseman of Mr. McMillen’s standing and acumen, but the writer is convinced that too much care cannot be lavished on Damon Runyon’s material comforts. 

That is where Mr. Madden also erred in addition to racing him on tracks on which the miles were too long. Mr. Madden fed Damon Runyon only oats, hay, carrots, and a little sugar. A hard-bitten old horseman, Mr. Madden thought Damon’ Runyon was just about like any other race horse. He discovered his error when he raced Damon Runyon.

If he is anything like his namesake, and some of his racing convinces the writer that he is, Damon Runyon is the kind of horse that you must cater to. He must have the very best the market affords, and plenty of service, including hot and cold running water, and a little night life now and then to break up the monotony of things. 

Damon Runyon is now three years old, and he knows what’s what. 

It was just as well that Mr. Madden didn’t send him down to Kentucky to win the Derby, after all. At that time Damon Runyon probably was so disgusted by Mr. Madden’s insistence on him racing on those tracks with the long miles, that he wouldn’t have won the Derby. Not for Mr. Madden, anyway. 

The price against Damon Runyon in the future books, if you remember, was 500 to 1. The writer backed this price down to 450 to 1 with a sentimental wager of two dollars. George Meyers, the song writer, hurled a five-dollar note at the bookmakers, and the price dropped to 200 to 1. 

Four dollars more would have sent Damon Runyon to the post a hot favorite. If they have any two furlong Derbies around you can get out the family jewels.

Mr. McMillan once owned a horse named Flintstone, and Flintstone fell in the stretch while racing well in front in the Dixie Derby last year, and had to be destroyed.

Mr. McMillen thought so much of Flintstone that he is having a huge bronze statue of the horse made which is to stand at the gates of Thistle Down, Mr. Winkler says.

The writer hopes and trusts that Mr. McMillen will leave space for the erection of another statue in the near future for the perpetuation in bronze, or brass, or whatever other substance may be handiest, of the name and racing glory of Damon Runyon. 

Once that horse gets to going on his own two-furlong track, the turf world will forget that Man o’ War ever lived.

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