A Trainer’s Sound Philosophy

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Evening News/January 8, 1934

I have at last found a man who seems have the ideal philosophy of life.

He is a trainer of race horses and his name is Hirsch Jacobs. I ran into him the other day at Bill Dryer’s Tropical Park, just after he had won his 116th race of the year 1933.

The winning of this number of races makes him the champion horse trainer of these United States for the late departed 1933, and one of the all-time horse training champs of the American turf from the standpoint of number of races won. I happen to know that Hirsch Jacobs has recently been approached by a couple of rich stables that would like to have his training talent applied to their steeds.

“You ought to make a lot of money now,” I suggested.

Hirsch Jacobs smiled slightly.

“That wouldn’t interest me,” he said. “I’ve never wanted to make a lot of money. I guess I’m pretty lucky that I was born that way. A lot of money wouldn’t make me any happier than I am now. I want just enough to live on comfortably, and I’ve got that. And I’ve got my health. A lot of money wouldn’t add a thing to my life. I live it.”

He’s Perfectly Content

“I’m perfectly content to go along the way I am now,” Hirsch Jacobs continued. “To be with the horses, and to be more or less my own master, and to win a race now and then. I envy no man, and I ask nothing better than what I’ve got now. I gets lots of pleasure out of life. I’ve got many friends. The world is very pleasant. Why should I give up contentment for a lot of money?”

I could think of no answer to that, offhand, and Hirsch Jacobs went away to saddle another nag.

He is a little, pinkish looking chap who is in his early thirties but looks younger. He has an ingratiating smile and a soft voice. He trains the horses of Isidor Bieber’s B. B. Stable, this Isidor Bieber being a noted citizen of Broadway, who is perhaps better known as “Kid Bebee.”

Besides the B. B. horses, Hirsch Jacobs handles a few other gallopers for W. N. Adrian, Dr. Irving Jacobs and your correspondent. These horses are mainly of the type known as platers. That is, they are just fair horses. Nothing fancy, you understand.

In short, they are not the type of horses that you read about in the Futurity, and the Kentucky Derby, and the Preakness, and those other big stakes. Had Hirsch Jacobs been handling a big, rich stable that included horses of that type, his 116 victories would probably have established a new all-time record for money value.

Never Bets On Races

He never bets a nickel on a horse race. When the horses are going to the post, he hides in the grandstand. You don’t have to ask Hirsch Jacobs what he thinks of his horse’s chance in a race. The fact that the horse is running is his answer, for Hirsch Jacobs has to win purses to get his income.

The B. B. Stable, carrying upwards of twenty horses in training the year around, is said to be self-sustaining, and that is a rarity in racing. I mean self-sustaining on purses. Isidor Bieber, the owner of the B. B., is a plunger on occasion, but his trainer pays no attention to that phase of the racing operation.

There have been very few “century” trainers in the history of American racing—that is to say, trainers who have won 100 or more races in a single year. I believe that old Doc Bedwell, the wizard of the West, beat that figure a couple of times, while another Westerner, “Cowboy Charley” Irwin, once ran his winning mark up beyond all others.

Doc Bedwell was an ex-druggist out of Grand Junction, Colorado, and Cowboy Charley, once a great rodeo rider and roper, came from Cheyenne, Wyoming. The last time I saw him Charley could cover more ground, sitting down, than one of Ringling’s tents.

A Different Type

Now Hirsch Jacobs, the new master hand of horse training, is an entirely different type from either Bedwell or “Cowboy Charley.” He is an entirely different type from all the trainers of this era. Most of them have had long association and experience with horses before they started training.

Hirsch Jacobs is a Hebrew born and raised in Brooklyn, and he paid little attention to horses in his youth. He trained racing pigeons, a racing pigeon being a bird that is capable of long, sustained and speedy flights. The manly art of racing pigeons is unknown to those parts of the country that produced Doc Bedwell and “Cowboy Charley,” but it is quite popular in Hirsch Jacobs’ home country.

They say he uses some of the same methods in training horses that he applied to the pigeons. I am inclined to doubt that story. I imagine that Hirsch Jacobs’ success with the gallopers is due to the fact that he has a genius for training horses, as the late Tod Sloan had a genius for riding ’em, and that sort of genius is born, not acquired.

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