At the core of long-distance, or book, writing there is stubborn determination fueled by an
innate curiosity. Hence, when I could find no information on Nearctic at Windfields, I phoned Bill Talon, editor of the Daily Racing Form, and asked to use their library. Nearctic raced from 1956 to 1959. Life before the internet. Instead, copies of the “Form” were bound into giant books each weighing at least 20 pounds.
It wasn’t long before I was lured into a maze of questionable events and circumstances. I also began to suspect why great chunks of the story had vanished. My interest peaked, I ended up going through every Daily Racing Form of the 4 year period Nearctic raced. Because of the bulk of the bound editions, and the fragile condition of the paper, I could not photocopy anything. Instead I made notes of every mention of Nearctic: performance charts and articles. While I didn’t know it at the time, these notes, ultimately, would form the skeleton of Dark Horse.
Still, I didn’t plan on writing yet another book.
I had been writing my Supreme column for Weekly Gallop for several years. Despite the pressure of having to file a story once a week, 52 weeks of the year, and the intricacies of writing for translation to Japanese, I quite enjoyed the assignment. I particularly liked working with my translator, Jiro Ohara.
Then one gloomy day, our editor-in-chief, Kunio Serizawa, was removed from his position at the helm of Weekly Gallop. Members of his team, myself included, were considered collateral damage.
When this occurred Canada’s Nijinsky had been the subject of my column. Tall, elegant, he bore no resemblance to his sire, Northern Dancer. Instead, I began to realize that he reflected his grand-sire, Nearctic: the horse no-one seemed to know much about. Or, as I would discover, did not wish to talk about.
I was the self-appointed president of the Nijinsky fan club. When he raced I was at the helm of Canadian Horse, the country’s Thoroughbred magazine, and I followed Nijinsky’s every hoof print with uncommon devotion. So when the Weekly Gallop assignment came to an end, I thought I’d look more closely at his grand-sire, Nearctic.
I still did not consider writing yet another book…. to be continued