A Classic Contribution
by JACKIE BARNES
The Triple Crown, comprising of the Kentucky Derby, winner Ruken. His broodmare sire, Royal Coinage, another
Preakness and Belmont Stakes, is one of Thoroughbred rac- speedster, sired 1960 Kentucky Derby winner Venetian Way.
ing’s greatest achievements. Just getting to Louisville the Rasmussen also noted that Longden could have a chance
first Saturday in May for the Derby is difficult enough. Win- at an “unique triple.” He could become the first to ride, train
ning it is the dream of a lifetime. It involves a multitude of and breed a Classic winner.
factors, along with a whole lot of luck. The road to Louisville, Kentucky, began with the Jan. 23
Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Longden won the 1943 San Miguel Stakes (grade III) going six furlongs at Santa
Triple Crown aboard the brilliant Count Fleet. He was also Anita Park. With Dennis Tierney up, Money Lender gained
the trainer of 1969 Kentucky Derby winner Majestic Prince. a hard-earned nose decision, despite a claim of foul by
It was at a 1970 CTBA mixed sale that Longden bought the Braulio Baeza aboard runner-up Triple Crown.
mare, Gale Velvet for $6,000 in-foal to Nashville. Early in The well-regarded Aloha Mood, owned by donut king Verne
1971 a bay colt, later named Money Lender, was born. Winchell, joined the duo for the one-mile San Jacinto Stakes
Before he made his two-year-old debut, the talented, (grade II) on March 3. This time, Triple Crown got home by
headstrong youngster showed Longden that he was a runner. a nose over Winchell’s colt, with Money Lender third.
By the end of his two-year-old season, Money Lender was Two weeks later the talented trio would battle in the 1 1/16-
not only one of the country’s best, but was being regarded as mile San Felipe Handicap (grade II). This time Aloha Mood
one of the West Coast’s leading Classic contenders. got the nod over Money Lender, while Triple Crown got the
Heading into his three-year-old season, the California- show. With the Santa Anita Derby on the horizion, “Derby
bred son of Nashville was on a three-race win streak, with Fever” was hotter than ever.
earnings of $197,975. His stakes earnings of $194,400 The 1974 edition of the Santa Anita Derby promised to be
ranked him in the top 20 leading money-winning stakes one of the most hotly contested races of the season. Meeken
performers of 1973. It put him ahead fellow Cal-breds Sandy Stable’s Agitate and Ken Opstein’s Destroyer joined the field
Blue, Royal Owl, Windy’s Daughter and Ancient Title. as eight went to post. In a brilliant display of speed and tactics,
Pedigree analyst Leon Rasmussen’s article “Classic Aspi- Destroyer, under Ismael “Milo” Valenzuela, gained a head deci-
rants” gave his insights on the crop of newly turned of sion over Aloha Mood in an 43-1 shocker. Agitate was third,
three-year-olds in 1974. Champion Protagonist, with his Money Lender fourth and Triple Crown sixth.
blue-blood pedigree, was at the top of the list. On the West Money Lender desperately needed a win in the $100,000
Coast, Money Lender was the second choice. California Derby at Golden Gate Fields for his connections to
Rasmussen pointed out that Money Lender’s dosage consider a trip to Kentucky. Longden engaged jockey Tierney
numbers tended more toward speed rather than stamina, to ride Money Lender, hoping to build on their former success.
though there were classic connections. Money Lender’s sire, Agitate, with Bill Shoemaker up, joined newcomers, Confed-
the speedy Nashville, had sired 1967 Santa Anita Derby erate Yankee and Stardust Mel.
Right from the start, Money Lender, Agitate and Star-
dust Mel dueled each other. Turning for home, Agitate took
the lead while Money Lender was beginning to tire. Long-
shot Confederate Yankee was quickly closing from behind.
At the end, Shoemaker and Agitate won by three quarters
of a length, with Confederate Yankee second. Longden’s
colt had to check in the lane and wound up third.
This put an end to Longden’s chance at winning another
Classic. Money Lender did not race the rest of the year. Agi-
tate went on to finished third in the grade I Kentucky Derby
to Cannonade, with Destroyer placing sixth.
Money Lender returned at four and campaigned to age six,
but never really captured his old magic. His final totals were
54-14-10-10 and earnings of $442,165. He was retired to stud
at El Rancho Murrieta and eventually moved to Oklahoma.
Longden trained many other outstanding performers, but none
Money Lender—Grade III San Miguel Stakes—January 23, 1974 had him dreaming of another chance at glory in a Classic.
72 CALIFORNIA THOROUGHBRED • JUNE 2008 www.ctba.com