American Racehorse - January/February 2016

Page 42


Courtesy Cross Gate Gallery

remembering a texas

This pastel of Triple Crown winner Assault sold more for than $5,000 at a recent art auction at Keeneland.

Texas-bred Assault still attracts attention more than 70 years after his birth

By Annie Johnson

A portrait of Hall of Fame champion Assault (1943–1971), the only Texas-bred Triple Crown winner, was one of 174 works of art up for bid at the 2015 Sporting Art Auction held at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, in November. This was the third sale conducted by the partnership of Keeneland and Lexington’s Cross Gate Gallery as a way to fill the gap for an auction focused on the genre of sporting art. The 16” x 20” pastel, inscribed on the original mat as “Assault, by Bold Venture out of Igual by Equipoise,” was painted by Milton Menasco (1874–1974) and sold for $5,175. That price didn’t approach the sale-topping figure of $207,000 for artist Sir Alfred Munnings’ signed painting Lord Astor’s Broodmare and Foal but still sold for a significant price in the prestigious auction that netted more than $2.5 million in total sales. Owned and bred by Robert Kleberg Jr.’s King Ranch, Assault lived up to his threatening name on the racetrack, but the Thoroughbred also known as the “Texas Terror” was an unlikely hero. Not only did he stand just 15.2 hands high and weigh less than 1,000 pounds, but as a foal the “Little Chocolate Galloper” also split his right front foot by stepping on a surveyor’s spike in his King Ranch pasture—a devastating injury that could have been fatal, not just career-ending. Despite his deformed hoof, the tenacious colt was put into training under Hall of Famer Max Hirsch, and the “Club-Footed Comet” amassed two wins, two seconds and one third in nine starts during his 2-year-old year, including his victory in the Flash Stakes at Belmont Park at odds of 70-1. In the spring of his 3-year-old year, Assault won his first two races including the Wood Memorial, but a fourth-place finish in the Derby Trial the week following—one week prior to the


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