When Ken Rabat saw a 2-year-old colt named Fast Forward running in New York last fall, he did a double-take. In the 1970s, Rabat owned a cheap, sore-legged horse named Fast Forward.
"He was the third horse I ever owned," said Rabat, who lives in New Jersey.
The Jockey Club in New York, which must approve the names of all thoroughbreds, has a long list of rules that apply. For example, a name that has already been used cannot be used again for 10 years after the original horse has last raced, or for 10 years after the horse's stud career has ended.
The original Fast Forward died toward the end of 1980, after breaking down as a 7-year-old in a race at Charles Town, W. Va. So how can there be another Fast Forward on the track so soon?
It's because the first Fast Forward was a gelding and the Jockey Club makes an exception for castrated horses. Five years after a gelding dies, his name may be used again. The current Fast Forward was customarily named as a yearling, in 1985, and the name was submitted just after the Jockey Club's time restriction on the first horse expired.
The rule about geldings doesn't mean, however, that someone could eventually come along and name another horse John Henry. That name--and the names of other prominent horses--are perpetually protected by Jockey Club rules that prohibit the re-use of names of horses that were a horse of the year, a divisional champion or an earner of $750,000 or more. John Henry's name is safe under all three conditions.
Other than the same name, there's no comparison between this Fast Forward and the one that raced for Ken Rabat.
The Fast Forward who's now a 3-year-old was bought as a yearling by Gene Klein for $610,000. He's a son of Pleasant Colony, winner of the 1981 Kentucky Derby, and he has the same dam--Just One More Time--as Lucky Lucky Lucky, who won the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs the day before the Derby in 1984.
Rabat's Fast Forward was bought at auction in Maryland. Rabat doesn't remember how much he paid, but he knows it was under $5,000.
"In those days, you could buy a horse for around $5,000 and still hope to do something with him," he said.
A former racing telecaster in New York, Rabat does voice-overs for television commercials, which is how he came to name Fast Forward, after the fast-forwarding he must frequently do with video cassettes.
Fast Forward, who ran most of his career in Pennsylvania, was one of Rabat's favorite horses. He lost him briefly in a claiming race for $9,000, then claimed him back for $3,500.
Fast Forward earned $40,000 before he had to be destroyed on the track in West Virginia. "The way he was running that night before he got hurt, he would have won the race by 10 lengths," Rabat said. "That was a sad night. I'm glad my wife wasn't there to see it."
Gene Klein's Fast Forward will be running Saturday at Hot Springs' Oaklawn Park in the Rebel Stakes, a $100,000 race that his cheaply bred predecessor was never good enough to qualify for. Vicariously, Ken Rabat will have a rooting interest.
Speaking of names, a harness horse named Phar Lap raced at the Meadowlands in New Jersey the other night. There's no crossover check between standardbreds and thoroughbreds when it comes to re-using names of famous horses.
In a surprising development, Pat Day has agreed to ride Capote when last year's champion 2-year-old colt makes his 3-year-old debut in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct April 4.
Day, who rides a lot of horses for Capote's trainer, Wayne Lukas, including Lady's Secret, 1986 Horse of the Year, had been listed as a possibility for Capote, but it seemed that he had commitments that would conflict with Lukas' plans for his colt.
The mount on Capote opened when Laffit Pincay, his rider last year, chose to ride Masterful Advocate in the Santa Anita Derby, which is the same day as the Gotham.
Day said the other day that he was committed to ride Demons Begone at Oaklawn Park in both the Rebel this Saturday and Arkansas Derby April 18. Capote's next start after the Gotham was expected to be the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on the same day as the Arkansas Derby. Lukas said he wanted a jockey who would stay with Capote through the Kentucky Derby.
Right now, Day doesn't appear to be in a position to satisfy that prerequisite.
With Day riding Capote in the Gotham, the mount has also opened on Alysheba in the Santa Anita Derby. Day rode Alysheba to his second-place finish behind Chart The Stars in last Sunday's San Felipe Handicap.
Lukas, who will supplement undefeated Lookinforthebigone for the Santa Anita Derby at a cost of $20,000, has named Gary Stevens to ride that colt.
Capote, meanwhile, worked six furlongs Tuesday at Hollywood Park in a slow 1:15.
"The time wasn't important, because the track was drying out and was dead," Lukas said. "He got more out of the work than if the track had been quick."
Capote is scheduled to work one more time at Hollywood before he's flown to New York just a few days before the Gotham.