12/15/2011 4:03PM

The Lou Lepper Christmas cards: 1943


1943 Christmas cardMy horses, Appealing and Song o’ War,
Are joined this year by America Fore
To send to you for forty-four
The same old wishes I sent before.
                           Lou Lepper


Hello everybody…remember me? I’m your old friend, America Fore. I first met you at Christmastime in 1939 – Lou had our family picture on his card that year. The next year he had my brother, Song o’ War, and me to show you how we looked when we were promising boys. That was the year he asked you to name us and I sure thank you for the fine one I carry. He had great hopes for us in those days…we were going to win the Futurity as two-year-olds, the Kentucky Derby as three-year-olds, and so on. Confidentially, he even had us measured for the floral horseshoes.

Well, things didn’t work out just as planned. My brother, always an adventurous character, left home to seek further laurels in new settings, and I turned out to be a “problem child.” By the dawn’s early light, with an exercise boy on my back, I could outrun my shadow. But when they tried to race me before all the people I’d break out in a cold sweat, as nervous as a small boy about to speak his first piece in school. I was afraid of everything and I hated everything, even food. 

Then one day I said to myself, “This isn’t any way to treat Lou Lepper. He’s got a big investment in you, not so much in money but in real affection and faith. Pull yourself together, America Fore…remember your granddaddy, Man o’ War, your daddy, Hard Tack, and your mother’s daddy, Mad Hatter, and all the other great horses among your forebears.”

So I took stock of myself and decided that long-distance racing was my forte. I went to work hard on that and I hope that I have done something to make Lou proud of me and to pay him back for all the oats he has lavished on me. Lou says that he thinks I can beat anything on four legs at any distance from a mile and one-half up. I think so, too, only I insist on a dry track. There must be some cat blood in me, because I sure hate the dampness under foot. If Lou wants me to run in the mud, he’ll have to buy me some rubber boots and, what with things like that rationed, it might take him years to get enough points for two pairs of boots.

I felt so good about my transformation into a real racehorse that one day last October I stepped a mile and three-quarters in 3:02 1-5 at the Hawthorne track in Chicago. That’s the track record…not bad for a guy that people used to say would look better in a glue pot than under a saddle.

That’s my picture, snapped at the finish of my recording-breaking run at Hawthorne. I must have thought that 1943 instead of 1944 was Leap Year, because I’m leaping across the line with all four feet in the air. I really was in a hurry to get to my supper, because with my newfound confidence and courage has come an appetite that threatens to bankrupt Lou.

It’s mighty nice to be here again after two years in the dog house, and I mean “dog” house, too, for that’s what they used to call me until I decided to be worthy of my breeding.
                                                    AMERICA FORE

(America Fore (1939 by Hard Tack - Murmuring), raced 87 times ages 2-8, won 5, with 8 seconds, and 8 thirds, and earnings of $8,165.)

The Lou Lepper Christmas cards

Click images for a closer look at each card and to read Lepper's Christmas messages. All Christmas card images by Barbara D. Livingston from her collection.

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