01/04/2012 1:09PM

Hovdey: Golden year for a legend


Here’s a peek at the Lazy Guy’s Guide for writing a column – newspaper, blog or beach sand at low tide. All forms of media apply:

Step one: Check date.

Step two: Count backwards 50 years.

Step three: Assemble a list of events on which to hang “Golden Anniversary” attention.

Step four: Write quickly so as not to interrupt monitoring Twitter account.

There are plenty of mainstream headlines made 50 years ago, making 1962 a target rich environment. Right off the top you’ve got:

◗ President Kennedy’s naval blockade of Cuba over the presence of Soviet missiles.

◗ James Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi with the help of 13,000 federal troops.

◗ Pat Brown’s knockout of Richard Nixon in the California gubernatorial election.

◗ Sonny Liston’s knockout of Floyd Patterson for the world heavyweight title.

◗ Rachel Carlson’s publication of “The Silent Spring,” an ecological manifesto.

◗ Jackie Robinson’s induction as the first African-American in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Elsewhere on the 1962 time line, Thurgood Marshall, Johnny Carson, Walter Cronkite, and Ringo Starr began their long runs with, respectively, the Supreme Court, “The Tonight Show,” “The CBS Evening News” and the Beatles. The first of many Wal-Marts and Taco Bells were established.

There was a pile of significant mortality, as well, both going and coming. Among the births in 1962 were those of Jon Bon Jovi, MC Hammer, Matthew Broderick, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, and the Rolling Stones. The deaths included comedian Ernie Kovacs, boxer Benny Paret, mobster Lucky Luciano, and Eleanor Roosevelt, first among First Ladies.

Robert Zimmerman changed his last name to Dylan. Errol Garner played “Misty,” Tony Bennett crooned “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and the Beach Boys released the album “Surfin’ Safari.” On Broadway, they lined up for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” On TV it was “The Beverly Hillbillies.“ At the movies, Americans were watching “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Dr. No,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Advise and Consent,” “Lonely Are the Brave,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “How the West Was Won.”

On Aug. 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead from a drug overdose.

In 1962, the world of horse racing was a simple place. The hallmarks of the first six months of the year included a 3-year-old division spread among several colts who were good, but hardly great. The best of the races were the raucous Preakness, in which Greek Money and John Rotz outwrestled Ridan and Manny Ycaza, and a grand Travers, featuring a ride for the ages by Bill Shoemaker on Jaipur to defeat the stubborn Ridan.

The filly Cicada was the real workhorse of the generation, with 17 starts in 1962 and nine victories, including the Kentucky Oaks, the Acorn, and the Mother Goose. Cicada was beaten a nose by Ridan in the Florida Derby. Among the older mares she defeated in the 1962 Beldame was Primonetta, whose 7-for-10 record was good enough for a championship of her own.

Though memorable, none of those events calls for a gala kind of 50th celebration. Save the noisemakers for the real star of the 1962 season – Bohemia Stable’s Kelso, trained by Carl Hanford.

Before Kelso came along, only Challedon (1939-40) and Whirlaway (1941-42) had been able to fashion back-to-back Horse of the Year seasons. (Challedon did it by winning 14 of 22 starts over the two years, while Whirlaway won 25 of 42 starts in his championship campaigns.)

In 1962, Kelso won 6 of 12 starts. Circle these dates for golden reflections . . . and possible columns:

July 14, 1962: In a battle of giants, Kelso carries 130 pounds and splits Carry Back (124) and Beau Purple (117) in the greatest Monmouth Park Handicap ever run.

Sept. 19, 1962: Milo Valenzuela partners Kelso to the first of their 19 stakes wins together with a comfy score in the 10-furlong Stymie Handicap at Aqueduct.

Sept. 29, 1962: Kelso mops up on the younger Jaipur in the Woodward Stakes at Aqueduct, winning by 4 1/2 lengths over damp ground.

Oct. 20, 1962: Kelso becomes the first horse to win three straight Jockey Club Gold Cups, defeating Citation’s son Guadalcanal by 10 lengths at Belmont Park in a world’s record 3:19.80 for the two miles.

Nov. 12, 1962: In his second attempt to win the Washington, D.C. International at Laurel, Kelso finishes second again, this time to the French superstar Match II, ridden by Yves Saint-Martin. Carry Back finishes third.

Dec. 1, 1962: Competing deeper into the calendar than ever before, Kelso wins a race tailor-made for his talents, the mile and one-half Governor’s Plate Handicap over the main track at Garden State Park. Kelly wins by five to wrap up an unprecedented third straight Horse of the Year award.

In truth, a writer could make a cottage industry out of Kelso’s golden anniversary moments, which is why this one can’t wait for 2013. Wait’ll you get a load of what he did in 1963.