10/15/2009 11:00PM

'Peb' has his day at donation fete


LEXINGTON, Ky. - It would be impossible to predict the number of grins and awed expressions that will be made possible by what Keeneland and the Daily Racing Form started Thursday. The thousands of works of art by the legendary artist Peb have been turned over to the Keeneland Library, where racing fans of past, current, and future generations will be able fully to appreciate their genius.

Keeneland's president, Nick Nicholson, did a terrific job Thursday in trying to capture the scope of what Pierre "Peb" Bellocq and the Form perpetrated by donating some 4,000 cartoons and caricatures to the library, where tens of thousands of books, films, and other racing-related mementos already had made it one of the great treasure troves of American racing.

Nicholson, speaking to about 100 guests at a private reception Thursday evening at the library, said Peb had "amused, entertained, and educated us - and he sometimes even pulled us up to stop and think when something was wrong," said Nicholson. "His contributions to racing are immeasurable, and we are deeply honored to be the keepers of the body of work that define the greatest artist in racing history."

Bellocq, 82, spoke briefly and in touching fashion at the reception, ending with a humorous story about how he worked for about three years as a political cartoonist in the infancy of Sports Illustrated in 1954 before coming on full-time at the Form (then The Morning Telegraph) shortly thereafter.

"Baseball?" Bellocq, a native of France, asked quizzically. "What did I know about baseball? American football? I was very happy to get back to the horses."

Besides his thousands of cartoons in the Form, which still publishes his work on major racedays, Peb also has drawn or painted numerous other artworks famous in the racing world, including murals of Kentucky Derby-winning jockeys and trainers at Churchill Downs.

Robertson keeps rolling

Hugh Robertson and his son, Mac, are having the best year of their combined careers, having already accounted for 142 wins and nearly $3 million in earnings between them. That success certainly has manifested itself through the early days of the Keeneland fall meet, with Hugh winning with 4 of his first 6 starters.

"We've won a couple photos that could've gone the other way," said Robertson. "You've always got to have some luck to do good in this game."

Horseplayers should be aware that a couple of the Hugh Robertson winners already have returned nice mutuels. He said he brought 24 horses to Keeneland "all ready to run" while leaving the rest at Hawthorne in Chicago, where Mac, the perennial leading trainer in recent years at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, currently has his main string of horses, including Win Willy. By early November, the elder Robertson will move on to Churchill Downs, then briefly to Hawthorne, then for the winter to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, where Mac also will have his best horses.

These were the first four winners at Keeneland for Hugh Robertson: Grizzled Robert, $25; Trying Brian, $4.40; Taco Don, $13.20; and Internalaccounting, $17. He has two horses in Sunday: Popsicle Toes in the second and Radical Fringe in the fifth.

Robertson is one of several trainers with a hot hand early in this meet. Into Friday, Rusty Arnold had 3 wins and 3 seconds from 9 starts, while Ken McPeek had 6 wins and 9 more in-money finishes from 28 starts, all meet highs.

Keeneland show named best again

For the third time in the last seven years, Keeneland has been named the winner of the annual Simulcast Award for top simulcast production in the North American industry. The award was made earlier this week at the 17th annual International Simulcasting Conference hosted by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations and Harness Tracks of America in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Entries for the Simulcast Award can be up to 30 minutes in length and must include one complete race presentation. G.D. Hieronymus, director of broadcast services, is primarily responsible for the simulcast product at Keeneland, which previously won the award in 2003 and 2008.

"This award represents a great deal of teamwork," said Hieronymus.

Last year, Keeneland became the first North American track to begin using a high-definition format for its closed-circuit race coverage and outgoing simulcast signal.

* The Thursday pick six ticket worth $169,315 was sold through the Royal River Racing wagering hub in Flandreau, S.D., according to Keeneland mutuels officials. The $2 ticket was the only winner sold after the pick six had gone unhit the four previous days.