Did you know that if you raise your hand at a certain time and place, and an auctioneer yells, “Sold!”, it can totally change your life forever? That’s what happened when my husband, George, raised his hand at the Delaware County Jug Sale during fair week of 1966.
In a split second, he went from a regular guy, minding his own business, to owning a beautiful yearling filly that came with nothing but her name. Her name was “Tango Tag.”
At that moment, we didn’t own a farm, or a truck, or a trailer, or a barn or even a big bucket to use to give her a drink of water. After all, this was George’s very first racehorse he ever owned. Please don’t think he had completely lost his mind because he knew he could get a stall for her at the same place where his grandfather, Charlie Norris, trained his horses in Plain City. And then later, move it closer to home to be trained at the Morrow County Fairgrounds.
There were only 68 yearlings, to be sold as racehorses, in the State of Ohio in 1966. Tango Tag was number 64. (This year of 2016, approximately 500 yearlings, to be sold for racehorses, will be sold in Ohio.) Usually only one out of every 10 yearlings ever get to the races. Tango’s first win was at Union County Fair, and she took a lifetime record at Scioto Downs in 2:04.
I have always called George an “owner, trainer, driver, slave,” with an emphasis on slave because he has always done everything by himself. He even had to do his own shoeing after an incident when the blacksmith had shod our horse at a wrong angle, which would be equivalent to your having to walk with a child’s block under your toes.
As with a lot of horses, their names often come from the names of their sire and dam. As for Tango, her sire was “Tag Me” with her dam was “Laffango.” Tango started racing as a 2 year old, then raced again as a 3 year old, and won her first race at Marysville as a 4 year old. She also won at Scioto Downs in 2:04 in 1970. (We have the win picture to remember it by.)
As a 6 year old, Tango had to give up racing because of a stress fracture. She then became a brood mare. Her first foal was a filly we named “Georgia Kay” who would have been a very good racehorse for a long time, but she had to be put down as a 3-year-old because of a racing injury. That happening was a very big loss. Tango’s next foal was named “Sweet Georgia Kay” and she outdid her mother in that she won at Scioto Downs in 2:03.
We bought our farm back in 1973. By that time he had other horses to train. The farm had just a cow barn on the property and George made it over into a horse barn. Over a period of years, George built a racetrack, another horse barn with 22 stalls, an indoor arena, and an outdoor arena. Of course, a lot of fences had to be built with the many gates that keep the horses where they belong.
When one of our other horses became ill, our Vet was not able to treat it, so told us to take him to The Ohio State University for diagnosis. Luckily they determined what was wrong and sent the horse home with a prescription
to be filled at Revco. The amount needed was 420 pills. (2 weeks of 15 pills each every morning and night) They had to be crushed, mixed with water, put in a syringe and squirted down the horse’s throat. The pharmacist said there was a problem with that number of pills.
He asked George if he knew what the pills would cost. George said that he didn’t. He was told that the price would be $850.00. So, George asked if it came in a Generic brand. The pharmacist said, “That is the generic brand.” And, that the non-generic brand would cost $1,080. When George told him the pills were for a horse, the pharmacist said he hadn’t noticed that the prescription had come from a vet at OSU. At that time, the pharmacist said that these same pills are also taken by humans.
However while the horses will be taking 30 pills a day, the humans will be taking only 1 pill a day. For the above number of pills, humans will pay $1,080, while a bottle of 500 of the very same pills for the horses will cost only $37.50. The pharmacist told us that there are a lot of medications that are used by both humans and horses, not just the one we wrote about here. And that the difference in prices are just as high for humans and as low for animals.
Tango Tag died very unexpectedly when she was only 8 years old. She had died in the night and George found her in her stall the next morning. She is buried at our farm. In memory of her we have the big sign that was on the front of her stall door at the Jug sale when George bought her exactly 50 years ago this week. We have saved Tango Tag’s stall sign, and all of her win pictures because, after all, she was our first racehorse.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.