Who was the quirkiest horse at the Pimlico Race Course meet?
Quite possibly, Mr. Moby Dick.
The 3-year-old gelding, owned, trained and bred by Barbara Kees, is the kind of steady, talented young runner that every horseman would like to have in his barn.
He won two of his first three starts at Pimlico and earned $21,900.
But he also developed a post-race peculiarity. He collapses after the finish or in the winner's circle "sort of like James Brown used to do on stage after a concert," someone recently said.
"The veterinarians call it heatstroke. But I'm not sure what it is, because the first time he did it, it wasn't hot," Kees said. "He throws himself down and convulses like a fish."
After Mr. Moby Dick won at Pimlico on June 7, he lay on the track for 20 minutes. "People actually started clapping when he got up, and that sent him into more convulsions," Kees recalled.
Now, the longtime owner-trainer is apprehensive about running him Thursday on the opening-day card at Laurel Race Course.
"I'm going to enter him, but if it's too hot and muggy, I'll probably scratch. It's almost to the point where I hate to run him," Kees said.
Local veterinarians have checked out the horse's heart and his electrolyte count, "and everything is fine," Kees added. "This is something he doesn't do in training." As an added precaution, she contacted renowned veterinarian Alex Harthill.
"He told me I have to get his thermostat working," Kees said. She has been treating the horse with some medication that Harthill prescribed.
Other than the strange behavior of her best runner, Kees is coming off the best meet of her 40-year career.
Her stable of a dozen runners, which she largely owns herself, finished on the board nearly 60 percent of the time at Pimlico and earned more than $50,000.
Kees bases her operation at her 103-acre Road's End Farm in Sparks. She and her daughter, Sherry, do all the work with the help of one hired man.
Sherry gallops the horses on their half-mile stone dust track, and they also exercise them on a treadmill. Kees prefers to raise her own horses and has young stock coming along by such stallions as Norquestor, Allen's Prospect and Shelter Half.
Kees, who was raised in Chappaqua, N.Y., has been a lifelong horsewoman, "ever since my father, an investment banker, bought me my first horse when I was 16. He then gave me $15 a month to feed and shoe it."
Even though she wanted a career with horses, her parents insisted she attend college. "But I dropped out of Sweet Briar after six months and have been involved with horses, either in the show ring or the racetrack, ever since."
NOTES: Andrea Seefeldt had quite a weekend. She won the Nick Shuk Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park on Saturday with Older But Smarter, a 3-year-old trained by her brother Paul. Then at Pimlico yesterday, she rode three winners -- Harrys Shrew, Reprimand and Cinnamon Itch. . . . A colt sired by Garthorn and owned by Bob Manfuso was named Grand Champion of the Maryland Horse Breeders' Association annual yearling show yesterday. Manfuso also showed the reserve grand champion, a filly sired by Well Decorated, which he owns in partnership with Katy Voss. A total of 126 yearlings were entered in the show.