The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 291
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his money, on a horse named Silky Sullivan who had built a
reputation for coming from behind in the stretch. (He finished
twelfth.) There was an almost too pat appropriateness about
reading a biography of Steel Dust on the afternoon of the Derby,
but that did not keep me from having one of the most pleasant
reading hours in some time.
According to the geologists, men followed horses onto this
planet by about two million years. Men have been following
horses somewhere ever since. In this book Wayne Gard is follow-
ing a Quarter Horse that was probably as widely known in the
Republic of Texas as Sam Houston and better known than the
more successful merchants. Even in a poor Republic thousands
of dollars would change hands as the result of a few seconds'
sprint by Steel Dust. I have no idea how many millions changed
hands this Saturday afternoon of the Kentucky Derby, but ap-
parently there was no hint of an economic recession around
Churchill Downs. Horse racing is a social institution that has
been with us since the Greeks. Evidently it will remain, despite
the active opposition of reformers and the passive opposition of
the legion of people who do not care.
Actually, Gard's handsome little book sifts the story of three
horses--Steel Dust, Shiloh, and Sam Bass's fabled Denton Mare.
Steel Dust came to Texas in 1844; Shiloh followed right behind.
Steel Dust raced against horses owned by Texans and Indians.
On a quarter track he was virtually unbeatable, even when he
reached his teens. His only rival was Shiloh, and the race of the
century was supposed to be the meeting between these two.
Texans from all over dropped what they were doing to get up
to Dallas to see the match. Even the saloons closed.
If it were supposed to be the race of the century, it turned
into the anti-climax, for Steel Dust never came out of his pole-
chute. He tried to leap the wall, drove a splinter into his shoulder,
and fell to his knees, crippled. Shortly after, he was blind.
But blindness opened a new and even more fabulous career
for Steel Dust, for every farmer with a mare wanted to breed
her to the former champion. The result has been that down to
1958 every Quarter Horse fancier will pay a little higher price if
the seller can prove the horse he is offering has Steel Dust blood
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/336/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.