The Horse That Changed My Life: Bob Marks
by Bob Marks
There I was in Florida — Miami Beach to be exact — writing condo ads and brochures for such lavish developments as Humidity Havens, when the back page of the New York Daily News shows a horse named Most Happy Fella winning something called the Ed Sullivan Pace at Yonkers Raceway.
The year was 1970 and I had taken the bride — with Michele in-utero — back to her place of birth as she as totally miserable in the Rego Park section of Forest Hills, Queens.
I wasn’t all that happy there myself, but it was closer to Yonkers than Long Beach was and maybe just a tad more to Roosevelt.
Then it dawned on me that this lookalike son of my all time favorite horse Meadow Skipper was poised to rampage through the three-year-old pacing division much the same as his father did in 1963 and I wouldn’t be there to see it.
One call to Sid Posner of Newmark Posner and Mitchell changed all that and I had a job waiting for me back in New York.
In addition, the bride was no happier in Florida than she was in Queens, so back we headed —pulling a trailer no less — this time to Long Beach Long Island.
Soon it was time for The Commodore at Roosevelt, the official coming out party for Meadow Skipper some seven years prior. This time son Most Happy Fella would be pitted against Columbia George and Truluck and it would be the first time I’d see him in the flesh.
As it was, he left — though not well but still far better than his sire could — only to tuck third down the backstretch while Columbia George as was customary set the pace.
Most Happy Fella pulled again at the half, but couldn’t dent George’s two-length victory margin. Though, in time honored handicapping principles, a reversal of trips could have meant a reversal in finishes.
Thus to my eyes, he was a serious contender.
I didn’t see Most Happy Fella again until the Cane at Yonkers in late summer and most likely inhabited the same seat section that I did for the ‘63 Cane in which Meadow Skipper astounded the harness world by beating the thought-to-be invincible Overtrick.
At Yonkers, I always tried to watch major races from either section six or seven.
As is history, Most Happy Fella made two moves to the lead before yielding to Columbia George’s bull rush approaching the half. Those two drew away from the rest of the field, but hardly in the manner that Skip and Overtrick did back then. Those two actually opened a near 10-length lead on the rest of their field while George and Hap had maybe a length and a half.
Around the turn, I’m flashing back to Skip in front with Trick valiantly trying to overtake as Hap has pulled to challenge George in what will be his third move.
Into the stretch, Hap was going by much as Skip was holding sway and in the moment I had waited for in the cheering frenzy of well over 30,000 spectators, I almost called him Skip!
Days later in the Times Square subway shuttle, the Miriam McKeeba classic flashed through my head, though the lyrics were changed to: “I have seen me a horse like his daddy was. I have seen me a horse.”
It’s all history from there.