Néstor Pinsón

"Lunático", Gardel’s horse

here were several tango singers who, being horse racing fans, had one or more thoroughbred racing horses. José Razzano was the owner of the several times winner “Montecristo”. Hugo Del Carril, in partnership with some friends of the milieu, owned a good number of horses that lived in the “Pachanela”, a stable run by the groom Pablo Ojeda. Agustín Magaldi also owned a stable: “Simpatía”. Alberto Gómez, an indefatigable fan, owned, among others, the horse “Feérico”, and so we can go on naming many more.

When Bing Crosby, a horse racing fan, arrived in Argentina in 1941 was acquainted with the groom of the well-remembered “Penny Post” and bought the mare “Blackie” who won twelve classics in Buenos Aires. Furthermore he bought other horses that he took to his country. But this data is merely anecdotical. For the people, for four years (1925-1929) and for several decades there was no other one like “Lunático”. He was a discreet exponent of his breed but his owner was no less than Carlos Gardel.

Contrarily to what many people think, “Lunático” —a brown sorrel-colored horse, born in Buenos Aires on September 25, 1922, son of “Saint Emilión” and “Golden Moon”)—, allowed his owner to win a lot of money. But the latter generously wasted it betting on other horses. I say this because “Lunático” was bought at five thousand pesos, two thousand cash and the rest according to results, and he won $ 72.450.

Carlos was in Montevideo, in 1921, and he visited the Maroñas racetrack. The swipe Francisco Maschio was working there. The latter introduced him to the jockey Irineo Leguisamo. Some years later, in 1925, he was eager to have his own horse against Maschio’s will. Lastly, at the Palermo Tattersal he succeeded in persuading him to do it and an offer for a good-looking little horse born in the “Ojo de Agua” breeding farm that was recovering from an injury sprang up. This breakdown would return every now and then in the future making him an animal irregular in his performance.

According to the connoisseur Francisco Rosende (in notes published in the Tiempo Argentino daily paper in June 1985), contrarily to what many experts think, the first Lunático’s stable was the “19 de abril”. The jacket in his early races were then orange and green with horizontal stripes, green sleeves and a green cap. Once he attained fitness, he made his debut on April 26, 1925, in a 1,200- meter distance and the rider was “Legui”. He finished third, the place bet was paid $ 5,20.

On Thursday, May 21 he again appeared for a 1,500-meter race. He was the favorite and won by a neck paying only $ 2,65. On Thursday, June 11 at the third contest for one or two-race winners he finished in second position by half a neck. A strange event was the rematch only three days later; Maschio wanted to defeat the recent winner, “Tagore”. Once again “Lunático” reached the finish line in third position, by three lengths. The effort was great and he was out of contention for over three months.

But the resting time was a good therapy, because in 1926 and in eleven competitions he finished first on five occasions and reached two second positions. For the debut that year, on May 2, he changed the jacket colors and switched to Maschio’s stable, “El Yeruá”, with the ancient gold colors and lilac-colored cap. On a 1,700-meter race he finished third and paid $ 5,10 for place bets.

On Sunday, May 23, on a muddy 1,800-meter track, always ridden by Leguisamo, won a closer win paying $ 8,65 to winner and 4,20 to place bet. On Sunday, June 6 the jockey had to run with light weight and as “Legui” was always around 60 kilos, for the first time, the rider was changed. For this contention the choice was Justino Batista from Rosario. It was a muddy 2,800-meter track. And again a victory that paid $ 5,65 and 4,15. On Sunday, June 20, again Irineo and an easy win on a 3,000-meter race. This time $ 4,75 for winner and $ 2,90 for place bet. One-month rest and back to the track on Sunday, July 18 with eleven-kilo handicap returns to victory paying $ 4,85 and $ 3,55, respectively. His last race of the year was on November 11 with only four contending animals and “Lunático” finished in the last position, by six lengths and a half. He was fatigued.

In 1927 the demand was great and the consequences too. He was in no less than 18 races. However, he reached four victories, two second positions and four third positions, with other riders besides Leguisamo: Félix T. Rodríguez, José Canal, Emilio Ruiz, Carlos Ferragut and Pedro Costa.

The big happiness was his first race that year, Sunday, February 20, 2,800-meter distance, only five contestants. “Lunático” was one with the least bets. They say that Leguisamo was inspired and won by 3/4 lengths achieving his best time for that distance. The payoff: $ 31,70 to winner and $ 10,65 to place bets. Wow! On Sunday, December 25 the last triumph for Gardel’s horse came. It was on a 2,800-meter track, the “Pulpo” (Octopus) was the rider. There were only four horses entered. He paid $ 6,95.

In 1928 he was entered for only one contention and was defeated by the winner, his only rival. After nearly a year out of the races, he was taken to Maroñas, Uruguay. Maybe to avoid being noticed by the Palermo audience. Finally, they decided that the last race had to be run at the Hipódromo Argentino of Palermo. It was on May 9, 1929 with Leguisamo as rider on a 2,200-meter distance but he finished in third position.

His total performance were 36 races, only one outside Palermo. He won 10. He was second in 6. Third in 8. Fourth in 6. Fifth in 1. And he was no place in 5.

He became a sire, but none of his offspring was outstanding: “Reviro” and the mare “Mala entraña”.

There was a strange symbiosis between Gardel, his following and the heroic little horse. Surely if Carlos had not bought that horse, the latter’s career would have been shorter and, possibly, not well-remembered. I guess that the horse knew about his owner’s quality and he did not want to let him down. He did his best despite he was not born with a crack’s blood. I also daydream that Gardel’s halo helped him.

The singer owned other horses that were not profitable: “La pastora”, “Amargura”, “Cancionero”, “Theresa”, “Explotó”, “Mocoroa” and “Guitarrista”, but the only one he cared for was “Lunático”.
In 1935 a movie starring Carlos Gardel was to be shot in Buenos Aires which, regretfully because of his death, had to change its main actor. He was replaced by Juan Carlos Thorry and, possibly, the original script was altered. And as money rules the world, to take advantage of the “publicity” of his tragic death it was quickly shot and premiered just forty days after the accident in Medellín. A forgettable motion picture that only is worthwhile mentioning because in its title is the recognition to the protagonist of this story: “The people’s horse”, certainly: “Lunático”.