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With the passing of Malabar Man comes a flood of memories

Thursday, November 3, 2011  By: Frank Cotolo
of memories
Thursday, November 3, 2011 - by Frank Cotolo

You certainly know there are songs that you hear which instantly provoke a flood of memories. There are particular songs for particular individuals that bring back thoughts from various eras, igniting good and bad remembrances.

I have songs like that in my history, but I also have racehorses that launch the same emotional reaction. Malabar Man is one of those horses.

Last week, Elizabeth Lewis-House reported for Winbak Farm that Malabar Man died. He was 17. All anyone has to do is say the name Malabar Man and a host of things come to mind.

My choice in the Hambletonian Final was not Malabar Man; it was Bowling For Dollars, Trond Smedshammer’s colt. I was at the Meadowlands with my associate editor, Joe, armed with our own dollars on the nose of Trond’s colt.

Bowling For Dollars left quickly from the nine hole and took the lead for Trond. I remember watching as Bowling For Dollars and the second tier had Malabar Man locked in tight entering the stretch. Of course I also remember losing as Bowling For Dollars slowed and strayed enough for Malabar Man to close inside of him and win for owner-driver Mal Burroughs.

That brings me to Mr. Mal Burroughs. At the time of the win I wished him the best but I was not impressed, having a bad case of loser’s bias. But I got know Mal when I did an in-depth interview with him in the ill-fated TIMES: in harness magazine. This guy, a self-made man, a tough kid from the city, a survivor of heart attacks, a smart businessman that helped build the Meadowlands and Malabar Man’s true partner impressed me to no end. From then on Mal was always available for quotes, tossing opinions to me for publication with total cooperation.

And because of Mal, I became my aware of Jimmy Takter, who trained Malabar Man under the guidance of Mr. Burroughs, who was one of the best hands-on owners ever (as well as maintaining amateur driver status through the trotter’s career).

I introduced one of my sons to Mal Burroughs the year Deweycheatumnhowe won and he told me how Ray Schnittker let Malabar Man go in his Hambo as opposed to dueling early. And Trond told me that same day that Bowling For Dollars had died overseas, as well as he said he did not try to crunch Malabar Man when Bowling For Dollars had lost steam. All of the bettor’s acerbity still lingering in that loss for me was extinguished by my respect for these men as professionals.

Back to Malabar Man, I think about the World Trotting Derby heats and then that great race he won in Italy, making me a fan forever.

In 2012 Malabar Man’s last crop will be born. He was a good, not a great, sire, but that doesn’t matter. He was a part of my history as much as a part of the sport’s history and his name will forever be a song to me, keeping great memories alive.

R.I.P. Malabar Man.

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