It’s not hyperbole to call cartoonist Pierre Bellocq a legend. Since he arrived in the U.S. from his native France in the mid-fifties he spent the next 50-plus years making readers of the old Morning Telegraph and the Daily Racing Form laugh. His cartoons were always creative, witty, thought-provoking and, most importantly, fun. Now 96, Peb lives in Princeton, New Jersey and, if you ask him to do so, he’ll crank out a cartoon that is every bit as good as anything he’s ever done. We brought in Peb and his son, Remi, who does a weekly cartoon for the TDN to join us this week on the TDN Writers’ Room podcast presented by Keeneland. They were this week’s Green Group Guests of the Week.
Peb explained how it all began for him, back when he was a young boy in France.
“I always tried to copy from the newspapers,” he said. “When I was a kid I was copying cartoons and it was my ambition to draw. I made albums of a caricature of politicians. I have albums full of those things. I had a great passion for that.”
Because his father was a head lad for a French stable, Bellocq was also interested in racing and capturing the sport through his cartoons. In 1954, John D. Schapiro became aware of Peb’s work and brought him in from France to do the art work for the inaugural running of the Washington D.C. International, which would lead to a job with the Morning Telegraph. His accommodations on that first trip over weren’t necessarily first class.
“They invited me to come to America, but they were wondering how they could bring me here,” he said. “I found that a friend of mine was putting together a plane in Chicago with four horses that were coming for the Washington, DC International. So, they said, if you want, you can take advantage of that. So I went on as cargo. I was sitting on the hay in cargo with the horses. This is how I came to America. It was absolutely wonderful. And as you know, I ended up here for good.”
At one point in his career, Peb was also doing political cartoons for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Walter Annenberg owned both the Inquirer and the Form. But he sold the Inquirer and the new owners told Peb he had to make a choice, racing cartoons or political cartoons. He chose racing.
“The paper soon got sold from Annenberg to Knight Ridder,” Remi Bellocq said. “He had to make a decision to go for one or the other. I want to point out that had my father decided to stay with the Philadelphia Inquirer, with Knight Ridder, he’d probably have a wall full of Pulitzers at this point. A lot of other cartoonists have said so. That might have been the loss of the political world, but our gain certainly in horse racing.”
The segment also included a contest between the two Bellocqs. Each was asked to draw a cartoon about the 50th anniversary of Secretariat winning the Triple Crown. The two cartoons are shown during the podcast and viewers were invited to vote for their favorite. A random drawing will be held among those voting for the winning cartoon and that person will win the original cartoon. To do so, friend Remi Bellocq on Twitter at @BellocqRemi. On his Twitter page, you can then cast your vote.
Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by Coolmore,https://lanesend.com/ the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, 1/ST Racing, WinStar Farm, XBTV, Lane’s End, Three Chimneys and West Point Thoroughbreds, podcast regulars Zoe Cadman, Randy Moss and Bill Finley took a look at the GI Preakness S. The consensus was that Mage (Good Magic) will be tough to beat but that he’s no lock. With Mage being the only Derby starter to return for the Preakness, the subject of changing the spacing of the Triple Crown races produced a lively debate, with all three arguing that the time has come to make some necessary adjustments and improvements. The reports that Forte (Violence) tested positive following his win in last year’s GI Hopeful S. brought about strong condemnation of the New York Times for sensationalizing the story and using the word “doping” in the headline. And everybody was left scratching their heads over the fact that it took more than eight months before the matter was made public.
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