On this opening day of Santa Anita Park’s 2012 winter meet, we remember Jack Klugman who passed away on December 24, 2012 at age 90. We met Jack Klugman at Santa Anita Park. Kentucky Derby Tours regular and horse owner June Daniels introduced us. She told us on opening day, 1979 that Jack would need help because he had a horse that was going to be in the 1980 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. June had faith in the horse as did Jack.
There were always discussions about how the horse was named. We heard Jack Klugman tell two different stories about why the colt was named “Jacklin Klugman”. One story went that he though the colt was a filly and the other story went that he thought it was too “weird” to name a horse your own name so he changed some letters. “Jacklin Klugman” had a full sister named “Dr. Quincy”, who was named after the television series ‘Quincy ME’ that ran from 1976 to 1983 starring Jack Klugman.
In the 1970’s he had starred in “The Odd Couple” with Tony Randall. It was ironic that his character Oscar Madison was a sports writer. At Santa Anita Park, he would laugh with Oscar Otis (retired Daily Racing Form writer) about “their profession”.
May 1980 saw Jack Klugman at the Kentucky Derby with his horse “Jacklin Klugman”. He was wonderful to watch, so excited about being there and in awe by the experience. You have to remember at the time he was in one of the top television series in the country and a very well know celebrity so most people were looking at him.
On Kentucky Derby Day in 1980, many of the women in the crowd hoped the filly “Genuine Risk” would win and become the first filly to win the Derby since “Regret” in 1915. Jack mentioned during Derby week that he wanted everyone to come to his box and watch the race with him. About a race before the Derby, we saw a few of the West Coast Derby jockeys wives in the Clubhouse. Many years, the ladies would “pile in” a box that we had at the Derby. Jacklin Klugman’s jockey was Darrel McHargue. Darrel’s wife was with them and I mentioned that Jack Klugman wanted everyone connected with the horse to be in his box. We forged through the crowd and got her to the box in plenty of time for introductions to be made.
“Genuine Risk” won the Derby but Jack was thrilled with Jacklin Klugman’s third place finish.
In a 1980 Sports Illustrated article, Bill Legget quoted Klugman saying “People might not believe me when I say that this colt has changed my whole life, but it’s the absolute truth. Nothing ever had such an impact on me. This horse has brought me immense joy and tranquility at a time when I needed such a thing and thought I would never find it.”