A Derby Winner in Life

Editor’s Note:  My wife Candice wrote and delivered the following eulogy for her father at his funeral at the Church of the Resurrection of Our Lord in Dania Beach, Florida on December 30, 2008.

Dr. Andrew C. ColandoMy father – Andrew Charles Colando, Sr. – was born in 1922 in Lodi, NJ to Joseph and Esther Colando.  Pop was the middle son, with Steve his older brother and Joe his younger one.  He was named Andrew after his maternal grandfather as was customary for a second son in an Italian family.  His parents were hard working and he carried with him a love and respect for them throughout his life.

While in high school Pop began to race trotters at Yonker’s Raceway in New York on the weekends and his love affair with horseracing began.  He moved on to thoroughbred racing when his father bought some race horses.

In 1950 he married Irene Holsey and his 58-year love affair with my mother began.  A few years later they moved their young family to Florida seeking a warmer climate, for this young veterinarian didn’t like the cold and did most of his work outside.  This began what our family called “The Great Migration” – Monmouth Park and the Jersey shore in the summers and Gulfstream, Tropical, and Hialeah Parks and Florida in the winters.  It was a good life.

Pop practiced veterinarian medicine through the early 1980s.  Along with my mother, they became serious travelers in his retirement and took off for Europe and South America.  But Pop always had in the back of his mind that he wanted to return to training horses.

So he bought some trotters and began racing at Pompano Park and the Meadowlands in New Jersey.  After just a few years he returned to thoroughbreds, this time as an owner, trainer, and breeder.  This gave him the opportunity to go to the race track each morning and be among friends – some of whom are here today.

These are the facts of Pop’s life.  But there’s so much more.  What I remember as his daughter are the stories and lessons he told over and over again.  I’d like to share just a few of those with you.

Number 1:  Get a good education.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Pop was an Ivy Leaguer.  He was the first in his family to graduate from college and he wanted all three of his children to do the same.  We did, and he was very proud of that. 

 

Second:  Take good care of yourself.  Eat well and don’t skimp on food. 

In his earlier years Pop was a runner and took martial arts classes.  Way before it was fashionable he was a big drinker of water and orange juice, which he called “nature’s medicine.”  He always took exceptional care of his eyes and teeth.  Pop liked good food and was a meat eater.  I can remember as a child getting to the point I didn’t like steak, we had it so often for dinner.  He was not much for sweets, and when he caught me or one of my brothers eating candy he use to tell us “that stuff softens your brain.”

Third:  Work for yourself.  Be your own boss.
While all three of us have owned our own businesses, my brother Andy is the only one who still follows this advice, as a criminal attorney with his own firm.  Pop prided himself on the veterinary practice he had built.  He drew inspiration from his father who ran his own businesses.

Fourth:  Part your hair on the left side.

That was pretty straightforward, and we know of at least one election where that influenced my father’s vote.

 

Fifth:  Look out for those friends you’ve known for a long time and give them a break when they are down on their luck.

Pop taught this lesson more by action than word.  He was fiercely loyal to his race track family, many of whom he had known from the 1950s.  He often was generous with those who needed some money, a mount, or a job.

 

Sixth:  You learn more by listening than speaking.  Speak the truth

Pop would listen and take things in, and then offer his opinion.  Perhaps opinion isn’t quite the right word here.  There were times when we’d say, “You can’t say that!” and he’d say, “Why not?  It’s the truth.”

Finally, Never give up, no matter what.
He used to tell the story about his first day in veterinary school.  The professor said, “Look at the student on your left.  Now, look at the student on your right.  They won’t be here by the end of the semester.”  Pop was determined to make it, and he did, graduating in 1948.  This lesson he taught through his life on the track as well.  In 1950, he trained his father’s horse Uncle Miltie.  He had been the favorite in the months leading up to the Kentucky Derby.  However, after winning the Champagne Stakes he was injured and was never entered in the Derby.  Life magazine had done a big spread on Uncle Miltie, but it was never published.

When Pop went back to racing thoroughbreds in the 1990s, he always was looking towards another Derby contender with each horse he brought up to the track.  He came close a time or two but that didn’t happen for him, although he never quit trying.  If you were at the wake, you might have noticed a blanket of roses over my father’s casket.  That blanket is now here on the front steps.

Pop, you were a derby winner in life.  We love you and we’ll miss you always.

 

Pop with "The Andrews" - Andy Jr., Andrew Brown, and Andy III

Pop with “The Andrews” – Andy Jr., Andrew Brown, and Andy III

8 Responses

  1. Hi, I came across your eulogy in my research on horse farms in Lower Makefield Township, PA and your family’s horse “Uncle Miltie.” It was nice to see his trainer was also a Penn Vet:) Your father-in-law must have been a really special person.

    Would you please tell me more about the farm, I am especially interested in the exact location and perhaps send a picture of Uncle Miltie?
    Thanks very much!

    • Dear Amy:

      Glad to hear from another Penn Vet! My wife was thrilled and my father-in-law would be pleased that you’re doing this research.

      We don’t have a picture of Uncle Miltie but you can find pictures online if you do a search for Uncle Miltie + Horse on Google images. The first one that comes up is from a photo shoot in Life magazine. My mother-in-law has other photos that Life took that they never ran, once he was scratched from the Derby. I found an interesting article just the other day about Dr. Colando’s father making the final decision not to run the horse in the Kentucky Derby. It was pretty big news in the day.

      The farm was in Yardley, Pennsylvania. It was on Yardley Langhorne Road, just west of the intersection with Yardley Newtown Road. The farmhouse sat on the north side of the road with one barn and paddocks, and another barn sat on the south side of the road with additional paddocks. The farm was cut in half when the Yardley Langhorne Road went in. My wife took her mother and father there several years ago and the farmhouse was still standing, surrounded by new development. My wife remembers beautiful, huge stone barns associated with the farm. We have a picture of one in our den, but they are no longer standing.

      My wife’s grandmother sold the farm to developers around 1980.

      Keep us posted on your research. As you may have seen from my blog, I work in historic preservation, so I love local history.

      All the best,
      DJB

  2. Thanks very much for the update and description of the farm’s location. Everyone I spoke with in the area has been very interested in this story.
    Will keep you posted!
    Amy

  3. I was 10 years old and lived in Trenton NJ when Uncle Miltie was running. The Formidonis were my cousins and they were friends with your grandfather. I remeber all of us on Sunday driving to the farm and your brother Steve would always comment ” Look at this gang ” !!!

    • Mr. Zoda: Thanks for this comment. I will pass this along to my wife who will enjoy reading of your recollections of Uncle Miltie and life on the Colando farm. DJB

      • Sorry ….

        That was your Uncle Steve ….Do you recall the Formidonis ???

  4. Mr. Zoda, while I have heard of the Formidonis my whole life, I don’t recall meeting them. From the stories, I know they were great friends with my grandparents. Yes, that was my Uncle Steve. He died about two years before my father. I’m so glad you found this eulogy and that you have written.

  5. […] grew up around thoroughbred racing and the sport comes naturally to her. As she wrote in the obituary for her father, Dr. Andrew C. Colando: While in high school Pop began to race trotters at Yonker’s Raceway in […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: