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00:00:08 - Hometown and parents

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Partial Transcript: This is Kim Lady Smith.

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about his parents and how they met. Robertson talks about his father, who was also a horse trainer, and worked at one of the largest facilities in America. That is where he met his wife but the two had to drive to the nearest town, Pineville, to have Walter Robertson. The facility his father worked at was called Mint and Hickory, and Robertson says it is an important part of Kentucky Saddlebred history. Next, Robertson explains where his parents were born.

Keywords: Pineville (Ky.); Saddlebred horses

Subjects: Families.; Horse boarding facilities; Horse industry; Horse trainers

00:05:21 - Robertson's father

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Partial Transcript: Now you said he got involved with Saddlebreds when he was very young

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about his father, specifically how he got involved with the horse business. Robertson says his father was a great child rider growing up. He even won a few races at the Kentucky state fair. His father went into WWII right after high school. He ended up going to a fort that still used horses and he helped train them. A higher up noticed his skill and offered him to watch after his horse and in return he didn't have to go to battle. However, he refused and got shipped out to Burma but he came back soon because the war was coming to a close.

Keywords: Veterans; World War II

Subjects: Horse industry; Horse racing; Horse trainers; World War, 1939-1945

00:09:54 - Moving to San Francisco, California / First memories of working with horses

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Partial Transcript: Now, um, tell me again who he was working for out there?

Segment Synopsis: Robertson says that soon after he was born they moved to San Francisco because his father got a horse training job at a very nice farm. Robertson says he remembers his father working with an amazing horse and winning races with it multiple times. Robertson says his earliest memories of working with horses was when he moved back to Kentucky. Robertson remembers going to shows with ponies and showing them off to be sold. Robertson says almost all of their income came from selling horses.

Keywords: Horse races; Horse shows; San Francisco (Calif.)

Subjects: Horse buyers; Horse farms; Horse industry; Horse owners; Horse trainers

00:12:26 - Louisville, Kentucky / Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: What are your earliest memories of working with horses?

Segment Synopsis: Robertson moved to Louisville when he was 12 because his father started working with a large horse salesman. This is when Robertson started getting more interested in the business behind the horse sales. Robertson tells one story where his father went to an auction just after JFK had been assassinated. He ended up being the only person there and was able to buy all of the best horses at the auction. When Robertson was in high school, they moved to Lexington. Robertson's father had his own horse auction and Robertson would help the auctioneers and learned even more about the business. When Robertson went to college he studied business, partly because he was interested in it and partly because he did not know what he wanted to do yet in life. His father ran the auctions and sold horses all the way up until he passed away.

Keywords: John F. Kennedy; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); University of Kentucky

Subjects: Horse buyers; Horse industry; Horse trainers; Race horses

00:20:21 - Most prized horses

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Partial Transcript: Now do you remember any particular competitions that your dad won or particular horses that you--

Segment Synopsis: Robertson starts by talking about two horses that were his father's most prized horses. The first was a mare named Tasalang and she won the world championship for him four times. The other horse was a walk/trot horse named Forest Song and she won two world championships for him. Robertson says his father was also involved in the horse breeding side occasionally as well.

Keywords: Forest Song (Show horse); Tasalang (Show horse)

Subjects: Horse industry; Horse trainers; Mares; Race horses

00:23:28 - Horse auctions

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Partial Transcript: When did you, um, begin to help out with auctions?

Segment Synopsis: Robertson says that he began to help out with the horse auction when his father started doing them in Lexington in 1966. He would help out doing anything that needed to be done. Most of the time the horses would be sold to amateurs for them to show. It was much more rare to sell to professionals; it was the amateurs that drove the market. Robertson says that one of his main mentors was Art Roberts. Robertson says he learned his auction calling skills when he was working on the farm. He also took a two week course that helped with public speaking and auction calling skills.

Keywords: 1960s; Art Roberts; Lexington (Ky.)

Subjects: Auctioneers; Auctions; Horse industry

00:40:27 - Robertson's business

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Partial Transcript: Okay, um, now you continued to work though for, uh--did you continue to work for Swine-Denton?

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about his own auction business at a time when the economy was not doing well. However, it was very good for him because many farms were forced to be auctioned out of desperation which brought him business. The company that Robertson became the president of was called Fasig and it had been around since the late 1800s, which makes it the oldest horse auction business in America.

Keywords: Bad economy; Foreclosures

Subjects: Auctioneers; Auctions; Calumet Farm; Fasig-Tipton Co.; Horse industry; Spendthrift Farm

00:46:09 - Robertson's family

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Partial Transcript: Alright, I'm probably gonna jump around here because--

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about his own family. He talks about how he met his wife in school but didn't date her until after school. He also talks about his two children, one of which is a lawyer and the other a doctor. Robertson says his wife also shows interest in horses and the business.

Keywords: Children; Doctors; Family; Lawyers; Wives

Subjects: Families; Horsemen and horsewomen

00:50:56 - Farm auctions and auctioneers

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Partial Transcript: Uh, let's talk a little bit about, um, not Fasig-Tipton, but your other business.

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about selling Spendthrift Farm and Calumet Farm and how large those sales ending up being, Calumet being one of the largest farms in Kentucky. Robertson explains the process of auctioning off the farm and having to use the court. He says that there were four bidders and each walked in with a $500,000 check showing their commitment to the sale. Robertson tells a story of a buyer who called him the day before and said he was flying to the auction. He arrived 10 minutes before the auction started and 10 minutes later he owned the farm. Robertson explains that it took two days to sell all the other stuff on the farm and they were making tons of money on almost everything. He said anything with the word Calumet painted on it people wanted because it was piece of history. Robertson also explains the logistics of the business of auctioning and talks about some auctioneers he knows.

Keywords: Calumet Farm; Sales; Spendthrift Farm

Subjects: Auctioneers; Auctions; Horse industry

01:14:28 - Fasig-Tipton and other accolades

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Partial Transcript: Fasig-Tipton. Now, you've been with them for a long time now.

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about working for Fasig-Tipton and how they got through the rough times in 1990. He says they cut out all the 'fat' and worked very hard to run the business very efficiently. Robertson says the business is doing much better now, but they still keep things runny 'skinny' and efficiently just in case. Robertson says that he still helps as an auctioneer at just about every sale, which has him traveling a lot. Robertson talks about a horse he sold for $16 million, which was a world record. Robertson also talks how he worked with a team to develop ways to test horses for steroids and other doping tactics. With the horses being so similar to athletes, all of the same issues apply, especially the cheating and unfairness. Robertson says his goal is to create an environment where everyone has a fair and equal chance to show off their horse. Robertson also talks about a few other positions that he held in the horse industry.

Keywords: Cheating; Economy; Foreclosures; Steroids

Subjects: Auctioneers; Auctions; Fasig-Tipton Co.; Horse industry; Horse trainers

01:33:04 - Horse-related organizations

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Partial Transcript: Now, one of the things that Ted Basset and I talked about as well is--and, and with others--is the fact that there are so many horse-related organizations.

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about the issue of fragmentation in the horse industry. There are so many different horse-related organizations but they all work independently. Robertson suggests a coming together of all the organizations despite their differences in breeds and such and to work together to fix shared problems.

Keywords: Horse breeds; Horse organizations

Subjects: Horse breeders; Horse industry; Horse owners

01:38:05 - People from the industry

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Partial Transcript: Who are some of these--the people that you remember from, from your youth in the Saddlebred industry as being particularly interesting or colorful or significant to the industry in some way?

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about people he remembers from the horse industry. The first person he mentions is George Gwen who amassed a lot of his wealth selling Saddlebred horses. He was a very smooth salesman and was well educated. He also owned Shakertown. Another person is Ed Teeter who ran a few large stables and bunch of farms and he did it all himself.

Keywords: Danville (Ky.); Shakertown (Ky.); Stables

Subjects: Horse buyers; Horse industry; Horse trainers; Horsemen and horsewomen

01:48:31 - Final thoughts on working with horses / Funny stories

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Partial Transcript: But I did--I usually ask people this, and you're fairly young for me to be asking this 'cause you're still very involved in your career...

Segment Synopsis: Robertson gives his final thoughts on his lifelong career and relationship with horses. He says he is very fortunate to be able to do something he loves and make a living doing it. Robertson says his greatest accomplishment was still his own children. Next, Robertson tells a story about Mr. Gwen who had a funny run-in with a customer. Next, Robertson tells a story about his father who asked a customer how his horse was doing and the man said the horse had died. His father said "Wow, it never did that with me."

Keywords: Horses; Working with horses

Subjects: Auctioneers; Auctions; Horse buyers; Horse industry; Horse trainers