Caleb Dorsey "Mike" Pascal, a retired thoroughbred trainer whose Betrayed once paid $202 for a $2 bet, died of pneumonia complications Tuesday at Lorien Mays Chapel. The Monkton resident was 88.
He was the son of Edward Louis Pascal and Frances Colgate Cherbonnier, a well-known Maryland horsewoman who was expelled from school when she was found riding astride, instead of sidesaddle. In 1910, she set a jumping record, according to her obituary in The Baltimore Sun.
Mr. Pascal, who was born in Michigan, lived on a family estate known as Haille's Adventure and Betty's Delight, adjacent to the Timonium racetrack. He later moved with his mother and two brothers to a stone house on York Road in Monkton, where he lived until becoming ill earlier this year. He attended Sparks High School.
During World War II, he served in the Army Air Force. A navigator, he parachuted into China. He left military service as a sergeant in 1946.
He began riding as a 4-year-old and captured blue ribbons. As a 12-year-old in June 1936, Mr. Pascal rode a pony named Chinquapin to first-place honors at a Harford County pony show at the old Bel Air racetrack, where he would later train and race.
In 1949, he began work for Mildred "Babe" Saportas, a pioneering Maryland horse trainer.
He was later hired by Baltimore automobile dealership owner James McKenna to train for his stable.
"People used to say to Mike, 'Aren't you driving a fancy new Pontiac?'" said J. William Boniface, a Darlington resident and close friend. "He would say, 'Yes, I am driving a new car,' and never let on it was part of his agreement with Mr. McKenna."
Mr. Boniface, whose Deputed Testamony won the 1983 Preakness, recalled Mr. Pascal as a "beloved character" who was "fanatical about doing everything the right way."
He also said that Mr. Pascal was adventurous. "He was game for trying anything. He lived life like it was a bowl of cherries. Nothing worried him," he said.
He recalled the times they spent together on the Maryland racing circuit in the late 1950s, when half-mile tracks at Cumberland, Hagerstown, Marlboro and Bel Air flourished during two-week meets.
"We were like a band of gypsies," he said of their arrivals and departures. "The townspeople were glad to see us come and they were glad to see us leave."
In 1957, Mr. Pascal enjoyed a big win at Delaware Park in a steeplechase event. He trained a jumper named Betrayed, who was a long shot in the second race.
The win of $202 for a $2 bet was the largest payout of the Delaware Park meeting that season, The Sun's account said. The daily double (the first race was won by Glencannon) paid $1,304.
"The filly, trained by Caleb Pascal of Monkton, hadn't been close in three previous starts this year and was consistently ignored by the wagering public," said a Baltimore Sun account. "Ridden by John Ruane, she seemed to have no chance at the head of the stretch but suddenly got into full stride and closed with a tenacious rush to nip the pacesetter right on the wire. The finish was so close that even fans standing on the wire were divided in opinion as to the winning horse."
The next year he trained Bete Noir, who became the first thoroughbred to win three races in the fall meet at Marlboro. The following year he trained Peace Pilate, another winner at Marlboro.
Mr. Pascal was later an assistant to B. Frank Christmas, who owned the Idle Miss Farm in Monkton.
He retired from training many years ago. Friends said he was a familiar figure at the My Lady's Manor, Grand National and Maryland Hunt Cup steeplechases held every spring.
Friends also said that Mr. Pascal enjoyed weekly gin rummy games. They called him a dapper dresser who was known for his hats. He was also an accomplished cook. He raised orchids at a greenhouse in his Monkton home and traveled extensively.
"He was a wonderful card player and could remember exactly every card in the game," said Katherine Elizabeth Anderson, a Bel Air resident and former Harford County treasurer. "But what I remember most is that Mike was a kind man at all times."
Services will be held at 3 p.m. July 7 at the Evans Funeral Chapel, 16924 York Road in Monkton.
Survivors include his companion of 40 years, M. Gillian Fenwick of Monkton; and nieces and nephews.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun