Jackie The Competitor

Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan (“Jackie”), a “Wall Street Journal”, Dow Jones publishing heiress was as competitive as any person I ever met. Most of the time it was of the finest competitive nature. What I mean by that is that there are two types of competition.

One can constantly compare themselves with others and try to outdo, out perform, or beat the competition. Or, one can compete against one’s self, constantly trying to improve over the last performance, trying to reach a new height. In the years that I knew Jackie I was struck by how well defined these opposing approaches to competition were exemplified in her personality.

I was her husband’s lawyer and her sometime consigliere. When we played golf, she competed with herself, always trying to improve. If she played with someone better, (me), she would often marvel at her competitor’s ability but proceed on in her quest to improve over her last score. When she played her favorite games of rumicube or bridge, she took no quarter. She keenly watched her opposition in order to out maneuver them and win the position.

It was in racing horses that I observed in her the merger of the two approaches to competition. She was in constant communication with her trainer, discussing training techniques and how they could improve over the latest time trials. In actual races at the downs, she paid no attention to the competing horses but to the performance of her own. The horse was like part of her family and in discussions around the dinner table would be referred to as if it were. There would be concern about its health, well-being, and latest performance.

If Jackie felt her horse had been harmed or victimized by cheating, a whole new competitive nature would come forth. She would show furious concern. One night at dinner, she confided in me that in the last two races opposing jockeys had closed off her horse to keep him from getting through and winning the race. She was sure it was a team effort to provide a win for another horse. It was a jockey conspiracy. She also felt that the other trainers, male, were taking advantage of her female trainer, though she couldn’t prove it. The other horses winning didn’t make sense because in the time trials Jackie’s horse had better times than the competing horses.

I mentioned that early in my career I had represented jockeys regarding track violations. I had some knowledge of how things worked. Jackie asked me to help. So, the following weekend I sent my two burly sons, well over six-feet and two-hundred fifty pounds, to meet with the jockeys before the race. The message was simple: “boys, today, we are going to have a fair race.”

Jackie’s horse won the race. Its time was equal to its time trials.

These and other stories of Jackie are in my book:  “Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation — even crime”

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