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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Horse owner Fletcher Clement knew plenty about the business

by Wally Hall | February 25, 2022 at 2:21 a.m.

One started in the Oaklawn parking lot more than 20 years ago and the other more than a decade ago at the Little Rock Athletic Club.

Both grew into a friendships that were trusting enough for partnerships.

Call it fate that Fletcher Clement and Dennis Milligan arrived at Oaklawn at the same time more than two decades ago. By the time they had reached the entrance, Clement knew enough about Milligan to want to know him better.

Michael Alexander first knew Clement through his dad, Mike Alexander, but got to know Clement on a deeper level when they worked out.

More than likely, Clement recognized in the heartfelt belief that thoroughbred racing was a sports business. That the betting on horses was somewhere down the line as necessary, but not important to being a successful horseman.

Clement was made to be an owner.

He was a a renaissance man and named his horses in honor of historical figures. Such as Roza Robota, a Jewish girl who resisted the Nazis until she was caught and hanged.

He and a small group of friends traveled the world while visiting battlefields.

The former Green Beret also carved military figurines that were in demand worldwide. The New York Times did a feature story on him after learning a horse named Roza Robota was racing in New York.

Early last year, he was looking at a horse and offered 25% to Milligan and Alexander. Both said yes immediately.

Milligan, who is running for state Auditor after two successful terms as state Treasurer, has been in the breeding and owner business for more than 30 years, and he knew Clement's reputation before they started partnering on horses.

Clement named the horse MilliganMikeandMe. He was too introverted to put his own name on a horse.

Clement was one of the first to use computers to trace bloodlines, and he was an expert at it.

MilliganMikeandMe may be an Arkie-bred but has some royalty in her bloodline such as Pulpit, winner of the Fountain of Youth and fourth in the Kentucky Derby, A.P. Indy, winner of the Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic, and Pleasant Tap, winner of Jockey Club Gold Cup and second in the Classic.

Not long after Clement got into the thoroughbred world, he won the shake on a $15,000 claimer in Florida, and before the day ended he sold him for $80,000.

For decades, most of his days at Oaklawn were spent with his attorney, Hubie Mays.

By choice, he didn't have a lot of friends, but those he did have were treasured. It is rumored that somehow Clement and Mays pulled off a scene from "The Bucket List" and some of their ashes are part of the racetrack. That's against the law, so it is just a rumor.

MilliganMikeandMe was Clement's last horse. He died last May, and Milligan bought Clement's 50% share. He and Alexander decided to run her under the colors of Clement's silks.

The first time she ran was last December at Oaklawn in a sprint race. She didn't fare well.

"Fletcher always said she had the breeding to go a route," Milligan recalled.

Her next start was 1 1/16th-mile race at Oaklawn in January. She won and the group of friends celebrated in Clement's honor, especially Alexander. It was his first win at Oaklawn, something that had been a dream for many years.

She is scheduled to run in the first race today at Oaklawn that has a purse of $25,000 and a claiming price of $10,000.

They paid $15,000 for her.

Regardless of the outcome, Milligan and Alexander will have Fletcher Clement on their mind and in their hearts.

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