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Holocaust Survivor Ida Schultz, Namesake of Lacombe Memorial Winner Miz Ida
When Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’sMiz Ida powered home with a late-running three-quarter-length victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Allen LaCombe Memorial at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, winning trainer Steve Margolis was quick to bring attention to the filly’s namesake.
“This horse is named for a Holocaust survivor,” said Margolis. “She’s a friend of Bert and Elaine’s who is just a wonderful lady and lives in South Florida now. She is a lovely lady – a real ray of sunshine to all the people down there who know her from the old Gulfstream Park. She used to go there every day.”
A telephone conversation with Miz Ida’s namesake Ida Schultz on Sunday morning confirmed the assessment of the trainer and her owners. Had the real Miz Ida been able to watch Saturday’s Fair Grounds race?
“Yes, I did,” the 84-year-old lady with the infectious personality said. “Of course I did. I love all the horses and love to watch them run. They are like psychiatrists for me. They can teach us so many things if you watch them and study them. When I lived in New York, I used to go out to Belmont and Aqueduct to see them run, and when I moved to South Florida I used to go out to the old Gulfstream and loved to sit in that beautiful paddock and study them. Not so much anymore. There’s something missing now.
“But in the old paddock the way it was, all the jockeys and trainers got to know me,” said Schultz. “The jockeys all called me ‘Momma.’ Guys like Jose Santos and Cornelio Velasquez, and Shaun Bridgmohan when he first started riding. He rode down here in South Florida in those days.
“I love people and I love animals,” said Schultz, “but the Kleins are the most important people on earth to me,” said Schultz. “They are more than family to me. I know them all and I’d give my life for any one of them. I’d do anything for them. They are all I have now. I remember when they called me and told me they were going to name this horse after me, and I remember seeing this horse when she first came off the farm. I told them at that time, ‘You’re going to have a lot of luck with this horse.’ I knew it the moment I saw her.
“I also knew (trainer) Steve when he was a just a kid – just a (hot) walker,” Schultz said. “I talked to him before the race yesterday, and I told him, ‘you will win this race.’ He said, ‘I’m not so sure, I’m afraid of these other horses in there,’ but I said, ‘Steve, mark my words, you’re going to be the winner.’ What else can I tell you? Ask me anything.”
How old was Miz Ida when the nightmare of the Holocaust began?
“I was born in Poland in 1927,” she said, “and my family and I were taken away in 1942. My mother was 37, my father was 42, and my baby brother was 9-years-old. I don’t know why, but I was the only one who survived. Whenever any of the guards would come around and ask who wanted to work in the field that day, I never raised my hand. I didn’t trust them. I knew through word of mouth when each member of my family was killed. We were separated, but word always got around the camp.
“Over the next three years, I was moved around to 17 different concentration camps until General Eisenhower’s Ninth Army liberated us on April 12, 1945. Of course, I will never forget that day. Then, I found work in a factory working the night shift and eventually in a Volkswagen plant near the Czechoslovakian border. We traveled over the mountains on foot to get there. Nobody wanted to accept us at that time. What else would you like to know about?”
How is someone with the nightmarish beginning to adulthood turn themselves around to go through the rest of life with such a positive attitude?
“Because I told myself, ‘I’m going to make myself go this way,’” she said. “I’m going to love all people – I don’t care what their color is or what their nationality is – and I’m going to love all animals. They have so much to teach us, if we just look at them and listen to what they can show us.
“Also,” she concluded, “I’ve learned in life that when you knock on any door, you never know what good thing might be waiting for you on the other side.”