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Here and There on the Turf Opening at Jamaica. Training for Derby. Hard Surfaced Tracks. Why Horses Break Down. With weather that certainly could have been improved upon, the opening of the New York racing season by the Metropolitan Jockey Club at Jamaica on Wednesday was a tremendous success. It was an immense throng that was out to view the racing and inclement weather meant little to such a crowd. All of this was predicted and was just as it should have been. Racing has a tremendous appeal that is constantly growing and it would have been strange indeed had the opening of a new racing season been other than successful. TTie old fellows of the sport were all on hand while the newcomers to the turf were never more numerously represented. Some of them, doubtless, were on hand just for the holiday and to take part in the opening of the cam paign, but they will surely fall for the appeal and they will just as surely become regular patrons of the turf. All went smoothly for this opening and the racing was worthy of the occasion. The track and all its appointments had been ready long since and the days entertainment rolled along like a piece of well oiled machinery. It was a day for the renewing of friendships ; and on lawns and in the paddock those who i raced through the cold months at one or other of the winter courses were kept busy telbng : of their experiences to those who spent the long idle months in the land of snows. It was ; just one big day and so readily does racing : fit into a daily routine with many of the patrons that before the card was completed 1 they had settled back comfortably for the long I and interesting time that is to come. In Kentucky some of the trainers with Kentucky Derby candidates are beginning to send I their charges along for the full mile and a i quarter and on Tuesday Recollection, one that I has been in training steadily for some time, , galloped the Derby route in 2:13, while Rhi nock and Royal Omar were also permitted to work over the same distance. All of this brings to mind that the Kentucky ,• Derby is almost at hand. The other trainers ? will follow suit in stretching out the gallops I and it may be expected from now until the actual running there will be a deal of interest in what is accomplished by each candidate. The speed workouts are well enough, but those e that mean something are when eligibles are sent along for a mile and an eighth or the full Kentucky Derby distance of a mile and a * quarter. With the many beautiful race courses of f which this country can boast there still re mains the call for record breaking that abso •- lutdy prevents the building of a racing strip p that is grateful to the galloping horse. In thi.s a desire to hang up records, the American thor • oughbred is being sacrificed and what of the e records that are made ? They are no conclusive e test of thoroughbred ability at its best. Mere e speed means much, but in the meantime our ri hones have the reputation of not wearing well. I. We have earned the reputation of having bred d hones that would not stand up and race year ri after year. They are, as a general proposition, i, through as four-year-old*, while all too" many y ; i : ; : 1 I I i I , ,• ? I e a * f •- p a • e e e ri I. d ri i, y of them do not last that long, unless they are relegated to the claiming class that is all cluttered with unsound cripples that manage to get by when the company is slow enough The beginning of a racing year is the time to make a plea for race courses that are level and furnished with a cushion over which th ? horse may safely gallop without being in imminent danger of splitting a foot or bowing a tendon. Galloping at great speed puts a tremendous strain on the feet and tendons of a horse at all times and that strain reaches the point of danger when tracks are scraped and rolled to flatten down the cushion. And it is imperative for the welfare of the horse that the tracks be absolutely level. Track building and track care is an expert occupation that cannot be overestimated. There is something more than the mere build- ing of a racing strip and then sending the harrows over it and having it sprinkled. To have a proper racing ground it should be the j only care of a man who knows. There is a different sort of skill required for the designing of a grandstand or the landscape gardening that beautifies our race courses. A painter could do a good job dressing up a race course for the opening of a meeting, but he knows nothing of the right surface of a proper track. It would be well if all the associations came together for the good of the American thoroughbred and see to it that race courses are sanely built for the protection of the feet and legs of the galloping horse. ■ It is an old story of how American horses break down quickly, but it is not particular to the breed, it is peculiar to the ground over which they are required to race. This year there are practically no handicap horses that are more than four years old and. in fact, there are woefully few of them that have reached that age. That is shown in the entries for the Saratoga Cup, recently men tioned in this column. It was shown that with seventy two nominations for that big race just thirty six, or half of them, are three-year-olds. This is just one more indictment against the hard surfaces of the American race courses. or the lack of care in seeing that they have a uniform and a perfectly level surface, There have been horsemen who have ar gued that a horse will break down more fre quently on a soft than a fast track. But that argument is so patently senseless that it does I not admit of discussion. Of course, it is pof sible to go to a ridiculous extreme in furnishing the track with a cushion, but i is unanswerable that the racing strip that has no resiliency is a j bad track. When a horse has to gallop over a hard unyielding surface it stands to reason that the strain on tendons, shoulders and feet is greatly intensified. Once in a while American produces such an iron limbed campaigner as Exterminator, which will race on year after year, but they are rare exceptions and galloping over the hard surfaces finally gets them all, just as it did this marvellous son of McGee. For one horse that goes on to usefulness until he is six or even five years old, there are dozens of two-year-olds that are broken down before they have completed one year on the American turf, and it may all be chargeable to the tracks over which they are required to race. There is no good reason in either blood lines or conformation why the American thoroughbred should not be just as long wearing as the thoroughbreds of any other country, but they never will be until there comes a drastic reform in track construction and track care. It is high time that less attention be paid to the breaking of records and more care taken to curb the breaking down of horses.