Between Races, Daily Racing Form, 1950-05-02


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I ~Z~~ fl iai™ Between Races By Oscar Otis CHURCHILL DOWNS. Louisville, Ky., May 1. — If the opening phases may be taken as a criterion, Churchill Downs is in for its biggest Derby I ~Z~~ fl ever. ever. The The inaugural inaugural ever. ever. The The inaugural inaugural throng of 18,255 topped last years opener by some 2,000 people, and they wagered more.too. Maybe it is an upswing in business, or maybe the Derby visitors are arriving a bit earlier, but whatever the cause, the results are most pleasing to Bill Corum ancj and his his Downs Downs asso- iai™ ancj and his his Downs Downs asso- associates. While Keeneland was down about 2 per cent, the blame for that has been placed squarely on the snowy weather which prevailed during the early part of the season. Fleeting Star, an improving son of Count Fleet from one of the most popular mares at Dixiana, gained his first stakes win in "annexing the seven-furlong Churchill Downs Handicap on opening day in the creditable time of 1:24 under a steadying burden of 117 pounds. Misfortune kept Fleeting Star on the shelf through most all of his three-year-old form. In fact, he started only once as a sophomore, that being in late December at Santa Anita. But he has won four out of six since, and in rather select company. Trainer Jack Hodgins has hopes that he will come along to become a first-class stakes horse. He has never been asked to travel more than a mile and a sixteenth, but he has the actions of a stayer. Incidentally, the Churchill fans paid a great tribute to Fleeting Stars pilot, Steve Brooks. The boy has returned to his old "stamping ground" after several months in California and the spontaneous ovation accorded him as he returned to the winners circle was ample proof his public was glad to see him in action again here in the Middle West. Your Host quieted a rumor, and where it was started, no one knows, that he was "not quite himself," by working a smart mile and a furlong this morning. He galloped out the full Derby distance in 2:06 and some small change. His ease of going impressed the dockers, who, incidentally, have professed themselves to be actually awed with his presence ever since his arrival here from California. By any method of comparison. Oil Capitol is one of the most unusual starters ever to try his luck in the Kentucky Derby. The story of Oil Capitol properly may be said to have started with the naming of his dam, Never Again II., who was bred by the late Joseph E. Widener in France. When the deadline neared for names, without payment of an extra fee, the farm manager in France, in the absence of and lack of word from Mr. Widener, decided to act on his own initiative, and, as a compliment to the then new-President of the United States, selected the tag "New DeaL" This pleased Mr. Widener considerably, until the new deal had been in operation for a spell, when, according to Glen W. Tomlinson, now farm manager for Darby Dan in Ohio, but for many years with Elmen-dorf, Widener became so in disagreement, with certain new deal policies that he Continued on Page Twenty-Seven Continued from Page Three paid the fee to change the name of the filly from New Deal to Never Again. Of course, the II." was added when she was imported to this country. "We just had an idea we had a vintage crop at Elmendorf ," explains Tomlinson, in commenting upon Oil Capitols year. "We had just worked.out a new and quite scientific feeding diet, and for a time thought that might have been responsible. However, later events proved this a bit incorrect. It may have helped, but certainly it was not entirely responsible. As a yearling up until sales time, there was nothing outstanding about Oil Capitol, except that he was rated as one of the best in a corking crop. Others of that crop included Wisconsin Boy, Curtice, French Admiral, the filly, Roman Zephyr, and one who went to England and won a couple of stakes there. Of course. Oil Capitol became a cribber, largely, I believe, because his dam was a cribber. This never bothered me very much for it doesnt seem to hurt their produce much in the way of quality. While I would not presume to criticize, it is my opinion that the reason French mares crib more than ours is their practice of keeping the mares indoors much of the time, and that they learn to crib through sheer boredom in the stall. But cribbing and all, I thought that Oil Capitol would bring about 5,000. At. least, I though he was worth it, regardless." Few know it other than Tom Gray, Harry Trotsek, and his groom, Wallace Hill, but Oil Capitol will be sporting the oddest hooves of perhaps any horse who has ever cone postwards in the Derby. The gray wears three-quarter shoes all around. On each rear shoe there is but one calk. "We first noticed at Hawthorne last fall that his feet didnt seem to be growing with the rest of him," says Trotsek. "When he got new shoes, the nails seemed to fit in the same old holes. We put in a great deal of thought about the matter, and finally decided that three-quarter shoes were the only answer." A three-quarter shoe, by the way of explanation; is a plate with one of the tips cut off, and on that portion where the shoe is missing, the horse races on his bare feet. At the moment, the Oil Capitol hooves, on the side where part of the shoe has been cut away, can support four nails, properly spaced. Not too many months ago, only three were possible. Whether or not he ever will be able to wear a full shoe again is a moot question, but at least some progress has been made. Trotsek advises that the use of the three-quarter shoe has at least accomplished one thing, namely, to stop the colt from a tendency to speedy cut. The personalities about the Oil Capitol barn are as varied as with the background of the horse himself. Tom Gray, the owner, a popular citizen of Tulsa, is jovial and quite happy to find himself as the owner of a good Derby prospect. Trotsek, the trainer, is cool and methodical, a man who rose to become a leading trainer on sheer merit alone. He made good on his own. Incidentally, the West may take modicum of credit if Oil Capitol should win the Derby. Trotsek galloped horses the winter of 1933 at the Caliente race track in Old Mexico, and it was there that he first made up his mind to become a trainer, and applied himself studiously to learning the business while galloping horses. "It was a great place," reminisceses Trotsek. "We always had a picnic tlowh at Rosarita Beach on the off-racing days, and talked of nothing but horses and training. I learned a lot just listening, and many tried and proven methods of training that I picked up there have come in might handy in the years that have followed." Oil Capitols groom, the youthful Hill, is a native of Louisville. He studied to be a doctor, but after a hunting accident, gave that up for the life of the track along with Trotsek. Hill has a host of relatives in this area, most of them physicians and surgeons. One of his cousins teaches law at the University of Southern California. Another cousin teaches medicine in Texas. Hill is well educated, and can hold his own in the drawing room of intellectuals as well as being a first-class horseman and groom. ■ Oh. yes. one other item about Oil Capitol. ■ Your Host may have a crooked neck, but Oil Capitol sports a forked tongue. "At ; some time during his life, his tongue was 1 severely cut," says Trotsek. "It grew together ; again all right, but he has a long scar that will be with him the rest of his life. However, after the Scarlet Gate someone remarked that Your Host did not run with his neck, and I can reply that neither does Oil Capitol run with his tongue. But, ■ along with his feet, it is an unusual tongue.

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