view raw text
Between Races By Oscar Otis EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK. — By the time these lines appear in print, the seventy-sixth Kentucky Derby will have been written into the record books, and we dare say that whatever the outcome, the traditions and "luck" of the race will be enriched. Luck has played an important part in every Derby, and in every Preakness and Belmont and other American racing classics, for a horse not only has to UC gUUU lU Will, UUt must have some of the "breaks" along the line. Citation, for instance, might not have developed into the wonder horse he is had he suffered misfortune as a weanling — or yearling, or anywhere earlier in the line prior to his popping an osselet a year and a half ago at Tanforan; "The Derby is a great race," says Ben Jones, who has had considerable experience in the race. "In all the time that Ive been training horses for the Derby. Ive only really been confident once in my life. That was with Citation. I can tell you that never at any time did we of Calumet consider Coaltown his superior, or even nearly his equal, as a race horse. Although in my own opinion, I think Coaltown has some points that are better than Citations when considering his potential as a stallion. My first Derby was also my luckiest. About 10 days before the race, Lawrin suffered a foot injury, and for a time I thought I would never get him to the post. A blacksmith friend of mine thought he might fix the trouble, and as we had nothing to lose by it, I told him to go ahead. He put a pair of heavy shoes on Lawrin, with bar plates, which served to hold his foot together. Lawrin wore those shoes in running second to The Chief. Incidentally, this marked the inaugural Trial running. I didnt take those heavy shoes off until the morning of the Derby. They had done their work so well that by Derby time, the injury had begun to -heal, and Lawrin went on from the Derby to win other races." On leaving Kentucky, one is impelled to analyze the power of the Derby and what brings so many people together from such great distances for one day or .maybe a week of racing. It is obvious that there is only one answer, namely, Kentucky and the Derby epitomize and symbolize the best ideals of racing and breeding mellowed by the traditions of hundreds of years of breeding, and 76 Derby runnings. Kentucky racing is progress, but changes are not made overnight. AU that has been tested and proved worthy is adopted. As Bill Corum pointed out last week, a new and greater Churchill is coming, but it will not be changed in any way that would sacrifice tradition. Corum, by the way, returns to his chores of writing a nationally syndicated column on the seventeenth of this month. He remains at the Downs for another week. No small part in Derby tradition is played by the breeders, who have welcomed thousands of visitors to their farms before and after the Derby running. We understand that some new records were set at some of the major Blue Grass establishments in such matters, and while no "gate counts" are made, the traffic was considerable. Leslie Combs II., master of Spendthrift, either hosted or made reservations for no less than 175 persons at Lexington during the Derby period, all for people who wished to take advantage of the opportunity of seeing both the Derby and the Fayette - Bourbon County thoroughbred land. "We have no idea of changing our fee conditions for the Derby," explains Bill Corum in commenting on a suggestion advanced that maybe it would be better for all concerned if an entry levy were slapped on the box at the office of the racing secretary, or even to put through an eligibility fee along about April 15 to sort of separate the wheat from the chaff. In some stakes, there is a, fee to pass the entry box as well as to start. This holds true at Santa Anita in particular. Much to the surprise of everyone, the original nomination fee of 0 to the Derby is all that is necessary for an owner to post until 45 minutes before post time. Hence an owner can put his horse in the entry list, if he so desires, and scratch any time up until that 45-minute limit without being actually liable financially. "In some stakes, fees at the entry box are a good idea," continues Corum, "but the Derby is a different race, sort of in a class by itself, if I may be pardoned Continued on Page Forty-Two ? BETWEEN RACES I By OSCAR OTIS Continued from Page Three for making the remark, and while next year, we do intend to close the entries for ! the Derby and all other races on Derby I Day on Thursday, we intend to keep the . entry list open to any Derby nominee until the last minute. "Ill cite the case of Pensive as a reason for our thinking- this way," continued Corum. "I was writing at the time, of " course, and several of the writers and Warren Wright were in Louisville, and I happened to remark what a great thing it would be if Mr. Wright were to ship Pensive out from Maryland. Until our round table gossiping and chatter about • this and tHat, Mr. Wright had not seriously considered Pensive as a Derby horse. However, we kicked the matter around verbally so long, that Mr. Wright, deciding that perhaps he did owe something to Kentucky racing and to Churchill Downs to have his colors represented in the race, sent word to ship Pensive. The order went out just in time so that Pensive was able to catch the last possible train from Baltimore in order to get him to Churchill in time for the race. The rest, of course, is history. Ill always believe that the remarks of the newspaper men that night to Warren Wright were the decisive factor in making- Pensive a Derby starter, and I wouldnt want any regulations anent the Derby which in the future would preclude such a happening. Eligibility payments and the like might do just that. Go back through Derby history, and while youll find that the winner had to be a good horse, quite often mere coincidence, or chance, played an important part in the horse getting to the post." Horses and People: Among the more pleasant Derby traditions are the following: Harry Read, executive of Standard Sanitary Company, annually takes a weeks vacation, at home in Louisville, to take in Derby Week racing. . . . The Fawcett boys, Magazine Publishers, scheduled the annual meeting of the corporation in Louisville the day before the Derby. If they stay over for the Derby Itself, it is purely coincidental. ...Col. Al Near, a long-time friend of Bill Corums, is now the official weather forecaster for Churchill Downs. . .Livingston Whaley completed his 30th year as a major domo at the clubhouse dining room. Like many of the personnel at Churchill Downs, Whaley -is an old timer ...Bill Corum, incidentally, inherited the personal retainers of the late Col. Matt J. Winn, and is carrying on in the Winn tradition.