view raw text
REFLECTIONS By Nelson Dunstan Three-Year-Old Championship Not Settled Middleground, Hill Prince Both Have Claim Metropolitan Shapes Up as Thrilling Race Battlefield Looms Favorite for Juvenile NEW YORK, N. Y., May 15. Middleground was the best horse in the Kentucky Derby, and Hill Prince was the best horse in the Withers. So, the question of the three-year-old championship is yet to be settled, with the the Preakness Preakness and and the the Belmont Belmont Stakes Stakes the the Preakness Preakness and and the the Belmont Belmont Stakes Stakes apparently holding the answer. In his six starts to date this year, Middleground has won only one, finishing second in the other five. Hill Prince has won three of his five starts and, although he was second to Middleground at Churchill Downs, he was the winner over the King Ranch horse in the Wood Memorial and the Withers. Max Hirsch has made no definite statement at this writing as to whether Middleground will be a starter at Pimlico on the week-end, but it is our guess that the Texas contingent is as as anxious anxious to to win win the the "Triple "Triple Crown" Crown" with with as as anxious anxious to to win win the the "Triple "Triple Crown" Crown" with with him as they were with Assault four years ago. Assault won the Kentucky Derby by eight lengths, but in the Preakness he had a close call, winning by only a neck from Lord Boswell. He went on to become the horse of the year, even though an ailment was partly responsible for six straight defeats during his sophomore season of 1946. If Middleground starts in the Preakness, he is likely to have as hard a battle as Assault did with Lord Boswell, for Hill Prince promises to i e a tough horse to defeat in this one and three-sixteenths miles race. A Biggest surprise of the Withers-was the withdrawal of Your Host, the California horse that New Yorkers were so anxious to see. The one mile distance seemed made to order for the William Goetz colt, and we daresay he would have had many supporters had he started. The statement of the owner of the son of Alibhai was surprising. Johnny Longden, who rode Your Host in the Derby, was on the West Coast, so the stable obtained the services of Eddie Arcaro, but he had to forego the mount when it was decided to start Hill Prince. Goetz was- quoted as saying, "We would have run if Guerin had been available, but we did not want to use someone we didnt know." Jockey Jimmy Nichols had been engaged to ride Your Host and why Goetz would not use him and then withdraw the horse from a 5,000 event, is not logical, to say the least. Things have come to a pretty pass if men will withdraw horses from a stake event simply because they cannot get a particular jockey when there were at least adozen experienced riders available at Belmont Park. While the Preakness will grip the attention of the nation on Saturday, one has only to review the charts of last week-ends races to see that the 5,000 Metropolitan Handicap shapes up as one of the best handicap events to date this year. Wynford H. defeated Dart By and One Hitter in the seventh race at Belmont, while in the race before the Withers, Cochise won by five lengths from Three Rings, with Delegate third. In the Camden Handicap at Garden State Park, Olympia was the winner, and at Pimlico, Loser Weeper defeated Double Brandy in the Dixie. All of these horses are eligible for the Metropolitan, and to the list may be added Stunts, Myrtle Charm, Fiet, Royal Governor, Mount Marcy and others who have demonstrated their fitness in recent weeks. Loser Weeper won last years running iof the Metropelitan with the feather of 105 pounds, but regardless of the weight the eventual winner wil carry we look for a faster mile than the 1:36% that Loser Weeper clocked a season ago. The Belmont track record of 1:34% established by Count Fleet as two-year-old in 1942 is a tough one to lower, but we will be surprised if the Metropolitan winner is not timed under 1:36. The mid-week feature at Belmont is the 0,000 Juvenile Stakes, a five-furlong event for two-year-olds. One of the oldest stakes on the roster, the Juvenile has been won by many of the most famous youngsters since 1874. It was in this race last year that Ferd, who ran third in the Withers last week-end, defeated Navy Chief and More Sun. Although 181 were nominated for this years running, comparatively few have gone to the post. Probably the favorite for the race will be George D. Wideners Battlefield, with Hal Price Headleys Remove. Brookfield Farms Iswas and William Helis Spartan Valor havings supporters at the mutuel windows. Spartan Valor, who is by Attention, won the New Jersey Stallion Stakes at Garden State Park last Wednesday, and he impressed New Jersey fans as a colt who should go on to bigger things in the baby races to come. There are many beautifully-bred colts and fillies named for the Juvenile, and not the least of these is C. V. Whitneys The Veep, the Mahmoud colt who was named for the Vice-President. This race is a forerunner to the National Stallion, which will be run in two divisions this year, and is a race which usually points out some of the youngsters who will be seen in the more important two-year-old events during the summer and fall. Delaware Park opens its gates a week from Monday and, until July 4, those in the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Baltimore area will see some of the finest racing staged in the East. There are four races valued at 5,000, and two at 2,500 each. The first of these rich events is the Kent Stakes, which will be run June 10, the day on which the Belmont. Stakes is run in New York. At a mile and one-sixteenth, the Kent is a magnet for three-year-olds who find the one and one-half miles of the Belmont beyond their capabilities. Hill Prince and Ferd are among those missing on the Kent list, but beyond them virtually every top three-year-old in the East has been named. The Delaware Oaks, which will be run at a mile and a furlong, is scheduled for June 24 and this will give those competing in the 0,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park on May 27 ample time to prepare for the Wilmington event, which was won. last year by Nasophar. Almost every three-year-old filly, including Bed o Roses and Next Move, has been named. The Delaware meeting -will close with the Leonard Richards Stakes, which is for three-year-olds and, prior to 1948, was run as the Diamond State Stakes.