Between Races: Sub Fleet Fit for Preakness; Will Later Go After Belmont; Large Field Adds to Interest; Oils Decorate Old Clubhouse, Daily Racing Form, 1952-05-16


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BETWEEN RACES By Oscar Otisl PIMLICO, Baltimore, Md., May 15.— Saturdays Freakness is expected to shed a great deal of badly needed light on the quality of the current t h r e e - year-old crop and many rather suspect that the outcome will prove that the 1952 class is of vintage calibre. Ever since the Derby, some people have been advancing the theory that this is a "weak" year, but there are some rather stubborn opponents of this argument, among them being Jack Hodgins, trainer of Dixi-anas Sub Fleet. "Hes the best horse I have ever trained in my life," remarks Hodgins, "and I believe he has something of a future ahead of him. During the last 20 years, Ive had some pretty good horses under my care, but Sub Fleet stands out. Just because some of the three-year-olds have been beating one another is no reason that the entire crop should be written off as mediocre. Sub Fleet in the Derby -was fit and did not have any excuses. We couldnt have beaten Hill Gail that day in Kentucky if the race had been at ten miles. I must give the Calumet horse a lot of credit. My horse couldnt have gotten up to the Derby in any better physical shape, and he has retained that edge here in Maryland. We think so much of him that Im going to take him to New York next week and prep him for the Belmont, while the rest of the stable goes to Chicago. Some have asked why Dixiana in previous years have raced in the Derby and not in the Preakness. Well, our thinking has always been what might be termed Middle West and Florida and Arlington and Washington Park meetings have always been attractive to our type of stable. However, Sub Fleet has made Dixiana "Triple Crown conscious, so to speak, and from now on, our worthwhile three-year-olds will be named for all three classics, and raced in all three if events warrant." A A A As these lines are written, a starting field of about 12 or more is expected in the Preakness, which would make for the largest starting line-up since 1928, the year Victorian scored over Toro and Solace. As Bill Coram remarked in Kentucky prior to the Derby, "You cant always have everything in a horse race, and some years you get a champion horse like a Citation and have a small field and not too much competition, other years you get a wide open race and lots of competition. Both kinds * Sub Fleet Fit for Preakness Will Later Go After Belmont Large Field Adds to Interest Oils Decorate Old Clubhouse j of races have their good points, but after all, the classics are still essentially horse races and the wide open, big race fields are j a fine thing." The Preakness has had four | lean years insofar as number of starters is concerned. Smallish fields haye been the rule rather than the exception since 1930, when Gallant Fox won." Fom 1918, when the race was split, until 1930, the fields were mostly bulging, and even the Man o War year, 1920, drew nine starters to the post. The Preakness has seemed to run in cycles, on three occasions drawing only two starters, and in many other years only three or four. In modern years, the only two horses who actually have scared away competitors in volume were Count Fleet and Citation, each winning in a four-horse race. Such a tribute is one indication of true greatness. A. A A Preakness Day patrons of the old clubhouse will be intrigued by the paintings of Vaughn Flannery, treasurer of the Maryland Jockey Club. And, as the old saying has it, "Thereby hangs a story." Flannery was commissioned by his gallery in New York to preserve the old clubhouse in oil when it was feared that Pimlico was going to be torn into shreds and the Preakness moved to Laurel. When he made the series, he felt that he was creating* something that was disappearing, and that, as such, he was doing a service to that much overworked and all-inclusive word, "tradition." In any event, the paintings were completed, and placed on display in New York. The Maryland Jockey Club held a special board of directors meeting, and decided to purchase them, even though, as events turned out, neither the old clubhouse or the almost equally ancient grandstand, disappeared, but will still be in use on Saturday. Some of the Flannery paintings,-which are instilled with the spirit and life of the old clubhouse as well as being accurate portrayals of the scene, were reproduced in Life Magazine in the issue of May 12. "The national publicity, plus the inherent worth of the paintings as works of art, has made the investment of the Maryland Jockey club a good one," remarked an official of the track. "We could turn around and sell them at triple the price we paid." Thus we have the oddity of the oils to preserve the ►past for a new generation of racing fans being hung on display in the old clubhouse they were designed to commemorate". AAA - Yesterday, this corner commented that there was a possibility that, if old Pimlico ever was abandoned, the Preakness would have no difficulty finding a new home in Jersey. But no sooner was the word out that a number of Marylanders, including, of all groups, the HBPA, joined in a "Woodsman, spare that tree" demonstration, which is one reason, perhaps, that the present Pimlico may continue indefinitely. Certainly, its creaking timbers have more lives than nine Cheshire cats, and this despite the frank admission that there is no effort here to pretend that a wooden grandstand is more comfortable than a modern and steel grandstand, or that it is more comfortable to go racing via streetcar than in a new Cadillac. AAA The Preakness and its setting has tradition by the bucketful, and most of the fans wouldnt have it any other way, even though Harry Parr m., former president of the Maryland Jockey Club, jokingly admitted a few years ago that if "it were not for tradition, the whole place would collapse." As a matter of record, two innovations of the Maryland Jockey Club have been adopted by the turf, one being the split second method of timing, the other the establishment of the mile as the standard American track circumference. It might be added that Pimlico, even though ancient, is well aware of its responsibilities to American racing in general to present racing at its finest, because the eyes of the nations sports public center here on Saturday. In this respect, Pimlico is as modern as tomorrow. It is particularly important because, too, a number of Washington bigwigs always are on hand for the Preakness running, and there is a consensus of opinion that the more Washington brass understands about horse racing, the better. Most adverse legislation in Washington has been introduced and backed by lawmakers who know little or nothing about racing, or the mechanics thereof. This is not in itself surprising, as many states do not have racing, but it is somewhat incredible that many senators and congressmen from racing states, where the turf is an important item of revenue and or tourist attraction know little more. It is here where Pimlico steps-in and. does a job for the nation as a whole in public relations, and while that jib is accomplished in a setting of antiquity, it is nonetheless entirely fascinating. l

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