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Weighing In « By EVAN SHIPMAN BELMONT PARK, Elmont, L. I., N. Y., June 7. — An inescapable conclusion is that there is a strong strain of masochism in the American sports public. "Masochism," just in case you are not familiar with the jargon of the psychologists — and there is no good reason why you should be — means that people get some kind of perverse pleasure out of torturing themselves. After a fairly long term as a sports writer, we believe that this eso- , ! . ■ : , teric word out of the medical tomes best describes the behavior of our fanatics of pleasure. Did you ever, by chance, visit the Indianapolis Speedway for the big 500-mile race? Did you ever stand in line for 12 or 14 hours, waiting for a World Series box office to open? Did you ever visit Louisville for the Kentucky Derby? All these experiences, to our jaundiced eye, suggests self-inflicted pain, and we put the devotees, who go through them, year after year, in the same puzzling category as those of us who have a depraved taste for Finnish steam baths, where they wind up the ceremony by beating you with a bundle of birch twigs. All this is a preface to the statement that we, here in New York, can boast a great sports event — even when the World Series happens occasionally to be contested elsewhere. That event is the Belmont Stakes, and many of my co-workers take it with a keen sense of personal injury that the Westchester Racing Association steadfastly refuses to inflate this fine event beyond its legitimate importance. Throughout our experience, Belmont" has said, in quiet tones, that their classic was, quite simply, the most important race offered by the American turf, and the association has been content that the number of people who, annually, watch this race, is a number that can be comfortably accommodated by Belmont Parks large stands. Who was it, Voltaire or Montaigne, or somebody, who said: "Let there be measure in all things"? Yesterdays ceremony at Belmont Park, when our publisher, J. Samuel Perlman, presented C. V. "Whitney, the owner of Counterpoint, with Richard Reeves Stones portrait of the 1951 Horse of the Year, honored a truly fine thoroughbred. Counterpoint overcame enough early difficulties to have discouraged any but a first-class horse, and when he wound up last season by winning the Lawrence Realization, The Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Empire Gold Cup and the Empire City Handicap, there were few horsemen who would deny him the rare adjective, "great." After dominating his own division, this rather frail chestnut son of Count Fleet met such a distinguished elder rival as Hill Prince, humbling him convincingly, and then wentxm to trim an all-age field in the Empire City Handicap under the severe burden of 130 pounds. None but the best achieve such a record, and all of us are looking forward to seeing C. V. Whitneys champion reappear with jockey Dave Gorman in the Eton blue silks, brown cap. After taking the Peter Pan Handicap in time that is still the track record for nine furlongs, Counterpoint won the Belmont Stakes last year, but it was not until his sensational fall campaign that his true quality was generally recognized. Until Counterpoint defeated Hill Prince in The Jockey Club Gold Cup, and repeated a little while later in the Empire Gold Cup, winning easily in the second race, there was much difference of opinion about who deserved the title of seasons champion. Our guess is that a part of this unwillingness to accept the otherwise convincing testimony of the Belmont Stakes was due to Counterpoints rather unprepossessing appearance as a three-year-old. To tell the truth, he was no model at that age, and we are glad that Reeves did not paint him in mid-season. Like many of the Count Fleets, Counterpoint should not be judged in the paddock, and the secret of his class may well have been his superb gait, way of moving — just as, earlier, that had been his sires secret. This family, as two- and three-year-olds, will not take prizes in the showring. It is only as they put on a little age that they fill out into good looking individuals. If they lack the lustre that wins praise on the walking ring, they are transformed when once they enter the track and canter to the post. Now, all is grace and clean movement. Counterpoint, like Count Fleet, has a lovely, effortless way of going, and he is one more proof that purity of gait is one of the great assets of a race horse. Last winter, we saw Counterpoint race during his brief Santa Anita campaign. He went wrong before the big handicap, and trainer Veitch shipped him back to Kentucky for a long rest, but in the few starts he did make on the Coast, Counterpoint looked to be a different horse. Continued on Page Forty-One I WEIGHING IN By EVAN S HITMAN Continued from Page Four Mind you, he did not run better than he had on Long Island, but he had matured, and the transition from ugly duckling to swan was nearly complete. Before, one wondered how a colt who looked like that could, nevertheless, possess undeniable class. At Santa Anita, Counterpoint required no apologies, and this was the horse who served as model for Reeves talented brush. It is idle to deal in "might-have-beens," but, had Counterpoint stayed sound, he was certainly going to take that renewal of the Santa Anita Handicap. Even at the weights, neither the gray Miche nor the good colt, Intent, were not in the same class with C. V. Whitneys son of Count Fleet — Jabot, by Sickle. Preparing a colt for the winter feature is always a ticklish matter, and Counterpoint had the misfortune to encounter a tartar in his first California outing in the obscurely bred, but really running trick, Phil D. That hard race, before he was quite up to it, meant the end of trainer Veitchs and owner Whitneys plans for the champion. Had all gone well with Counterpoint, there was talk of sending him to France this fall to go in the weight-for-age Prix de lArc de Triomphe, with the Ascot Gold Cup and our own Jockey Club Gold Cup, a supreme test for an aged horse. The Arc de Triomphe is a comparatively young stake, dating only from the end of World War I., and it has never been won by an American horse. It would have been a great feather in Whitneys cap, had he been able to carry this trophy back to America, and if Counterpoint had accommodated his style to grass, that would have been quite possible. To our mind. Counterpoint runs like a "Longchamp horse." Rating counts for a lot over that undulating course. Counterpoint has always been amenable to Gormans wishes, placing his point as the jockey pleases, and finishing with uncommon resolution. Aside from pleasing his owner and trainer, it would do vast credit to American breeding if a horse of Counterpoints quality visited the French capitol, and we hope that this trip has been merely postponed. This fine young thoroughbred has no "new worlds to conquer" over here, and victories in our handicaps can tell us no more about him than we know already.