Reflections: Belmont Adds to Three-Year-Old Confusion; One Count Was Best Horse in 84th Belmont; Sophomore Championship Still in Dispute; Spartan Valor Has Horse of Year Edge, Daily Racing Form, 1952-06-10


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REFLECTIONS I ■ By Nelson Dunstan Belmont Adds to Three-Year-Old Confusion One Count Was Best Horse in 84th Belmont Sophomore Championship Still in Dispute Spartan Valor Has Horse of Year Edge NEW YORK,N. Y., June 9. Six weeks ago, thousands of speculative words were being written on the outcome of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Hill Gail won the Derby, Blue Man took Preak ness honors, and on the week-end, One Count, who had yet to win his first stake, surprised 43,000 Long Island fans by winning the one and one-half -mile Belmont. So, the "Triple Crown" events have added to the confusion that has existed in the sophomore division since the Flamingo, Santa Anita Derby and Louisiana Derby earlier in the year. Some 20-odd important three-year-old stakes have been contested and among those who had their moment of glory are Windy City IX, Quiet Step, Charlie McAdam, Handsome Teddy, Sky Ship. Big Noise, Gushing Oil; Master Fiddle and King Jolle. If lesser events are included, this list can be lengthened, we have had such seasons before and it would be no more correct to condemn the group this year than it was back in 1931, when Twenty Grand, Mate, Jamestown, Equipoise and many others beat one another consistently. They are still regarded today as one of the best three-year-old groups to compete during the present century. We are not comparing the 1952 three-year-olds with the band of 1931, and, to date, no member of the current group could be mentioned in the same breath with Twenty Grand or Equipoise. Whether the remainder of the current season will develop a three-year-old worthy of comparison with those two horses is a question for the coming months. One Count had not been a spectacular sophomore prior to the running of the Belmont, but had run second to Armageddon in the Withers and third to Blue Man and Jampol in the Preakness. In Saturdays race he was definitely the best horse. While some maintain that the to do his best, that does pace was too slow for Blue Man not alter the fact that One Count was his master. When Sub Fleet shortened stride after making most of the pace, it was obvious he had tired badly. At the head of the stretch, Blue Man was taken to the outside by McCreary and it appeared that he was about to make the run which carried him from twelfth place to third in the Derby and all but crushed his opposition in the Preakness. He had dead aim, but Arcaro, driving with everything he had, met the challenge and in the final furlong drew out to win by two and a half lengths from the Preakness winner, who was the odds-on choice. Then lengths behind Blue Man came Armageddon and six lengths farther back was King Jolie. One Counts time of 2:30 was slow in comparison to Bolingbrokes track record of 2:ZVA, but his victory added to the impressive record of Count Fleet, who won the Belmont in 1943. Count Fleet now joins Lexington, Australian, Commando, Man o War and Gallant Fox on the list of sires who have sent out two consecutive winners of the Belmont, Counterpoint having scored for him a year ago. . . In some ways, the 1952 three-year-old season is remindful of the situation a year ago. Until the running of the Peter Pan Handicap, Counterpoint was just another three-year-old, but when he defeated Battlefield in that event, with Hall of Fame third, he stepped right into the ranks of those with championship aspirations. He repeated his victory over Battlefield in the Belmont and in the Kent Stakes at Delaware Park, Hall of Fame started a string of six consecutive victories in important races. Actually, the Belmont Stakes was the beginning and, from all indications, it is to be the same this season. After running second to Armageddon in the Withers, and third to Blue Man in the Preakness, the victory of One Count in the Belmont makes him a legitimate contender for three-year-olds honors. Sub Fleet disappointed in both the Preakness and Belmont. Armageddon must be respected for his gameness. The only one of the favored Belmont trio who cannot be eliminated, is Blue Man. As winner of the Flamingo, Experimental No. 2, and Preakness, along with his third in the Derby and second in the Belmont, he remains in the ranks of candidates for the title. Seldom have so many top three -year-olds been sent to the sidelines before the running of the Belmont as has been the case this season. Windy City II., who performed brilliantly until he was injured in California, was beaten by Hill Gail in the Santa Anita Derby. After the latter won the Kentucky Derby, he too went out of action. Then Greentree Stables Tom Fool, two-year-olds champion of 1951, suffered an injury which caused his absence from the "Triple Crown" events. To that list must be added Primate, The Pimpernel and others. Until Tom Fool and Hill Gail return, there can hardly be any clear-cut claim to the championship. The three-year-old season still has a long way to go. The Kent at Delaware on the week-end and the Yankee Handicap a week from tomorrow, are two races which start a series of sophomore events that will carry the division right up to* the Lawrence Realization in the fall and then competition in the weight-f or-age races. The entire complexion of the three-year-old situation could be changed long before the season closes. The winner of the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby, Hill Gail, will probably be returned to competition at Arlington and Washington Parks in Chicago. With the half-way mark yet to be reached, it is still too early to speculate on the "Horse of the Year" honors, but with Spartan Valor performing as he is this year it could be something of a novelty for an older horse taking the honors from a three-year-old. If a vote were taken today, Spartan Valor, we dare say, would get the nod from the majority. Hill Gail, or possibly, Tom Fool, may come back to snatch the honors, as Counterpoint did in his four last races of the 1951 season. Spartan Valor is now in Chicago and as the handicappers are not likely to assign him more than 130 pounds in the rich races at Arlington and Washington Parks, he has a royal chance of continuing his winning streak. The Helis champion has been sensibly handled by Frankie Catrone and, from where we sit, he does not appear to have any stiffer opposition out there than he encountered here in the East. "Counterpoint won last years honors by meeting older horses in the weight-for-age races in the fall, and racing fans have much to look forward to when the Helis champion meets the top three-year-olds who have raised havoc with the handicap stars in these late races during recent years.

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