Widener Wholeheartedly Agrees That Belmont Stakes Is Test of Champion: Jockey Club and Westchester Track Head Relates Reasons For His Appraisal of Race, Daily Racing Form, 1953-06-13


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BELMONT CUP which goes to the winning owner for one year and a replica of which is given him for his permanent possession GEORGE D WIDENER Widener Wholeheartedly Agrees That Belmont Stakes Is Test of Champion Jockey Club and Westchester Track Head Relates Reasons For His Appraisal of Race RaceBy By BOB HORWOOD HORWOODStaff Staff Correspondent BELMONT PARK Elmont L I N Y June 12 The Belmont Stakes which will have its 85th running tomorrow is adver ¬ tised as the test of the champion and George D Widener in his dual role as chairman of ThejJockey Club and presi ¬ dent of the Westchester Racing Association makes it clear that he feels this is an accu ¬ rate appraisal of the classic mile and one half so far as the conditions of the race are concerned The Belmont is at the tradition ¬ al and searching Derby distance is offered sufficiently late in the season for the horses to have normally reached something like their full development and it bars geldings which adds to its significance as a breeders race raceHowever However Widener also makes it clear that other conditions which seem unavoid ¬ able sometimes make the actual running of the Belmont something less than a championship When you point out in defense of the Westchester Racing Associa ¬ tions third tier of the Triple Crown that the Belmont Stakes has far more often than not been won by the colt who is now remembered as the champion of his year and that the small field almost always in ¬ cluded the runnerup for these honors the Philadelphian has a somewhat melancholy reply replyProud Proud of Class of Races Winners WinnersWhat What you say is true and naturally we are proud of the class of the Belmont win ¬ ners Unfortunately I am afraid that quite a few colts who should have been cham ¬ pions were intrinsically the best of their generation never got to the post in the Belmont or in the other classics for that matter matterThe The Belmont should be Americas great ¬ est race and I think it is our best though it has not and probably will never have the popularity with the racing public that it deserves The present setup of racing makes this impossible In the first place logically the Kentucky Derby should be run after the Preakness as it was in earlier years It is a longer race on a more dif ¬ ficult course than the Preakness and I think it comes too early in the schedule scheduleHowever However the position of the Kentucky Derby in the seasons schedule is only one factor of many which tend to eliminate potential champions from competition long before they have reached maturity Far too many colte and fillies have had ten or more starts in allowance and handicap stakes before they get to the Derby These races with their rich purses are tempting to the many comparative newcomers to racing and to some of the older and more experienced owners as well Of course there are some iron horses who can take this hard campaigning and traveling such as Royal Bay Gem but it is fatal to most thoroughbreds thoroughbredsIt It is true that the Belmont Stakes is usually won by the survivor of this gruell ¬ ing schedule and in a sense it is a matter of the survival of the fittest But far too many horses who could have been cham ¬ pions if they were not burned out by in ¬ judicious racing in stakes leading up to the Derby fall by the wayside each year yearThis This injudicious racing is not always a matter of the number of starts engaged in by the colt who went wrong In reviewing recent examples Widener cited Greentree Stables Straight Face who was ruined in one race his second start of the year This was the Everglades Handicap at Hialeah HialeahContinued Continued on Page FortySeven Widener of Opinion Belmont Is Americas Best Classic ClassicContinued Continued from Page Six Sixin in which 19 horses went postward result ¬ ing in a jam at the first turn in which Straight Face was cut on all four legs and I wrenched a knee kneeHad Had that race been at level weights it would have had half as many horses and would have been a better race Widener said saidAs As chairman of The Jockey Club Mr Widener has long advocated more weight forage races something which as presi ¬ dent of the Westchester Racing Associa ¬ tion he is not able to provide pointing out that no one track can hope to stage addi ¬ tional such races with adequate fields In the same role he hopes that other racing secretaries will follow the example of John B Campbell and gradually eliminate the allowance and handicap conditions from stakes events feeling that it is those con ¬ ditions which tempt owners to overmatch undeveloped horses thus compromising their careers both on the race track and at the haras harasMeanwhile Meanwhile Widener is justifiably hope ¬ ful that despite the circumstances which mitigate against its national popularity the Belmont will again this year prove to be the test of the champion With Native Dancer Jamie K and Royal Bay Gem in the field his hopes appear well founded

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1950s/drf1953061301/drf1953061301_6_1
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Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800