Weighing In: Death of White Skies Costs Us Sprint Champion; Campbell Saw Him Capable of Middle Distances; Bad Luck, Weight Beat White Skies This Year, Daily Racing Form, 1955-05-04


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p- -I mi, nil Weighing In | By Evan Shipman - Death of White Skies Costs Us Sprint Champion Campbell Saw Him Capable of Middle Distances Bad Luck, Weight Beat White Skies This Year BELMONT PARK, Elmont, L. I., N. Y., May 3.— White Skies destruction following an accident in a morning work here at Jamaica yesterday deprives the American turf of its one acknowledged champion still in training. When it came time last fall to vote in the annual polls on the leaders of the vaiious divisions, not even Native Dancer inspired such unanimity is did this great sprinter. Native Dancer had already been retired to stud, but we were all confidently looking forward to another great season for White Skies, and a season during which we looked for him to go beyond cautiously imposed limitations to prove [ himself equally capable at the middle distances. Those tests were still all in the future when this beautiful . chestnut son of Sun Again stumbled in the stretch and broke a leg, and now we can only offer guesses m as to what he might have accomplished in the im-" minent Metropolitan Handicap and in the William Woodward Memorial next September. His death is a terrible misfortune for his owner, the Kentucky horseman, W. M. Wickham, and his skillful trainer, Tommy Root, but the loss of this magnificent horse will also be keenly felt by a host of racegoers, the day-to-day visitors in the grandstand to whom his name had become a synonym for speed, courage and weight-cairying ability. Dean of Handicappers Gave Views Last year, a few days bef org John Blanks Campbells sudden death, we received a letter from that distinguished veteran, horseman — the only communication we had ever had from him, and now treasured for that reason. The letter dealt with" White Skies. At the time, we were covering Delaware Park, but we had written in this space that we considered White Skies a serious "candidate for the 54 renewal of the Metropolitan, even with Native Dancer among the entries, and that we saw no reason, based on breeding, conformation or style, why White Skies should not show just as well at a mile or a mile and a sixteenth as he had at six or seven furlongs. Mr. Campbell told us that this was his view exactly, and he went on to praise the chestnut in terms that he reserved for an elite. Before that * letter, we had several times discussed White Skies with him, and we recall the special tone he reserved for the horse; it was one of affection and admiration. Another great favorite with- Mr. Campbell had been Alsab. Alsab, in his book, was quite simply the greatest modern American thoroughbred since Man o War. Campbells weights for last years Metropolitan placed Native Dancer at the head of the list with 130 pounds, while White. Skies came next with an assignment of 125. As we know, White Skies declined the issue, and it was Greentrees fine gelding, Straight Face, in with 117, who forced the gray champion out in a sensational contest over the traditional eight-furlong course. Trainer Root and owner Wickham had, no doubt, their very good reasons foy remaining on the sidelines, and theser we are sure, had nothing whatsoever to do with White Skies condition or form at the time. No owner and trainer were faced with a more peculiar situation, one where they feared a Metropolitan victory almost as much as a defeat. Had White Skies been good enough or fortunate enough to beat Native Dancer, he would have* been literally at the mercy of the handicappers for the remainder of the 54 season, and the horse had many valuable stake engagements. Five Victories in Six Starts Apart from what he might or might not have done . in the Metropolitan, White Skies had a superb season in 54. Starting a half dozen times, he won five races, these including such time-honored features as the Paumonok, Toboggan, Roseben and Carter handicaps. In every one of these starts, he had been assigned 130 pounds or over, while his burden in the Roseben was 135 and in the Carter, 133. This season, following a long let-up occasioned by cuts he had received during the Carter running, White Skies was third to Bobby Brocato and Blessbull in the Paumonok and third to Sailor and Bobby Brocato in the Toboggan. In the. first race, he experienced bad racing luck, being carried wide in the stretch by Blessbull while Bobby Brocato sneaked through at the rail to beat them both. In last weeks Toboggan, the weight concession asked of him was too much; he was simply unable to concede 26 pounds in actual weight to the three-year-old, Sailor. Sprinters, whose muscular development is more obvious than that of stayers, are often eye-filling individuals, and White Skies was a king of the breed. His red chestnut coat was like burnished copper; his head had i the rare pencilling of breeding and the strength and mildness betokening intelligence; the proportions were such that size and power were concealed, only apparent in comparison with other horses: his walk in the ring, always revealing of action at a faster gait, was poised, cat-like, stealing, the feet placed rhythmically and in perfect line. His disposition, as we could judge it in the paddock, was. good,, while in competition, he was always at his riders command. Jimmy Stout and Eddie Arcaro did most of the riding where White Skies was concerned. Both jockeys have nothing, but praise for him; he gave them all "he had, and when they thought he was at the end of his resources, he would surprise them by coming- up with just a little bit more. ,

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1950s/drf1955050401/drf1955050401_48_2
Local Identifier: drf1955050401_48_2
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800