Reflections: Belmont Stakes True Test of Champion Many Winning Jockeys of Race Still Alive Millar, Daily Racing Form, 1955-06-06


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■i,u , , . | -Sfi-i-iJBBi Reflections By Nelson Dunstan —- Belmont Stakes True Test of Champion . Many Winning Jockeys of Race Stiil Alive Millar Suggests They Be, Given Mementoes NEW YORK, N. Y., June 4.— Americas most conclusive test for three-year-olds run over the nations greatest race course will have its 1955 renewal at ■i,u , , . | Belmont Belmont next next Saturday. Saturday. A A truly truly Belmont Belmont next next Saturday. Saturday. A A truly truly time-honored classic, rich in tradition and money, the Belmont Stakes has never in our time been won by a bad horse. This is-the event where class really tells and the thoroughbred with a faint heart or lack of stamina can hope for nothing more than defeat when put to the mile and a half test against the best of his age. It is small wonder then that racing ing men men and and the the millions millions of of de- -Sfi-i-iJBBi ing men men and and the the millions millions of of de- devotees of the sport from coast to coast are looking forward to June 11 and the thrilling spectacle always attendant upon the last jewel in The Triple Crown. Fingering through the American Racing Manual, we paused to note the Belmont winners of yesteryear and were equally impressed with the names of great American jockeys who, by their skill in the saddle, shared in that glory reserved for those who win this classic. Going over the list of winners down through the years it occurred to us that there are some 20 jockeys who won the Belmont still alive and well. Naturally, the mortality rate figures high among horses and men associated with a race inaugurated as far back as 1867. For a "whos who" of race riders of our time, all winners of the Belmont in recent and not too many years, how about these: Eric Guerin, Eddie Arcaro, Dave Gorman, Willie Boland, Ted Atkinson, Ruperto Donoso, Warren Mehrtens, Gayle L. Smith, Johnny Longden, Jimmy Stout, Willie "Smokey" Saunders* Wayne Wright, Earl Sande, Albert Johnson, Johnny Loftus, j George Odom, Joe Notter and perhaps a few others. Gold Keys Would Be Appropriate Awards Looking over this array of all-American jockey ! talent we recalled an idea submitted to us some time ago by our good friend Harry Millar, now secretary of the New York State Racing Commission. Back in his newspaper days, Harry became something of an authority on jockeys and, as we remember he pounded out interesting yarns about the riders of today and those who helped make turf history in days gone by. Millar hit upon the idea that George D. Widener and the people who run Belmont Park might do well to sponsor an honor society consisting of living jockeys who have ridden a winner of a Belmont Stakes. The members of this select- fraternity would be presented with a gold key not unlike the emblem awarded Phi Beta Kappa man in the field of scholastic achievement. The presentation of this award would be made annually by the president of the Westchester Racing Association at a special luncheon or dinner at Belmont Park or on the night of the famed Belmont ball. Such an event could not heln but receive the endorsement of those having a genuine regard for perpetuating great feats in sports. Other than its apparently strong publicity appeal, the promotion of such an annual reunion of great 1 jockeys would most certainly be good for racing. We suppose there are many details to be worked out in ; setting up a plan such as this but we know of no better men for the job than Alec Robb, Bob Kelley and Harry Millar. The record shows that Earl Sande and Eddie Arcaro rode five winners of the Belmont Stakes. Jimmy Stout, Eric Guerin and Albert Johnson scored twice. In such cases the jockey would receive only one gold key but for each additional victory in the classic a small diamond might be added. In any event, it would seem that the idea is not without appeal and we are told that Arcaro liked the proposal when first outlined to him on the coast a year or so ago. Bert Thompson, who heads the Western division of the Jockeys Guild, felt that riders would be willing to travel almost anywhere to attend such a reunion. Recall Four Who Have Passed On We suppose that gatherings such as these would not be without moments of sorrow. A good many of us have experienced the sadness of class reunions when we searched in vain for a face we knew we would never see again. In recent years, death claimed four jockeys who won the Belmont during their riding careers. This writer knew each of them intimately and regrets their passing. It is not easy to forget boys like little F. A. "Freddy" Smith, who won the Belmont with Col. Edward R. Bradleys Bimelich in 1940, or Charlie Kurtsinger, who rode War Admiral in 1937, or Tommy Malley on Faireno in 1932 and, of course, Mack Garner, who was astride Blue Larkspur in 1929 and Hurryoff in 1933. You can bet if these lads were around today they would be proud, indeed, to wear something symbolic of the afternoon at Belmont Park when, performing in thoroughbred racings major league, they rode the winner of the Belmont. Some day we shall call Ted Atkinson aside and ask him how it feels to be a fraternity brother of Clarence Kummer, George Odom, Earl Sande, Nash Turner, Fred Taral, Joe Notter, Snapper Garrison, Lucian Lyne and the rest.

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