This is Silkys Derby; Win or Lose; Hes the One Theyll Long Remember: Californis Stretch Demon Has Already Captured the Hearts of All Americans, Daily Racing Form, 1958-05-03


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■ — _ . , , , - ~i " . •„ it* .. ... • , * ," — , . I — , . I SILKY SULLIVAN This Is Silkys Derby/ Win or Lose; Hes the One Theyll Long Remember Californias Stretch Demon Has Already Captured the Hearts oi ~AII Americans By BARNEY NAGLER CHURCHILL DOWNS, Louisville. Ky., May 2. — No matter how it comes out tomorrow, they are going to remember the 1958 Kentucky Derby as Silky Sullivans. They will talk about the winner through the years, but they will save a word or two for the handsome flame-red chestnut from California, the one marked by a smidge of humanism. It may be that Silky Sullivan will be the winner and, as such, touch the hearts of millions who have come to regard him as a symbol of the downtrodden. He would then be the hero of the handicapped, as well as the bane of the handicapper. By all the laws of dramaturgy. Silky Sullivan should be bedizened in roses at the end of the 1 1-4 miles chase. By all the laws of form, he should not be. Tim Tarn, for one. Is rated higher. Jewels Re- » . ward is a powerful factor. Yet no outcome would excite the populace as much as a victory for Silky. It would be as though the oppressed had triumphed over tyranny. In an abused phrase. Silky Sullivan is the peoples choice. He has clutched at the imagination of the racing fan and he has tipped the pen of the headline writer with poetry. Just the other day. a New York newspaper ran a piece on Silky — A visit to his drawing room at -Churchill Downs. The headline said: "Silky Steals the Heart." Before that, another story printed in New York said, "Silky Even Eats . . . Like a Horse!" and, earlier, "Silky Sullivan Has Social Secretary." A man reading the last headline asked: "Cant he write his own letters?" It must be reported, and not without a measure of hesitancy, that Silky Sullivan cannot write. He cannot talk. He can. however, beguile an audience with his stretch-running way of life. He has set at- Continued on Page 12 D Theyll Always Call It Silkys Derby; Win or Lose Californias Stretch Demon Has Already Captured Nations Heart Continued horn Page One tendance records at Churchill Downs — 20,-G00 on opening day — and at Golden Gate Fields — 19,102 on a weekday. He has caused to be written hundreds of thousands of •words about the cut of his clothes. "When he goes to the track," a United Press reporter wrote, "Silky wears bridles and head straps, made doubly strong for him. because of his great strength, and lined with- a special latigo* leather which is soft -and oily. His girth strap and other gear are covered- with brilliant red alpaca fur and he wears a flaming royal crimson blanket." It can be reported that he frowns on the chemise and trapeze style of cloak. It can also be reported that no horse since Man o War has bestirred *as much public interest as Silky Sullivan and Silkys support runs in a deeper and wider strain- than "Big Red" aroused. Citation and Native Dancer also were public property. The aforementioned were all great horses. There is some doubt about Silky. His trainer, Reggie Cornell, bringing his f irstmount to the Kentucky Derby, frankly says: "How good is- he really? Well, I think hes all they, say he is. But hes a three-year-old .and? its early in the season." Of such evasive action are horsemen masters. It really does not matter how good Silky Sullivan is. It remains a fact of confirmation that he is 1.200 pounds of color,, a giant of a horse, 1G hands 3 inches high, so thick, through the chest that a special surcingle is tailored for him. Human Qualities Attributed to Him He has done more for personification as figure of speech than Tennyson. Human qualities axe attributed to him on allsides. ■If he sleeps a great deal, as he does, it is said that he does so out of a dramatic sense. If he eats a great, deal, and he does, it is said he does so to attract attention. A local housewife presented a basket of Granges to Silky Sullivan the other day. He devoured them as though they were — oranges. California oranges, to be sure. The extent of his appetite became a news item sent crackling over the leased wires of world-wide news agencies. His exercise boy, Pete Kozar, sleeps in the stall with Silky Sullivan every night. Other horses have been watched as closely. In Kozars" case, however, it is said that his ■wife may file a suit charging alienation of •of affection. It is being said that Silky Sulivan, running as he does with head moving from side to side, counts the house on the way to the first turn. It is further said that his famous stretch drives are. motivated dramatically. There will be no effort to tear down these theories. Who knows? , His style has been explained many ways. Bill Boland. who was second to Silky Sullivan on Harcall in the Santa Anita Derby, said on his return to New York, "I understand the horse is touched in the wind." Another theory: An arthritic condition4 causing physical pain until Silky is warmed up by running-. Cornell knows more about Silky than anybody, including owners Phil Klipstein and Tom Ross, but he frankly disavows subscription to the aforementioned theories. Says he, "Maybe- he just likes to give his opposition a head start and then nail em." The people dont know and care less about causation. They know Silky Sullivan comes charging from away back — as many as 41 lengths in one race — and. has managed to win three times in seven races as a three-year-old. In California, Silky Sullivans fan mail was measured by the sack. Kids who should have been pleading- for Duke Sniders phiz clamored instead for Siiky Sullivans photograph. Autographed, of course. The horses veterinarian, Dr. Jack Jacoy, whq_ travels with the retinue, is social secretary. He helps Cornell answer the mail. Getting Dr. Jacoy to talk about Silky is not like pulling teeth. "I pulled the last -of fqur teeth this week," Dr. Jacoy said, "but they were Silkys baby teeth. Hes never sick. Hes real strong." "Like a horse," it was suggested. Nobody laughed. Silky is a serious commodity in Kentucky. It may be that the crowd he will help bring to Bill Corums party will be the largest going back to 75, but the operators will be hoist on their own rstatistical petard. One hundred thousand has been the number handed down so many times, none will be admonished if the boys who tote up the number of visitors at the Downs come up with the same figure. Among this number there will be thousands who will buy tickets in support of Silky Sullivan, not so much because form is their guide, but because they will be • 9 ». ft* 4 I « f ft »! tM *.*r*. itti carrying sentiment in their wallets. The experts may be confounded by Silkys blood lines, finding it difficult to relate his stretch-running to his forebears, but the equation is mighty simple for country folk. Nobody loves Silky but the people. On the Downs today they were talking only of Silky, forgiving him evenfor his misstep in the "Stepping Stone" Jast Saturday, when he finished fourth, two and one-quarter lengths off the pace after making up a deficit of almost nine lengths in the last furlong-. That one was a 7-furlong test. They will be going 10 furlongs here tomorrow and the country will be looking at Silky Sullivan, agonizingly far behind at the outset, carrying with him the aspirations of the common herd, hauling Willie Shoemaker to dismay or victory. And if he wins, they say, he will swagger to the circle to get his roses. Who Is betting hell not toss them to the crowd, one by one? And then throw a kiss.

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