Between Races: Tense Week for Derby Veterinarians; Harthill Tells Troubles Encountered; Bus Becomes Dominant Derby Transport, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-01


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Between Races By Oscar Otis Tense Week for Derby Veterinarians Harthill Tells Troubles Encountered Bus Becomes Dominant Derby Transport CHURCHILL DOWNS, Louisville, Ky., April 30.— Kentucky Derby Week has its tense moments for most everybody, but the public realizes little of the tremen dous pressure undergone by a few top veterinarians on the back-stretch in the case of "doubtful" horses and of which this Derby seemingly has had its share. The best known Derbytown vet, and who has consulted on dozens of Derby prospects since he opened practice here in 1948 is Dr. Alex Harthill, a third generation vet with a blue ribbon roster of clients. "The Derby is something of a paradox for thoroughbreds," observes Harthill, whose most newsworthy client tl is week has been Easy Spur, "for while it is axiomatic with me that a horse must be true hickory to win a Kentucky Derby the very fact that they usually need solid campaigning to get dead fit for the Derby leads to, on many occasions, varying degrees of ailments. Owners and trainers with a doubtful horse want more than anything else in the world to race if their horse is up to giving his best effort. But here the time element becomes vital. If legal and permissive treatment is to be effective, it must be well before post time of the Derby itself. A Derby vet is not only working with a problem but one which also has a time limit. "My first client when I graduated from veterinary school was Ben Jones, and my first Derby year was Citations. I didnt have any work on Derby starters that year because Citation was as sound and as healthy as an ox and the last thing he needed was veterinary care. But Gen. Dukes year was a far different story. Something was wrong in his foot and the Joneses knew it and I knew it but we couldnt for the life of us find out what it was. We took X-ray pictures by the dozens, and nothing showed. He had to be scratched at the last moment, although Iron Liege went on to win that Derby for Calumet. Later in the season, the spark of trouble developed to the point it showed, ,a crack in the coffin bone." Wonder Drugs Sometimes Help We asked Harthill what part the newer wonder medicines played in the Derby, and he said, "Sometimes a lot, sometimes nothing. Take the case of Goyamo. He had run down badly before coming to Churchill and all his four feet were burned. His feet were so abrased that he appeared to be walking on eggs. And time was running out. It just so happened a new medicine was introduced at that moment by Lederle which was supposed to dissolve the diseased tissue. We tried it on Goyamo. It worked, and he started and ran an exceptionally good race, finishing fourth. "Kentucky rules, by the way, give the racing fan the best protection possible. It is legal in Kentucky to treat a horse with any legal-permissive means up to the time he leaves the barn for the paddock. Such treatment is only common sense, for any athlete, and the horse is perhaps the finest athlete of all, should be at his best possible condition when he enters competition. An alcohol rubdown is not medication in a true sense, yet Ive heard that its been forbidden in some places as much as 48 hours before post time. States which take an unrealistic view of veterinary care not only are placing an unnecessary burden upon both horse and horsemen but also in theory are making it impossible for many horses to compete at their top performance, and when this occurs, the public suffers the most." Exchange of Professional Technique Derby week as often as not finds vets from all parts of the country assembling, some, such as Dr. Jock Jocoy of California, attending a particular horse. These vets make good use of their spare time in shop talk and bringing one another up to date in the latest veterinary advance in their individual parts of the world. It is a far cry from only 30 or 40 years ago when a top vet kept his knowledge and the formula for his remedies to himself for fear that some young newcomer might divert some of his clientele. But men like Harthill and Jocoy willingly share their knowledge of what -is new in veterinary science, for by giving, they also receive. Horses and People: Wathen Knebelkamp, president of Churchill Downs, has decided to carry on the Derby tradition of talking to the jockeys prior to the running of the race, and, like his predecessors, will stress the positive aspects of the race and its impact upon American racing and the American public rather than talk in the nature of a "warning." . . . Russell Sweeney, resident manager of the Downs, reveals that as far as ground transportation is concerned, the bus is gradually replacing the train as "the way to come." . Says Sweeney, "While the special trains are still important, every year sees a gain in chartered busses as far north as Chicago, as far south as Memphis, and from places closer by, like Cincinnati, volume of bus travel is exceptionally heavy." . . . Bus travel incidentally, has gone a long way in providing luxury for its patrons and some of the charters are as "de luxe" as could be imagined. . . . The Derby lost its only bona fide California-bred starter when soreness forced Monks Hood from the line-up, but the ailment is not Continued on Poge Seventeen BETWEEN RACES By OSCAR OTIS ~ — -— — — — — — — — — — — Continued from Page Five serious, merely annoying, and hell point now for the 00,000 added Hollywood Derby. Dick Nash of Santa Anita and Al Wesson of Hollywood Park are here soaking up Derby Week tradition. . . . Jet plane service direct to Louisville is expected to be available for Derby visitors by next spring. . . . Lengthening of the runways at the Louisville airport is the one thing delaying establishment of such service at the moment. ! . . . The handling of Derby Day vehicular traffic by Louisville and Kentucky state police is a masterpiece of efficiency. . . . But it is still good sense to, if at all possi-| ble, park downtown on Derby Day and use j public transportation to and from the track.

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