Between Races: Tomy Lee Win Shatters Superstitions; Takes Derby Despite Four White Feet; Bulky Field Also One of Great Class, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-05


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M » ■ ■ Between Races By Oscar Otis Tomy Lee Win Shatters Superstitions Takes Derby Despite Four White Feet Bulky Field Also One of Great Class CHURCHILL DOWNS, Louisville, Ky., May 2.— Those who have followed this observer through Keene-land and Churchill Downs will recall we quoted vet eran trainer Frank Childs, who, teamed with Tomy Lee and and Texan Fred Turner Jr. won the 85th running of the Kentucky Derby in a torrid drive over Sword Dancer, to the effect that he had no belief in all supersti- • tion surrounding horse racing and that he would defy precedent as his wisdom as a trainer dictated. For instance, it has been fashionable to say that no winner of the Blue Grass Stakes of recent years went on to win the Derby, but Childs said, "pish and tush." He not only ran in the Blue Grass and won it, but He not only ran in the Blue Grass and won it, but further defied modern tradition by not giving his horse an actual race over the Churchill racing strip. In addition, Childs tossed to the winds a popular notion in California that it might be best to stay West and ship in to Kentucky as late as possible. He was at Keene-land with his horse long before the Keeneland meeting even opened. Childs will admit tp one superstition but says it really isnt superstition at all, namely, a prejudice against four white feet. Tomy Lee has four feet so marked, but the old-time Oregonian says its better to have a good horse with four white ones than a poor one without them. He would prefer no white feet, other things being equal, but in case of Tomy Lee, it is fairly obvious that other things werent quite equal. His prejudice against white feet is founded in the established fact that they have thinner shells than feet of color and hence are more susceptible to injury. Proof, if any be needed, dies in the item that Tomy Lee was on the shelf for a spell at Santa Anita this winter because of such an injury. We only hope that Tomy Lees victory in this 85th Kentucky Derby doesnt start a new flood of superstitions which would be in themselves as foolish as the old set we have been bedeviled with in recent years. Improvement of Breed Evident We believe one major fact disclosed by the 85th running of the Kentucky Derby has been entirely missed by a tremendous number, but by no means all, of the turf writers who covered the Derby in the press for the nation. That fact is simply stated as this: "The 85th Derby came up as the most open race in all modern Derby history and which led the multitude of the non-discerning to assume that the race was cheap simply because it was open. Just the reverse is true. The fact that 17 horses came up as starters in the Kentucky Derby, with no less than 12 of these true contenders at the start of the race, proves rather that American breeding has made tremendous strides if only for the reason that a field of such magnitude and real class could be assembled. Instead of a small field and one good horse, we had a big field and many good horses. We feel certain that the year ahead will doubly prove the point, albeit, there are other circumstances of evidence pointing to the truth of our premise that to the racing thinker, there is no doubt about it. First Landing, who finished third, is certainly a good horse, and although finishing fourth. Royal Orbit, the gamester from California, ran a race under what most circumstances would have won him his Kentucky Derby. This Orbit horse took the worst of it by breaking from the extreme outside, but Harmatz handling of him was a masterpiece of reinsmanship. He let him drift while in the clear to get position on the first turn, moved steadily on the backstretch, and was still pitching his best at the wire. A truly game horse, this one, by all appearances a true cup prospect, and one that has not only a great future at three but also as a handicapper at four. Filly Runs Big Race The filly, our sentimental pick, ran a race that endeared her to both ourselves and no doubt to most of her backers, for while fifth, she made a bold bid through the stretch to be as good as third, but two lengths off the pace at the eighth pole, then hung. The filly scored what might best be called a "moral victory" and we congratulate owner C. V. Whitney for his sportsmanship in giving her a chance in the Derby, a chance she so richly earned by beating the colts in the Santa Anita Derby. If you look at the horses she finished in front of, she lost no stature in defeat. The Derby was fortunate in that despite its bulky field of 17, it was, with the exception of a few minor incidents, a cleanly run race and hence, fairly definitive. We dismiss the claim of foul by Sword Dancers rider against Tomy Lee, which was not sustained, as being rather inconsequential. The best of the two won in a duel that Derby day fans will long remember. It takes a setting to make a Kentucky Derby, and it goes without saying that the standard background for a Derby is people, and while we have no idea how many people actually were on hand, there were many, many there. In many ways, the open aspect of the Derby, which held firm right until the stretch, gave this Derby a lilt like none other we have ever seen. The interest was far greater, for instance, than last year when Silky Sullivan dominated the conversation. Continued on Page Sixteen I BETWEEN RACES I By OSCAR OTIS Continued from Page Five if not the race itself. And, if you care to go back to Citations year, pre-Derby gossip started and ended with Citation. Period. No, as we said before, this "openest" of derbys in modern times on pre-race form and paper had everything to generate extreme nationwide interest, and here at Churchill Downs, this interest might better be described as "rabid/ The day was extra warm, perhaps the warmest in Derby history, but all hands agreed that a warm day is one calculated to whip up Derby interest like no other can, and it certainly was pleasanter than two years ago when no doubt the coldest Derby in history ever was decided. To paraphrase, on a warm, sunny . day in Kentucky in the spring, the fancy of ■ 100,000 people turn to three-year-olds at a mile and one-quarter. I

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