Between Races: Diverse Opinions on Breed Improvement; Hancock, Combs, Doherty Offer Views; Deem Cup Type Stakes Urgent Necessity, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-07


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I Between Races I By Oscar Otis ■ Diverse Opinions on Breed Improvement Hancock, Combs, Doherty Offer Views Deem Cup Type Stakes Urgent Necessity LEXINGTON, Ky., May 5.— Sojourning in Lexington without tabbing the state of the improvement of the breed would be like visiting Newcastle without buying a bucket of coal, and to gather the Blue Grass thinking, we posed the proposition of a Now that the horse is no longer a true utility animal, what is the basic justification of the improvement of the breed, and b Are . stakes at more than W miles necessary for said improvement assuming that proposition a can be proved as being justified. By way of background, the horse population of this country is dwindling to the point that henceforth, with only a few exceptions, he must be considered as a pleasure-recreational animal. Our first witness, A. B. "Bull* Hancock, observed, "I have proposed there should be four major IV2 miles stakes at scale or approximating scale in the United States, one such stake for each season of the year and perhaps distributed geographically. I consider such races a necessity because we in Kentucky base our breeding programs on the well-known law of genetics that the breed tends to produce to the avex-age or norm of the species, and this being true, cup races of the type I have suggested would, under this law, provide us with true mile and one-quarter horses. Presently, I believe that 6 furlongs might be accepted as the norm for the species. This certainly could stand improvement. As for improving the breed lacking the utility justifications you mention, were this done I believe America could capture the world export market now dominated by Ireland and England." Derby Distance Supreme Test Leslie Combs II. noted, "As far as the economic need for the improvement of the breed ample precedent has been set by the harness horses. There is still an occasional need for a riding or running horse, but nobody ever drives any more except for purses on a harness track. But anybody who is a sincere breeder attempts to improve his production stock in quality and soundness if only for a sense of achievement and accomplishment, for any endeavor in life that is worth while is worth doing well. While I agree that the law of returning to the norm of the breed is a valid one I nevertheless am willing to accept the 1 V* miles of the Kentucky Derby as being perhaps the supreme test of quality in this country. The classic Derby winner must have speed as well as endurance, and coming as it does, early in. the three-year-old form of a given crop, the Derby is more definitive than any other race in America no matter what the distance." Lou Doherty, master of the Stallion Station, declares, "It is true that the utilitarian purpose of the horse is vanishing, for the cavalry no longer wins wars, and the tractor has replaced the draft animal. If you want to be cynical about it, you could say that the economic justification for the improvement of the breed would be the economic improvement of the tax collectors. The basic need for improvement now lies within racing itself, i. e., the providing of its public with racing of the highest imaginable type, and if this is done, racing will continue to grow in popularity. Mediocrity in racing breeds apathy on the part of the public. The law of the tendency of the breed to approximate the norm of the breed is one of the few valid and solid ones in thoroughbred breeding as a guide toward matings. Therefore, I am of the opinion that cup races are not only desirable but necessary and I have the notion that more such definitive cup» races will come into existence through the unusual circumstance of the popularity of grass racing. It is well known that some grass horses do not race well on the dirt, but others do, and horses that can race well on both should provide a pool sufficient to justify the longer races on the dirt, for, having trained to long distances on the grass, it would be unwise to race them back over the dirt at what would amount to sprint distances." See Fine Stud Future for Table Hancock, incidentally, is holding in abeyance plans for the debut of Horse of the Year Round Table at stud pending a conference with owner Travis M. Kerr, of Oklahoma City, but says, "His book will be filled overnight once a program for the horse has been mapped out. I look for him to be one of Claibornes great studs for Round Table has everything including one of the strongest female lines in the world. I say strongest, because it is one of the most prolific." Hancock is not an adherent, it might be mentioned, of pure and sheer speed somewhere in the pedigree but rather of a pedigree of balance, speed plus stamina. And that Round Table has. And over at Spendthrift, Leslie Combs is Continued on Page Sixteen • BETWEEN RACES By OSCAR OTIS Continued from Page Five beaming, confident in the knowledge that his yearling crop is the best in the whole history of his farm, for there isnt a blemish in the whole lot, which must be something of a record. This does not come from Combs, but rather from appraiser George Swinebroad. And Doherty, as an interest- ing diversion from stallion syndication, has undertaken the syndication of an island somewhere in the bonefish-swarming waters off the Bahamas.

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