California: Coasters Analyze Triple Crown Status; Wests New Role in Proving Up Tops; Term Crown Created by the Press, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-13


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California By Oscar Otis Coasters Analyze Triple Crown Status Wests New Role in Proving Up Tops Term Crown Created by the Press HOLLYWOOD PARK, Inglewood, Calif., May 12.— Certain Westerners have suddenly become vocal in their opinion of "Triple Crown" publicity now that the Preakness is at hand, and the consensus here in Southern California may be summarized something like this: The Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont are great and worthy stakes- in their own .right, but their grouping into a so-called Triple Crown series is becoming more and more misleading to the public and its basis in cold fact, once clearly admitted, is no longer valid. According to a brochure issued by the Thoroughbred Racing Association the Triple Crown was not recognized as such until Whirlaways year, 1941, and we quote from Spencer Drayton, "The Triple Crown was so named by the press." Drayton is right although he might have gone further and given credit where it was due, to the facile and imaginative mind of our colleague, Charlie Hatton. Circumstances at the time made Hattons description apt, fitting, and proper. But the vast growth of American racing since 1941, including the rise to prestige of California, the expansion of major three-year-old stakes at Arlington-Washington parks, the attractiveness of Atlantic City and Monmouth Park stakes, and other factors too numerous to mention in detail have seen a trend toward dispersion, or shall we say diversification, of the three-year-old division rather than a centering toward the Triple Crown races as the only way to prove the greatness of a three-year-old. Swaps, Determine Went Home Swaps, the first California-bred, owned, and trained horse to win the Kentucky Derby, put the first crack in the Triple Crown. After his victory over Nashua in the Derby, shipped back to California rather than on to Pimlico, although to be fair about it, trainer "Mesh" Tenney later told us that had he been fully aware of the prestige of the Triple Crown, as it then existed, he would have gone on to Pimilco, and perhaps even to Belmont. As it turned out, Swaps rose to admitted greatness without benefit of either the Preakness or Belmont. The year before Swaps, Kentucky-bred, but California adopted, Determine, did exactly the same thing. Now this year, we have" the Derby winner, Tomy Lee, soaking in the Southern California sunshine awaiting the 00,000 Hollywood Derby. Prior to the Kentucky Derby running, trainer Frank Childs flatly announced that if Tomy Lee won the Derby, he would try for the Preakness but under no circumstances the Belmont, but day-to-day developments dictated a change in plan, and he came west instead of going East. The great filly, Silver Spoon, in her Derby excursion, had a plane on order for the Sunday morning following the Derby, regardless, and that plane, needless to say, headed for the Pacific Coast immediately after take-off. Westerns go further and say that the quality upcoming in the 00,000 Hollywood Derby would entitle this race to be rated right along with the three Triple Crown races and although calling such a series the "quadruple crown" would be a little unwieldly, the decision of a" "champion" on a true national basis would almost of necessity make one far western race worthy of consideration. Jim Stewart, vice-president and general manager of Hollywood Park, smiled as he observed, "you cant arouse any quarrel with us of the proposition that a true champion would have to prove himself up in all sections of the country and it was not just an accident that we changed the name of the Westerner to the Hollywood Derby. New Name More Significant The very name "Westerner" conjured up the idea of sectionalism, or perhaps regionalism is the better word, but the Hollywood Derby by its very name implies a championship race. We did not hesitate to use the word "Derby" because an intensive study has convinced us the word has become generic in the American language for a top three-year-old contest of both speed and stamina. If the public wants to include us in it when it comes to divisional or Horse of the Year honors later in the year, well buy that package gladly. I am aware that in Horse of the Year voting, the experts of Daily Racing Form and The Morning Telegraph do the actual voting but I think their ratings and that of the public pretty much agree." The current Triple Crown series has one disadvantage for some horses, e.g. Tomy Lee, Silver Spoon in that the races are too close together for a three-year-old who needs spacing of racing endeavors, and, with the hundreds of thousands dollars worth of oher prestige three-year-old races later in the season, like the Arlington Classic in Chicago, the Hollywood Derby here it doesnt make sense to over-race a horse in the spring just to complete in the Triple Crown. To quote again from Drayton, "it was not until 1950, when the TRA board of directors voted to create a trophy, for the past and future winners, that it took: on a sort of official stature." Reading between these lines, it was good press and public relations for racing. i

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