The time comes inthe annual racing calendar when, quite suddenly, the names we have heard sooften through the year tend to lose some of their noteworthiness. That pointcomes at the end of August, and the only possible reason why we can momentarilyput from our thoughts such, for instance, as Swaps, Nashua, Bobby Brocato,Needles, Fabius, Swoon's Son and others, as familiar as they are successful, isthat standing in the wings of racing's coast-to-coast stage is a spanking newcast of nervous characters, waiting breathlessly to be introduced. They are the2-year-olds.
The awakening ofinterest in Thoroughbred 2-year-olds at the end of each summer is a uniquesporting phenomenon. In most sports the youngster who is finally given hischance on center stage gets there with a respectable past performance chart inhis traveling bag. The rookie who shows up at a major league spring trainingcamp points with pride to his record in the minors. The varsity football herooften turns out to be the same young man who was also an all-state high schoolhero.
But 2-year-oldsare unknown quantities on the verge of fame. They approach the crucial month ofAugust bursting with spirit and energy while their owners and breeders tagalong behind feeling like the parents of a boy acting in a first-grade play:they just hope he'll do all right.
There is no wayon earth of predicting with any certainty before a horse gets to the races howhe'll turn out. Perfect conformation and the most fashionable breeding are nomore than important clues. Competition is the only test, and it is in Augustthat the competition begins to get truly tough. Between now and late Novemberthe speed sprinters will be forgotten. The champion will be a colt who hasproved his ability to go a distance of ground and who will be conceded the bestchance of winning next year at distances up to a mile and a half.
Where is thatchampion going to come from? Most of the East's leading juveniles are atSaratoga, long a traditional testing ground for 2-year-olds, while theMidwest's best, now joined by a few good invaders from California, are runningin Chicago.
The safest way tofind your best 2-year-old is to look for the best breeding among the youngcolts and fillies who also have some performance to their credit. Thecandidates to date come quickly to mind: Bold Ruler, Cohoes, California Kid,Greek Game, Lucky Mel, King Hairan, Clem, Lucky Dip, Nearctic, Beauguerre,Nashville, Leallah, Amarullah, Thin Ice, Alanesian, Miss Blue Jay and many morebesides.
Bold Ruler,winner of all five of his races, is a son of Nasrullah (the sire of Nashua) outof a Discovery mare—a combination of bloodlines it is nearly impossible tofault. The colt, trained by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons for the Wheatley Stables(Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps) is a little lengthier and lighter than Nashua atthe same age but, like Nashua, he shows some of the unpredictable Nasrullahtemperament.
"He's reallythe nicest horse in the world to train," says Mr. Fitz, "but in hisraces he likes to loaf a bit. He's not a sulker, just a loafer."
UnfortunatelyBold Ruler won't get back into action with the rest of the East's top colts inthis week's 6½-furlong Hopeful at Saratoga. He has not entirely recovered froma strained back muscle and a slight injury to his left rear hock, so Mr. Fitzhas decided to keep him away from the races until the Belmont Futurity onOctober 13.
The mention ofKing Hairan, the Florida-bred son of King's Stride out of Lady Hairan, whoraces in the colors of Leo Ed wards, actually constitutes a contradiction ofthe general theory that unfashionable parents do not produce a good horse. TurfAuthority Evan Shipman recently summed it up perfectly when he pointed out thatKing Hairan is one who makes his own pedigree, so to speak: he stands or fallsby what he does rather than by what the stud book says he ought to do. So farhe's been doing just fine, although twice beaten by Bold Ruler. But this weekin the Hopeful, instead of meeting Bold Ruler for the third time, he'll begoing up against a new number by the name of Cohoes.
Cohoes, althoughhe's won only two of his six starts for the Greentree Stable, may be a typicalexample of the many good 2-year-olds who tend to develop later than others oftheir generation.
"Not onlythat," says Trainer John Gaver, "but Greentree is always looking to thefuture. We like to have good 3-year-olds and we believe in taking plenty oftime with the 2-year-olds before racing them. I'd rather go ahead and train a2-year-old and let him tell me when he's ready to race than push him along toosoon. Of course, breeding enters into it too. Cohoes has classic bloodlinesright through. He's by Mahmoud, winner of the Epsom Derby, out of Belle ofTroy, and on paper he looks like a good one. Now we know he's bred to adistance, so there's no necessity for hurrying him into sprints before he'sready."
If Cohoes isdescended from a sire who has gotten many good although not great horses, thereis a youngster in Chicago at the moment by the name of California Kid who mightdo some boasting of his own. California Kid's sire is Khaled (sire of Swaps)and his dam is Heather Time—which makes him a full brother to Correspondent.With Swaps, Khaled has proved his ability to sire a horse with tremendous speedand stamina. Correspondent, on the other hand, although he won such stakes asthe Blue Grass and later the Hollywood Gold Cup, was hardly renowned as adistance horse, and in general—with the exception of Swaps—the Khaleds haven'tshown too much staying ability. California Kid, in winning the Prairie State inChicago last week, showed a lot of the usual Khaled speed (the six furlongs in1:10 2/5) and beat the two best 2-year-olds on the grounds, but we must waitand see what happens when he has to go a distance of ground.
The two losingnotables among California Kid's recent Washington Park victims were Greek Gameand Lucky Mel, a couple of real speed demons both sired by Olympia. Greek Gamewas losing his first race in five starts, while Lucky Mel went into the racewith a record of seven wins in 11 starts. There is no telling how good any ofthese three Chicago colts is, but if California Kid's staying ability issomewhat suspect, the same must be said—and more emphatically—about Greek Gameand Lucky Mel, who, incidentally, set a world record of :56 3/5 for fivefurlongs in California this summer. The fact that they are both by Olympiashould not inevitably be held against them, but it is true that Olympia wasmore of a sprinter than a stayer. Once in a while, of course, a horse bred tosprint develops into a real runner. That's the hope of Willie Molter, trainerof Lucky Mel, who says of his colt: "Any real fast one like Lucky Mel thatcan be rated almost always will stretch out as far as you wish."
It would bepossible but unusual for the best of the new crop to turn out to be a filly. Ifso, she might be Alanesian, William Perry's beautiful bay by Polynesian, who onAugust 16 ran the fastest 5½ furlongs of the whole Saratoga meeting.
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
OLDEST BLOODLINES HAVE PRODUCED THESE EARLY FAVORITESFOR THE 1957 DERBY
BOLD RULER, OWNED BY MRS. HENRY C. PHIPPS, IS STILL UNDEFEATED
CALIFORNIA KID IS REX ELLSWORTH'S PACIFIC COAST CONTENDER
GREEK GAME, HERO OF MIDWEST TRACKS, BELONGS TO F. W. HOOPER
COHOES IS LATE-DEVELOPING COLOR BEARER OF GREENTREE STABLE
1957 KENTUCKY DERBY
Tony Alessio, who runs the Caliente winter and futurebooks, quotes for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED odds he would lay for next spring'sLouisville classic--supposing it were to be run in a month's time:
Bold Ruler, King Hairan
4 to 1
6 to 1
8 to 1
Lucky Mel, Nashville, Beauguerre, Pro Brandy
15 to 1
Lucky Dip, Cohoes, unnamed colt by Noor
20 to 1
30 to 1
40 to 1
General Duke, Simon Kent
50 to 1