THE QUESTION: Do you think the Kentucky Derby is run too early in the racing season?

May 04, 1958

GEORGE D. WIDENER
Chestnut Hill, Pa.
Chairman
The Jockey Club
Years ago I thought so, but winter racing has changed considerably. Trainers are now able to get their horses ready without rushing. I think it would be better to run the Derby after the Preakness, which is a sixteenth of a mile shorter.

MRS. E. BARRY RYAN
Owner and breeder
Normandy Farm
Lexington, Ky.
I certainly do. Too many good horses have been ruined trying to make it and sidelined because they can't train in Florida or California. I'd like to see the Derby run in the early part of June, like the English Derby.

JIMMY JONES
Trainer
Calumet Farm
Lexington, Ky.
No. It's not as hard on the horses as it is to run 2-year-olds three-quarters of a mile in July, as the racing secretaries are demanding. May is the time for a new champion. We've run a lot of Derbies. I don't know one horse hurt by it.

JOHN R. RING
President of NASRC
Coral Gables, Fla.
It certainly was too early until Florida came into the racing picture. Now, the big stables train their horses here. All racing fans know about the Florida-bred Needles. Some horses who trained in Florida have won the Derby.

JOHN W. GALBREATH
Owner
Darby Dan Farm
Columbus, Ohio
No. There's no lovelier place than Kentucky in May. It would be better for the horses to run later, but this isn't the pattern of American racing. I don't know anyone who has a horse good enough who can't afford Florida for training.

FRED W. HOOPER
Owner
Circle H Farm
Montgomery, Ala.
Even though I won the Derby with Hoop Jr. in 1945, I still think May is too early for horses not fully grown. Later in the year, 3-year-olds are better developed. Average horses don't develop and fill out until they're 4 years old.

BERNARD F. GIMBEL
Chairman of the Board
Gimbel Brothers, Inc.
New York City
No. It has been proved that May is not too early for the Derby. Years ago, many owners were opposed to racing early. Now all the big stables compete in winter. They wouldn't if the owners thought it harmful for valuable Thoroughbreds.

SAM RENICK
Ex-jockey and sportscaster
New York and Miami
No. The Flamingo mile and an eighth is run near the end of February. Three-year-olds run the Wood Memorial at Jamaica in early April. These horses improve a lot in a month or two. So it's logical to point them for the Kentucky Derby in May.

EDWIN HOLTON
Public trainer
Miami and New York
No. Everybody wants to race in winter because horse racing is now more of a business than it is a sport. In the old days, the owners raced in summer and rested their horse during the winter months. That was better for the horses.

PHIL GODFREY
Owner
New York and Miami
May is too early for any horse to run the Derby unless trained in a warm climate for at least three months. Few tracks are available up North, and the horses can't do much more than gallop. Racing at Bowie so early is utterly ridiculous.

LOUIS R. ROWAN
President, California Thoroughbred Breeders Assn.
Yes. Bad weather during the winter and spring makes it almost impossible for horses to come up to such a race. Horses have no respite at all between a demanding first-season campaign and the beginning of the second.

ROBERT KLEBERG JR.
President
King Ranch, Inc.
Kingsville, Texas
No. Three-year-olds are asked to show their endurance and stamina. Never before have they raced a mile and a quarter. It's the first time you know whether they're good or not. If the Derby didn't test them, another track would.

SID ZIFF
Sports editor
Los Angeles Mirror-News
No. Horses now race the year round. Three-year-olds are brought along faster, the first 1958 stake at Jamaica for 3-year-olds and up was won by Admiral Vee, who had wintered north, against horses that had raced in Florida.

FOURTEEN PHOTOS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)