Miami's Gulfstream Park is not only the home of the Florida Derby (see page 18) but the source of perennial innovation in racing foofaraw, such as sailing contests in the infield lake, water skiing exhibitions, and the Derby Daiquiri, Gulf-stream's answer to the mint julep. Last week the track left some fresh footprints in the sands of racing history. Shortly before noon on Derby Day the public address system broke the silence with a calm announcement: "The elephants are approaching the starting gate."
Racegoers set down their Derby Daiquiris as three gorgeous orchid-dyed pachyderms, each ridden by a mahout in jockey silks, strolled toward an elephantine starting gate an eighth of a mile from the finish line. The parade to the post was made in circus fashion, each steed using his orchid trunk to seize the orchid tail just ahead. The jockeys were positioned firmly on the heads, legs dangling behind huge flapping ears in a riding style worth the astonished study of such fellow mahouts as Arcaro, Shoemaker and Hartack.
At the starting gate the entries were uncoupled. The announcer gave a program change—Clyde, a 35-year-old in post position No. 1, had gained 200 pounds in training, now weighed 6,500 pounds—and introduced Beatty, 45, running at 6,800 pounds and Jungleland, 29, in at a mere 5,200.
The starter's flag dropped and they were off—at a swaying pace somewhat like that of three boozed-up lumberjacks pitching down Main Street on a Saturday night. Jungle-land broke fastest, relatively speaking, stuck to the rail, led by a tusk at the 16th pole and held on to win by a trunk in 31[1/5] seconds, a track record. The winner gave the grandstand a formal bow and devoured the purse: a wastebasketful of peanuts.