Once upon a time there was a race horse who wore red earmuffs, ate artichokes and had as his owner a French woman who made champagne and loved her horse so dearly that she would give him anything, but could not bear the excitement of watching him race. This fine horse was named Jamin and, as fairy tales go, he came from his country to this country last August to beat the very best trotters on earth and become the Horse of the World.
Now it is August again, and this Saturday evening at Long Island's Roosevelt Raceway eight horses from six different countries will be competing in the second running of the $50,000, mile-and-a-quarter International Trotting Championship. While the race probably will not produce a horse with the individual qualities of a Jamin, once more it may produce the Horse of the World.
Jamin himself will not be at Roosevelt to defend the title which he so clearly won last year by beating seven horses from six nations in the mile-and-a-half first International. (The distance has been shortened this year to give the American and Canadian horses, which normally race a mile, a better chance against the Europeans, which are partial to distance races.) Two weeks ago Jamin's owner, Madame Camille Olry Roederer, and his trainer, Jean Riaud, decided that since Jamin had not totally recovered from a blister on his left hoof he would not be sent to Roosevelt to compete. Certainly no one could fault this decision, for a Jamin appearing at any thing below his top form would be unfair to the public and to Jamin.
While the defection of Jamin quite naturally takes some of the glow off this year's International, it by no means reduces it to a second-class event. The field which will start—Hairos II from Holland, Tornese, Icare and Crevalcore from Italy, Iton from Austria, Tie Silk from Canada, Durban Chief from New Zealand and Silver Song from the U.S.—is as good a field as could be gathered anywhere.
Good year for Europe
This year has been a good one for the European trotters and many knowledgeable horsemen who have seen the best on the Continent believe that Jamin, even in top form, would have considerable trouble with this year's International field. Silver Song, the American entranc, had to earn his way into the race by winning last Saturday's American Trot ting Championship, and if he can put two tough races together in a week, it will be a major surprise.
The top two horses appear to be Hairos II and Tornese. Hairos, owned by Andries Voordouw, a home builder in The Hague, first earned inter national attention when he trotted off with the Prix d'Amerique at Vincennes near Paris late last January. In the Prix, Hairos, 43 to 1, beat both Tornese and Jamin, although Jamin gave a 50-meter handicap. A striking black 9-year-old, Hairos wears a white shadow roll which helps to accentuate his dark color. After winning in France he went on to successes in Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Hairos has won at distances from 1,000 meters up to 3,500 meters and has been victorious in 12 of 17 races this year, including seven of his last eight. Of the eight major trotting races conducted in Europe this year, Hairos won six and had a second and third in the other two.
Tornese was second behind Jamin in last year's International, and since then he has improved steadily. The Italians love this 8-year-old bright chestnut, and their adoration was also shared by the Italian turf writers in a poll last year to determine the outstanding Italian horse (standardbred or Thoroughbred) of the last quarter century. Tornese tied in the voting with Ribot, the unbeaten Thoroughbred superhorse.
Tornese has won 13 of 20 races this year and finished second four times. His poorest race was in July when he finished fourth. Tornese has two distinct advantages over other European entrants in this International. For one, he is accustomed to tight turns, and for another, he is familiar with night racing. (Most of the European horses race on bigger tracks and in the afternoons.) Tornese has been trained in a different manner than his competition. His trainer, 29-year-old Cencio Ossano, works Tornese against a Thoroughbred prompter hitched to a sulky, and this helps Tornese move quickly around turns and awry from trouble. In training Tornese goes through three warmup trips of 3,000 meters instead of following the European custom of one long workout of four or five miles.
One of he other Italian trotters in this International, Icare, finished fourth in last year's race, and in a start at Roosevelt shortly after that he beat five of the starters from the International, including the third-place finisher Trader Horn.
The Canadian champion, Tie Silk, is the youngest starter in the race and at times has shown much ability. Tie Silk is a 4-year-old, and he finished second to Diller Hanover in the 1959 Hambletonian. He is owned by the Miron brothers (Adrien and Gerard), road builders and contractors from Montreal, and will be driven by Philippe Dussault. Tie Silk has done a mile this year in 2:01 4/5.
Iton, the Austrian 8-year-old black horse, eats bread with lard, oranges and grapes and at 14 hands is the smallest horse in the race. Iton will be driven by Baron Andreas von Beess und Chrostin, who drinks wine mixed with lemonade. The baron is familiar with American tracks and training methods. He was in this country for six months in 1958-59 and served as a groom for Johnny Simpson. Simpson recalled the other day, "He was a tremendously hard worker. He'd work and work at cleaning out stalls or doing errands, and after a while everyone forgot that he was royalty (Austrian) and considered him as just one of the boys. He has, as people say of a good horse, real class."
The picking of a winner in any international horse race is a difficult thing. There are so many variants—tracks, drivers, distance races, turns—that a selector gets more confused as he goes along. At a mile and a quarter, however, the draw for post position is not as important as it is at a mile. The natural inclination would be to lean toward the European experts' opinions and pick Hairos to win. If you plan to be at Roosevelt for this International, though, you might not be wasting your time if you take a long look at Tornese. Tornese may very well be the next Horse of the World.