With the accent during Saratoga's sales week so decidedly on bloodlines and breeding, it was perfectly apt that in the 92nd running of the Travers last Saturday, the oldest stakes classic in the U.S. should have been won by a son of America's greatest native-born stallion. Beau Prince, Calumet Farm's 3-year-old son of magnificent old Bull Lea, ran away from his seven Travers opponents and won by five and a half lengths over Guadalcanal. Ambiopoise was third and Hitting Away fourth.
A year ago, while Beau Prince was being touted as a dark horse Kentucky Derby winter-book favorite, Trainer Jimmy Jones was so high on the beautifully made colt that he said: "I'm so hopeful for this horse I can hardly wait to get out and see him in the mornings." Clearly, Jimmy's hopes are being justified now, and there seems little doubt that Beau Prince is the most improved 3-year-old around. His sire couldn't improve much on any count. Bull Lea has produced 57 U.S. stakes winners, including Citation, Coaltown, Bewitched, Twilight Tear, Armed, Gen. Duke, Iron Liege, Hill Gail and Yorky.
It can be said, of course, that Beau Prince didn't beat much in his Travers. Where, for example, was Carry Back? Well, Jack Price's colt has not gone into permanent hiding. He's ready for a comeback that is guaranteed to be exciting, whether successful or not. Since finishing up the track in the Belmont, Carry Back has been written off by a lot of people, including many who have been close to him during his long period of convalescence.
But Price says it just ain't so. "Although we know he rapped himself pretty badly in the Belmont," says Price, "all the X rays were negative, and we knew he'd come around again in time. Right now he's never been better and is in perfect health. At Atlantic City I've had him galloping a few times on the turf, and he handled it as if he loves it."
On to Paris
Carry Back will probably get a six-furlong race at Atlantic City within a week—and, as usual after a layoff, he'll no doubt be somewhat short for it. Then the Price plan is to aim for the Jerome (for $50,000 at a flat mile on September 2) and from there back to Atlantic City for the mile-and-three-sixteenths United Nations on grass September 16.
"If Carry Back shows he can handle the grass," says Price, "we're definitely going to point him for the Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on October 8."
After the United Nations, Carry Back will be worked the "wrong" way (or clockwise) on the Atlantic City turf, then go to F. Ambrose Clark's private track at Westbury, L.I. for further schooling, including instruction in getting away from a walk-up start. He'll fly to Paris about 10 days before the Arc and will get at least one workout at Longchamp before attempting the mile-and-a-half up-and-down run considered one of Europe's greatest tests of stamina.
Much of the week prior to the running of the Travers was given over to the Fasig-Tipton Company's 41st annual yearling sales, and the slight decline in business was not entirely unexpected. Some 255 youngsters went on the block and brought in $2,706,100 for an average of $10,612. A year ago the company sold 246 head at an average of $11,082. One of the reasons for the drop was undoubtedly the fact that only a few weeks ago the Breeders' Sales Company had put on a sensational auction at Keeneland, breaking five world's records while dispensing 298 yearlings for $4,255,000, an average of $14,177.
At Saratoga the sale was topped by a solid, good-looking chestnut colt by Hyperion who went to C. V. Whitney for $80,000. This wasn't close to the record $130,000 paid at Keeneland by John Olin for a Swaps colt, but it is just as significant. The Hyperion was foaled on February 3, 1960 and is the last of that sire's offspring the racing world will ever see. Hyperion, who was humanely put down last year at the age of 30, has been the most influential stallion throughout the world since the era of St. Simon's productive stud career, which started 75 years ago and lasted after the turn of the century.
Whitney's new colt, out of the Nasrullah mare Nasretta, has a good speed pedigree on his dam side and would appear to be the ideal American type. Even if he doesn't turn out to be a runner, he qualifies on pedigree alone as a future mate for Whitney's many Mahmoud mares. "He has," says Whitney, "as much potential as Mahmoud had, and I got Mahmoud just before the war for the same price. Now that we have retired Mahmoud my farm is weak in sires compared to the mares. This Hyperion colt has a marvelous eye and shows no symptoms of being the product of a very old sire. He will eventually be perfect to breed to any of my mares."
"This is the same to me," said Fasig-Tipton President Humphrey Finney, "as a man in the cattle business paying $50,000 for a particularly good bull. He has the cows and now depends on the bull for the spark." Finney thought this over for a moment, then added. "The only difference, of course, is that in the cattle business you can eat your mistakes. But in the horse business...."