"Two weeks ago at Santa Anita a veteran racing official looked over a list of 3-year-olds entered on the next day's card and said, "It's disappointing that the current winter season hasn't been able to develop any good colts. If we're looking for mile-and-an-eighth or classic-distance horses, they have just two at Hialeah and we have one here." A few days later lightning struck—-at least at Hialeah. Within 48 hours the two Miami stars, Bold Lad and Sadair, went to the sidelines with injuries. That left a Kentucky-bred, Virginia-owned and California-based speedster named Jacinto as the soundest potential Kentucky Derby favorite.
Sadair, Mrs. Mary B. Hecht's winner of the Arlington-Washington Futurity, The Garden State and Pimlico Futurity, fractured the coffin bone of his left forefoot while training at Gulfstream Park and was retired to stud. For a while that seemed to make the Florida 3-year-old prizes—the Flamingo and Florida Derby—an outright gift for Bold Lad, who races for Mrs. Henry C. Phipps's Wheatley Stable. Then Bold Lad turned up with an inflammation—known as a splint—on his right foreleg, about three inches below the knee. Splints are temporarily painful to a horse, and as soon as he noticed the one on Bold Lad, Trainer Bill Winfrey had Dr. William O. Reed inject the area with a steroid preparation prior to firing it with heated electric needles, a treatment that diminishes and deadens the inflamed area.
Winfrey figures that with luck Bold Lad may miss only 10 days of training and be ready for the February 22 Hibiscus and the March 3 Flamingo. "But if we miss the Flamingo," he added, "it's not the end of the world. Our main objective is the Kentucky Derby, and there are several routes to Louisville. One would be by way of the Florida Derby at Gulfstream on April 3, another might be the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 17."
With Sadair and Bold Lad sidelined, Raymond Guest's Tom Rolfe and Mrs. Marion duPont Scott's Bosun, both awaiting spring starts, are infinitely superior to anything now racing at Hialeah. Last week's seven-furlong Bahamas was won by Lou Wolfson's Sparkling Johnny in the unsparkling time of 1:24⅖ over Battle Star. I think that Christopher Chenery's First Family, a son of First Landing, Dapper Dan, a son of Ribot, or Native Charger would be a better bet in the stakes to come.
At Santa Anita there are barns full of so-so also-rans who will probably be exactly that in the February 22 San Felipe and the mile-and-an-eighth Santa Anita Derby on March 6. These include Mrs. Ada L. Rice's Lucky Debonair, winner of the San Vicente last week, Mrs. Ethel Jacobs' Isle of Greece and Michael Silver's Gummo. Toss in Charger's Kin and Turn to Reason and you hardly have a championship race. The champion is Jacinto. "He can run like hell," says usually cautious Racing Director Jimmy Kilroe. "The most brilliant 3-year-old I've seen around here since Swaps," says King Ranch Trainer Buddy Hirsch. Jacinto tied the seven-furlong track record of 1:20⅗ carrying 122 pounds, in a $10,000 allowance race on January 27. It was the fastest seven furlongs ever run by a 3-year-old. The mark was set in 1954 by Imbros carrying 118, and a lot of good horses have run seven furlongs at Santa Anita since 1954. This colt has size, looks and a terrific burst of speed.
What Jacinto also has going for him is the swift blood of his sire (like his chief Derby rival. Bold Lad, Jacinto is a son of Bold Ruler), and he is in the patient, expert hands of a master horseman, Jim Maloney. With only 14 horses at Santa Anita, Maloney has set the place on fire. Through last Saturday he had started 11 a total of 28 times and, with nine of them, had won 14 races, five of them stakes, while finishing second four times and third four times. Jacinto, Respected, Face the Facts and Batteur had won for Owner William Haggin Perry, while Duel, owned by Perry, Bull Hancock and Charles Engelhard, took the year's first $100,000 race when he upset Hill Rise in the Charles H. Strub Stakes. Through January alone Maloney-trained horses had won over $200,000 for Perry and Hancock who are in the fifth year of a partnership agreement by which Perry annually buys half the stock that Hancock raises. Perry's half is turned over to Jim Maloney for training, while colts retained by Hancock run under the name of Claiborne Farm and are trained by Harry Trotsek. All the winnings of both divisions go into a common pot to be divided equally by Perry and Hancock.
"This colt," says Maloney of Jacinto, in a brogue that sounds half Irish and half mouthful-of-marbles, "is what you'd call right nice looking, and he has plenty of sense and a great temperament." Indeed he must, for except in his more serious works, Jacinto is usually galloped by Joan O'Shea, the English wife of Maloney's Irish Assistant Trainer Joe O'Shea. "Anybody can ride him. He has a wonderful disposition," says Joan. "May he keep it!"
Jacinto never got to the races until last August 15 at Saratoga, by which time Bold Lad had already run seven times and Sadair six. "There was nothing unusual about this," says Owner Perry. "It's just that Maloney believes—and rightly—that it's best to take it easy with 2-year-olds, and most of ours never start until August."
Neither Perry nor Maloney doubts Jacinto's ability to carry his speed over a distance. (His dam was Cascade II, a daughter of Precipitation, who won the 20-furlong Ascot Gold Cup.) Says Perry, "I'm convinced the Bold Rulers will go on. It all depends on how you utilize their tremendous speed. Ours, unlike Bold Ruler himself, are all easy to rate."
Californians are getting as excited about Jacinto as though he were their own. Many believe the powerful looking brown colt must be named for the mountain that overlooks Palm Springs, where the Perrys recently bought a winter home. "Hardly," says Bill Perry. "My father-in-law, Skiddy von Stade, and I were driving down Park Avenue to The Jockey Club one day. Jesse Magan, the von Stades' Portuguese major-domo, was driving us and he said, 'Mr. Perry, sometime why don't you name a horse after me? I'm sure he'd be a good one.'
"I said, 'Come on now. I can't name a horse Jesse. Is that your real name?' He said, 'No sir, it's Jacinto.' "
Last week Bill Perry and Bull Hancock turned down a million dollars for Jacinto. Still, the Perrys, the Maloneys, the von Stades and—especially—Jacinto Magan were all smiles.