Racegoers who believe that a wide-open 3-year-old season creates more interest than one dominated by one or two standouts are discovering that 1967 may be just their sort of year. After the first two months of racing, and on the eve of this week's Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah and the Santa Anita Derby, no stable can claim the favorite for the Triple Crown races ahead. If there is a real champion around. he has done a good job of hiding his talent in the barn.
In the East, at least until Successor repeats his 2-year-old form of last fall, the top colt is Mrs. Ethel D. Jacobs' Reflected Glory (left, winning last week's Everglades Stakes at Hialeah). At Santa Anita the best could be any one of a group including Rising Market, Ruken, Top Bid, Tumble Wind, Sand Devil, Serve Notice and Dr. Isby. Now that a series of preps at varying distances and at handicap weights has been concluded, this week's equal-weight, mile-and-an-eighth races on both coasts may bring forth new candidates.
As the pictures opposite clearly show, winning the Everglades was no picnic for Reflected Glory. He came from last place in the 15-horse field to overtake Ask The Fare and Gentleman James in the stretch and win by one length. Bothered by shin troubles for most of last year, Reflected Glory managed to win only three of 10 starts and the meager sum of $17,410. But this season, after a sluggish effort in his first race, in which he finished fifth, he beat Bold Hour by a neck to win the seven-furlong Bahamas. Then came the Everglades at the Flamingo distance of nine furlongs. He ran it in 1:49 [2/5]—faster than the winning times credited to Tim Tarn, First Landing, Carry Back and Roman Brother.
Two days before the Everglades, the seven-furlong Florida Breeders' Handicap was won by Phil Godfrey's Biller, a speed-bred colt who finished half a length in front of In Reality. But the latter was carrying top weight of 130 pounds, whereas Biller got in with 117—probably an unfair spread at this time of the year. In Reality was the best horse and should make it rough for Reflected Glory at level weight this week. One colt who may make it rough for the whole crop by the time of the April 1st Florida Derby is John Olin's King Buck, who recently won over seven furlongs by 12 lengths in 1:22 [4/5].
Last week's San Felipe Handicap at Santa Anita turned out to be one of the roughest races of the winter, and the result may therefore be inconclusive. Mr. and Mrs. Bert Martin's Rising Market led nearly all the way and lasted by a nose over Lou Rowan's Ruken. while Field Master was only a neck behind and a nose in front of Top Bid in a four-horse photo. Favorite Tumble Wind, bumped at the start, bumped again in the first turn and carried wide in the stretch, had some excuse for finishing eighth among the 13 starters. Wheatley Stable's Disciplinarian, who wound up ninth, was the culprit in all this. He had caused Dr. Isby to bump into Tumble Wind at the break. Then, while they were running second at the 16th pole, Jockey Don Pierce took him out to avoid running up on Rising Market's heels, and caused a squeeze that all but forced Ruken to go down. But Ruken drove on determinedly. He acted as if the added 16th of the Santa Anita Derby would suit him just fine.