United Nations day here last Saturday turned into Willie Hartack day. The leading rider on the Jersey circuit won four races, one of them the $67,500 United Nations Handicap on the turf. In fact, it was Hartack's week, for in his very first foray into New York he piloted two good price winners down the Widener chute opening day at Belmont.
Aboard Jaclyn Stable's American-bred Closed Door at Atlantic City, he chauvinistically wrapped up the United Nations by beating the favored English-bred Royal Vale and six other domestic and foreign contenders for turf course honors. The eight starters were the four horses which finished in that order in each of the twin contests for American-and foreign-breds which preceded the handicap by 10 days.
The winners of these two races September 15th were Brush Burn and Iceberg 2nd, last year's turf champion. Neither of these horses even got in the money in the big runoff. But the unsung hero on both days was Mrs. J.R.H. Thouron's six-year-old Royal Vale, which has earned $265,690 in his three years of racing in this country. Carrying 118 pounds, he finished second to Iceberg 2nd in the Foreign Bred stakes in a sensational stretch run. Saturday, toting 120, he did exactly the same thing and just missed again. All three of these grass races had movie finishes, with the horses looking each other in the eye as they passed the wire.
It must be evident by this time even to a freshman student of horseflesh that this year's crop of three-year-olds lacks the seeds of greatness. Ever since April the sophomores have been acting like juvenile delinquents suffering from basic insecurity.
Just another bit of evidence of their instability was the Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park in which the tiny, almost-black Fisherman and the codfish aristocrat, Boston's Errard King, were beaten by Mrs. Jan Burke's Martyr. Fisherman is C. V. Whitney's target-carrier for three-year-old kudos and Errard King, from the stable of Joseph Gavegnano, is the winner of the American Derby at Chicago. Martyr, which beat them both, is a second-rater, but one with an acute trainer. G. C. Winfrey has had the bay gelding working at Jamaica in the early morning carrying as much as 150 pounds. Carrying only 110 in the Jerome, he beat the alleged stars by seven lengths.
It is still possible that the three-year-old title will be decided by the forthcoming stakes at Belmont, which include the new Woodward at a mile, the Lawrence Realization at a mile and five eighths and the Jockey Club Gold Cup which has, for the last seven years, been won by a three-year-old. High Gun, winner of the Belmont Stakes, is entered in the first two and will probably be named for the Gold Cup.
THE JOCKEY CLUB PLAN
According to most sports columnists The Jockey Club can do no right. Excoriated for years for ignoring the two dollar bettor, these same gentlemen are now getting hell because they at last have recognized his existence.
The Jockey's Club's proposed plan (SI, Sept. 25) to consolidate the New York tracks on a nonprofit basis and make Belmont the main tent has been met with a "to the barricades" response from most of the press—not because turf writers love Jamaica or Aqueduct more, but because they love The Jockey Club less. However, if the plan or something very like it doesn't go through, New York racing as we have known it will pass from the scene.
My only quibble with the Club plan is the idea of just one track. Horsemen are migratory folk who won't like holding still for 170-odd days in one place. So it is my belief that Aqueduct must be salvaged. The "next town" always looks greener to horsemen, horse players and probably even the horses. Too, I am just enough of a die-hard not to want to see the main track cut down, or even the Widener chute removed. It is true that Belmont is the only mile-and-a-half track in the country. But does everything have to conform?