The time is coming when horse players will have more use for the Almanach de Gotha than the racing form. Foreign horses with pedigrees as long as their tails and names to match are staging a major invasion of the U.S. of A.
Right now there is a distinguished group of emigrés stabled at Hialeah and Gulfstream. They come from England, Ireland, France, Chile and the Argentine. Big stables that haven't any foreign-breds are certain to have one or more whose sires were not native. For, as Bert Mulholland, longtime trainer for George D. Widener, explains it: "There are fashions in horses just as in women's clothes, and we are in a cycle when it's smart to have foreign horses or their progeny."
The fashion started when the Irish Noor beat the invincible Citation in the Santa Anita Handicap in 1950. Last year's performances by the Nasrullah boys and girls sparked it too. Then, continued inflation has made it difficult to buy good American stock. W. A. Kelley, with a barnful of foreigners, points out that a domestic horse worth $20,000 costs $50,000 these days and a really top horse is priceless. The rise of $100,000 purses has seen to that.
Horatio Luro, an import himself, believes strongly that the interest in foreign horses is allied to the rise of turf racing everywhere. It is interesting that the two new foreign horses which did most creditably in the first two weeks of the Hialeah meeting were Warbern Stables' Alcibiades 2nd, which ran on the turf last Friday, and Mrs. Caroline Hunt's King's Evidence, which ran in mud. Neither won but both raced very well indeed.
Going from barn to barn I made a check list of leading outlanders. Hasty House Farms has the Irish My Beau and the English Summer Solstice. The Irishman is much the better looking but the Englishman is long on record though short on looks. Both have been coughing, and neither is ready. However, next summer in Chicago should see them doing their stuff.
The best looker among the inmates of the Luro Stables is the Chilean derby winner, Saint Oregon, owned by Arnold Hanger. He's a Widener nominee, but he hasn't bowed yet. At W. A. Kelley's Horse Motel is The Scarlet Pimpernel, a handsome gray from Elmendorf Farms, which was obviously short in its initial outing.
Veteran Trainer Tom Smith made the grand tour and hand-picked a trio from England, France and Ireland. The first two, Garde Royale (he's English) and Gerocourt (he's French), didn't run a lick. But on Saturday King's Evidence, the import from Ireland, at 45 to 1 was photographed out by Ifabody. Racing under the colors of Mrs. Caroline L. Hunt, the 4-year-old colt, owned jointly by Ed Stephenson and Bunker Hunt from Dallas, did well abroad as a 2-year-old. It's significant that his Irish owners tried to get out of the sale to the Hunts after a down payment had been made.
Among the familiars is Charfran Stable's Cascanuez, an Argentinian, which was one of the top turf runners last year. Not long ago he could have been claimed for $3,500. He did well on the turf last week and was seconded by Assuan, a French horse. Of course, last year's turf star, Stan, is also foreign-bred.
By the time the Gulfstream Park meeting gets under way next month most of the invaders stabled in Florida will have been heard from one way or another. A whole flock of them are headed for Gulfstream, including Ubal-ides and the Irish-bred Ballydonnell which have the Florida Derby in mind. Also coming in are the unbeaten French Cantanio, Jack Magic which won six straight in England, and Panalley, winner of the Prince of Wales Stakes at York. So get out the pronouncing dictionaries, take a whirl at the nearest Berlitz School and prepare to meet the invaders on your home grounds. They'll be there.
"Let it go, Harrigan. Let it go!"