Ten certainly didn't turn out to be the magic number for either the Dodgers or Boston Doge this spring. The Doge, who had beaten everything in sight until last Saturday's Swift at Belmont, went down trying to make it 11 in a row. More than 40,000 people turned out to make the little Beantown colt the favorite, but both Nance's Lad and Informant came in ahead of him. It may have been the off track, it may have been that he was short a work, for he had cut himself winning the Governor's Gold Cup at Bowie.
However one defeat is no disgrace-after all, both Man o' War and Native Dancer lost once. So I expect to see Boston Doge win a lot more races. I think he'll win at a mile—a distance he has not yet tried—and in good company.
The Swift climaxed the first week of Belmont's 50th, or Golden Anniversary, meeting, And now that the Jockey Club plan to modernize and enlarge the track is really getting under way since Governor Harriman signed it into law, it will be the last at the track in its present form. The proposed changes at Belmont will mark the end of an era during which racing weathered two world wars, a reform government in New York which outlawed betting and two depressions.
When the track opened in 1905 Edward VII was king of England, Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States and George M. Cohan was singing It's a Grand Old Flag.
The constant in the intervening years has been top horses and top people. Belmont has always attracted both. Its stakes, which have made racing history, include such classics as the Jerome, founded in 1866; the Futurity, used as a gauge of 2-year-old quality for half a century and, of course, the Belmont, the oldest and longest leg of the triple crown. This stake, more coveted by breeders than the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness put together, has never been as vigorously press-agented as the Derby, but has been won by more great horses and has produced more great sires.
Through the years the steeplechases at Belmont have been an exciting part of each day's card. When and if the new track is built there will be a new jump course. This despite the fact that the advent of pari-mutuel betting brought hordes of new two-dollar bettors who showed their disapproval of jump races by pinning their money in their pockets whenever one came along. But Belmont management was never intimidated. Steeplechases continued and the only concession made to the public was the elimination of jump races on Saturdays.
AN INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR
Even this concession will be forgotten this year when, on Saturday, May 21, the International Chase will be run. To give it a truly international flavor Belmont has again invited four foreign horses to participate and is picking up the check. France will be represented by Projectile, Italy by the French Machiavel from the stable of Signor Ettore Tagliabue, who races an impressive string of French-breds all over Europe. From England comes Chatham. And the Irish entry is Joseph McGrath's Beechpark.
Once again this Saturday those champion foes, Nashua and Summer Tan, meet—this time in the Kentucky Derby. I am rather unconvinced by Nashua's victory in the Wood Memorial and think perhaps Summer Tan—who had only one race to Nashua's three—was a bit short. There is no disputing Nashua's drive and power, and if he should win the Derby he will probably go on to take the other two legs of the triple crown.
Come Derby time a lot of hopeful people always try to knock down the favorite. Anyone wanting to go beyond Nashua and Summer Tan might try Cain Hoy's Flying Fury, winner of the Champagne, whose stablemate Racing Fool won the Blue Grass last week. Around his stable he's considered six to eight lengths better than Racing Fool. And don't forget California did it last year with Determine. This year the West has Swaps, Shoemaker's choice—but not mine. For the Derby, I'm a Summer Tan man.