Their two brilliant victories behind them, Swaps and Nashua emerged this week as the two most talked-about horses since Native Dancer and Tom Fool. A match race between the two champions became a must.
And although the rival owners now agree that the original August 6 date (SI, June 13) may be in for a revision—because of the complexity of coordinating respective race commitments with the best training schedules—Chicago's Washington Park is still the most probable match race site. Other dates under discussion are August 13 or early September. The question of both colts remaining sound is anybody's guess.
Betting on the race may not have started, but bidding for it has. Last week Hollywood Park, looking over Ben Lindheimer's original proposal of $75,000 in the winner-take-all purse, dispatched two officials to New York to entice Nashua's owner, William Woodward, to agree to a California race for $100,000. At the same time—and even before their rival horses had won Saturday's features—Swaps's owner, Rex Ellsworth, phoned Woodward to sound him out on switching the race to Hollywood Park. "Sorry," replied Woodward, "but I can't see going 5,000 miles for one race. If I had a program of racing out there, with plans for the whole stable, then maybe." Woodward was as puzzled as anyone else. "It seems to me," he said, "if both Swaps and Nashua are going to Chicago, anyway, Chicago is the logical place for them to meet. If not on August 6, why not later? If Mr. Ellsworth didn't plan to bring his stable east, it is conceivable that public demand might strongly induce me to take Nashua to California to meet Swaps. But, when Swaps is coming east anyway, my going to Hollywood Park is out of the question."
Both owners also disclosed tentative future plans. Nashua's next objective is the Dwyer at Aqueduct on July 2, followed by the Arlington Classic in Chicago on July 16.
Swaps is being pointed for Hollywood Park's Westerner on July 9. He may also go in the Sunset Handicap there on July 23 before shipping to Chicago for the American Derby at Washington Park on August 20.
Ellsworth, who is perfectly frank when he says, "We're in the business to make money off Swaps, and we'd just as soon do it in a match race as any other way," nevertheless claims any Chicago date before the American Derby would upset Swaps's training program. He is naturally reluctant to ship to Chicago before Hollywood Park closes on July 25. He should be: his horses have won over $200,000 there already, and the meeting isn't half over. Woodward, nonetheless, claims Chicago—and its neutral track—is the only logical meeting place.
Chicago Racing Director Lindheimer, willing to raise his purse to $100,000, says, "I'll move heaven and earth or swim two rivers to bring off this race. But we won't lose our honor and dignity over any bidding contest. These two honorable sportsmen will decide for themselves what's best."
The two honorable sportsmen, meanwhile, agreed on only one point: any great horse belongs to the public, and the public is entitled to see two great horses race each other.