The Illustrations on this page represent far more than a medical and scientific explanation of what happens when a race horse suffers a dangerous leg injury. The subject in this case is. Swaps, certainly one of the finest Thoroughbreds of this generation and, at this moment, the subject of grave concern to all horsemen—and, indeed, to all sportsmen—who respect the many championship qualities represented by Swaps during his three years on the American turf.
Two weeks ago word came out of Garden State Race Track that Swaps had suffered two linear fractures of the cannon bone in his left hind leg. Five days later, his leg encased in a cast, Swaps lashed out against the side of his stall in Barn Q, and in so doing he extended the break the length of the bone. In many a similar occurrence to a horse of lesser renown and lesser value (Swaps is insured by Lloyds of London for $1 million), there would have been no practical recourse but to destroy the animal. But Swaps's trainer, Meshach Tenney, and the attending veterinarians went calmly about rigging the special sling and harness which they had every reason to believe would not only alleviate most of the pain in the leg but would also provide Swaps with practically his only chance for complete recovery.
With Tenney marking time attentively in the same stall with him, Swaps has so far been a model patient despite the fact that he is unable to move more than six inches fore or aft. Tenney talks occasionally to his patient to quiet him down, but in general, describes Swaps "as cheerful as could be expected—a horse who reacts to his injury gracefully and with understanding and intelligence."
Trainer Tenney is still hopeful that if Swaps can get through the "sling" period (another five weeks) he may eventually race again. Even those horsemen who do not share his trainer's admirable optimism will be hoping for the next five weeks that Swaps survives his ordeal so that he can begin what should be a great stud career.
Meanwhile, in Lexington, Ky. last week, the man who lent Mish Tenney the sling that might save Swaps's life came to town on another mission. Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons (who hadn't used his special sling "for almost 10 years") took his last journey with Nashua and stood proudly by as his champion galloped in public for the last time. The ceremony put on at Keeneland Race Course was carried out with the dignity, good taste and good horses that are typical of Keeneland. Last Friday, for example, on the occasion of the first running of the $50,000-added Spinster for fillies and mares of 3, 4 and 5 years of age, the field included such established runners as Doubledogdare (Claiborne Farm's impressive winner), Delta, Levee, Oil Painting, Queen Hopeful and Searching. The following afternoon Claiborne came right back with Round Table to win the Breeders Futurity for 2-year-olds in a close decision from John A. Morris' Missile, who had earlier this summer been a stakes winner at Saratoga.
This week the national racing interest centers again on Garden State. There, a few hundred feet from where Swaps will still be standing patiently, the best of the 2-year-olds still in training take dead aim on the winner's share of the world's richest horse race, the Garden State. I didn't see Federal Hill win last Saturday's trial at the same distance of a mile and a sixteenth over Calumet's Barbizon, but I do know this son of Cosmic Bomb is going to have to be very good to knock off the Futurity winner, Bold Ruler, in the big one. Some of the others expected to challenge are Amarullah, Nashville, Take Note, Mister Jive, Iron Liege and Barbizon himself. I'd like to see a comparatively small field in the Garden State to ensure the truest possible race. When the field becomes too bulky and unwieldy in a race in which the fight for position going into the first turn is so important, the final result is all too often decided by racing luck rather than by ability. If the field is big, however, and if Bold Ruler draws an outside post, I'll venture to predict that Sunny Jim will try to have him barreling out of the gate like a jet and to take the front end the whole way.
HORSE-SIZED X-RAY of break in cannon bone of Swaps's left hind leg reveals seriousness of the injury which led to Swaps being partially suspended in this unusual sling, borrowed from Nashua's old trainer, Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, which offers best chance of healing for the great 4-year-old. If all goes well, after five weeks more in the sling, Swaps will be shipped carefully home to his California ranch for further recuperation.