It was a horse race that will still be talked about when they are running cut-rate excursion trips to the moon. For an eighth of a mile down the stretch, Jewel's Reward and Tim Tarn fought head and head, nose and nose in a bumping, jostling finish such as has not been seen in a major horse race since the Kentucky Derby of 1933 between Brokers Tip and Head Play. At the end of this 29th running of Hialeah's Flamingo Stakes, No. 3—Jewel's Reward—was posted as winner on the tote board, and his proud owner, Mrs. Elizabeth Arden Graham, was led out to the winner's circle in the company of Governor LeRoy Collins of Florida and Gene Mori, the track president.
Then, as though the drama of the race were not enough, there began an agonizing afterdrama which brought nothing but pain and embarrassment to two gallant ladies, each of whom is a distinct ornament to the sport of racing. Although the "inquiry" sign had been posted, Mrs. Graham was allowed to think her horse had won and to accept congratulations in the winner's circle in full view of more than 30,000 fans at the track and millions of TV viewers from coast to coast. Mrs. Gene Markey, whose Tim Tarn had finished second but had so clearly been fouled in the stretch, was spared for the moment the attention of the multitude as she sat quietly in her box awaiting the verdict of the stewards; but when the final result went up—and Tim Tam was declared the official winner—her ears were assailed by the thundering boos of an angry crowd that had been only half informed.
When the hullaballoo was over, one thing remained clear for the fanciers of horseflesh: Tim Tarn had captured the first major test for the 3-year-olds of 1958. But to understand how he did it and how the two gallant ladies were forced to face a galling trial, it would be best to start at the beginning.
During all of Flamingo Week in Miami the prophets of the racing world scattered the news that the big race (which for the last three years, incidentally, has been won by the ultimate 3-year-old champion of the season) was going to be settled in a private duel between Jewel's Reward, the best 2-year-old of 1957, and Tim Tam, another in a long line of Calumet Farm's prodigies who do little or nothing at 2 only to spring forth at the age of 3 with fire in their eyes and the desire for conquest in their sturdy hearts. Here and there was to be found some shaky but hopeful support for Claiborne Farm's Nadir, and a few brave souls ventured a prediction that a horse named Talent Show would be somewhere up there at the finish. One of those who obviously hoped so was his owner, Mrs. Ada L. Rice, who jokingly said on the eve of the race, "I'm not too scared of the big names; I've always liked to go where angels fear to tread." The other five starters received little or no prerace consideration, nor, for that matter, were they around at the Flamingo's finish to divide up any of the loot.
During the long afternoon, as they sat in adjoining boxes, Arthur B. (Bull) Hancock, owner of Nadir, and Mrs. Markey graciously accepted the good wishes of their friends. But in the third box down the line, the stronghold of Maine Chance Farm, there was no Mrs. Graham. She was home, said her friends—home in bed with a virus and too ill to come racing.
But Mrs. Graham, ill though she was, was not going to miss this one. Barely one hour before post time she struggled up, weak and pale, and made her way on the arm of a friend to the paddock. In a voice barely audible she wished good luck to her trainer, Ivan Parke, and her jockey, Panama-born Manuel Ycaza (pronounced Ee-kah-zah), and then went bravely off to take her place beside her good friend Lucille Markey.
The race itself followed a pattern that was not unexpected. For the first part of it the pace (and it was not particularly fast—23[1/5]; 46[4/5] and 1:11 for the first three quarters) was ground out by Sir Robby and then Talent Show, with Nadir clinging stubbornly within range. Jewel's Reward was just behind Nadir in fourth place, and Tim Tam followed close behind. Suddenly trouble began—and it became more serious every foot of the way home. Ycaza, starting his final turn into the stretch on Jewel's Reward, saw no hole opening for him on the rail and, because it was high time to start rolling, elected to go to the front the only way possible: around the three front-runners. Bill Hartack, seeing what Jewel's Reward was up to, had no alternative but to take Tim Tam the long way around too, for Sir Robby, although tired and fading, was still not about to give up the valuable rail position.
The trouble with the maneuver—as it was executed—was that Jewel's Reward went much too wide and in doing so carried Tim Tam even farther out. By the time they got straightened out for the run to the wire they were nearly in the middle of the track. And yet, as they drove down on the eighth pole, the worst was still to come. Jewel's Reward, with barely a head advantage over Tim Tam, was running unsurely, and Ycaza (who one day should certainly rank with our best riders) did one of those foolish things that must be blamed on his inexperience. With Ycaza whipping him right-handed, Jewel's Reward had been bearing out, and Tim Tam was as close to him as a horse can get. Hartack, who is a left-handed whipper, could not strike effectively at all, and Ycaza, just as cramped for whipping room as Hartack, gave his horse one sharp crack on the shoulder and then switched his whip to the left hand. The obvious and disastrous result was that Jewel's Reward was going to bear out even further. He did—just below the eighth pole—and when the two horses came together this time Jewel's Reward swung into his rival so hard that he nearly knocked the feet right out from under Tim Tam. The latter was thrown completely off stride, and although he might have recovered from this blow to win on his own, Jewel's Reward—with Ycaza still thrashing savagely with his left hand—never gave him the chance. In the last desperate 200 yards, with Hartack fighting in vain to draw away from his foe by the use of the hand guide only, Jewel's Reward bumped into Tim Tam at least five more times. The pair roared down on the line, but Jewel's Reward had a head advantage. He had won a swift enough race over the full mile and an eighth in 1:48[4/5]; but he was clearly at fault, and nobody who had followed the action closely through the glasses had the slightest doubt that the stewards would have something to say about the final result.
DISPATCH AND DISCOURAGEMENT
What was almost as puzzling as Ycaza's ride was the great urgency with which the track cruelly dispatched an unknowing Mrs. Graham out to the winner's circle to receive the Flamingo Cup from Governor Collins. She was halfway there when the inquiry lights flashed on, but instead of being asked to return and await the verdict in her box she was paraded right on to face the TV and newspaper cameras and shake hands all around. Nobody bothered to tell her that things looked very dark indeed for Jewel's Reward and the winner's check for $97,800. It was Trainer Parke who finally let drop the first hint when he saw that Jockey Ycaza had suddenly been whisked away from their company and up to appear before the stewards. "Mrs. Graham," said Parke, "things don't look so good. They may take our number down, you know." The mistress of Maine Chance Farm didn't reply. She reached out and grabbed Ivan Parke's hand and clutched it tight. Then she turned away from the crowd and stood quietly—watching the parade of the Seminole Indians as they gazed curiously across the flower beds that separated them from the wondrous world of chic ladies, flashing cameras, television and $100,000 races.