The seventh running of the Washington, D.C. International at Laurel last week, which produced nearly enough international incidents to warrant a plenary session of the U.N., kept tongues wagging in controversy for days and prompted a leading British writer to proclaim the race the most sensational he ever saw.
Certainly this International (like its predecessors, it was more highly regarded by foreign horsemen than by our own) had all the elements of eye-catching appeal:
The Irish Ballymoss, allegedly the best European runner ever to invade the U.S.
The Soviet entry of Zaryad and Garnir, first Russian Thoroughbreds ever to compete in America.
The record crowd of internationalists, commoners, Communists, capitalists and ordinary horse lovers.
The cloudless blue Maryland skies.
The whirling totalisators, which recorded a bigger betting handle ($2,645,834) than ever before in the 215-year-old racing history of this horse-conscious state.
After a superior promotional buildup it was downright rotten luck that turned the affair into a disreputable shambles. No sooner had the Australian Sailor's Guide been posted as the winner over the fouling American Tudor Era than the once-festive mood was changed by misunderstanding and, in some cases by plain bitterness.
From the start—if it can be so dignified—there was bedlam for the full mile and a half. First, Starter Eddie Blind had trouble stopping the Russians from jumping the flag. Then, the kicking Orsini II had to be moved to the outside. On the seventh attempt Blind got the field off, but Zaryad was hopelessly left.
In any case, the seven-minute delay put added tension on both horses and riders, and as they thundered around the narrow little turf oval it was strictly a case of every man and beast for himself. Naturally, some made out better than others. Scobie Breasley, for example, in giving Ballymoss what appeared to be an indifferent and most indecisive ride that hardly did justice to the European champion, was in close quarters too often and finally, because of it, he was bumped by Orsini and knocked out of contention. Clem suffered, too, from this incident and finished eighth, beaten even by the other Russian, Garnir, who raced creditably.