Geersen, who has only been training Hairos for 17 months, kept his horse hidden from paddock visitors by draping a large, homely green blanket over the front of Hairos' stall. The rest of the starters stood open to inspection. Geersen knew that the slightest movement outside a stall often gets a horse stirring about, and he was not taking any chances of upsetting Hairos.
When the field got away, Tornese went quickly to the front from his No. 5 post position, and Hairos, from No. 4, was placed in second position on the outside. Silver Song was third on the rail, exactly where his driver, Howard Camden, wanted him to be. For the entire mile and a quarter, Hairos and Geersen were on the outside, seemingly surrendering valuable ground. At the top of the stretch, many thought that Hairos would have to be tired, but Geersen knew how much horse he had left, and, free from any trouble in the middle of the track, the two came home by a half length. Crevalcore finished gamely, and Silver Song, who had trouble in the stretch, finished third.
"This," said Geersen, hoisting a glass of champagne later, "was Hairos' finest race. He is now the champion of the world."
Next Wednesday afternoon the attention of fans switches to Du Quoin, Ill., and the 35th Hambletonian, the most prestigious trotting event of the year. This time there is no standout performer such as we have had in the last three years when Diller Hanover, Emily's Pride and Hickory Smoke trotted off with the finest of all the 3-year-old races.
In fact, the last few races leading up to the Hambletonian have done little more than cloud the picture. With an open race in prospect, many owners, who might ordinarily skip Du Quoin, may elect to pay the $1,500 starting fee and hope for luck. If 20 start, the net purse will be $144,402, with more than $86,000 going to the winner.
Right from the very beginning of this year the 3-year-olds have been beating one another regularly, and only in the last few weeks have any of them started to show something resembling consistent form. Clint Hodgins, who is having the best year of his life, probably will be driving the favorite, the filly Elaine Rodney who won at Springfield last week in 2:00, fastest time any of the candidates have recorded this year. Billy Haughton will be handling Hickory Fire, a full brother to Hickory Smoke, and Joe O'Brien seems to have Blaze Hanover, the winter-book favorite, back in shape (SI, July 25). Del Miller, who has won all three of the six harness racing classics raced so far this season, will enter Duke of Decatur and Hoot Frost (and will have to choose which one he will drive himself). Duke of Decatur won the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown, the Yonkers Futurity, in early July over a muddy track at odds of 40 to 1. Uncle Sam, who will probably be the second choice at Du Quoin, won the Review Futurity last week in straight heats at Springfield, going in 2:01 1/5 in each of them. Darcie Hanover, Carlene Hanover, Volo Mon and Demon Ros all have a good chance to win. In such a race, post position will be very important, which it isn't normally on Du Quoin's wide mile track. The draw will not be held until three days before the race. Anyhow, post No. 1 or second tier, we still like Hodgins and Elaine.