For the last 15 years, ever since he won the 1945 Kentucky Derby with the first horse (Hoop, Jr.) he ever owned, Fred W. Hooper has been coming up with some of the fastest 2-year-olds in racing. Last week at Chicago's Arlington Park this tall, quiet construction company executive from Coral Gables, Fla. was at it again. The best young colt in his barn—Crozier—showed Midwestern racing fans that if any 2-year-old is going to take the juvenile championship away from Hail to Reason in the next few months he is likely to be the one. Crozier did not have an easy time winning the rich ($216,944) Washington Park six-and-a-half-furlong Futurity. He finally took it by only a length from Intensive, but the speed he displayed along the way to a new track record of 1:15 1/5 marks him as something pretty special—at least until the later distance events come along and a rich race can also be called a conclusive one.
The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn now is that Hooper's colt can take the lead and hold it against a single serious challenge. Intensive held on all the way to the eighth pole when he finally cracked and permitted Crozier to run away alone. Along the way, Crozier ticked off fractions of :22 1/5 for the first quarter, :44 2/5 for the half and 1:09 even for six furlongs. That's moving right along on anybody's track—although it must be said that on the same day $6,000 claimers were in 1:09 2/5 for three-quarters of a mile.
Does Crozier have the potential to become more than simply a speedster? "Well, how can you tell on breeding alone just how far any 2-year-old will want to go?" says Hooper. "This colt is by My Babu, who won the English 2,000 Guineas at a mile, and he's out of one of my Olympia mares, Miss Olympia, who never raced much—but that was because I wanted to put many of the Olympias in stud as early as possible." So, on the record at least, Crozier is not bred to run off with too many mile-and-a-half races. My Babu was strictly a middle-distance racer in England. Olympia could be a holy terror—but only at distances around a mile.
None of this particularly bothers Hooper, who, already the owner of one of the country's most evenly balanced stables, says with some real conviction, "Crozier looks like a classy colt, and he might easily be the best I've had in a long time. He's also just as manageable a horse as a man ever owned. From here we go to New York for the Futurity and the Champagne, then on to the Garden State. We may not win 'em all, but at least we can't be accused of overracing. This was only the colt's fifth start."
There were two disappointments at Arlington. First, Pappa's All, the California contender, didn't even get to the starting gate. Second, Calumet Farm's Beau Prince, who did get there, quickly demonstrated such disdain for the whole business that he ran out of the money.
Pappa's All, winner over Crozier in the Arlington Futurity, suffered an ankle injury that likely will keep him idle until Santa Anita. But Beau Prince had no such excuse. "In fact," says Trainer Jimmy Jones, who is looking to this solid chunk of horse to be his leading triple crown contender next spring, "Beau Prince is as sound as a bell, which I guess is pretty unusual these days. I've never had him really cranked up until now, and unless I'm awfully wrong he's going to improve from here on. He's had six starts, and he may get four or five more in the East this year. But remember, Calumet is used to racing on a paying basis, and I don't exactly sneeze at the big pots either."
Something else not to be sneezed at is Beau Prince's breeding. He's by Bull Lea out of a mare named Typhoon. And Typhoon's daddy was an old fellow named Whirlaway.