If he wins this week's 93rd running of the Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Carry Back will achieve a distinction that in nearly 100 years of American Thoroughbred racing has come to only eight other horses. The last champion to win this Triple Crown of U.S. classics was the great Citation, and that was 13 years ago. Before him, the roster is almost as impressive: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943) and Assault (1946).
Even more of a distinction for Carry Back if he makes the list is the fact that he will bring about the election of his officially registered owner, Mrs. Jack Price, into racing's ultraexclusive club: those who owned a Triple Crown winner. The eight former champions (each of whom earned a special three-sided silver trophy put up by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations) were owned by six individuals (see below), ranging from an athletic Canadian gambler to a Wall Street banker to the owner of the country's largest ranch. Moreover, of this group of six, only one was a woman. Like Katherine Price, Mrs. John D. Hertz, owner of Count Fleet, operated her racing stable—and still does—in partnership with her husband.
For Katherine Price to crash this select group on Saturday, Carry Back will probably have to do something more than step onto Belmont's famous track and parade for the crowd. The Belmont is a mile-and-a-half test. In the absence of such previous, familiar pace-setters as Crozier and Globemaster, who may be tired of losing to Carry Back, there is always the danger that if Jockey John Sellers and Carry Back loaf too much for the first mile, a solitary front-runner like Hitting Away could steal the race.
But despite the additional threat of stretch-runners like Ambiopoise, Flutterby, Dr. Miller and Bal Musette, Carry Back will be the odds-on favorite. He should write the chapter of racing history for which the sport has been waiting impatiently since Citation and the Belmont Stakes of 1948.
Katherine Price, a gracious, poised woman with a charming smile, says, "I've been a racing fan for 25 years. Sometimes it was uncomfortable, but I always went with Jack." What has helped make it comfortable for the last year and a half are the hours spent adding up Carry Back's winnings: 5739,068. Mrs. Price, called Kay by co-owner and trainer Jack Price (she usually calls him Jay), was the eldest of five daughters and one of 10 children born to Edward and Sarah Boyle of Cleveland. Most of her childhood was spent in Burlington, Vt., but she moved back to Cleveland in 1930 at the age of 20 and met Price while she was working there in a candy shop. They were married on Friday, the 13th (of August), 1931. Parents of two daughters, they live in Miami, often visit Ocala Stud, where Carry Back was foaled.
John K. L. Ross, born in Lindsay, Ontario in 1876, didn't start racing until 1915. Before that he had achieved fame as an athlete (squash, football and hockey) at McGill University and served as a commander in the Royal Canadian Navy. A good horseman, Ross also fancied himself as an able gambler. At first he was dead right. In 1919 he took his 3-year-old maiden, Sir Barton, put Jockey Johnny Loftus aboard, placed a $250,000 bet on the pair and watched them win the Kentucky Derby by five lengths. The first Triple Crown was his when Sir Barton won the Preakness and Belmont easily. He gambled away most of $10 million and died, almost a forgotten man, in 1951. He was buried at sea off Montego Bay.
William Woodward, owner of Belair Stud, was the president of New York's Hanover National Bank and influential in racing as chairman of The Jockey Club from 1930 to 1949. Once he wanted to set Eddie Arcaro down for life (for dangerously rough riding), then grudgingly lifted the suspension after one year. When Gallant Fox and later his son, Omaha, swept the classics within five years, Woodward became the first double winner of the Triple Crown. Both colts were trained by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, who nearly won a third grand slam for the Woodwards in 1955. But that year his Kentucky Derby favorite, Nashua, was defeated by Swaps before going on to win both the Preakness and the Belmont.
Samuel D. Riddle, active in racing for 65 of his 90 years, will always be better known as the man who bought Man o' War for 55,000 in 1918 than as the man who won the Triple Crown with Man o' War's son, War Admiral, in 1937. Riddle mingled, raced and rode with the highest of society wherever he went but reserved his special affections for his horses. On the hunt-meeting circuit around Pennsylvania and Maryland, Riddle enjoyed the reputation of being both a good rider and a fearless competitor. War Admiral took a cue from his owner: as the Derby favorite he won by beating 19 other horses. He beat seven in the Preakness, and only six dared test him in the Belmont. He won by three lengths.
Warren Wright made most of his money manufacturing Calumet Baking Powder (Calumet is the Indian word for peace pipe). He went into Thoroughbred racing in 1931 and did better than most novices with a stable he called Calumet Farm. With Wright the accent was on winning, as it still is with Calumet. Although Wright died in 1950, his widow Lucille (now Mrs. Gene Markey) operates the most successful racing stable ever put together. Whirlaway and Citation gave Warren Wright two Triple Crown winners. Three years ago this month Calumet seemed to be only a quarter of a mile from a third one, when Tim Tarn broke down in the Belmont stretch and finished second to an unheralded Irish-bred named Cavan.
Mrs. John D. Hertz has been married for 57 years to the Austrian-born entrepreneur who started as a Chicago newsboy, founded the Yellow Cab Company in 1915 and then moved on to the immensely profitable car-rental business. The former Fannie Kesner of Chicago, Mrs. Hertz has shared her husband's interest in racing since he bought his first horse in 1921. Seven years later she entered her first horse, Reigh Count, in the Derby. He won. In 1939 the Hertzes bought Stoner Creek Stud in Paris, Ky., and there Reigh Count's son, Count Fleet, was foaled. Called by Johnny Longden "the greatest horse I ever rode," Count Fleet swamped his Triple Crown opposition in 1943, leading every step of the way in all three races.