The Hopeful at Saratoga last week may not have proved much about this season's 2-year-olds, mostly because the best colts were not entered. Only seven went to the post, and one of them, Claiborne Farm's Duel, stumbled at the start, nearly tossing Jockey Larry Gilligan and automatically eliminating himself from contention. What the Hopeful did clear up—maybe—was the status of the unbeaten Chicago-based colt, Amastar, who, after five straight wins, went off as the odds-on favorite. Amastar set all the early pace, but was overtaken in the stretch and beaten a length by Reginald Webster's Traffic in the mediocre time of 1:18[3/5]. This was Traffic's second win in 10 starts and hardly suggests that he is about to take his place alongside such previous Hopeful winners as Whirlaway, Middle-ground, Native Dancer and Nashua.
The young division lost a potential star earlier in the season when undefeated Raise a Native was injured and permanently retired. Later, another stakes winner, Big Pete, was put to pasture for the balance of the year. Among those who didn't get to the Hopeful starting gate are Mr. Brick (winner of the Sapling), Breakspear, Delirium, Timbeau and Black Mountain. At Arlington Park Greentree Stable's Malicious, Raymond Guest's Chieftain and Rex Ellsworth's The Scoundrel are the class, and one of them should win the September 7 Arlington-Washington Futurity. It could be, in fact, that the Chicago colts are better than any as yet developed in the East. The reason for this is that New York colts are as much as two months behind schedule because of the early-season coughing epidemic, and trainers hesitated to give them their first starts at Aqueduct.
After watching the 2-year-olds so far this summer, I believe that the champion of the lot may still be in the barn. Last year Chateaugay didn't even make his first start until October 17. His owner, John W. Gal breath, isn't sure he has another Chateaugay in reserve, but the three he considers his best this year have not yet started. Write these names on your hatband: First Gleam (by Swaps), Saltville (by Tom Fool) and Seven Hills (by Ribot).
In the typically frantic world in which he seems to live—that hodgepodge of carefully calculated confusion—Jack Price was still on center stage. This time his (and everyone's) dear old friend Carry Back managed to make more news by not starting in the Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park, Chicago than Crimson Satan did in winning it. And, believe me, there was confusion. On Saturday, the day of the race, Price felt some heat in CB's left ankle after the horse returned from a light gallop. X rays that were hurriedly read while still in wet form indicated the trouble was a strained ligament that had pulled a chip off the sesamoid bone. This would have meant the end of CB's comeback.
Price scratched his horse from the big race, of course, and next day every U.S. sports page ran a story about the latest—and final—retirement of Carry Back. But since all this involved Price, there was, naturally, a reversal of thought and action 24 hours later. Flown back to New York's Belmont Park, Carry Back was given more X rays, and this time the findings, read off dry negatives and in no particular haste, indicated "no sign of any fracture or bone chip, but merely some minor tearing to the distal sesamoidean ligament. The leg will recover."
Newly exhilarated, Price (his bags had been packed in readiness to invade Kentucky in search of a new home for his stallion) went off into an orbit from which came a signal, loud and clear, beeping, "CB will be back in training within a week and we'll point for the United Nations on September 14." Oh if only CB could tell us how he feels about it all!