track in the country has been eager to stage the first trotting race between
Speedy Scot and Ayres. They are both Triple Crown winners (Speedy in 1963,
Ayres in 1964) and co-holders of the world record of 1:56[4/5]. "I think
Speedy is the greatest trotter that ever lived," says his trainer-driver,
Ralph Baldwin. "Ayres," says his man, Johnny Simpson, "is the most
perfect horse I have ever seen." Trotting experts, split in their judgment,
are hardly accustomed to such statements from these two normally reticent
Until last week,
Speedy had won 41 of 51 starts, often setting track records. Ayres, winner of
20 out of 28, had been out of the money just once. Last week they finally met,
for a modest purse of $25,000, at equally modest Brandywine Raceway near
Wilmington, Del., and the rest of the field in the race included practically
all the other first-rank trotters in the U.S. They were:
Big John, Eddie
Wheeler's four-year-old, who chased Ayres to the wire in both heats of last
Su Mac Lad,
Stanley Dancer's all-time money-winning champ ($826,449), still going strong at
11 years of age.
(Jimmy Cruise, trainer-driver) who had raced against the best and had seldom
been beaten badly by any of them.
Billy Haughton's somewhat lame but very game 4-year-old who, at 2, was best of
his age, and had won 35 of 52.
Sprite Kid of
Canada, finally, the only outsider in the bunch.
in staging a race that drew 15,000 to the closing night of a spring meet and
would have drawn more than three times that many in New York, came almost by
chance. Racing Secretary James M. Lynch sent telegrams inviting eight trotters
just the week before. Ayres' acceptance came back almost immediately. Speedy
Scot's was last, on the day before the race, because the telegram to Baldwin
had gone astray.
didn't want to meet Scotty this early," Simpson said. "But I gave my
word we would race at Brandywine, and I wasn't going to break it."
anxious to meet Ayres and get it over with," Baldwin said. "There has
been so much talk about it that it was beginning to bug me."