Even though Jockey Deforge insists that Behistoun is inferior to his last year's winner, Diatome, and, in fact, is barely considered to be among the top half a dozen 3-year-olds in France, this latest French victory has far-reaching significance. It may be true that horses accustomed to racing up to and beyond two miles on a difficult course like Longchamp should have the stamina to beat American-breds, who rarely make a career out of distance races. But it is also true that even the English and Irish are having diminishing success against the French. One reason is that French breeders are making careful use of certain strains of U.S. bloodlines—something most English and Irish breeders have long considered beneath their dignity. Behistoun, for example, is a son of O'Grady, who in turn is a son of American-bred Relic, a grandson of Man o' War. It is partly by blending the blood of such stallions as Relic and Native Dancer with some of their own great stock that the French have been so successful.
In The Garden State, Successor's ridiculously easy three-length victory over George Widener's Bold Hour summed up the 2-year-old year, and the championship was decided as it should be—on the track instead of at the ballot box. Those two fine colts had stood out for much of the season, along with In Reality and Dr. Fager. When the latter retired for the remainder of the year, it became obvious that if one of the other three won The Garden State he would deserve the title.
Successor's triumph was hardly surprising. He is a full brother to former champion Bold Lad, is 4 for 9 on the season and should improve on this record as a 3-year-old. In The Garden State, Braulio Bacza kept him back in fifth place for much of the early running while John Rotz set out to steal the whole pot ($188,475 to the winner) with Bold Hour. "With all the mud and slop," said Rotz, "we thought we'd put him on the lead and hope he'd last it. And until the head of the stretch I thought we had it, too."
In Reality stayed close to Bold Hour until the eighth pole in this mile-and-a-16th splash. When they turned for home Rotz took Bold Hour out from the rail and into better going, while In Reality stayed in close. Behind them Baeza drove Successor outside of Jovial Boy and Dawn Glory (an international invader from Puerto Rico) and then neatly broke through between In Reality and Bold Hour to win going away in 1:44[1/5]. Bold Hour, three lengths behind, was six ahead of Proviso, who came with a rush from dead last to beat out In Reality by three-quarters of a length.
Successor will have much to say about the 1967 classics, but the Phipps stable is so loaded, with both first-stringers and a bench, that Trainer Eddie Neloy announced after the race that Successor will not run again until late March. He will miss Hialeah's traditional Flamingo. "Our big Hialeah horses," Neloy said, "will be Great Power and Bold Monarch." The way things are going for the Phippses, that could be enough.