I can appreciate Whitney Tower's staunch loyalty to Damascus (Now the Uncontested Champ, Aug. 28). After all, he was the first to tout the colt last fall, stuck with him through the Derby debacle, and saw himself vindicated by the Preakness, Belmont and all the rest.
But loyalty is one thing and picking Damascus as the uncontested champ over Dr. Fager is another. Certainly Damascus' record is impressive and 22 lengths is a lot of daylight, but who did he beat in that "stunning" Travers? Two conceded sprinters, who were bound to battle for the pace and quit after a mile, and Reason to Hail, a stretch runner who has been raced out of form in what must be one of the toughest 3-year-old stakes campaigns in history. That is not a field against which the class of champions is proven.
In comparing the two horses, how can Tower ignore Dr. Fager's amazing Withers on May 13, in which he met the then-unbeaten Tumiga closer to that sprinter's distance, ran a fantastic second quarter and won in the fastest time for a mile by a 3-year-old in New York racing history? How can Tower imply that Trainer Johnny Nerud waits for soft spots when, instead of sending his proven miler in another mile on Memorial Day, he sent Dr. Fager to the Jersey Derby against In Reality? And how can Tower discount the fact that the one time the two did meet, Damascus lost?
It is unfortunate that Dr. Fager has not had a chance to race more, if only to convince those who equate maximum exposure with maximum ability that he is the best 3-year-old in training. Hopefully Damascus and the rest will get another chance at him soon. I know where my money will be.
LINDA J. GREENHOUSE
To call Damascus the "uncontested champ" is completely unjustifiable. First of all, in the only head-to-head meeting between Damascus and Dr. Fager, Dr. Fager pulled away at the end with authority. After Damascus lost the race Willie Shoemaker tried to take the blame for the horse's loss by saying that he had started the horse too soon into its stretch drive. If he had started Damascus any later he wouldn't have come as close as he did. Second, they have both faced common opponents, such as In Reality, and they have both scored equally impressive victories. For example, in the Preakness and the American Derby, Damascus beat In Reality in the two races by a total of 9� lengths. In the Jersey Derby, although disqualified, Dr. Fager scored an easy 6�-length victory over In Reality. Third and most important, Damascus has lost three races this year: one to Exceedingly, a mediocre horse; one to Proud Clarion, who, although a good horse, is certainly not among the top horses; and one to Dr. Fager. Dr. Fager has been unbeatable this year, losing only through disqualification. I predict that if the two horses do eventually meet for a second time this year, Dr. Fager will trounce Damascus.
?Each horse has since won another race (page 91), but hopefully the question will be resolved on Sept. 30 when Damascus and Dr. Fager—and Buck-passer—are scheduled to meet in the Woodward Stakes at a mile and a quarter.—ED.
REMINDER FROM BROOKLYN
Who says a good baseball team has to be dull? William Leggett's delightful article on the zestful St. Louis Cardinals (Out in Front in Fun and Games, Sept. 4) proves that a winning team does not have to be composed of staid, spiritless, mechanical robots without personalities. For more than a decade baseball authorities have purposefully attempted to squelch any individuality on the part of their players. They have forgotten that baseball is a game as well as a business.
Hopefully the present Cardinals will reawaken the concept that baseball, even professional baseball, can be fun.
SIC TRANSIT GLORIA
Surprise, surprise. SI finally gave credit where credit was due (The AFL Has a Taste of Glory, Sept. 4). The Kansas City Chiefs are the best in the AFL and they will prove they are better than the best in the NFL in the next Super Bowl game. You can't say enough about those Super Chiefs.
What taste of glory, may I ask? Anyone who considers the Chicago Bears as one of the "top" teams in the NFL is out of his mind. The Kansas City Chiefs must be congratulated, but only for exposing the Bears for what they really are.