"He was unlucky in both those races," agreed Elliott Burch. "But I knew this time that if anything happened to Damascus we had a hell of a shot. This gelding—he's by Amerigo out of a Princequillo mare—is tops on grass, and Ycaza gave him an ideal ride. I don't like to see great horses beaten any more than the next man, but if Damascus had to be beaten I'm glad we're the ones who did it."
Ycaza seconded this. "I feel badly for the public," he said, "and for the people who own him when a horse like Damascus is beaten. But when it's time to ride against big horses, I am not really thinking about the opposition. When Damascus came up head and head to me in the stretch, I am not thinking about how great he is. I am thinking of nothing but riding my own horse."
The Damascus people that Manuel Ycaza was talking about, an assorted group of Bancrofts and Woodwards who have spent much of the year watching their champion run up record earnings of $817,941, understand these sentiments. So, fortunately, do the hundreds of owners, trainers and jockeys who in less than two decades have helped Laurel's John Schapiro build a successful International race.
The Fort Marcy people have one more item to add to those that made Saturday memorable for them. Their horse was third on the list from which one was to be chosen to join Damascus as the U.S. entry. And he was held so lightly that he went off in the race at better than 8 to 1, while Damascus was bet down to 3 to 5.
In the view of most gamblers, Fort Marcy was the "wrong" American horse. In every other respect, though, he was just right.