Next to the thoroughbred set, the harness horse folks are an unpretentious bunch. Oh, sure, they have their triple crown, but so far no one has got around to capitalizing the t and the c. Shucks, the Hambletonian is a nice little race, Wilbur, but like the pie contest and the cattle judging, it's still only a piece of the DuQuoin State Fair. And so last Friday night they matched three truly superhorses in the second leg of their trotting triple crown, the $93,097.50 Yonkers Futurity, and it was a nice little Fifth Race. They didn't even roll a small drum. With an equivalent Triple Crown field, Belmont would have fired rockets. At the Goodyear blimp.
But then, to get the equivalent, Belmont would have needed, say, a Citation, a Native Dancer and a Regret. Check this lineup that went to the post at Yonkers:
Super Bowl, winner of 32 races including the Hambletonian in world-record time for a mile track, of $459,492 and just syndicated for $1 million.
Songcan, winner of 19 and $223,970. A couple of weeks ago the Nevele Acres-Don Hy Stables colt set the world record for a half-mile track.
And Delmonica Hanover, winner of 30 races and $242,743 and unofficially the fastest trotting filly or mare ever. But in harness racing you must win before you can pick up a record. Delmonica Hanover was unfortunate enough to go under the old records while finishing second to Super Bowl in the Hambletonian. That day her combined time in the two heats was three seconds under the established record for trotters of her sex.
"About what?" yawned Stanley Dancer five minutes before climbing into Super Bowl's sulky. Then the slender little multimillionaire grinned and held out his gloves. They were split on both thumbs and a couple of fingers. "I guess I better have Rachel check our budget to see if I can afford a new pair," he said. Two years ago Dancer bought Super Bowl for his wife Rachel and for Mrs. Hilda Silverstein. For $20,000. "Pretty fair return," Dancer chirped.
Across the narrow dirt ramp leading from the paddock to the Yonkers track Del Miller, in his usual blas� manner, was eating small cubes of chocolate candy and mumbling about the weather. He was driving Delmonica Hanover, but he wasn't giving his filly much of a chance. "We'll go for a ride," he said idly. "Those other two horses are just too good."
A little while before, Miller and George Sholty, the driver of Songcan, had flown in from Lexington, where they had been racing stock. But on the way their Learjet had stopped in North Philadelphia. "We were dropping off a friend," said Miller. "When we got over the airport, there was a blimp drifting around, and the tower told us we had to wait until they got the thing moored. We just kept circling. And when we finally got here the fog was thick. It was a hairy landing."
Also, a late landing. Sholty missed a drive in the third race. "I got to the paddock just as the race went off," he growled. Finally, with Dancer's gloves unmended, Miller's chocolate gone and Sholty still upset over the elements, they got around to the Futurity. In the clubhouse Ben Slutsky, one of the owners of Nevele Acres, warmed up for the classic by booking an unknown German singer into the Nevele Hotel in Ellenville, N.Y. "Her name is Hannelore Gray and she's a 'decadent' cabaret singer," said Joey Goldstein, one of Miss Gray's agents. "She'll soon be on her way from Munich." "Great," said Slutsky. "Let me know when she gets here and we'll throw out whoever's in the nightclub."