The retirement of Nashua, Belair Stud's Futurity winner, and great son of Nasrullah, won't seriously detract from the $239,000—the world's richest—race at Garden State Oct. 30. It will, if anything, enlarge the field and probably center interest on still another Nasrullah colt, Flying Fury, Cain Hoy's surprise winner of the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.
To stocky, white-haired Eugene Mori, president of the track—he and his group also control Tanforan and Hialeah—goes all the credit for dreaming up a race which keeps interest in two-year-olds at fever pitch right through October, even after the Futurity has been run. In October there is always strong speculation about next year's Kentucky Derby winner and which of the youngsters really has staying power. The Garden State at a mile and a sixteenth provides something of an answer.
THE FEES DO IT
First running of this new race last year proved the Garden State was a natural. The largest crowd (43,234) ever to attend a track on the Jersey circuit topped the state's betting record for a single race by putting $554,984 through the tote. The richest race, as the management frankly emphasizes, is made possible only by the fees put up by owners who reach into their pockets for nominating, eligibility, entry and starting fees in that order. Nomination fees were put up for 789 horses this year. Of these 219 had their eligibility fees paid up. But before the start of the race, owners of horses which will run must put up another $2,000. All in all it costs $2,385 to start a horse. The Garden State Racing Association adds $100,000 to all this. If 16 horses start, the value of the race will be $271,965. So it is something like an old-fashioned sweepstake.
Last year's winner, Cain Hoy's Turn-To, netted $151,282, and even today that buys a lot of oats (213,073 bushels to be exact). The 1953 race grossed $269,395 and should be more this year. The previous record was the Santa Anita Maturity of 1951, won by Great Circle.
At the top of the list of contenders place Mrs. Russell Firestone's Summer Tan, considered by handicappers to be just about the equal, by some good judges perhaps even the superior, of the retired Nashua. A dark brown Heliopolis colt from an Omaha mare, he is built pretty close to the ground, certainly bred for distance. Ordinarily a slow starter, a good post position in the morning draw is important for this game late runner, for from the outside he may get caught in the pack and never get a chance for his stretch run.
There are several sleepers in the race well worth watching. Flying Fury is one; another is Roman Patrol, a youngster from Josephine Abercrombie's Pin Oak Farm. He has won his only two starts by wide daylight and must be considered, with his early speed, as having more than an off chance. He's by Roman, a front runner in his day. And Eddie Hayward, Cain Hoy trainer, has a second string to his bow in Racing Fool, winner of a good race at Garden State last Saturday that significantly enough was not called a "Trial."
The Garden State track itself is sandy, much as the old one at Aqueduct and is not much affected by rain. Even if the day of the race should come up a bad one the track will not be a sea of mud.
The international set, four-legged version, will meet at Laurel, Md., Nov. 3 for the third running of the Washington, D.C. International, a mile and a half go-round over the turf, with a European walk-up start. This four-power equine conference draws together horses flown in from England, France and Ireland, with two good American horses. Excitement and glamour will be added by the presence of the black Landau, owned by Queen Elizabeth II of England, who will be showing her famous purple, scarlet and gold colors anywhere abroad for the very first time. King of the Tudors, the second English horse, won the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park this summer (beating Landau), while from Ireland comes Northern Gleam, which will probably be ridden by Australia's Rae Johnstone, now perhaps the best rider in Europe. Present also will be two French ambassadors, the 4-year-old mare Banassa (second in the Arc de Triomphe at Longchamps this fall) and Ernest Decrion's good 6-year-old, Norman.
The U.S. will be represented by King Ranch's High Gun and Stanley Mikell's grass runner Brush Burn. American alternates are C. V. Whitney's Fisherman and Jaclyn Stable's Closed Door.