Tears and victory were the pattern last Saturday. Two American winners, in quite different fields and an ocean apart, wept with emotion as they triumphed. In Atlantic City, Miss California, 19-year-old Lee Ann Meriwether, choked with sobs and delight when she was crowned Miss America. And in Doncaster, England, near-octogenarian Robert Sterling Clark wept unabashed when his horse Never Say Die, a Kentucky-bred son of Nasrullah, won the ancient St. Leger before a crowd of 200,000.
A longshot winner of the Derby in June, the colt is the first American horse to win England's classic double since Pierre Lorillard's Iroquois accomplished the feat in 1881. Ridden by "Cheeky Charlie" Smirke, Never Say Die was, as favorite, an easy victor by 12 lengths. The success of this American-bred horse is another link in the ever-growing chain of international racing, as Smirke rode Worden 2nd to victory last fall in Laurel's International.
Never Say Die's victory was hardly more surprising to American trackmen than the thought of Robert Sterling Clark in tears. A 78-year-old New Yorker, he is a brother of the famous Ambrose Clark, whose pearl-gray derby is a familiar sight at the New York tracks.
MAN OF MYSTERY
But unlike his brother, Robert Sterling Clark is something of a man of mystery. Uncommonly shy, he avoids photographers and reporters as though they were typhoid carriers. Nevertheless, he and his brother, F. Ambrose Clark, made newspaper headlines a decade and a half ago in a dispute about the family property at Coopers-town, N.Y. He got into a tussle with our Jockey Club about their refusal to allow the registration of certain obscure horses—some of which are said to have been Arabians—whose papers didn't meet Jockey Club requirements. Since then he has not raced in this country and his cerise and gray, blue sash, have only been seen in Europe. This despite the fact that most of his breeding operations are carried on in Kentucky and Virginia.
In addition to being a racing enthusiast Clark is an art collector and has founded and endowed the Robert Sterling Clark Art Institute at Williamstown, Mass. to house his collection of paintings, sculpture and silver. Clark has gone about his collecting quietly and without fanfare and, like the late, irascible Albert Barnes, prefers not to be bothered with people wishing to see his objets d'art. Hence the new Institute at Williams College.
Never Say Die is a certainty to receive an invitation to Laurel's International turf race in November. Maybe Mr. Clark's double victory will cause him to mellow sufficiently to relent and let the U.S. see the American-bred horse which captured two of England's great stakes. His cup should be running over, for on St. Leger day his Tip the Bottle won the very next race, the Town Moor.
This is certainly Nasrullah's year. The same day Never Say Die took the St. Leger, the Del Mar Futurity was won by Blue Ruler, another of his progeny, with Willie Shoemaker aboard.
For the first time in New York racing history the weather cancelled out a program. Hurricane Edna made it impossible to race at Aqueduct last Saturday and affected two other tracks in the East. But the Discovery Handicap, the day's headliner, will be run off Friday Sept. 17. So C. V. Whitney's Fisherman will not be deprived of his chance to run in a race which he should, and in fact must, win if he's to be given serious consideration among the top three-year-olds.
Well worth watching as a preview of the Belmont Futurity will be the Cowdin on the last day of the Aqueduct meeting. Nashua, Royal Coinage, Georgian, and Islander, all important two-year-old stake winners, are probable starters in the six-and-a-half furlong event.