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SWAPS VS. NASHUA
No one in the race-track set lacked a subject once the date for the Swaps-Nashua match race was finally confirmed for August 31. The news took the old guard back, for a parallel, to the first great match race of modern times—the one between Zev and Papyrus in 1923—and the middle guard back to the last good one, between Seabiscuit and War Admiral in 1938. Ears were trained on the words of the principals—the owners, trainers and the successful impresario, Mr. Ben Lindheimer, who operates Chicago's Washington Park where the horses will meet.
Characteristically, Rex Ellsworth, Swaps's owner and breeder, kept his thoughts to himself and let Trainer Meshach Tenney do the talking. "You can say for me," Tenney told a reporter at Hollywood Park, "that so far as I am concerned Swaps is a proven horse, and our race against Nashua is not an attempt to establish his prestige. I have never been more confident that our colt will give a good account of himself."
Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, the 81-year-old patriarch of American trainers, the man who nursed and tutored a long line of champions before Nashua, had this to say: "People told me [before the Kentucky Derby] Swaps was a colt that would probably stop after a mile. Maybe he'll beat us again, but if he does he won't be as comfortable doing it this time."
As befits a man who has landed the biggest plum on the year's racing calendar, Lindheimer was full of large and generous thoughts. "Both owners represent the highest traditions in American racing," he said. "Such a match is of great value to the turf because it stimulates interest in racing as a sport and gets us away from the commercial aspects of the game, which tend to color our thinking so much these days."
SI's reader mail (see THE 19TH HOLE) was running 5-1 in favor of Swaps. Out in Tijuana, where the commercial aspects of the game are never forgotten, Promoter John Alessio (SI, May 2) promptly opened up a future book.
His first line: Swaps the favorite at 7-10, Nashua 11-10.
"We're getting letters from all over," said Alessio. "My guess is that the betting lines will be strictly drawn—East versus West."
ON WORDSWORTH'S LAKE
When we ended our story on Don Campbell and the Bluebird last week, the final moment was at hand—the final moment, that is, of Campbell's six-year effort to travel faster on water than anyone has ever traveled before. The moment arrived last Saturday on the smooth surface of Lake Ullswater. The day was clear; one of those days when, as Wordsworth says, the sky rejoices at the morning's birth. The jet-powered Bluebird floated motionless at a jetty near the Glenridding Hotel—formerly the Glenridding Temperance Hotel. Inside the hotel 34-year-old Don Campbell was playing chess.