A KENTUCKY FLAVOR
Meanwhile in Chicago this week the excitement was rapidly taking on a Kentucky Derby flavor. Ticket requests started flooding in weeks ago and are still coming. "It looks like every General Motors executive in the U.S. is coming," said a happy aide of Director Ben Lindheimer. The track was also busy building an auxiliary press box. The existing one holds 40; Washington Park expected to need space for 100.
No race in years has churned up such universal interest. Everyone is picking sides. And everyone usually has a verbalized reason. Suppose Nashua tries to break ahead of Swaps? What if both Shoemaker and Arcaro rate their horses miserably slow? If Swaps goes to the front, can Nashua stay with him? If they enter the stretch head-and-head...?
Opinions are everywhere you care to look. A double-barreled one came from Bill Winfrey, trainer of the great Native Dancer: "The strategy seems obvious to me. Swaps is a real speed horse. I think he'll set a pace so fast that Nashua won't be able to stay with him. Maybe, though, we'll all be surprised. Maybe Nashua has never shown what he really can do." From Ted Atkinson, who subbed for Arcaro to win the Wood Memorial aboard Nashua: "If Eddie bounces Nashua out of the gate it's going to be a horse race. Nashua has never demonstrated his potential early speed...." Jockey Eric Guerin, who trailed both Swaps and Nashua in the Kentucky Derby aboard Summer Tan: "I don't think Nashua can win any which way no matter what he does. Swaps is one of the freest running horses I ever saw."
Willie Shoemaker, the silent fellow who will actually ride Swaps, looked up last week and made, for him, a long and sagacious assessment. "If Swaps is right, he'll be tough to beat. I reckon he does everything pretty good—either set the pace or come from behind. But these horses aren't going to be very far apart. A lot of folks in California who have only seen Swaps don't give Nashua credit for being much of a horse. But I know Nashua is good. I respect him plenty. He could give us a lot of trouble."
Today Eddie Arcaro, the best in America, is a wise man too. He says: "I don't mind who sets the pace, but they seem to think Swaps will. Well, if he does, I'm going to try and go with him. But, remember, I'm not driving my Cadillac. I just hope I can stay with him."
This week, as Swaps went into his last stretch of serious training, and as Trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons prepared to ship Nashua to Chicago, Mr. Fitz had a few words of octogenarian advice for all concerned: "When they get all through talking about strategy and tactics and the rest of it, it will be up to these two horses to do the running. My horse is ready to run."
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