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DREAM RACE—A PROPOSAL
July 30, 1956
A year ago, the late William Woodward Jr., then owner of Nashua, and Rex Ellsworth, owner of Swaps, agreed to match their superb colts in a two-horse race at Chicago. At that time the two sportsmen were quoted widely as saying, in effect: "Both these horses are great. Any great horse belongs to the public. The public is entitled to see the best—and that's why we're bringing Swaps and Nashua together." As everyone now knows, Nashua won in a romp over an off-form Swaps and thus evened the score with the colt who had taken his measure in the Kentucky Derby.
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July 30, 1956

Dream Race—a Proposal

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A year ago, the late William Woodward Jr., then owner of Nashua, and Rex Ellsworth, owner of Swaps, agreed to match their superb colts in a two-horse race at Chicago. At that time the two sportsmen were quoted widely as saying, in effect: "Both these horses are great. Any great horse belongs to the public. The public is entitled to see the best—and that's why we're bringing Swaps and Nashua together." As everyone now knows, Nashua won in a romp over an off-form Swaps and thus evened the score with the colt who had taken his measure in the Kentucky Derby.

Since then, both horses have gone on to rewrite flat-racing history. Nashua has become the top money winner of all time ($1,236,965), and Swaps has set three new world records and equaled another at distances ranging from a mile to a mile and a furlong.

It is no exaggeration to say that both these horses are greater now than they were a year ago, and both are in top condition. Certainly the public deserves another chance to see them compete—not only against each other but also against whatever other horses have earned the right to test their laurels. With this in mind, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED proposes a "Dream Race for 1956," a showdown among the four outstanding horses now in training in this country—Nashua, Swaps, Needles and Fabius—and perhaps any others that may be worthy.

It would be held in September or October at Belmont Park at a distance of a mile and a half, weight-for-age, for 3-year-olds and up, by invitation only. Purse: $100,000; of which $75,000 to the winner, $15,000 for second, $7,500 for third and $2,500 for fourth. No nominating or starting fees. Conforming with The Jockey Club scale of weights-for-age, the 4-year-olds would carry 126 pounds over a mile and a half in September and October. The 3-year-olds (Needles and Fabius) would carry 119 pounds in September or 121 pounds in October.

Other horses which now come to mind have been purposely excluded for various reasons: Career Boy after breaking down in the Belmont Stakes probably could not get ready in time; the same goes for Summer Tan who is behind in his training; 3-year-old Swoon's Son has looked unbeatable at a mile or under but probably can't go much farther. Bobby Brocato, Porterhouse and Mr. Gus, all classy westerners, have given Swaps little competition with a weight advantage of 15 to 20 pounds so they would hardly qualify at equal weights. Alfred Vanderbilt's gelding, Social Outcast, has long been out of training and might have trouble getting ready for such a challenge.

By a fo0rtunate coincidence, all four colts are scheduled to be in residence at Belmont for the autumn meeting. There are already some races for which Nashua and Swaps are both eligible, but the conditions of these races tend to favor one horse over the other. The $75,000 Woodward at Belmont on September 29, for instance, is run at a mile and an eighth, a distance more suited for a real speed horse like Swaps. Conversely, in the $50,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on October 13, the two-mile distance would give Nashua the edge. He won this race last year.

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED believes that the mile-and-a-half is the Thoroughbred's truest classical test and certainly the fairest compromise for these four horses. The strategy at such a distance would be fascinating. Fabius and Swaps are both pace setters. Nashua can run on the pace or just off it. Needles has to come from behind. The planning by the brilliant riders who normally have the mount on these horses—Eddie Arcaro, Willie Shoemaker, Dave Erb and Willie Hartack—should be epic in itself. Hartack would be struggling to keep Fabius from running himself out in the first mile. Shoemaker on Swaps, another wire-to-wire front runner, would have to be careful not to let Fabius take him too fast too early so as to leave something in reserve for the long Belmont stretch. Arcaro, the great master of pace, would have to be at his very best to stay within striking distance and yet retain Nashua's finishing kick. Erb aboard Needles, an early lagger, could lay back only so far without finding himself lost in the background. This would indeed be a DREAM RACE.

Belmont Park may well shudder at the thought of the expense and trouble that such a race would entail. To be sure, it is no cinch to put up such a purse in a state that allows its tracks a mere 4% of the pari-mutuel handle as opposed to the 7% or 8% taken by the tracks in other major racing states. But if New York means what it says about regaining some of the prestige it has forfeited to states like New Jersey, Illinois, California and Florida, now is the time. Gentlemen of The Greater New York Association, Messrs. George Widener, John Hanes, Ogden Phipps, Christopher Chenery, Boylston Tompkins et al.: here is your chance to give true racing fans their DREAM RACE.

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