This week's $100,000-added Flamingo Stakes in Florida and Santa Anita Derby in California are the two most important early tests on that road of gold-or-heartbreak leading to the classics of 3-year-old racing: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. One colt stands out as a firm current favorite: the Wheatley Stable's son of Nasrullah, Bold Ruler, who in unofficial future books is quoted at a mere 4 to 1 for the Kentucky Derby, and this despite his narrow defeat last week by Gen. Duke (see right), to whom he was conceding all of 12 pounds. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has conducted an informal poll among racing people at Hialeah and Santa Anita to discover which horse they think likeliest to beat Bold Ruler. Five selections and their selectors are given below:
MISSILE: Race Caller Fred Capossela: "I rather think that there will be another name up a bit later, and that is Missile."
PRINCE KHALED: Pride of the West Coast and selection of Trainer Bob Roberts, Jockeys Willie Shoemaker and George Taniguchi, and the director of Santa Anita, Dr. Charles Strub. One of the favorites of Marshall Cassidy of The Jockey Club.
FEDERAL HILL: His owner, Clifford Lussky: "Mine was 75 pounds too fat when Bold Ruler beat him. He's up top."
BOLD RULER ABOUT TO BE CAUGHT ON WIRE BY GEN, DUKE
GEN. DUKE: The conqueror of Bold Ruler in the Everglades Stakes is the pick of West Coast Announcer Joe Hernandez, Leslie Combs II (head of the syndicate which owns Nashua), top Jockey Willie Hartack and Trainer Ben A. Jones.
BARBIZON: He is liked by Trainers Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Reggie Cornell, Charles Whittingham; Jockeys Eddie Arcaro, Jack Westrope, Ted Atkinson; Handicappers Jimmy Kilroe of New York and Santa Anita and Charles McLennan of Hialeah Park.