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MIST IN CHICAGO
The last time we tuned you in on Trainer Jimmy Jones of Calumet Farm (SI, June 24) he was getting ready to quit the East for Chicago in a particularly happy state of mind about his 2-year-olds. Well, so far this season Calumet horses have won considerably more than a million dollars for the stable, and Jimmy Jones is still in a happy mood but he has still not used many of those 2-year-olds. A SPORTS ILLUSTRATED correspondent caught up with Jimmy the other day at Washington Park just as he was uttering one of his customary low moans about the way handicappers load the weight on Calumet horses. Jones had just saddled his 3-year-old filly Rosewood for the Misty Isle Handicap, and the mist gathered in Jimmy's voice. "See that Romanita, the No. 4 horse?" he asked. "Going in at odds of 6 to 5 carrying 122 pounds. If she were our horse she'd be 1 to 2 with 126 pounds. Yes, sir, don't waste your money on our horse, the 4-horse is too good."
One minute and 35 seconds later Calumet's Rosewood, carrying a modest 110 pounds (most of it Willie Hartack), came home at odds of 5 to 1 and added another $13,025 to Calumet's earnings for the year. Jones put down his binoculars. "Excuse me," he said. "I have to go down to the winner's circle."
Ten minutes later he was back, composing his face into grave lines for a discussion of those Calumet 2-year-olds. "Well, you might say we have a nice-looking group of 2-year-olds but they're awful slow to come to hand. They're nice horses but they're having trouble with ankles and ligaments. Oh well, anybody who messes around with young horses is going to have this kind of trouble."
Sipping a gin and tonic without gin, Jimmy went on: "I know I said a couple of months ago that our 2-year-olds would go to town in the fall. Well, thing is, we haven't needed them. If we used 'em hard now it would be at the expense of next year. The form we're trying to reach with each of them is a very delicate thing, more delicate than a lady's wristwatch. I'd say our best 2-year-olds are Kentucky Pride, Tim Tam and Temple Hill. They're Derby candidates, but you can't tell what injuries will do."
Somebody remarked that Kentucky Pride had run twice and won twice, the first time by five lengths and the second time by six, and had already been named by one knowledgeable race writer as "a cinch to win next year's Derby." "Yes," said Jones almost with sadness, "he looks like he'll come along."
Somebody brought up turf races. "Turf races make me nervous," said Jimmy. "They're just plain dangerous. Three years ago we raced a good horse, Mark-Ye-Well, at Washington Park and he came up lame and never started another race. The horses kick up divots; you can't replace them. And when the grass is wet it's too slick for racing. You take an awful risk."
Ah, yes, observed an observer, but wasn't the American Derby, a turf race worth about $104,000, coming up August 31 and didn't Jones have an eligible 3-year-old named Iron Liege who doesn't seem to mind whether he runs on dirt, water or possibly even broken glass?
"There's a lot in what you say," said Jimmy, "and I won't say Iron Liege won't run in that race. When they start handing out that kind of dough you got to think two, three times. You got to think 20, 30 times. It's a borderline decision.
"It's like Kipling says: 'There's times that you think you mightn't, and times that you know you might. But the things that you learn with the yellow and brown, they'll help you a lot with the white.'