Last May, Mrs.
Tankersley persuaded John Schapiro, president of Maryland's Laurel Race Course,
that Arabs should race again, and soon had 14 owners committed to bring their
steeds to the track. Out in Rock Island, Ill., Mrs. William Hewitt, of the
Deere farm equipment family, was personally working a marvelously poised and
responsive Arab stallion named Ofir. A Florida businessman, Max Culpepper, was
training a dark brown 7-year-old stallion named Michael, periodic winner of
100-mile endurance contests in Florida. Out in Walnut Creek, Calif. there was
John Rogers, a retired oil executive who became interested in Arabian horses
when he watched them race their classic four-mile distance in Arabia; he was
training Ankthor, son of a celebrated Bahrein Island racing mare. On the banks
of the Connecticut River in New Hampshire, a hard-working farmer named Nomas
Reed was training a gray stallion named Ibn Lwow, pronounced "Wolfie."
The reason for all this personal attention was simple. None of the horses had
ever raced before, here or anywhere else.
Nor had any of
the owners raced horses. True, most of them put their animals in the hands of
Jack Mobberley, an experienced Virginia trainer, for final preparations, but
Mobberley had never worked with Arabs before. To make sure they could go 2�
miles, the Al-Marah Farm's veterinarian, Dr. Steven Lange, checked their
respiration, heart action and temperature three times a day, early in the
morning, immediately after a workout and two hours later. He accumulated a lot
of valuable data on reduced variations in heartbeat and temperature as
conditioning progressed; alas, there was no previous accumulation of material
to compare it all with.
As a result, Arab
owners were in a fine fidget of anxiety by race day. It wasn't at all the usual
horseman's fear of not winning; nobody seemed even to think about that. It was
more like the tension of a parent at graduation exercises. The Arab race was
run as an exhibition (no betting and no purse) before the much-heralded
International (see page 56). What if it turned into a fiasco before the
unsparing eyes of 32,000 Thoroughbred fans? Suppose it ended with these superb
saddle horses and family pets strung out all the way around Laurel's dirt
track? At 8:30 on the morning of the race the owners were sternly ordered away
from the Arab barn by Trainer Mobberley: they were too nervous and were making
their horses nervous
Well, there were
Arab race horses before there even were Thoroughbred horses, and if there was
one thing this first Arab race demonstrated it was that Arabs know what to do
when running in the same direction with a lot of other horses. Ten of them
lined up in the fall sunshine, at once composed and high-spirited. They broke
well from the starting gate, Ibn Lwow in the lead. All were bunched most of the
way in the first time around the track as the first mile was covered in 1
minute 58 seconds. Three lost some of their interest about that point. But the
remaining seven were still bunched at two miles, all within five lengths of Ibn
Lwow. Michael was a length behind him, and on either side of Michael were Mrs.
Hewitt's two horses, an 8-year-old gelding and the tireless, untroubled Ofir.
It is rare in a 2� mile race to find the field still together in the last half
mile, but seven Arabs were still in contention at that point.
A hundred yards
from the finish, Ofir pulled ahead to win by a length and a half. Michael was
second, and Beldarra, a 5-year-old gelding, the entry of a Seaside, Ore.
breeder, a good third. The time: 5 minutes 5[1/5] seconds. Since the world
record for 2 1/2 miles, set by Miss Grillo in 1948 at Pimlico, is 4 minutes
14[3/5] seconds, it was plain that it will be a long time before Arabs can
catch their Thoroughbred cousins. But the first Arab race was a thriller—close,
clean and composed. Promptly invited to race again, most of them are getting
ready for a run at Pimlico on Thanksgiving Day.
New York City has 8,042,000 people, 2,282,000 trees, 786,240 buildings, 52,099
hospital beds, 35,234 elevators and escalators, 3,364 churches and synagogues,
908 theaters and 33 museums. So says The 1959 Statistical Guide to New York
City, released last week by Mayor Wagner's Department of Commerce and Public
Events. We believed all this and we were mighty impressed until we came to the
page that says that New York has "three" major league baseball teams.
Now we don't know what to think. Miss Cecilia Winkler, who has spent the last
three years compiling the guide's statistics, explained this, sorrowfully.
"There were these pages and pages of figures, all from the 1954 business
census, and I simply transcribed them. Perhaps I should have put an asterisk or
a 'please note,' but I didn't think of it. It's all very unfortunate." And
then Miss Winkler became more cheerful. "You know," she said, "the
funny thing is that I used to play shortstop when I was a schoolgirl."
This baby tern
Now has a brother,
For one good tern