Indeed, it was with great pleasure that I read the article, The Mafia at Saratoga (Nov. 11), by Sam Toperoff. It recalled for me many memories of that remarkable Saturday afternoon at Saratoga when my lovely filly Natashka won the Alabama Stakes.
While I was certainly not the Getty the Sophie in the article thought I was, nevertheless on that afternoon it was delightful that my family relationship with the Getty that Sophie thought I was permitted me to own such a beautiful stakes winner.
Natashka was topweighted, with Destro and Lady Pitt, at 126 on the 1967 Free Handicap. She started nine times in 1966 and won the Alabama Stakes, Monmouth Oaks, Miss Woodford Stakes and Las Flores Handicap; she was second in the Post-Deb Stakes and unplaced in the Delaware Oaks. She bowed a tendon while finishing second in the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park in July 1967, and was retired with winnings of $151,673. She is now at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky and is in foal to Ribot, the world's greatest living classic sire.
Thank you for the pleasure and the wonderful sports coverage that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has given me over the years.
GEORGE F. GETTY II
Getty Oil Company
It was gratifying to see Roger Bannister's fine article A Debt Was Paid Off In Tears in the Nov. 11 issue of SI. I enjoyed Bannister's pre-1,500-meter-run analysis via television's Olympic coverage, and, as a physiologist and ex-athlete, I am impressed with his critique.
More important, however, are the implications in some of Bannister's statements, among them: "For reasons of both historical accuracy and future safety, the actual record must be preserved—and correctly interpreted"; "dissenting voices were suppressed by a misplaced sense of chivalry."
The consideration of the athlete, who has worked for years in order to demonstrate his abilities in front of the whole world, should be of prime importance to the IOC; everything else should be secondary. Many thanks to SI for allowing this message to come through.
There is little doubt that altitude did hurt Ron Clarke and others. But there are many additional stresses on the Olympic competitors no matter where the Games are held.
I am sure that Dr. Bannister is also aware that the scheduling of the Games in Mexico produced secondary gains. Within the past four years there have been many important scientific investigations into the effect of altitude on human performance. Studies conducted by such men as Dr. Pugh from Dr. Bannister's country, Faulkner of the University of Michigan, Dr. Balke of Wisconsin, Buskirk of Penn State and by many others throughout the world have advanced our understanding of exercise and adaptation to altitude. Last year's meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine was one of the most stimulating scientific gatherings one could attend.
Dr. Bannister also implies that altitude made it possible for "novices" to win and states so in evaluating Biwott's performance in the steeplechase. Maybe he did look "like a farmer jumping the gate," but the man won and the time was respectable.