Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

Editor Tim Capps reflected on the state of racing without a Triple Crown winner, then going on a 19-year gap.

“The Triple Crown is, by the nature of its structure, very difficult to win. Seven horses did so from 1930 through 1948, when foal crops were small and there was less focus on the Triple Crown. There were many superior horses racing in America over the next two and a half decades, but we were not to see another Triple Crown winner until Secretariat in 1973. We then had two more in the ‘70s in Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed, both arguably great horses.

“Theorize all you wish about the scarcities of Triple Crown winners, but accept one immutable fact: it is, and will remain, a difficult and rare achievement. And that is as it should be.”

  • Silver Charm started out the Triple Crown races by edging out Maryland-based Captain Bodgit, trained by Gary Capuano, in the Kentucky Derby-G1. Silver Charm won a three-way battle with Free House and Captain Bodgit for the Woodlawn Vase in the Preakness.

    Spoiler Touch Gold then proved best in the Belmont Stakes by catching Silver Charm in the stretch and winning by three-quarters of a length.

  • Pennsylvania tracks would have to wait another year to get the slot machines they claimed were needed to stem the loss of customers and revenue to the slots at tracks in Delaware and West Virginia. The House declined to vote on a bill that would have allowed voters to decide whether the state’s two Thoroughbred and two harness tracks could have up to 1,500 slots each. House leadership cited Gov. Tom Ridge’s reluctance to sign a bill expanding gambling, though Ridge could have allowed the bill to become law without his signature.

  • The late, great steeplechase trainer Mickey Walsh was named to the National Racing Hall of Fame. The Irish-born horseman, who made his home in North Carolina and died in 1993 at the age of 86, left a legacy far beyond his 31 stakes winners and his six wins in both the Carolina Cup and Saratoga Steeplechase Cup – he founded the Stoneybrook Steeplechase in Southern Pines, N.C, in 1948. The race meet grew into one of North Carolina’s top sporting events and lasted 49 years.

  • Saluter and his rider/trainer Jack Fisher won the inaugural World Timber Championship, which offered a $100,000 bonus to a horse who could win both the Virginia Gold Cup (at Great Meadow, Va.) and the Marlborough Cup (in Wiltshire, England) within a 13-month span. A daunting challenge, under the best of circumstances. But Saluter did it within 15 days. Mrs. Henry Stern’s Virginia-bred son of Salutely won the Virginia Gold Cup (for the fourth time in a row) May 3, then survived a grueling journey to return triumphant in the Marlborough Cup.

  • For the first time, horses were not divided into select and open sessions at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic’s spring 2-year-old sale. Success was reflected by a 46.9 percent increase in average – $25,543, compared with $17,889 for the prior year’s select and open sessions combined. Another new feature included videos of every horse who worked during the pre-sale showings on the Timonium track.

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