Arts And Letters waltzed down the stretch the other Saturday to win the Jim Dandy Stakes by 10 lengths. It was a most convincing victory, and people have begun to bandy the word 'great' around when mentioning this quick little champion. 'Great' in horse racing applies only to the sacrosanct, exaulted by their heroic achievements and Olympic genealogy.
Previously Arts And Letters had won--some say stolen--the Belmont Stakes. The odds against him were eight to five. The policemen that day were Majestic Prince, Prime Fool, Distray, Dike, and Rooney's Shield. A medieval lot. The best of this assortment was found wanting by five and a half lengths when the little terror romped across the finish.
Those with a sour taste in their mouth and empty wallets cried 'stop thief' and said that Majestic Prince was the victim of a slow pace or a misjudged ride or score ankles or something. Mere fabrication--Paul Mellon's colt was easily the best horse.
The relatively juicy odds on Arts And Letters were a courtesy of Majestic Prince who had won The Derby and The Preakness and was undefeated, and naturally nothing was left unsaid in his support.
The Prince had lost weight from the rigors of running, had been outrun in the stretch of The Preakness three weeks earlier, and had no pedigree to do a distance.
Nonetheless, Majestic Prince was made the favorite at six to five. God bless the pigeons.
The point is that in the upcoming Travers occurring in the classical setting of Saratoga Springs--The Spa if one is overly familiar with its location--Arts And Letters will make an appearance in the dark gray silks of Rokeby Stable.
The opponents will hopefully include the three-year-old filly champion ShuVee. The male contenders will be drawn from America's leading colts and geldings.
They are a game lot--North Flight, winner of three stakes in a row and placed in a fourth; Dike, winner of the Wood Memorial and third in two of the classics; and Al Hattab, winner of three stakes including the Fountain of Youth. There will be others.
When musing on the result, I can only think of the Travers of two years ago. Damascus won by twenty-two lengths in the slop and tied the track record.
A visit to Saratoga Springs and a viewing of Saturday's classic might well be in order before exams. After all--the Whitneys, the Vanderbilts, the Von Stades, the Mellons, and the Phippses will be enjoying the scenery, and one can hardly fault their taste.
It will be a joyous occasion. Arts and Letters will give the untutored strict instruction on the study of running. Any one who decides to support one of the pupils rather than the teacher should be warned that he will most likely find his pockets suddenly and unceremoniously emptied.
If the Spa's gentle waters seem too distant, try Tuesday's card at Rockingham Park. In praise of The Scientist--the selections have won 30 per cent of the time and show a profit of $41.80 over the summer for the minimum two dollar bet. Drive North on route No. 93 to reach the Rock.
1. IRISH BOUQUET should get the roses.
2. JUMPING JANE is a bouncy filly.