Jun 29th 2010 07:45 am |
On Saturday at Monmouth Park, Presious Passion is expected to try for his third straight win in the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park. While his comback race from Dubai a few weeks ago have some questioning whether the seven-year-old has anything left, it would be a mistake to count him out. If he can win the U.N again he would accomplish a rare racing triple — winning three editions of a major American turf stake.
UPDATE 6/30: Presious Passion is not among the entries for the 2010 United Nations.
Of course, winning any major stakes race three times is tough but winning the same major stake on turf three times appears to be especially difficult (in the U.S. anyway). Exterminator, Discovery, Devil Diver, Native Diver, Forego, Kelso, and Lava Man are on a short list of horses who have taken three or more of the same major stake on dirt but only John Henry has been able to do it on turf.
John Henry won the Hollywood Invitational Handicap (now the Charley Whittingham Handicap) and the Oak Tree Turf Championship (now the Clement Hisrch) three times each but he is the rare exception. Check the list of winners of major American turf stakes — from the D.C. International to the Breeders Cup Turf — and you won’t find any three time winners.
Round Table – one of the best American turf horses ever – came close. He won the 1957 and 1959 United Nations, then run at the Atlantic City Race Course. In 1958, he finished second to a horse named Clem — it was the first turf loss of his career. As good as Round Table was, the stars aligned against him in the 1958 United Nations, costing him three straight wins in one of the premier turf races in the country.
The talk of the racing world in 1958 was the four-year-old Round Table’s pursuit of Nashua’s all-time earnings record. By September -the month of the U.N. – Round Table had 32 career wins from 49 starts including wins in the Hollywood Gold Cup and Santa Anita Handicap. In a span of races between his three and four-year-old season he put together a run of nineteen wins from twenty starts. When the United Nations rolled around in 1958, Round Table was less then $50,000 away from Nashua’s career earnings mark. The $65,000 winners stake in the U.N. would have put him at the top of the list.
Round Table was making his eighteenth start of 1958 entering the U.N. Clem and Round Table both spent much of the summer at Arlington Park in Chicago. Round Table beat Clem twice on the turf at Arlington, but two weeks before they met again in the UN, Clem beat Round Table on the dirt, setting a track record at one-mile in the Washington Park Handicap. Clem, one of the lesser known members of the great three-year-old class of 1957, won the Withers as a three-year-old but he was best at four, and never better at the end of the summer of 1958 — Round Table was on the wrong end of the two best performances of his career.
Round Table’s jockey for the Washington Park was the great Willie Shoemaker, who had been his regular rider since the middle of 1957. The ‘Shoe’, given the opportunity to ride Clem in the UN, did so, leaving trainer Will Molter to find a new rider. Eddie Arcaro was reported as the replacement but Ismael ‘Milo’ Valenzuela (later the regular rider for Kelso) replaced Shoemaker in the United Nations. It was the second (and last time) he would ride Round Table
Here is how the Associated Press reported the only turf loss of the great Round Table’s career on Sept 14, 1958:
“Clem smashed the Atlantic City track record and prevented Round Table from becoming the world’s leading money-winning race horse Saturday when he captured the $100,000 United Nations Handicap in a thriller before a sun-bathed crowd of 26,444
“In a dramatic switch of jockeys, it was Willie Shoemaker, the wee Texan who usually pilots Round Table, who brought Clem home the winner over Round Table by a half-length for the second straight race
“Round Table, with Shoemaker aboard, was upset on Labor Day when Clem won the Washington Park Handicap. Johnny Sellers rode Clem that day.
“Clem, owned by Mrs. Adele L Rand of Santa Fe, N.M, is named for the veteran racing announcer, Clem McCarthy, and he was getting the calls over the loud speaker, as well as radio and television.
“The time for the mile and three sixteenths on the grass course was a blistering 1:54 three-fifths, compared with the 1:55 four-fifths mark hung up in 1953 when Iceberg II from Chile won the United Nations…[Editor’s note: 1953 was the inaugural edition of the race]
“…The winner’s purse would have put Round Table past Nashua, now retired, as the world’s No. 1 banknote winner. The great Nashua retired in 1956 with $1.288,565, so Round Table will have to wait another day to get the job done.”
Two week’s after the U.N., Round Table, with Eddie Arcaro aboard, was beaten again by Clem in the Woodward over a sloppy track. He finished fifth by seventeen lengths — the worst defeat of his career up to that point. He would close out his four-year-old campaign with a win the Hawthorne Gold Cup and surpass Nashua on the all-time earnings list.
Round Table retired after his five-year-old season with forty-three wins from sixty-six starts. He won fourteen of sixteen starts on turf — his first defeat on turf was in the 1958 United Nations.
PROGRAM FROM THE 1958 UNITED NATIONS HANDICAP:
UPDATED: 6/30/2010, 3:39 PM
SOURCES, NOTES, AND OBSERVATIONS
“Shoemaker on Clem in the Feature,” Milwaukee Sentinel, 11 September 1958
“Clem, with Shoemaker up, wins United Nations Handicap,” St. Petersburg Times, 14 September 1958
“What’s with Round Table,” The Miami News, 30 September 1958
McEvoy, John. Round Table: Thoroughbred Legends (2002) Eclipse Press
Thanks to Ron Micetic who sent me the scan of the 1958 United Nations program.
I did another post about Round Table and the 1958 United Nations back in 2008. I am a sucker for a good turf horse so Round Table is one of my all-time favorites.
Also, read about Dr. Fager’s 1968 improbable United Nations win from a post here last year
I’ll be at Monmouth this Saturday for the UN — looking forward to my first trip to Oceanport in 2010.
THANKS FOR READING AND GOOD LUCK!