STIt was like old times in American racing today, the devil's red and blue silks of Calumet Farm storming to victory in two $100,000 stakes. Alydar scored impressively here as the 3 to 5 favorite in the Sapling and Our Mims captured the Alabama at Saratoga.
Mrs. Eugene Markey of Lexington, Ky., still owns Calumet, the stable made famous by Citation, Whirlaway, Armed, Twilight Tear, Bewitch and a host of other stakes winners during the 1940s and 50s. There is, however, one important change in the stable's lineup. John Veitch, 31, took over as trainer 18 months ago, several years after Jimmy Jones retired.
"It's good I was here instead of Saratoga," Veitch said shortly after leaving the winner's circle. "Alydar won pretty easily (by 2 1/2 lengths), as I honestly expected he would. They tell me Our Mims won the Alabama by a nose. I'd have been a nervous wreck if I'd stayed home."
Our Mims is threatening to become the nation's champion 3-year-old filly. Alder is well on the way to being the champion 2-year-old. His style of victory today was that of an exceptional young thoroughbred, in that he broke a trifle tardily from the gate, spotted Noon Time Spender a four-length lead on the turn-then delivered a devastating run in the early stretch to take command shortly after leaving the eighth pole.
The Sapling lost some of its special appeal when the undefeated Tilt Up did not follow Alydar here from Saratoga.
He's never even worked on the kind of sloppy track we had today, so I guess that's the reason they scratched him, racing secretary Ken Lennox said.
Tilt Up would have been the second choice. With him absent that role fell to Regal And Royal appeared to be sore in the paddock and never was a serious factor finishing fourth behind Dominant Ruler.
Aldar ran the six furlongs in 1:10 3/5 and returned $3.20 straight. Eddie Maple again had the mount. The victor now has scored successively in the Great American, Tremont and Sapling Stakes. The next appearance for the chestnut son of Raise A Native will be the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 27. Tilt Up is to run there Wednesday in the Sanford Stakes.
Maple climbed off Alydar to say he had been "squeezed back pretty good at the start. The outside horse (Noon Time Splender) came in and the inside horse (Piper Major) came out on me a little, so I had to use Alydar more than I wanted (to regain ground lost after having to check)."
Noon Time Spender flashed to the early lead, unchallenged until Aldar moved into full gear going into the far turn.
"We were going pretty handily by then," Maple said. "I reached back and hit Alydar once, ad he went right by the leader. I hit him one more time after he got the lead, because he tends to look around, which was the main reason John put blinkers on him today."
Veitch said his main concern before the race was the track's condition.
"I didn't decide to put stickers on him, to help him get hold of the track better, until 2 o'clock. He'd never run on this type of surface. My other worry was that this was the first time he wasn't playing on his home court."
Alydar had raced exclusively in New York.
Veitch commended Maple for his alertness and patience, after the trouble leaving the gate.
"I gave Eddie no instructions," the trainer said. "This colt always takes a little time to settle into stride. The worst thing Eddie could have done in this wetness would have been to rush him too quickly. That's how horses stumble and riders come off."
Veitch was coaxed into comparing Alydar with other outstanding 2-year-olds of recent seasons.
"He's between 16 and 16.1 hands and still growing," the son of Hall of Fame trainer Syl Veitch noted. "He's a very muscular colt, very amenable to rating and, I'd have to add, he has a perfect disposition on and off the track.
"Physically, I guess, if you had to compare him with anyone-something I don't like to do-I guess you'd have to say he has much the look that Secretariat did as a 2-year-old."
Today, in his first major test, Alydar uncorked an overpowering early stretch run that stirred memories of Secretariat and of the great Calumet runners of two decades ago.
Alydar's dam, Sweet Tooth, was sired by On-and-ON, a good Calumet stakes horse of the sixties. CAPTION: Picture, A colt by Secretariat goes for $250,000 in the final night of the Fasig-Tipton Sales at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. AP