And now, allegedly, the Arc winner. Alleged, will run in the $200,000 Washington, D.C. International at Laurel Nov. 5.
Which means, if we can place any credibility in earlier announcements. Alleged joins a field that includes Forego, Seattle Slew, J.O. Tobin and The Minstrel. That is the way Laurel president John Schapiro sold his turf classic to NBC television. That is also the way Laurel's early advertisements for the race read.
Schapiro is quick to make an announcement whenever the owner of a name horse accepts one of his invitations. He is sadly remiss, however, when it comes to informing the public about his high-class dropouts.
Forego is not going to run at Laurel Nov. 5, or anywhere else this year.
Martha Gerry's three-time Horse of the Year wrenched an ankle during a workout last Friday before the Marlboro Cup. The 7-year-old gelding is to be rested at Belmont Park this fall, then will go south with Frank Whiteley to Camden, S.C., for the winter, where, it is hoped, the trainer can get him ready for at least one major victory that would enable forego to replace Kelso as the world's top money-winning thoroughbred. Kelso retired as an 8-year-old in 1965 with $1,917.896. Forego has $1,923,957.
Seattle Slew is not going to run at Laurel Nov. 5, or anywhere else this year.
The only 3-year-old ever to win the Triple Crown while undefeated continues to stay in Billy Turner's barn at Belmont. Rumors persist that the colt has a knee problem. Certainly his losing venture to California and Washington early this summer, no matter how ill-advised, could not have been so punishing as to knock out Seattle Slew for the remainder of the season.
Slew, we are told, will next appear under silks in two or three handicap events at Hialeah, where a rich, red carpet has been prepared for his arrival. Seattle Slew's owners apparently have become enormously fond of rich, red carpets.
J.O. Tobin is not going to run at Laurel Nov. 5, or anywhere else this year.
The California colt, a champion in England as a 2-year-old is the only 3-year-old to have beaten Seattle Slew - in the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park July 3. Tobin has run only once since then, in the Woodward Handicap three weeks ago at Belmont, when he finished fifth after being sent postward although obviously short in preparation.
George Pope, the owner, seems to have changed trainers for J.O. Tobin, from Johnny Adams to Laz Barrera. No matter. Tobin has bruised himself badly behind and will spend the next couple of months cooling his inflamed heels.
The Minstrel is not going to run at Laurel Nov. 5, or anywhere else this year.
In fact, The Minstrel is not going to run again anywhere. He has been retired to stud. Of the four horses Schapiro invited to the International early, the Epsom and Irish Derby hero probably had the best chance of actually making an appearance on the Maryland grass course.
And now, Alleged.No one seems to be quite certain who owns this horse. Reuters and several American journalists home from abroad after Sunday's rich race at Longchamps, perceived Englishmen Robert Sangster as being in control of the colt's future, and Sangster said the International was not on Alleged's schedule.
Schapiro says otherwise. He contends he has a verbal commitment from Robert Fluor, a Californian who owns a piece of Alleged.
No one wants to see the International come up empty. It is time, however, for Laurel to begin to be more forthright with the people who buy the high-priced tickets and clubhouse table for their excellent attraction.
It was one thing for NBC to believe that Forego, Seattle Slew, J.O. Tobin and The Minstrel were going to be here Nov. 5. The International in truth, deserves national and international TV coverage every year.
It is quite another matter, however, for racing fans to be misled by Laurel's advertising and by the track's publicity releases.
The odds were 5 to 1 against. The Minstrel ever running in the International. Forego was a 10-to-1 shot to appear (and then only if the grass course was improved), with J.O. Tobin 20 to 1 and Seattle Slew 100 to 1.
The commitments that Schapiro extracts from owners of famous horses for his race are often tenuous, at best. In many instances, these acceptances are little more than tokens given by the owners, who perceive them to be little more than moral support for a worthwhile promotion.
These owners undoubtedly feel that they're doing the race a favor and rewarding Schapiro for his hard work of more than 25 years with the International. But they do the public a diservice.