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Wajima's Travers

by John Pricci

The Thoroughbred Record

August 23, 1975

It has reliably been reported that there was indeed a 106th running of the Travers Stakes (G1) and that there is surely a new star on the three-year-old horizon in the frame of a horse called Wajima. He won the midsummer classic by ten impressive lengths because of, and in spite of, events over which neither horse nor trainer Steve DiMauro had control.

Earlier in Travers week, the New York Racing Association had changed racing secretaries, replacing Kenny Noe with Tommy Trotter, effective October 1. Meanwhile, LeRoy Jolley, trainer of Foolish Pleasure, was getting his horse ready for the Travers, while talk of an impending $4.5-million syndication was both denied and confirmed by owner John Greer on separate occasions.

Somewhere across the shedrow, a California trainer named Neil Drysdale was readying his horse, the impressive Jim Dandy Stakes (G3) winner Forceten, for the same event.

The Travers, everyone expected, would and should have a lot to say about the divisional championship. It may, because Wajima is a racehorse, and he showed that in the Travers--also, he will get plenty of opportunities to prove that further at a later date.

Forceten had to be withdrawn the morning of the Travers when it was discovered he had popped a splint in his right hind leg.

Foolish Pleasure, however, is another story. His bizarre tale started with Greer denying there were any definite plans to syndicate Foolish Pleasure, then, the next day, announcing that 24 of 36 shares in Foolish Pleasure had been sold. Then the Kenny Noe dismissal was made public. The next day, after chasing assorted media types away from his barn throughout the morning, Jolley completed his reaction to the Noe incident by threatening not to start his big horse in the big race, through a spokesman who happened to be Noe. Jolley later said that Noe's dismissal would set New York racing back ten years.

When entries were drawn Friday morning, Foolish Pleasure was among the missing. . .In a Daily Racing Form story, Jolley stated that he had only three weeks to prepare the colt and that rain during the second week of racing interrupted his training schedule. "It wouldn't be fair to enter him today and scratch him tomorrow," he said. "There might be a number of people who would come to see him run and then be disappointed later when he was scratched."

What could have been is an old story on the racetrack. What was important was that this renewal of the ancient stakes wsa graced with the presence of one of the last Bold Rulers. And Wajima is a runner. Under Braulio Baeza, the $600,000 yearling stalked the early pace of front-running Valid Appeal, took over the lead past the three-eighths pole, and increased his margin through the stretch while being ridden out.

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