Thursday, May 16, 2013

Whirlaway: Three-year-old Season

 Whirlaway returned to the track in 1941. In his two races before the Kentucky Derby, he bore to the outside, afraid of the inner rail, which cost him the races. Because of that, Ben Jones trained him at home by running him between the rail and another horse. This may have made all the difference in the Derby.

 Equipped with a modified one-eye blinker and an experienced jockey, Eddie Arcaro, Whirlaway ran a somewhat straight line, winning by eight lengths and running 2:01 2/5, a new track record. Then rumors that Whirlaway had been using drugs began to spread. Even the usually calm Ben Jones was angry at the serious accusations.

Whirlaway in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle(credit).
 Nevertheless, Whirlaway proved himself in the Preakness Stakes. He was far behind the other horses after leaving the gate, and it seemed that he would not win. Then he made his move. He sped down the backstretch, passing every single horse for a win of five and a half lengths. It was incredibly breathtaking.

 By the time the Belmont Stakes rolled along, people were scared of Whirlaway's bursts of speed, so only a field of four horses ran that day. Whirlaway's three challengers tried to upset his strategy by setting a slow pace early on, but Eddie Arcaro had anticipated that, and cruised along right past them. He became Calumet Farm's first of two Triple Crown winners(see Citation).

 Whirlaway won several races after that. He beat Market Wise in the Dwyer Stakes, then won the American Derby, the Travers Stakes, defeated War Relic in the Saranac Handicap, and won the Lawrence Realization.

 However, oddly enough, the best race of his career is considered Jockey Club Gold Cup. He and Market Wise had battled throughout the race at a tremendous pace, until Market Wise finally won by a nose, setting a new American record of 3:20 2/5 in the process.

 Near the end of the 1941 season, Whirlaway was sent to the west cost to race there, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor cut the season to and abrupt end. He couldn't return home right away, because World War II travel restrictions. It wasn't until March the next year that he could finally leave.

 Despite the restrictions, he was still successful, and was named 1941 Horse of the Year and Champion Three-Year-Old Colt.

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