Chart of the week: the 1947 Empire City Stakes

The New York Times, 07/06/1947


“C. V. Whitney’s stretch-running Phalanx, perversely fond of Jamaica’s short stretch, carried his top weight to an easy victory in the Empire City Stakes yesterday, adding $38,500 to his already considerable earnings, and a bit of pessimism to the owners and trainers of the three-year-olds which seem condemned to chase him through the season’s other rich specials.

Two lengths behind him, aided by a big saving of ground on the last turn, was King Ranch’s good filly, But Why Not. She had stretched Phalanx to his utmost in the Dwyer stakes three weeks earlier but she was no match for him yesterday, despite a ten-pound concession by the weight scale. A half-length back in third place was John J. Watts’s Harmonica, and Greentree’s Tailspin was another head back.

Phalanx’s success, his fifth this year and his fourth in succession, ran his earnings to $275,010, and lifted him from thirty-fourth to twentieth place among American money winners.

Matters were proceeding evenly until Ruperto Donoso rapped Phalanx with his whip on the final turn. Thereafter there was a flash of the Whitney Blue on the outside, and $2 tickets on Phalanx became worth $3.40.

Harmonica, winner of the Coaching Club American Oaks this year, made the running at first, with Tide Rips, surprise second in the Belmont, outside her. Donor, But Why Not and Brabancon went along a couple of lengths back of the leaders, racing almost together. Tailspin seemed to be waiting for Phalanx, which was in no hurry.

The order held for nearly a mile, though the field bunched. Donor was the first to yield, and he swerved out as he tired. Inside him, but outside the others, came Phalanx with his familiar burst, and he went stoutly to the front. In the upper stretch he lugged in slightly, and for a moment it seemed he might interfere with Tailspin, which was still well in the battle. But Donoso pulled the favorite straight again and he finished some twenty feet from the rail, going easily. Donoso said later that he hit him once, “to wake him up.”

A son of Pilate and the crack race mare Jacola, Phalanx was bred in Virginia by Abram Hewitt, who subsequently sold a half-interest in him to Mr. Whitney, in whose name the colt races officially. Both owners were present yesterday. Phalanx won two stakes last year when the distance for two-year-old races lengthened out past a mile, and he was expected to be one of the top stayers this season.

He won the Wood Memorial in such fashion as to suggest high class, but he was beaten a head by Jet Pilot in the Derby and he ran third in the Preakness. Tailspin and Brabancon beat him in the Peter Pan, both getting heavy weight concessions.

At this stage Phalanx’s trainer, Sylvester Veitch, remembering how kindly Phalanx had run last year for Donoso, switched from Arcaro to the thirty-five–year-old Chilean rider, and Phalanx has not been beating since, winning the Belmont and Dwyer stakes, and a condition race here last Monday.

However, Donoso’s association with Phalanx has not always been pleasant. In the Walden Stakes last fall Phalanx, in the midst of his closing run, stumbled and pounced Donoso solidly on the Pimlico track.

Phalanx now takes the three-year-old leadership beyond dispute. Jet Pilot, which beat him in their only meeting, has been permanently retired. Faultless, which defeated him soundly in the Preakness, was soundly vanquished in the Belmont and has not been in action since.

The mile and three-sixteenths was run in 1:57 4-5, this being the slowest time since the race was put at its present distance. However, the Jamaica track seems slower this year than it has been in previous seasons.

But Why Not, which has a fair claim to the title of leading three-year-old filly, got $10,000 for her second and has now won $63,230. A grand-daughter of the brilliant racer, Black Helen, she went to King Ranch in the split of the E. R. Bradley horses. She is trained by Max Hirsch, whose son, Max Jr., trains Harmonica. The latter, which won one and lost one in her two meetings with But Why Not in filly stakes, has now earned $77,755.

The writer, shortly before the race, asked the Hirsch father-and-son combination if they intended to flip a nickel for this one. Their answer was fairly prophetic: they said they couldn’t find a seven-sided nickel.

A crowd of 32,314 was out, about 3,500 under that of July 4.”
(Joe H. Palmer / New York Herald Tribune, 07/06/1947)

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