Horsemen talk about the ups and downs of racing; those hills and valleys can occur in the same season, same day, or even the same race.
The latter occurred in the 1945 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park when trainer Tom Smith—of Seabiscuit fame—sent out Maine Chance Farm's eventual champion 2-year-old male Star Pilot and eventual champion 2-year-old filly Beaugay. Star Pilot would register a one-length victory in the 6 1/2-furlong race contested on the old Widener straight course, a straight dirt track that cut through the Belmont oval; but Beaugay would hit the inside rail and fall.
Smith's season played out in a similar way. While he would condition both juvenile champions, late in the season he would be entangled in a drug scandal.
In a new long-form for BloodHorse.com, award-winning author Milt Toby takes an in-depth look at that 1945 season for Smith. The case would test the absolute insurer rule, which holds the trainer responsible for any substance in a horse's system on race day.
As for the 1945 Futurity, Beaugay held the lead through a half-mile of the race before steadily drifting inside, hitting a removable portion of the inside rail in the final 70 yards, and falling. Jockey Douglas Dodson, seen on the ground beside Beaugay, was not seriously injured.
Beaugay, who initially was in a sitting position, soon regained her footing and was vanned off after favoring a front leg. Beaugay, by Stimulus, would not return to racing that season but raced at ages 3, 4, and 5.
Previously, Toby won the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for Dancer's Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby, and two American Horse Publications Editorial Awards for Dancer's Image and for Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky. Toby's 2016 long-form story for BloodHorse.com, "Taking Shergar," was recognized by the American Society of Journalists and Authors as the best article published last year in any trade magazine.