Day At The Track

PART 143 OF A SALUTE TO TROTTING

06:24 PM 05 Jan 2007 NZDT
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A Salute To Trotting - Ron Bisman

The 1964 Interdominions. (January 6, 2007)

Now Cardigan Bay was set for the 1964 Melbourne Interdominions – then, perhaps, a possible sale to American interests headed by New Jersey horsemen Stanley Dancer, now keen to try his hand with the New Zealand gelding, regardless of his age and hip problem.

Third from 48 yards to Mary Kathleen (front) and Robin Dundee (12 yards) in the Sydney Summer Cup, and easy winner of two free-for-alls in Melbourne, Cardigan Bay faced the daunting task of racing from the 48-yard back-mark on the three-furlong Showgrounds oval in the Melbourne series.

Marty Tananbaum and his special guest Stanley Dancer were there in Melbourne, and after watching Wolfenden thread ‘Cardy’ from 36 yards through 11 rivals to score at 11 furlongs on opening night Dancer needed no more prodding.

On behalf of an American syndicate he was setting up to race Cardigan Bay, he offered $US 100,000 (£35,800) and agreed to return the gelding at his own expense ‘when he is retired from racing – but no later than the age of 13 years’.

Tananbaum included an offer, worth $US30,000, to fly Cardigan Bay via special charter to America at the expense of Yonkers Raceway, on the condition that he did not race anywhere else after the Melbourne Interdominions until the international series at his track in May.

From 48 yards at 12 ½ furlongs on the second night in Melbourne, Cardigan Bay was forced over a lot of extra ground and could manage only fourth behind South Australia’s Minuteman, Robin Dundee and the New South Wales representative Little Maori.

Victoria’s Angelique and Fosmar beat Cardigan Bay into third in the third round at 15 ½ furlongs, and was obvious the New Zealand champion was no certainty in the 14-furlong £15,000 Grand Final.

Meanwhile, Robin Dundee, driven by Doody Townley, had placed seventh after a rocky run in the opening round, second to Minuteman on the second night and was a good winner on the third night. She looked sure to prove a great second-string for New Zealand in the final. But as it transpired she contributed to the success of Australia in the big event.

Minuteman (by the Springfield Globe horse Field Battery from the Robert Derby grand-daughter Adistar), who had placed second and first on the first two nights and then been permitted to rest on the third night because of arthritis, was quickly in front in the final.

A record crowd of 45,788 watched at trainer-driver Eric Hurley set a swift pace with him. Robin Dundee (who was checked) and Cardigan Bay settled second-last and last.

Knowing how good Robin Dundee was, Wolfenden waited to follow her, being sure Townley would make his move at the appropriate time. What nobody knew was that Robin Dundee, who pulled up lame, had cracked a pedal-bone.

Her normal brilliant final spring was not forthcoming, and she and Cardigan Bay were fifth and sixth as Angelique, New Zealand’s Tactile (driven by Robert Cameron) and Smoke Cloud (driven by Jack Watts for Noel Simpson) chased Minuteman to the wire.

In one of the consolations Waitaki Hanover atoned for indifferent form in the heats by winning well in the hands of former New Zealander Peter Wells.

Cardigan Bay had finished his Australasian racing with a score of 43 wins, nine seconds and three thirds from 67 starts worth £NZ36,944 15s plus £A24,940.

Stanley Dancer, taking delivery of Cardigan Bay when he landed in New York on 22 March 1964, told reporters: ‘I got him cheap - $900,000 cheap. This one’s worth a million.’

That comment was prophetic. Cardigan Bay was indeed to become the world’s first pacer to win a million dollars.

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