In conjunction with Tom Hall's Throwback Thursday features in BloodHorse Daily, BloodHorse.com each Thursday will present corresponding race stories from the pages of the magazine.
This week is a staff report of the 1950 Santa Juan Capistrano Handicap won by Noor over Citation. Following is a BloodHorse staff report from the March 11, 1950 issue.
During the years that Webb Everett has been making weights for the Santa Anita Handicap, the closeness of the finishes has made him look like a man whose foresight closely matches his hindsight.
In the 13 runnings of the race through 1950, only one has ended with the winner as much as three lengths in front of the second horse. In the other renewals the winning margin has been less than a length, on the average. Here is a summary:
1935—*Azucar 3 lengths over Ladysman.
1936—Top Row half a length over Time Supply.
1937—Rosemont a head over Seabiscuit.
1938—Stagehand a head over Seabiscuit.
1939—*Kayak 2nd 11/2 lengths over Whichcee.
1940—Seabiscuit a length over *Kayak 2nd.
1941—Bay View a neck over Mioland.
1945—Thumbs Up a head over Texas Sandman.
1946—War Knight a nose over First Fiddle.
1947—*Olhaverry 11/4 lengths over Stitch Again.
1948—*Talon a nose over On Trust.
1949—Vulcan’s Forge, a half-length over Dinner Gong.
1950—*Noor, 11/4 lengths over Citation.
There have been some tight squeezes for second, third, and fourth monies, too, as for instance in 1946, when War Knight, First Fiddle, Snow Boots, and Bail Bond finished noses apart, with a weight spread of 14 pounds among them.
In the 1950 edition of the San Juan Capistrano, Mr. Everett employed the talent that has enabled him to equalize the $100,000 handicap fields so nicely. The San Juan Capistrano produced what in a machine shop would be known as a driving fit: *Noor beat Citation by a nose.
One of the noteworthy aspects of this feat of handicapping is that the race was at 14 furlongs, a distance which many racing secretaries may never have within their purview during a long career on U.S. tracks, where the tendency is to have two races at seven furlongs instead of one at 14 furlongs.
Mr. Everett undoubtedly searched his handicapper’s soul in assigning weights for the 1 3/4-mile closing day feature at the California track. A week earlier, with a 22-pound spread in the weights, *Noor had beaten Citation 1 1/4 lengths at ten furlongs. For the longer race, which had no precedent in the immediate past performances of *Noor and Citation, the principal contenders, he again had to try to establish equilibrium between the two.
His judgment suggested 117 pounds on *Noor, an increase of seven pounds over the actual weight carried by the Irish-bred horse in the big handicap, and 130 pounds on Citation, a decrease of two pounds. The result was a nose finish, and for the second week in succession, *Noor’s nose was first at the post.
Calumet Farm did not send a team out to capture the San Juan Capistrano; Citation went it alone. Within a mile he put away Moonrush and Old Rockport, and had the track to himself. But as soon as his lead was established, Johnny Longden sent *Noor after him, and for about the last half-mile it was head and head. The weight difference of 13 pounds, in *Noor’s favor, ultimately gave him the decision, but Mr. Everett had almost brought off a dead heat, the handicapper’s pinnacle. Mocopo passed some weary rivals in the stretch and got up for third money, 12 1/2 lengths behind Citation. Old Rockport, which had run a steady race, was fourth.
In winning the San Juan Capistrano, Johnny Longden set a record for the meeting. He previously had won the Santa Anita Handicap with *Noor, the Santa Anita Derby, the California Breeders Champion Stakes, and the San Felipe Stakes with Your Host. In addition, he was second in the San Pasqual Stakes with *Noor, third in the Santa Catalina with Top’s Boy, and third in the San Antonio with *Noor. His mounts won more than $500,000.
*Noor’s time of 2:52 4/5 was a new American record for 1 3/4 miles. The former Santa Anita track mark was 2:58 1/5, set in 1947 by Fuego under 115 pounds. The former American mark was 2:54 3/5, set by the 3-year-old Chilhowee at Latonia in 1924, under 126 pounds. The world record is 2:52 3/5, set by Buen Ojo at Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1922 under 133 pounds.
The victory of *Noor confirmed trainer Burley Parke’s status as a conditioner of horses, if any confirmation were needed. Citation’s race redounded similarly to the credit of trainer H.A. (Jimmy) Jones, but that also is a superfluous tribute. *Noor now has earned 165,800 U.S. dollars, which nearly accounts for the $175,000 reported paid by C.S. Howard for *Noor and *Nathoo.