Sport: The Breaks

Max Hirsch is a veteran horse trainer not given to dreaming. When he sized up the King Ranch two-year-old crop last year, he earmarked three colts—Air Lift, Beau Max and Middleground—for future greatness. Air Lift, the most promising, broke an ankle in his first race and had to be destroyed. Beau Max proved unsound, never trained or raced to expectation. Middleground, despite a suspicious ankle, won four of his five races and topped the Experimental Handicap ratings.

This season, as a three-year-old, the son of Bold Venture went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont, two-thirds of the triple crown,...

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