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Pincay Returns to Earth in Winner’s Circle

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Laffit Pincay spent most of his weekend on airplanes, shuttling from coast-to-coast to keep his appointed rounds.

Indeed, the Panamanian jockey endured the better part of 10 hours getting acquainted with the jet stream, but he really didn’t start flying until he climbed aboard Greinton Sunday afternoon in the $300,000-added Californian Stakes.

With Pincay at the controls, Greinton, a 4-year-old colt, took off at 6:10 p.m. (PST) and touched down 1:32 3/5 later, a strip record for a mile on the dirt at Hollywood Park. In fact, the time tied Greinton--owned by Mary Jones Bradley, trainer Charlie Whittingham and Howell Wynne--for second on the all-time list, equaling Buckpasser’s performance at Arlington Park on June 25, 1968. The fastest mile on one turn was 1:32 1/5 by Dr. Fager at Arlington Park in 1968.

The swiftness of the non-stop excursion was startling to the 41,877 spectators because Greinton, who earned $179,600 for the victory, had to get past Precisionist, who set the track record of 1:32 4/5 on May 19. In that race, Greinton finished a well-beaten second, four lengths back.

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But Pincay, who had flown the red-eye to New York Friday for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes where he finished second on Stephan’s Odyssey, and then returned Sunday morning, felt all along he was holding a first-class ticket.

“He was flying in the stretch, really flying,” said an obviously pleased Pincay, whose mount returned $7.60 and $3 for its 2 3/4-length victory. “You know I never had to hit him when I came into the stretch cause I knew he was going to win. He was moving.”

Although Pincay did admit to a slight anxiety attack in the backstretch when Lord at War and Precisionist began opening up some room on Greinton and Bronzed, the fourth-horse in the diminutive field, it was anything but a white knuckler.

“They were going kind of slow up front at first,” Pincay said. “But they started to move a little faster and it looked like they might pull away, so I thought ‘I better start working.’

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“I was close to the rail because I wanted to save every inch of ground against a horse like Precisionist. But when I asked him to run he moved so fast it surprised me.

“We went outside and then he caught them so quick. I was surprised.”

Greinton shot past a tiring Lord at War, which finished third and Precisionist, like they were each saddled with seven extra pounds--which they were. However, jockey Chris McCarron, aboard Precisionist, refused to use the burden of 126 pounds as an excuse for the dramatic seven-length turnaround.

“That other S.O.B. was too tough, today” said McCarron, whose mount returned $2.60 to place. “We just got outrun. Hey, my horse was going really easy all the way. No problems. But that horse just went by.”

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The field was the smallest in the 32 runnings of the event, but the quartet produced some history. The victory added another footnote to Whittingham’s illustrious career, producing his ninth victory in the race. No other trainer has won more than twice.

It was also a satisfying afternoon for Bradley, who won back-to-back Californians with Cougar II in 1971 and again in 1972.

“This is a wonderful thing,” she said. “You wait 12 or 13 years. It’s sort of like being revisited.”

John Henry, thoroughbred racing’s all-time money earner, worked a mile in 1:00 at Hollywood Park Sunday morning. He is expected to return to action July 4 in the $150,000-added American Handicap.

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