If the Greinton-Precisionist rivalry were a World Series, it would be over.
These two 5-year-olds have met in seven races in the last 15 months, and Greinton has won four times. But since the game is bangtails, not baseball, this series may be only beginning.
The eighth round is coming up Sunday, when Greinton and Precisionist will be joined by four other horses in the $200,000 San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita. There’s something different about the latest Greinton-Precisionist showdown--they will be competing at equal weights for the first time, each horse carrying 126 pounds.
Greinton has carried 126 pounds or more only five times in a 21-race career and he has won just once with that impost, in France in May 1984, when he was assigned 128 pounds.
In their seven previous races, Precisionist has always spotted Greinton weight, as few as four pounds and as many as eight. But when Greinton, running for the first time in four months, won the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap last month and Precisionist finished sixth, that brought them together on the scale.
The Big ‘Cap was the first Greinton-Precisionist race in which they hadn’t run 1-2. Here’s a quick look at the rivalry:
--Jan. 18, 1985, the San Fernando at Santa Anita. Greinton (120), winner of three straight at Hollywood Park in his first United States starts, broke in a tangle and finished four lengths behind Precisionist (126), who led all the way.
--Feb. 3, the Strub at Santa Anita. Precisionist (125) gave Greinton eight pounds and held on to win by a nose.
--April 13, the San Bernardino at Santa Anita. The only time Greinton (120) was favored, he overtook Precisionist (127) to win by a neck.
--May 19, the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood. Precisionist (126) beat Greinton (121) by four lengths, the 1:32 4/5 time for the mile being the fastest since Dr. Fager’s world-record 1:32 1/5 in 1968.
--June 9, the Californian at Hollywood. Greinton (119) clipped a fifth of a second off the time of Precisionist (126), winning by 2 3/4 lengths.
--June 23, the Hollywood Gold Cup. Greinton (120) broke slowly, but beat Precisionist (125) by 1 3/4 lengths, running 1 miles in 1:58 2/5, second-fastest time in the history of the stake.
--March 2, 1986, the Santa Anita Handicap. It wasn’t Precisionist (126), but the 157-1 longshot, Herat, who made it tight for Greinton (122), a three-quarter-length winner in the closing strides. Jockey Chris McCarron blamed Precisionist’s sixth-place finish on himself, saying he worked the horse too fast a few days before the race.
Having won the last three, trainer Charlie Whittingham is confident that Greinton will continue the trend. Whittingham, who will be 73 Sunday, would be confident, in any event. The way Greinton started the season with his Big ‘Cap win, he could be ready to give the Whittingham another Horse of the Year title to go with the one Ack Ack won in 1971.
Precisionist, however, has the hot jockey in McCarron, who leads the country in purse money with more than $3 million. McCarron also rides Turkoman, who, based on two Florida wins, will be challenging Precisionist and Greinton later in the year.
Laffit Pincay, who will ride Greinton for the 11th straight time, has been in an extended slump, going into today’s race with only one win in his last 57 races at Santa Anita.
As for the other horses in Sunday’s field--Encolure, Fast Account, Innamorato and Protect Yourself--Innamorato may try running with Precisionist at the start, and Encolure showed speed in a win at Santa Anita last Sunday.
“Maybe they’ll all take back,” Whittingham said. “It doesn’t make any difference. Precisionist didn’t have anybody run with him last year, in the Gold Cup, and we still beat him.”
Horse Racing Notes Charlie Whittingham confirmed that Ferdinand, third-place finisher in the Santa Anita Derby, would run in the Kentucky Derby May 3. The trainer said Ferdinand and Hidden Light, his undefeated 3-year-old filly, would be flown to Kentucky shortly after Santa Anita closes a week from Monday. Hidden Light will run in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs May 2. . . . With Laffit Pincay riding Greinton, Jorge Velasquez will pick up the mount on the undefeated Phone Trick Sunday in the Bold Ruler Stakes at Aqueduct. . . . Pincay has a good chance for a weekend stakes sweep, starting with Outstandingly in today’s $80,000 Santa Lucia Handicap. Outstandingly, 2-year-old filly champion in 1984, hasn’t won a stake in more than 16 months but did win in allowance company in March.
Local horsemen and Hollywood Park have been unable to agree on a contract, their last negotiating session having been canceled “because there was nothing to talk about,” one official for the horsemen’s group said. Major issues are whether Hollywood will pay to van horses from Santa Anita and training centers to run at Inglewood, Hollywood’s selling of state lottery tickets, and whether the track will renovate more than 700 of its barns. The Hollywood opener is scheduled for April 23. . . . An appeals court has overturned a decision in district court, which means convicted race-fixer Tony Ciulla will be able to continue with his $30-million lawsuit against the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau, a national security agency. Ciulla, who now uses the name Capra, claims that the TRPB invaded his family’s privacy when it announced that the Capras were living in Malibu in the summer of 1983.
Ross Fenstermaker, who trains Precisionist, has been wearing a cast, the result of a chipped ankle he suffered when he was thrown against the gate by a horse in a training accident a month ago. . . . The San Bernardino field, in post-position order, consists of Precisionist, Chris McCarron riding, 126 pounds; Encolure, Jack Kaenel, 114; Innamorato, Sandy Hawley, 112; Protect Yourself, Gary Stevens, 112; Greinton, Pincay, 126, and Fast Account, Alex Solis, 117. Fred Hooper owns both Precisionist and Protect Yourself. . . . Precisionist leads Greinton by less than $1,000 in earnings, with both horses topping the $1.9-million mark. Only 14 horses have reached $2 million.