Jockey Change Does the Trick for Estrapade
Fernando Toro on, Bill Shoemaker off.
That switch seemed to be somewhat responsible for Estrapade ending her year-long losing streak, as Toro rode the well-bred 6-year-old mare to a half-length win Sunday in the $122,300 Beverly Hills Handicap on the turf at Hollywood Park.
But Shoemaker, who wound up riding Treizieme in a double switch, almost dashed the winning strategy, rallying his mare up alongside Estrapade at the eighth pole of the 1-mile race. Toro wasn’t even aware that Treizieme and Shoemaker were coming, but it didn’t make any difference to Estrapade’s jockey.
“By that time my horse was still full of run and I knew we had it,” Toro said.
Estrapade, timed in 1:59, which broke the track record of 2:00 1/5 that had been set by Crony two weeks ago, earned $63,800 for Allen Paulson, who became her full owner last November.
Paulson owned 25% of Estrapade when she won the Yellow Ribbon Invitational in November. A couple of days later, Paulson paid $3.6 million at auction for the remaining 75%, then saw Estrapade run four times, three this year, before she emerged from a seven-month dry spell Sunday.
Estrapade, increasing her career earnings to $868,000, went off as the 9-10 favorite with entrymate Sauna in a crowd of 28,972 and paid $3.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Treizieme, who finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Sauna, paid $3.80 and $2.60.
La Koumia, who had finished ahead of Estrapade in two of three earlier meetings, winning the Gamely Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths on June 8, “didn’t fire,” according to jockey Ray Sibille. La Koumia wound up fourth, 4 lengths behind the winner, in the seven-horse field.
After the Gamely, Charlie Whittingham, who trains Estrapade, decided to replace Shoemaker with Toro. Shoemaker had won two stakes with Estrapade last year, including the Yellow Ribbon, but he had failed to get the daughter of Vaguely Noble and Klepto to the wire in time in four straight races, including a particularly troubled trip in the Gamely.
The 73-year-old Whittingham and the 54-year-old Shoemaker have won 224 stakes races together, including this year’s Kentucky Derby with Ferdinand, but this was business.
“The buck stops here,” Whittingham said, pointing to himself after the Beverly Hills Handicap. “I thought Toro might help--she had run well for him before.”
Shortly after the French-raced Estrapade had arrived at Whittingham’s barn late in 1984, Toro rode her in four straight races. Together, they won twice and finished second in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap. After that, Estrapade was ridden by several jockeys before Toro regained the mount Sunday.
On Friday night, Toro got out the tape of Estrapade’s second-place finish behind Prince True in the San Juan.
“She made a move that day at the half-mile pole,” Toro said. “I tried to do the same thing in this race and hoped to be able to say ‘Come and get me’ to everybody else.”
Coy Dancer, who would finish last, set a slow early pace, but at the top of the far turn, Estrapade kicked into gear and easily went by her.
Still, Toro felt like it was a different horse under him this time. “She wasn’t running comfortably,” Toro said. “Her action was different and she wasn’t reaching out like she did in her Santa Anita races.
“She seemed to be changing leads (alternating her lead foot) every eighth of a mile. But then at the quarter pole, she really accelerated.”
The 45-year-old Toro, who built his reputation riding grass winners from the time he arrived in the United States from his native Chile in 1966, had won 14 races on turf and seven on dirt at Hollywood this year prior to the Beverly Hills.
“If I wasn’t going to ride Estrapade, I’m happy Fernando got the mount,” Shoemaker said. “They took him off the mare last year for no reason.”
Shoemaker was named to ride Frau Altiva at entry time Friday. But it was with the understanding that if Laffit Pincay couldn’t ride Treizieme, Shoemaker would get the ride. Pincay missed a third straight day because of a sprained ankle he suffered in a spill on Thursday.
When Treizieme closed quickly on the rail, for an instant a scenario of Shoemaker the avenger presented itself.
Shoemaker has never been one for scenarios. “Nah, I just wanted to win the race,” he said. “It didn’t bother me that I lost the mount on the other mare. We were creeping up (on Estrapade), but we weren’t catching her. She started to pin her ears, and it looked like she might try to pull herself up. But she didn’t.”
Toro has won the Beverly Hills five times, three of them in the last four years. Getting the chance to ride Estrapade again was well worth the wait.
Horse Racing Notes
Turkoman’s blood count has improved and trainer Gary Jones said that the horse will resume training today. Jones missed a month with the multiple stakes winner and plans to bring him back to the races in the Forego Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 17. After a fall New York campaign, Jones hopes to run Turkoman in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 1, his last race before he goes to stud. . . . Trainer Charlie Whittingham said that Ferdinand, winner of the Kentucky Derby, won’t run in the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 21, closing day. Whittingham wants to give Ferdinand a rest before trying him on the grass. . . . Eddie Gregson saddled both halves of Sunday’s daily double, including his namesake, the 3-year-old colt Gregson, who won the second race. Corey Black rode both Gregson and East Tulip, who won the first race.