Horse Racing / Bill Christine : Price Tag for Claimers Has Reached $100,000

A price of $100,000 is no longer considered high for a horse, except when it comes to claiming races.

This season at Hollywood Park, two trainers thought enough of somebody else's horses to take them for $100,000 apiece, and they are two of the highest claims in track history.

On May 31, Craig Lewis claimed Emperdori, a 4-year-old son of Golden Act, for $100,000. A week ago today, Randy Winick matched that price, taking Regal Ties, a 6-year-old mare.

The record claim at Hollywood--and probably anywhere--is $170,000, which is what Allen Paulson paid for Twin's Tornado, then a 4-year-old gelding, when he ran in a race in November 1983.

Santa Anita had never had a $100,000 claim until last season, when Honor Medal was taken for $110,000. Last Sunday, Honor Medal accounted for $87,000 of that investment by winning the Longacres Breeders' Cup Handicap in suburban Seattle.

Lewis has yet to see such a lucrative return on his $100,000 claim, and Winick hasn't had time to run his new horse. Emperdori won the race in which he was claimed, but that purse went to the three owners who lost him. Under Lewis, the grass specialist has been fifth, fifth and sixth.

Emperdori has earned only $129,000, but Bobby Frankel, his previous trainer, thought enough of the horse to run him in some stakes last year, when he had a second and a third at Hollywood.

"He's a hard-trying horse," Lewis said. "He'll run next at Del Mar (which will open next Wednesday). The race before I claimed him (when he was also running for a $100,000 tag), he looked sound, and I came close to claiming him then.

"You can't knock the horse for finishing where he did last time. He was in against monsters. I got him for $100,000, and he was running against $1-million horses."

Lewis was talking about Emperdori just before Our Sweet Sham won an allowance race for him last Sunday. Our Sweet Sham, a 3-year-old filly, has been the perfect claim so far, winning two straight starts since Lewis got her for $50,000 in May.

Winick also plans to run Regal Ties at Del Mar, but he claimed her mainly as a broodmare prospect. Next year, Regal Ties will be bred at the Delray Training Center, a Winick family operation in Delray Beach, Fla.

"This might be the first time anybody's ever claimed a mare for $100,000," said Arnold Winick, Randy's father. "This mare is stakes placed and she's by Regal and Royal. I love the sire."

Precisionist has been assigned 127 pounds and Super Diamond 118 for Sunday's $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap. That's the same nine-pound spread that the horses had when Precisionist, at 126 pounds, beat Super Diamond, with 117, by a half-length in the Californian June 1.

Although 14 horses were nominated for the 1-mile race, a small field is likely to start because of the presence of Precisionist, who has earned $2.2 million. Other weights for possible starters are Alphabatim, 120 pounds, and Hatim, Hopeful Word and Skywalker, 118 apiece.

Precisionist, who finished second behind Greinton in last year's Gold Cup under top weight of 125 pounds, worked five furlongs in :58 3/5 Wednesday morning.

"He did it easy," trainer Ross Fenstermaker said. "That's just about what I wanted. I thought he might do it in :59."

The other stakes during Hollywood Park's final three days of racing will be the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Saturday and the Swaps Monday.

Persevered, who is scheduled to run in the Juvenile, won the first start of his career under the name of Perserverance at Hollywood on July 6. But The Jockey Club in New York, which registers thoroughbreds, suggested that the name be changed, since there's a filly named Perseverance--the correct spelling of the word--running in Canada.

Trainer Laz Barrera loses three letters off his 2-year-old colt's name, but he's not complaining. Barrera has a barn full of horses with difficult names.

"If I knew how to spell the names of all the horses that have been sent to me, I would be President of this country," Barrera said.

Parade Marshal, one of the contenders in the Swaps, won the Governor's Cup at Laurel June 21 and will again be ridden by a McCarron--but this time it will be Chris. Gregg McCarron, Chris' brother, had the mount in the Governor's Cup.

Horse owners can get awfully close to their horses.

When Snow Chief underwent surgery for the removal of a small bone chip in his right knee Tuesday, Pearl Grinstead took a souvenir of the operation--the chip--back home to Chula Vista in a medicinal bottle. Pearl is the wife of Carl Grinstead, co-owner of the Preakness winner.

Bob Hibbert, who owned Roving Boy, the champion 2-year-old colt in 1982, used to carry several screws--souvenirs of that horse's operation--in his pocket. Hibbert had the screws with him at Santa Anita in 1983 when Roving Boy won the Alibhai Handicap, then collapsed just past the finish line and had to be put to death a few hours later.

Snow Chief's other owner, Ben Rochelle, also underwent surgery Tuesday, for a prostate problem. Rochelle was at Hollywood Park to watch Snow Chief's operation before he went into the hospital for his own.

"Maybe I should have just gotten a stall next to Snow Chief," Rochelle said.

Horse Racing Notes Allen Paulson, one of the big American spenders at the rich Keeneland sale in recent years, says he won't be as aggressive at next week's auction, which will offer 450 well-bred yearlings. "I've got 35 weanlings and 65 mares in foal, which is already a lot of horses," Paulson said. . . . The quarter horse season at Los Alamitos was off 29% in attendance and 23% in handle from 1985. . . . Hollywood Park's quarter horse season will open July 25. . . . The Financial News Network will carry live national telecasts of Del Mar's Saturday stakes races. The coverage will be shown on Channel 56 in Los Angeles and Channel 51 in San Diego. Most of Del Mar's important stakes races, however, are on Sundays. . . . Trainer Charlie Whittingham, who has won the Hollywood Gold Cup seven times, won't have a starter in the race for the first time since 1969. "I wound up with a lot of good grass runners, but not a big horse to run on the dirt this year," Whittingham said. Whittingham won the Gold Cup last year with Greinton, whose racing career has apparently been ended by a tendon injury.

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