As they say on the backstretch, Precisionist doesn't need to carry a race track around to win races. The 5-year-old chestnut has won 15 stakes at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar, Belmont Park and Aqueduct.
But if there's one track that Precisionist comes closest to owning, it's Santa Anita. And lest anybody had forgotten, Precisionist made another payment on the racing strip in Arcadia Monday, winning the $94,250 Yankee Valor Handicap by 4 1/2 lengths over Garthorn before a Columbus Day crowd of 38,947.
In what was probably the next-to-last start of a prosperous career, Precisionist stamped himself as the favorite for the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic that will be run at Santa Anita Nov. 1. After the Classic, owner-breeder Fred Hooper plans to send Precisionist to his farm in Ocala, Fla., for a stud career.
The Yankee Valor is not a major race, but it drew three millionaires Monday--Tasso and Dahar as well as Precisionist--and was an important Breeders' Cup tuneup for Garthorn, who hadn't raced since late May, who had become gravely sick on a flight back to California from New York in July.
Precisionist beat them all--Ack Ack Heir was the only other starter with the scratches of Hopeful Word and Hatim--and didn't seem to exert himself doing it.
"There wasn't a wet hair on him afterward," said Gary Stevens, who was riding Precisionist for the first time. "It was like he just out for a gallop."
Running 1 1/8 miles--his best distance--in 1:48 2/5, favored Precisionist paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10. Garthorn, who finished two lengths ahead of Tasso, paid $2.80 and $2.20. Tasso, making only his second start since May, paid $2.20 to show.
Dahar, who is expected to run in the $2-million Breeders' Cup Turf Stakes Nov. 1, finished fourth and Ack Ack Heir, who stayed fairly close to the front-running Precisionist for three-quarters of a mile, was last.
Afterward, Bobby Frankel, who trains Garthorn, indicated that the 6-year-old would be supplemented to the Classic for $360,000. The Yankee Valor was Garthorn's first loss on dirt after five straight wins.
The trainer of Tasso wasn't so sure about his Breeders' Cup plans. "He didn't do as well as he did in that race at Del Mar (a win in the El Cajon Stakes Sept. 5)," Neil Drysdale said. "We'll wait a couple of days and see."
Tasso's owners would also have to supplement him at a cost of $360,000.
The win for Precisionist was worth $60,500 and increased his career earnings to more than $2.7 million.