San Vicente Stakes : Muddy Track Suits Stylish Winner
With the track looking like the world’s biggest chocolate milkshake as the result of the previous day’s rain, one by one the horses started dropping out of Saturday’s $80,500 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita.
The fifth and final scratch from the stake was Temperate Sil, who would have been the heavy favorite had he competed in the seven-furlong race.
Trainer Charlie Whittingham, who won his first Kentucky Derby last year with Ferdinand and hopes to return to Churchill Downs this year, took one last look at the sloppy going about two hours before the San Vicente and told his helpers to leave Temperate Sil in the barn.
With Temperate Sil on the sidelines, the San Vicente turned into a six-horse anticlimax. Stylish Winner, who did not epitomize either of his names in some early races, won the stake by 3 1/2 lengths before a crowd of 36,551, but the 3-year-old gelding has not yet been nominated to the Kentucky Derby or the other Triple Crown races.
Whittingham said that Temperate Sil, winner of the Hollywood Futurity in December but unraced as a 3-year-old, will run in the one-mile San Rafael on March 7.
“We were going to run in one race or the other, anyway, and now it will be the other,” Whittingham said. “I waited, thinking the track might get better today, but it didn’t and there was no sense taking the chance. The horse looks like he might be able to handle the mud, but he’s a valuable horse and it’s better to wait.”
Temperate Sil’s sire, Temperence Hill, won the 1980 Belmont Stakes on an off track, and Ruken, the sire of the dam, was also a mudder.
The San Rafael was one of Ferdinand’s preps for the Kentucky Derby. He finished second in that stake and was third in the Santa Anita Derby before his shocking win at 17-1 odds in Louisville.
At this time a year ago, Ferdinand already had two races as a 3-year-old, after running five times the year before. Temperate Sil won three of five starts as a 2-year-old.
“Temperate Sil is an easy horse to train,” Whittingham said. “The next race and the Derby here should be enough to get him ready for Kentucky.”
Besides Temperate Sil, the San Rafael field is expected to include Stylish Winner and Masterful Advocate. After finishing third, a half-length behind Temperate Sil, in the Hollywood Futurity, Masterful Advocate has won the Los Feliz Stakes at Santa Anita and the El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows.
“We considered the Flamingo (at Hialeah on Feb. 28), but we’ve decided to stay in our own backyard,” said Joe Manzi, Masterful Advocate’s trainer. “The horse would be ready in time for the Flamingo, but I just didn’t like the idea of going 3,000 miles with him.”
Stylish Winner’s owners, who include breeder Bud Johnston, trainer Bruce Headley, Gino Roncelli and Don Williams, have until March 17 to make their horse eligible for the Triple Crown races, at a cost of $3,000. Nominations would have cost only $600 for the three races if they were made before the first deadline of Jan. 15.
By that date, Stylish Winner had just made his first start as a gelding, losing by a neck to Fast Delivery after an ungainly start in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. Headley felt it was necessary to castrate Stylish Winner after he spent much of last summer and fall trying to attack any horse that came near him.
“He wasn’t mean and biting today,” Headley said Saturday. “The mud wasn’t a concern for me. I galloped him on muddy tracks, so I knew he could handle it.”
Ridden by Gary Stevens, Stylish Winner stayed close to the pace-setter, Mount Laguna, all the way, then easily moved to the lead near the top of the stretch. Prince Sassafras rallied for second place, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Mount Laguna.
Stylish Winner earned $46,750, was timed in 1:23 4/5 and paid $5.40, $2.80 and $2.40 as the slight betting favorite over Mount Laguna. Prince Sassafras paid $3.60 and $2.40 and Mount Laguna’s show price was $2.20.
Before Temperate Sil was scratched, the trainers of Reland, Momentus, Adam Bomb and The Quipper had taken their horses out of the San Vicente.
Temperate Sil’s departure delayed the return to the saddle for Bill Shoemaker, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Feb. 3. Shoemaker has the mount today on Seldom Seen Sue, the favorite in the $150,000 La Canada Stakes.
Horse Racing Notes
Johnny Longden, the Hall of Fame jockey who trains a few horses at Santa Anita, was honored on his 80th birthday with a winner’s-circle ceremony that was attended by 23 local jockeys. “I’ll be going for 90, and after that it’s speculation,” Longden said. Pointing to 55-year-old Bill Shoemaker, Longden added: “As for my good friend, keep right on going, boy.” . . . Sandy Hawley, shaken up in a spill at Oaklawn Park Friday, escaped with no broken bones. . . . A field of eight--Enbarr, Narghile, Forlitano, Schiller, Iades, Zoffany, Rivlia and Louis Le Grand--is entered for Monday’s $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita. Zoffany will carry top weight of 125 pounds, seven more than Louis Le Grand. . . . Dave Johnson, former track announcer at Santa Anita, will call this year’s Kentucky Derby on ABC television. Johnson has called the Derby before, but in recent years has done the race on radio.