Hollywood Invitational : Political Ambition Wins by a Neck

In a blanket finish, Political Ambition won the $300,000 Hollywood Invitational at Hollywood Park Monday as only a neck, a nose and a head separated the first five finishers.

Ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, Political Ambition rallied from third to beat the Irish-bred longshot Baba Karam by a neck while setting a course record of 1:58 3/5 for the 1 miles over the turf course.

A nose back, in a dead heat for third in the cavalry charge finish, came the favored Great Communicator and Skip Out Front.


Another head back, fifth in the field of seven, was Roi Normand.

Political Ambition, who won the Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park last year but had not won a stakes since, returned $7.40, $5.40 and $2.60.

Baba Karam, ridden by Aaron Gryder, paid $14.60 and $4.20. Great Communicator, with Ray Sibille, and Skip Out Front, with Gary Stevens, each paid $2.20.

The victory continued a big month for Delahoussaye, who won the Preakness with Risen Star and returned to Hollywood Park the following Sunday to win with Judge Angelucci in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.

On this Memorial Day weekend, he also was aboard Word Pirate, winner of Sunday’s Will Rogers Handicap.

Delahoussaye said of the Invitational, “We were second for awhile, then Stevens got through on the backside. I was glad he went.

“He hooked Great Communicator, because I didn’t want to hook (challenge) him. Then my horse responded real well.”

Aaron Gryder said of Baba Karam, “He gave me everything he had down the lane, so I couldn’t ask for more.”

Political Ambition, owned by the Clover Racing Stable of Pasadena, earned $165,000 with his sixth win in 13 starts and boosted his career winnings to $447,155.

The winner carried 119 pounds, just one less than Great Communicator, while Baba Karam got in with 116.

Rivlia, the high weight at 121, finished sixth, beating only his stablemate Swink before the crowd of 35,850.

In his previous outing, Political Ambition had finished seventh in the Early Times Classic at Churchill Downs on May 6. His only previous 1988 win in three starts came in an allowance at Hollypark on April 29.

Trainer Neil Drysdale said, “He didn’t like the Churchill Downs course at all. Today, when that other horse came up on the outside, I was a little afraid he’d get pinched in. But Eddie got him going just in time.”

Political Ambition, a 4-year-old son of Kirtling and Rose Pink, bettered the grass course record of 1:59 established by Estrapade in 1986.

But Delahoussaye said he doesn’t pay attention to such marks, adding, “Fast tracks make good times. He’s a hard-trying colt and it worked out great.”