Weekend Racing at Del Mar : Precisionist, Winning Colors Seek Wins on Opposite Coasts

Times Staff Writer

Precisionist, who has already won an Eclipse Award, and Winning Colors, who is on the path to winning one, will run 1-mile races 3,000 miles apart today. You’ll find the dossiers of both horses filed under C , for comebacks.

At Del Mar, where he has already won impressively twice this season, the 7-year-old Precisionist will race only three opponents in the $150,000 Budweiser Breeders’ Cup.

At Belmont Park, Winning Colors, winner of the Santa Anita and Kentucky derbies but unraced in three months, will run against undefeated Personal Ensign and four others in the $100,000 Maskette.

Before he was so rudely interrupted and sent off to stud last year, Precisionist had been voted champion sprinter in 1985 and now, four races into his return, he has increased his earnings to $3.1 million and ranks behind only eight other horses on the money list.


“I don’t know if he’s the old Precisionist yet,” said John Russell, Precisionist’s new trainer. “But I have to think he’s getting close.”

In a mile allowance race here Aug. 1, Precisionist broke the track record with a clocking of 1:33 1/5. He carried 114 pounds, 11 fewer than he’ll carry today. After that mile race, Precisionist brought out only three rivals--just as today--in the 1 1/8-mile Cabrillo Handicap on Aug. 28 and won by 3 1/2 lengths.

By beating colts in two major races and becoming only the third filly to win the Kentucky Derby, Winning Colors may have already accomplished enough to be voted the year’s best 3-year-old filly. In Personal Ensign, she is running against a 4-year-old filly who could win the ultimate Eclipse, the trophy for horse of the year.

Personal Ensign is unbeaten in 10 starts and in her last race, the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, she also beat colts, although Gulch and King’s Swan are considered more effective at distances of less than 1 1/8 miles.


Also, Gulch was conceding seven pounds to Personal Ensign. Today, based on the conditions of the Maskette, the older Personal Ensign will carry 123 pounds and Winning Colors 118.

Despite the weight edge, this is a tough spot for Winning Colors. The speckled gray filly followed up her Kentucky Derby victory with a third-place finish in the Preakness, after which her jockey, Gary Stevens, and her owner, Gene Klein, suggested that Forty Niner had compromised her chances by making contact several times during the race.

In the Belmont Stakes three weeks later, Winning Colors folded, finishing last, 42 lengths behind Risen Star. The general feeling was that the demands of the Triple Crown campaign had worn out Winning Colors, but her trainer, Wayne Lukas, said that post-race examinations refuted that.

Lukas felt that Winning Colors was due for a rest, anyway. When she came back to the track about a month later, trainer Louie Roussel, who was still at Belmont with Risen Star, saw her one morning and said: “She looked great. She looked like the horse who had won the Derby.”


Actually, Lukas and his son, Jeff, who has been supervising the post- Belmont training of Winning Colors in New York, have much to gain and little to lose in the Maskette. If Personal Ensign beats them, they can say that they lost to a filly who beats everyone’s horse and that Winning Colors needed a race. And if Winning Colors should win, she could be added to the list of horse-of-the-year contenders.

No matter who wins today, the two fillies are expected to meet again, if not at Belmont, almost certainly in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

Precisionist is also on the road to Churchill Downs. It will be a tough decision whether to run him in search of a delayed reprise in the 6-furlong Sprint, or in the 1-mile Classic, a race in which he finished third in 1986.

Horse Racing Notes


Gene Klein, who has four horses besides Winning Colors running today, will spend the afternoon in Las Vegas, where he can watch all of them on television. . . . Klein has rescinded his order, made after the Preakness, against letting Pat Day ride any of his horses. Klein had believed that Day and trainer Woody Stephens conspired to keep Winning Colors from winning at Pimlico. “Day rode a horse of mine at Saratoga,” Klein said. “What happened in the Preakness is yesterday.”

Personal Ensign and her stablemate, Cadillacing, have been installed as the 1-2 favorite in the Maskette. Winning Colors is 3-1. Trainer Shug McGaughey is running Cadillacing to make sure Winning Colors doesn’t take an easy early lead, as she did in the Kentucky Derby.

Short Sleeves will try to become the fourth horse to win the Ramona Handicap twice when she runs Sunday in the $200,000, 1 1/8-mile grass race at Del Mar. Short Sleeves, who won at 10-1 last year, carries top weight of 121 pounds. The field, in post-position order with jockeys and weights: Annoconnor, Corey Black, 116 pounds; Pen Bal Lady, Eddie Delahoussaye, 120; Fiara, Russell Baze, 115; Short Sleeves, Chris McCarron, 121; Chapel of Dreams, Gary Stevens, 118; Beauty Cream, Pat Day, 120; Future Bright, Alex Solis, 110; Silent Arrival, Ray Sibille, 115; Rakau Polly, Fernando Toro, 115; and Ladanum, Aaron Gryder, 115.