Marje Everett, the chief operating officer at Hollywood Park, can do the track, Jack Van Berg, the sport and racing fans a favor.
While Clarence Scharbauer and his family are debating whether to retire Alysheba to stud or continue his racing career, Everett can help them make the decision.
All she has to do is increase the purse for the 1 1/2-mile Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 24 from $500,000 to $1 million.
The Scharbauers are wealthy. Clarence, 63, is a Midland (Tex.) oilman whose fortune is estimated at $225 million by Forbes magazine, which makes him the 389th richest person in the country.
He isn’t as rich as some other racing people--Jack Kent Cooke, Carl Icahn, Paul Mellon and Dan Galbreath, to name four--but since he bought Alysheba as a yearling for $500,000 in 1985, he has been gaining. Alysheba’s win last Saturday in the $3-million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs increased his earnings to $6.6 million and broke John Henry’s record.
A son of a leading sire, Alydar, Alysheba is a multimillion-dollar stallion prospect and may wind up at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky.
Van Berg, who trains Alysheba and gets 10% of everything the horse wins, naturally would like to see the 4-year-old colt kept on the track instead of being sent to the breeding shed.
Shortly after the Classic, Scharbauer said: “What else can you ask of this horse?”
The next day, Van Berg furnished the answer.
“I’d like to run him on the grass at Hollywood Park if I could talk them (Clarence, his wife, Dorothy, and their daughter, Pamela) into it,” he said.
Alysheba, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1987 and is a cinch to be voted horse of the year for 1988, has never run on grass. Van Berg was giving the Scharbauers something to think about.
Van Berg said: “If you think Wayne Lukas is windy, I’ll really get windy when it comes to trying to talk these people into keeping this horse on the track.”
An extra $500,000 in purse money should just about persuade the Scharbauers. Whenever a track has sweetened the pot--Santa Anita, Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands have done it this year--Alysheba has run.
Hollywood Park is likely to get Great Communicator, the winner of the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Turf, for its Turf Cup, anyway. A matchup between the winners of the 2 richest Breeders’ Cup races ought to fill some seats, even on Christmas Eve.
If Alysheba runs on grass the way he has run on dirt, the Scharbauers might get real bold and keep him in training next year.
So go ahead, Marje. A race with Alysheba and Great Communicator would get Hollywood Park back on the map. And it’s only money.
Here are the records of racing’s only $6-million horses:
St. 1st 2nd 3rd PursesAlysheba 26 11 8 2 $6,679,242
John Henry 83 39 15 9 $6,597,947
Chris McCarron rode both John Henry and Alysheba and doesn’t hesitate in saying that Alysheba is better.
“What also impresses me is how quick--even allowing for inflation--Alysheba beat John Henry in money,” McCarron said. “It only took him 2 years to earn it.”
Technically, it has taken Alysheba 3 years, but he earned only $359,486 of his total in 1986, when he was a 2-year-old. John Henry, who was a 9-year-old when he ran his last race, competed for 8 years.
Spend a Buck is third on the earnings list with $4.2 million. Creme Fraiche, who’s No. 4 with $3.9 million, is a 6-year-old gelding who’s still active.
The international racing manager for Sheik Mohammed, the Dubai defense minister, could be, as they say in show business, between engagements. The decision to run the sheik’s Indian Skimmer and Sarhoob in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and leave Nasr el Arab at Santa Anita, made Great Communicator’s assignment all the easier.
Before the Breeders’ Cup, Nasr el Arab easily defeated Great Communicator in the Oak Tree Invitational and on Monday, 2 days after the cup, Nasr el Arab won again at Santa Anita, in the Burke Handicap.
Nasr el Arab would have loved Churchill Downs’ turf course, which is configured much as Santa Anita’s. Nasr el Arab should get another shot at Great Communicator in the Hollywood Turf Cup.
The sheik’s Breeders’ Cup starters, Indian Skimmer and Sarhoob, ran third and eighth, respectively.
Indian Skimmer, the stronger part of the favored 6-5 entry, probably had an excuse. Full of run going by the stands the first time, she was not only discouraged but practically garroted by jockey Michael Roberts. Indian Skimmer lost by three-quarters of a length.
There were other suspect rides on Breeders’ Cup day. Afleet, third in the Sprint, deserved better handling from Gary Stahlbaum; Angel Cordero, aboard Sunshine Forever, who was second in the Turf, allowed Great Communicator to laze along in the lead; and Julie Krone, riding Forty Niner, the fourth-place finisher in the Classic, had the colt on the rail most of the way. That was the worst place to be on the muddy track.
Overall, though, Cordero enjoyed a tremendous day, winning the 2 juvenile races with Is It True and Open Mind, and personally earning $153,800, assuming he was riding for 10% of the purses. The Breeders’ Cup pays back to sixth place and all 6 of Cordero’s mounts earned checks.
These were Saturday’s leading jockeys, based on purses:
Angel Cordero, $1,538,000; Chris McCarron, $1,490,000; Laffit Pincay, $923,000; Ray Sibille and Pat Day, $900,000 each; Freddie Head, $558,000; Randy Romero, $500,000; Julie Krone, $445,000; Jose Santos, $324,000; Gary Stevens, 285,000.
Sibille’s total came from just one mount, the Turf-winning Great Communicator.
Horse Racing Notes
There were suspicions by those attending the Breeders’ Cup that Churchill Downs’ announced attendance of 71,237 was inflated. The Daily Racing Form reported that the total included “many no-shows.” This is the second time a Breeders’ Cup crowd has been questioned. Hollywood Park’s announced 64,254 was suspect in 1984.
A clarification is needed on Santa Anita’s almost out-handling Churchill Downs on Breeders’ Cup day. Betting on 7 Breeders’ Cup races plus 4 live races at Santa Anita totaled $10.7 million--about $300,0000 less than Churchill--but the Santa Anita figures included 8 off-track betting sites. The crowd that bet the Santa Anita races totaled 41,640, on- and off-track, which was about 30,000 under what was announced at Churchill Downs.
Miesque, the champion filly, is being retired with a record of 12 wins in 16 starts. Stavros Niarchos, the 79-year-old shipping magnate, saw her run only 6 times. Niarchos has a Howard Hughes mentality when it comes to privacy. . . . Compliments far outnumbered complaints about Churchill Downs’ main track Saturday, but not all of the jockeys liked the rain-soaked turf course. Pat Eddery said it was the worst grass course he had ever ridden on. Eddery finished next to last with Warning, who went off the 19-10 favorite in the Mile. Eddery won his sixth British riding title this year, riding 183 winners. Steve Cauthen finished fifth with 104 winners, missing the last 2 months of the season after suffering back and neck injuries in a spill.
Robbie Davis has not resumed riding since the death of fellow jockey Mike Venezia at Belmont Park a month ago. When Venezia’s horse broke down, it was Davis’ horse that unavoidably trampled the jockey. Still despondent, Davis is staying with his parents in Idaho. . . . Chris Antley, punched in the mouth by Billy Fox in a postrace argument last week, is still sidelined at Aqueduct. Antley honored the picket line during the riders’ recent strike in New York and Fox came in from out of town as one of the replacement jockeys. Fox has continued to ride at Aqueduct and is second in the standings.
Mining, previously undefeated and favored in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, ran 10th and has been retired. . . . Cutlass Reality, seventh after being an early pace factor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, may run in the Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 10. . . . Seeking the Gold and Lively One will run another year, but Waquoit and Forty Niner are going to stud. A decision hasn’t been made regarding Personal Flag’s future.
The Blue Grass, the traditional prep race that has been run 9 days before the Kentucky Derby, will be run on April 15 next year, 3 weeks ahead of the Derby. Keeneland officials are hoping that the earlier date will produce a stronger field. The Lexington, a lesser Keeneland stake for 3-year-olds, will probably be run on April 25.