When Charlie Whittingham says that he likes to train offspring sired by Halo, he doesn't have to say it twice. Sunday Silence, Goodbye Halo and Lively One are the reasons, and there's not a poor one in the bunch.
"All the ones I've had can run," Whittingham said. "They're feisty horses. They've got a lot of fire in them."
Saturday, exactly one week after Sunday Silence's victory in the Kentucky Derby, Whittingham will try to win another big race with another son of Halo when he runs Lively One in the $700,000 Pimlico Special at Pimlico. It could be a noteworthy eight days here for Whittingham, because on the next Saturday, he and Sunday Silence will continue their march on the Triple Crown in the Preakness.
Tom Tatham, who says he manages about $60 million worth of bloodstock, heads the Oak Cliff syndicate that stands Halo at Arthur Hancock's farm in Paris, Ky. Hancock owns 50% of Sunday Silence.
Whittingham is not the only trainer enthused about Halo's lineage. The same day that Sunday Silence was winning the Kentucky Derby, another California-based trainer, Jerry Fanning, was saddling the winning Present Value in the $210,850 National Jockey Club Handicap in the snow at Sportsman's Park near Chicago.
Fanning bought the Canadian-bred son of Halo for $150,000 for Jay Bligh, Richard Fontana and Gary Potter and already he has earned more than $200,000 for his owners.
Bill Shoemaker rode Present Value the day Fanning scouted the 5-year-old before the purchase, and the jockey was aboard the horse last Saturday.
Strangely, it was the first time Shoemaker, 57, ever rode at Sportsman's Park.
It has been raining in Baltimore and there is likely to be an off track for the Pimlico Special. Whittingham will take rain the next Saturday as well for the Preakness, because Sunday Silence thrives in the mud and Easy Goer, who will try to avenge his Derby defeat at Pimlico, abhors it.
Cryptoclearance will carry high weight of 123 pounds in the Pimlico Special, which is run at 1 3/16 miles, the same distance as the Preakness.
Besides Cryptoclearance, 11 horses are scheduled to run--Slew City Slew, Little Bold John, Proper Reality, Brian's Time, Blushing John, Lively One, Cranacus, Saratoga Passage, Stalwars, Lustra and Templar Bill.
Little Bold John is next in the weights at 120 pounds and all of the others will carry 118 or less.
When Whittingham ran 1-2-3 with Claire Marine, Fitzwilliam Place and Calunpe in last Sunday's Wilshire Handicap, it was at least the 10th time that the trainer has pulled the trick. The first time was with Noholme Jr., Tell and Makor in the Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park in 1969.
Although Laffit Pincay finished eighth aboard Houston in the Kentucky Derby, his agent, Tony Matos, still had a winner that day at Churchill Downs.
For the last four years, Matos has leased Wishing Well, Sunday Silence's dam. Wishing Well is now carrying the fourth foal for Matos, and because the sire is Halo, the result will be either a full brother or full sister to Sunday Silence.
Tom Meeker, president of Churchill Downs, surprised many of his friends and associates when he entered a 28-day program for alcohol abuse this week.
Meeker has revitalized the Derby and Churchill Downs, which had become a dingy, dilapidated plant before the Louisville attorney was named president in 1984.
Since then, Churchill Downs has added a grass course that has been only one facet of a $25-million capital-improvement program.
Meeker has been the orchestrator of the Triple Crown package that has been embraced by the Chrysler Corp. and ABC television. Only last Saturday, hours before the Derby, Meeker participated in a news conference, at which it was announced that both companies had renewed their connections with the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont through 1992.
The automobile company provides the $5-million or $1-million annual bonus that goes with the Triple Crown. A horse wins $5 million with a sweep, but otherwise there's a guaranteed $1 million paid to the owner of the horse with the best finishes in the three races.
Meeker said that the latest Triple Crown package--bonuses and television rights--is worth more than $40 million.
According to Nielsen data, the Derby was seen by almost 10 million television viewers. That's a slight increase from last year's race.
Hank Allen, the former big league outfielder who trained Northern Wolf, sixth-place finisher in the Derby, tells a story about his old baseball card.
"My rookie card is worth $300," Allen says. "There are two guys on it, me and Rod Carew. Rod's side is worth $299 and mine's worth $1."
Horse Racing Notes
Awe Inspiring, Easy Goer's underrated stablemate, will run in the Jersey Derby at Garden State Park on May 29. Awe Inspiring ran third, just a head behind Easy Goer, in the Derby. . . . Trainer Woody Stephens is still in Florida, recovering from prostate surgery. Stephens' horses were sent from Hialeah to his regular headquarters at Belmont Park. "Right now, Woody Stephens is training Woody Stephens," Stephens said.
Sunday Silence's Derby win price was $8.20 at Churchill Downs. He paid $11 at Thistlewood in Cleveland and $10.80 at Aqueduct, where he had won his last two pre-Derby races. . . . Some prominent horses have died recently. Vaguely Noble was 24, In Reality was 25 and Sagace was 9.
Jockey Don Brumfield suffered a broken collarbone in a spill at Churchill Downs Tuesday. . . . Endow, winner of the California Derby, runs Saturday in the Thomas D. Nash Memorial at Sportsman's Park.