Racing at Hollywood Park : After Calming, Bayakoa Unleashes Storm
With Bayakoa, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Addressing the 5-year-old mare’s many idiosyncrasies isn’t easy, but trainer Ron McAnally has apparently found the right combinations.
Bayakoa won the $200,000 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park Saturday by five lengths, producing $110,000 for owner Frank Whitham and increasing the Argentine-bred’s total earnings to more than $750,000.
The 1 1/8-mile Vanity, which drew only six starters, was Bayakoa’s fifth straight victory, her sixth in seven starts this year and her fourth in a major race.
In the paddock before the Vanity, McAnally had to call on extra help just to get Bayakoa to complete one tour of the walking ring. Led by her groom, Bayakoa would stop every couple of steps, until Eduardo Inda, McAnally’s assistant trainer, slapped a rolled-up newspaper against the palm of his hand to get her moving again.
“That’s the result of what we’ve done with her in the mornings,” McAnally said. “To get her to calm down before she goes to the track, we let her walk from the barn at her own pace, and she stops several times to gawk around, the way John Henry used to do.
“But now that habit’s carrying over to the afternoons. The last two times she’s taken her time in the walking ring, until Eduardo gets her going.”
Without Inda, the McAnally barn could have been assessed a delay-of-race penalty. But from the gate to the wire, Bayakoa needed no encouragement. Laffit Pincay, her jockey, peeked over his right shoulder midway through the stretch, saw no one coming and saved his whip for another day.
Flying Julia, looking for her first win in about 17 months, finished second, 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Goodbye Halo, the 10-time stakes winner who was beaten by Bayakoa for the fourth straight race. Trainer Charlie Whittingham had another entry, Rosadora, who was expected to press Bayakoa early but couldn’t, and he thought the weight differential, 125 pounds for Bayakoa to 122 pounds for Goodbye Halo, would help his filly, but it didn’t.
Bayakoa, timed in an excellent 1:47 1/5, paid $3.40, $2.80 and $2.40. Flying Julia paid $3.60 and $2.80, and Goodbye Halo, the 5-2 second choice, paid $2.40.
Bayakoa, who made her American debut in May of 1988 with a victory at Hollywood Park, broke on the lead in all 13 of her previous races in the United States, and Saturday was no exception.
Down the backstretch, Rosadora and Flying Julia tried moving on her, but each time Bayakoa would edge away. Goodbye Halo, having trouble again with dirt hitting her in the face, was in fourth place early and closed little ground with a sweeping move into the stretch.
A year ago, Goodbye Halo was stringing victories the way Bayakoa is now. But now Goodbye Halo has won only two of her last 11 starts.
“I’m not going to shoot her,” Whittingham said after the race. “That mare can beat anyone out here right now. We’ll just have to wait and try her at another track.”
Whitham, a banker and cattleman from Kansas, never had a horse earn more than $50,000 until Bayakoa came along. Because neither the mare nor her sire, Consultant’s Bid, was nominated, it would cost Whitham $200,000 to make Bayakoa eligible for the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Gulfstream Park on Nov. 4, and he is receptive to the gamble.
“That’s a long way off, but I’m thinking positively about it,” Whitham said. “She’s in perfect shape, she’s in top form and she’s shown us that she can carry weight.”
Pincay registered his eighth stakes win of the season, and he’ll be aboard Ruhlmann, another odds-on choice, in today’s $300,000 Bel Air Handicap.
Of Saturday’s race, Pincay said: “The pace wasn’t that fast and it wasn’t that slow, either. But it was comfortable, and she (Bayakoa) was doing it awful easy. She finished very strong, too, and with 125 pounds, that’s a super race for her.”
The last horse to win the Vanity with more weight than Bayakoa was Cascapedia, en route to a national divisional championship in 1977.
Gary Stevens, who rode Flying Julia Saturday, took a realistic approach.
“I let my horse out a notch about every sixteenth of a mile, and Bayakoa just kept going,” Stevens said. “At the three-eighths pole, my only chance was if the other mare had a heart attack.”
Corey Black, riding Goodbye Halo, had won the Vanity the last two years, with Annoconnor and Infinidad.
“My horse made a little run, but it wasn’t enough,” Black said. “I was a little disappointed. It definitely wasn’t one of her best efforts.”
Horse Racing Notes
Goodbye Halo didn’t do so well in the Vanity, but another offspring of Halo had a tremendous day when Present Value won the $300,000 Michigan Mile and One-Eighth by three-quarters of a length over 2-5 Proper Reality and paid $100.60 Saturday. Present Value, carrying nine pounds less than Proper Reality, was ridden by Frank Olivares and is trained by Jerry Fanning. . . . Favored Clever Trevor won the $200,000 Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds by nine lengths, with Bio second and Western Playboy finishing third. . . . Saturday’s attendance at Hollywood Park was 22,092. . . . It took four assistant starters to load Rosadora into the gate for the Vanity. . . . Rather than continue battling Easy Goer and Sunday Silence, Hawkster, the fifth-place finisher in all three Triple Crown races, will try running on grass at Del Mar.