Horse Racing : Sunday Silence’s Loss Is Easy Goer’s Gain

The impact of Sunday Silence’s upset loss to Prized in the Swaps at Hollywood Park was felt 3,000 miles away.

Perhaps they were already in the driver’s seat for horse of the year honors, but now Easy Goer and his trainer, Shug McGaughey, have dramatically increased their chances. Now, McGaughey really doesn’t have to race Sunday Silence again for Easy Goer to lock up the title.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Jul. 29, 1989 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday July 29, 1989 Home Edition Sports Part 3 Page 7 Column 4 Sports Desk 1 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
When Java Gold completed horse racing’s Whitney-Travers sweep at Saratoga in 1987, he was trained by Mack Miller, not Shug McGaughey, as was reported in Thursday’s editions.

Even before the Swaps, there were a number of voters from the East--where most of the Eclipse Awards electorate is located--who thought that Easy Goer’s overpowering victory over Sunday Silence in the Belmont was worth more than Sunday Silence’s victories over McGaughey’s colt in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

After Prized’s shocker Sunday, all Easy Goer has to do to be voted horse of the year is remain undefeated the rest of the year. McGaughey could do that quite selectively, without leaving his home base in New York. He could even skip the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Florida’s Gulfstream Park.


For instance, instead of running Easy Goer in the Haskell Handicap on Saturday at Monmouth Park, where the speedy King Glorious, Music Merci and La Voyageur are all dangerous at 1 1/8 miles, McGaughey will wait for the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 5.

The Whitney, which is the same distance as the Haskell, will pit Easy Goer against older horses, but the handicap division is mediocre this year. Because he is a 3-year-old, Easy Goer will receive weight from his opposition instead of giving pounds, which is what he would have had to do at Monmouth.

The Whitney also sets up Easy Goer for McGaughey’s summer goal, the $1-million Travers, which will be run at Saratoga on Aug. 19. Few horses have completed the Whitney-Travers sweep, but don’t tell that to McGaughey. The last of the few was Java Gold in 1987, and he was trained by McGaughey.

After the Travers, McGaughey could concentrate on the fall handicap races at Belmont Park and ring down Easy Goer’s curtain without participating in the $3-million Classic at Gulfstream.


Cash obviously isn’t a factor with Ogden Phipps, the moneyed owner of Easy Goer. The Haskell is a $500,000 race, twice as rich as the Whitney. And Louisiana Downs will double the purse of its $1-million Super Derby in September if Easy Goer and Sunday Silence show up.

But for a trainer who passed on a three-hour van ride from Belmont Park to Monmouth Park for the Haskell, shipping to the bayous will be a remote prospect.

McGaughey also is declining to run Easy Goer’s stablemate, Awe Inspiring, in the Haskell.

Easy Goer would have scared nearly everyone off, but now the Haskell field could consist of nine or more 3-year-olds. Other probables are Mercedes Won, Shy Tom, Bio, Halo Hansom, Arcadia Falls and Seattle Glow.


New York’s race tracks, beset by poor fields and poor attendance, are thankful that McGaugheyis keeping his top horses at home.

There were only 15,600 fans at Belmont Park last Saturday for the Brooklyn Handicap, a stake with a field that was one of the weakest in track history for a major race.

Included among the six horses were a colt that hadn’t won in two years, a horse whose recent record was one victory in 21 starts and a horse from the claiming ranks. The winner was Forever Silver, the favorite and high weight, but he was carrying only 116 pounds.

Unfortunately for local horseplayers, the Brooklyn was symptomatic of the season after the Belmont Stakes.


Last week, a New York-bred maiden won a race at Belmont by 29 lengths, which is believed to be the largest winning margin at the track since Secretariat’s 31-length Belmont victory that clinched the Triple Crown in 1973.

The New York-bred paid $4. The next day, War, a horse that hadn’t won since 1987, mainly because he had raced only seven times during that span, won the feature and paid a resounding $4.60. One of the four horses War beat was zero for 36 in the last two years.

Washington Post columnist Andrew Beyer bailed out on Belmont long before the season’s closing stages. For the rest of the summer, Beyer has made Hollywood Park and Del Mar his hangouts.

Wyoming Downs, the small track near Salt Lake City, Utah, where Bill Shoemaker appeared last week, is managed by Joe Joyce, the former Arlington Park executive who has been credited with originating the Arlington Million. After the major fire at Arlington in 1985, Dick Duchossois, the majority owner, bought out Joyce.


Joyce took over at Wyoming Downs after previous ownership went bankrupt.

“The track had been listed as seven-eighths of a mile,” Joyce said. “But we found out that it was really 15/16ths of a mile.”

Some holdovers at the track suggested to Joyce that they just round off the circumference to a mile.

“No,” Joyce told them. “We’ll call it 15/16ths.”


“Fast official,” a procedure that permits stewards to make a race official before jockeys dismount and weigh in after a race, has gained acceptance in Illinois, Maryland and Louisiana.

“This is a stupid idea whose time will never come,” says E. William Furey, former chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission. “We rejected the rule when I was on the commission. The jockeys (later) gave their approval (with the understanding) that time between races would not be shortened.

“Maryland has all the negatives of the rule and lacks the only possible redeeming positive--less time between races.”

Horse Racing Notes


In a matter of months, California racing has lost two of its most successful trainers--first, Joe Manzi died, and then, last Sunday, Tommy Doyle. The two were opposites; Manzi was very open and Doyle usually guarded, but the contrasting styles worked for them. . . . Manzi saddled Fran’s Valentine at Saratoga, but Earl Scheib, the owner of the filly and the trainer’s longtime client, seldom starts a horse in New York. Thus it was noteworthy at Belmont the other day when Scheib’s Sarolucy, a 2-year-old filly making her first start, won by eighth lengths. Bill Hirsch Jr. trains Sarolucy.

One of the yearling purchases that Wayne Lukas made at Keeneland last week, for $100,000, was in partnership with Eddie Sutton, the former basketball coach from the University of Kentucky. Lukas coached high school basketball in Wisconsin before he turned to training horses. . . . At the same sale, a son of Alydar and Miss Snowflake, who was Snow Chief’s dam, sold for $1 million.

Another board member at Hollywood Park, Dan Lufkin, has resigned. Lufkin’s departure is more significant than that of Hal W. Brown Jr., a convicted felon who owned a small block of stock. Lufkin owns more than $2.5-million worth of Hollywood Park stock. Lufkin could not be reached for comment on his resignation. . . . Nashwan, winner of the 2,000 Guineas and the English Derby, is expected to go for a sweep of the English Triple Crown by running in the St. Leger on Sept. 16. In Nashwan’s last start, he remained undefeated by beating Cacoethes, a California-bred, by a neck in the King George VI Stakes. Nashwan will probably run in France’s Arc de Triomphe rather than come to the United States for the Breeders’ Cup.