Jose Santos is at Longchamp in Paris today, casing the place. If the 27-year-old jockey likes what he sees, France may be seeing a lot of Santos next year.
"I think it would be a good experience, riding in France," Santos said the other day, after winning the Arlington Million with a patient, ground-saving ride on Steinlen. "I'm young and I think it would be good to try it for a year."
The victory at Arlington International was the fifth for Santos in a million-dollar race since he began riding in North America in 1984. The victories have been achieved at different tracks--with Manila in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita in 1986, with Waquoit in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park and with Success Express in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Hollywood Park in 1987, and with Ballindaggin in the Molson Export Challenge at Woodbine here last year.
Santos will be in France through the weekend, so he won't be riding in the Molson race here Sunday. And he may return to France to ride in the Arc de Triomphe Oct. 8.
After the Million, Santos was asked who he would be riding for if he went to France, and he pointed to the skin-tight, royal-blue silks he was wearing. They are the silks of Daniel Wildenstein, the international Parisian art dealer whose horses are trained by Andre Fabre.
Fabre likes to use American jockeys. Corey Black came from California to ride for him briefly a couple of years ago, and Cash Asmussen, who has been riding in France for several years, currently is Fabre's No. 1 contract rider.
The same day Santos won the Million, Asmussen rode two stakes winners for Fabre at Longchamp, including a Breeders' Cup candidate, Polish Precedent, in the major Prix du Moulin, but there have been persistent reports from Europe that Asmussen will be switching stables next year. Wildenstein has a reputation for moving from one jockey to another.
Santos, who is married to the sister of another jockey--Marco Castaneda--has a 2-year-old daughter. When Jorge Velasquez rode in France a couple of years ago, his family had difficulty adjusting, but that was mainly because his children were school age. It took them 1 1/2 hours, one way, to get to school.
"If I go to France, it wouldn't be to stay," Santos said. "I would expect to ride over there one season, then come back to the U.S."
Santos rode in his native Chile and in Colombia before beginning his American career in Florida five years ago. The last three years, he has led this country in purses, including the $14.8-million record that he set in 1988. Santos was seventh on the money list two weeks ago, but the victory in the Million has moved him up to fourth place. With $7.3 million, he trails the leader, Pat Day, by about $1.6 million.
"Manila is the best horse of my life," Santos said. "But Steinlen is very comparable. Even at 6 years old, he's running better and better. But the important thing is that they've both won million-dollar races, isn't it?"
This year's Molson Million, which lost Sunday Silence when trainer Charlie Whittingham decided to skip the race and head straight for the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, lost its big local attraction this week when With Approval was scratched because of a swollen left foreleg.
With Approval was the third 3-year-old, and the first since 1963, to have swept Canada's Triple Crown, winning a $1-million bonus that's sponsored by the Bank of Montreal.
Of the seven horses still likely to run in the Molson, the standouts are Clever Trevor, who was second to Easy Goer in the Travers at Saratoga, and Prized, who upset Sunday Silence in the Swaps at Hollywood Park. Other scheduled starters are Mercedes Won, Charlie Barley, Doc's Leader, Domasca Dan and Toledo Salamanca.
Steinlen's victory in the Arlington Million was reminiscent of Tolomeo's win in the stake in 1983.
Steinlen was able to win when Frosty the Snowman came off the rail at the top of the stretch, leaving room for him to get through.
In 1983, Nijinsky's Secret had the inside route blocked, but he also moved out from the fence. John Henry, trying to win his second Million--which he accomplished the following year--was closing on the outside, but Tolomeo ran inside Nijinsky's Secret and beat the veteran gelding by a neck.
Trainer Ron McAnally has always said that had the determined John Henry seen Tolomeo coming, he would have measured the horse and still won. But John Henry's view of Tolomeo was blocked by Nijinsky's Secret.
When Chris McCarron arrived at Arlington Saturday, to ride Claire Marine to victory in the $500,000 Beverly D., he looked at the program and saw a McCarron listed at 143 pounds to ride a horse in the third race.
"At first I thought a jock agent had played a joke on me and put me down to ride," McCarron said.
The weights of the jockeys in that race were either 140 or 143 pounds, because they were amateur riders who compete at occasional races around the country.
McCarron looked more closely at the program. Then he noticed that the listing was Matthew McCarron, the son of his brother, Gregg, who is also a jockey.
Horse Racing Notes
Sandy Hawley, whose career started in his native Canada, is the leading rider at Woodbine this season with almost 100 winners. Hawley, who rode in the United States--mainly in California--for 10 years, returned to Canada last year, riding horses that earned $4.1 million and winning 19 stakes, seven more than the next nearest jockey. He almost doubled the purse money of the jockey who was second in the money standings.
John Gosden, who left California to train in his native England at the end of last year, won his first important race in Europe the other day when Somethingdifferent won a stake in West Germany. . . . Lady in Silver, second in the Arlington Million, has gone to trainer Scotty Schulhofer's barn at Belmont Park and will be trained for the Breeders' Cup. . . . Clever Trevor is a supplementary entry in the Molson Million, at a cost of about $17,000 in American money.
Great Communicator, who ran eighth in the Million, came out of the race with a deep cut in his right rear leg. He hasn't shown his 1988 form and is not likely to run on Nov. 4 at Gulfstream Park in the Breeders' Cup Turf, which he won last year. . . . Clare Marine won $300,000 in the Beverly D. at Arlington, which is what Sidney Port reportedly paid for the French-raced filly last year. Her earnings this year are close to $700,000.