It should be clear by now that there's not much difference in ability between Present Value and Rahy, but one horse will be going to the Breeders' Cup and the other will just be part of the scenery as the result of Saturday's $218,800 Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita.
For the second time in two weeks, Present Value beat Rahy, who was once considered a cinch to run in the Breeders' Cup off his strong performances this summer at Hollywood Park.
But Rahy appears to be a solid miler and little else, and unfortunately for trainer Neil Drysdale, the Ramser Handicap on Oct. 7 was 1 1/16 miles and Saturday's Goodwood was a sixteenth of a mile farther. Present Value was a half-length better in the Ramser and on Saturday, carrying 119 pounds, two less than Rahy, he won by 1 1/4 lengths.
Trainer Jerry Fanning doesn't exactly have a gun to his head, but after Present Value won his seventh stake of the year--at six different tracks--he is left with little choice but to ship the 5-year-old son of Halo and Fairly Regal to Gulfstream Park for the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 4.
"I can't give my owners any excuse not to go," Fanning said. "I don't think we can beat Easy Goer and Sunday Silence, but hell, fifth place is worth $300,000."
Actually, fifth is good for $150,000, but third place in the Classic is worth $324,000, and based on his ability to handle just about any kind of racing surface, Present Value has as much business finishing behind Easy Goer and Sunday Silence as anyone.
It doesn't seem to matter which jockey rides Present Value, either. Eddie Delahoussaye was in the saddle for the first time Saturday, after Bill Shoemaker and Frank Olivares won with him earlier in the year. Delahoussaye will retain the mount in the Breeders' Cup.
"You can do what you want with this horse," said Delahoussaye, who battled a sore throat last week. "He doesn't like dirt in his face and relaxes a lot better on the outside."
Present Value's time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:47 1/5, the same as Cutlass Reality when he won the Goodwood last year.
Present Value, the second choice as part of a three-horse entry, paid $5, $2.20 and $2.10. Rahy, 9-10 in the Ramser, was sent off at 3-5 by the crowd of 25,554 Saturday and paid $2.20 and $2.10. Happy Toss, one of the horses coupled with Present Value, ran third, 3 1/2 lengths behind Rahy.
Present Value, who has seven wins, two seconds and a third in 16 starts this year, earned $128,800, giving him a total of $728,319 this year.
His owners are Fanning, Richard Fontana, Jay Bligh and Gary Potter, who became partners after Fanning noticed the horse in the barn next to his at Santa Anita and bought him for $160,000 in January. Fontana is the developer of a safety rail that is used by dozens of race tracks.
Kinghaven Farms, which bred and owned Present Value, permitted Fanning to scout the horse once before he closed the deal. Present Value ran a good race, losing a photo finish in an allowance at Santa Anita, but Fanning said that the sale price still didn't go up.
The Goodwood wasn't a complete rerun of the Ramser. In the Ramser, Rahy made the lead, under pressure from On the Line, and then was overhauled by Present Value in the last sixteenth of a mile.
On Saturday, Wandarous, making his California debut at 46-1, set the pace, with Good Taste staying close and Gary Stevens dropping Rahy into third place. On the far turn, Rahy moved on the outside to gobble up Wandarous and Good Taste without any problem. But Present Value, who was fifth after three- quarters of a mile, closed on the outside of Rahy, moved into second place at the quarter pole and took the lead in the closing yards.
"I knew Gary had some horse left, and I just moved with him," Delahoussaye said. "My horse accelerated and when he got to the lead, he just pulled up."
Delahoussaye is the Oak Tree meeting's leading rider in both total wins and stakes and the Goodwood gave him four stakes victories out of the nine that have been run.
As for Rahy, trainer Neil Drysdale said: "His best distance is obviously not 1 1/8 miles. He's more effective at a mile. There was always a query about whether he wanted to go past a mile."
There's a Breeders' Cup Mile Stakes, which is on grass, a surface the English-raced Rahy is familiar with. But the Dubai sheik who owns Rahy has a European horse, Zilzal, who will be one of the favorites in that race.
So, Drysdale will ship Rahy to Florida, but to run in another stakes race Breeders' Cup weekend. The main event belongs to Present Value, even though his trainer realistically knows there's no chance of winning it.
Horse Racing Notes
Chris McCarron figures to have better luck today, riding heavily favored Claire Marine in the Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita, than he did Saturday at Aqueduct aboard two Wayne Lukas-trained stakes runners. On the Line ran fifth, beaten by two lengths, in the New York Racing Assn. Mile, and Winning Colors, the 3-5 favorite, was a well-beaten fourth in the Budweiser Breeders' Cup, which was switched from grass to the dirt because of a damp turf. Winning Colors is now doubtful for the Breeders' Cup. "She didn't fire like she had when I had ridden her before," McCarron said.
Lukas did better in Kentucky, where Steinlen, en route to an appearance in the Breeders' Cup Mile, won the Keeneland Breeders' Cup by a head over Crystal Moment. . . . Simply Majestic, another candidate for the Breeders' Cup, won a 1 1/8-mile grass race at Calder. . . . Santa Anita took bets on the Tanforan Handicap from Bay Meadows and it was won by Big Chill in a photo with Variety Road. Big Chill paid $43.60 at Santa Anita, about twice what he paid at Bay Meadows.
Pat Valenzuela, who hopes to resume riding this week after not competing because of illness since Oct. 13, was aboard Sunday Silence as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner worked a mile at Santa Anita in 1:38 1/5. Trainer Charlie Whittingham said that Sunday Silence will work one more time before he leaves for Florida next Friday. . . . Trainer Mike Mollica was fined $500 and placed on probation through the end of the year after a second-place finisher at Hollywood Park tested positive for a prohibited medication and was disqualified. . . . Olympic Prospect and Sam Who are expected to run in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.