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SANTA ANITA : Record Chasers Take the Spotlight

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bayakoa isn’t the only horse at Santa Anita who is trying to break an earnings record. Flying Continental, if he runs long enough and fast enough, has an outside chance of threatening Snow Chief as the richest California-bred.

Bayakoa and Flying Continental, neither of whom started the year winning the way they did in 1990, will try to regain their momentum this weekend. Bayakoa, last in the four-horse Santa Maria Handicap Feb. 2, makes her first appearance since winning a second consecutive Eclipse Award, running today in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Handicap. On Sunday, Flying Continental, paying the price for his major victories in California and New York last year, carries high weight of 121 pounds against eight rivals in the $300,000 San Antonio Handicap.

Bayakoa’s pursuit of Lady’s Secret’s record as the richest female in racing history has been well-documented. Under 128 pounds, an impost that her handlers thought was unrealistic, Bayakoa did little to dent the record in her debut as a 7-year-old, earning only $11,250 in the Santa Maria. With earnings of $2.7 million, Bayakoa trails retired Lady’s Secret by $263,901 and could pick up $180,000 today by becoming the first horse to win the Santa Margarita three years in a row.

Bayakoa has been dropped two pounds, to 126, for the Santa Margarita, but she is still spotting Little Brianne, the winner of the Santa Maria, seven pounds. Jack Van Berg, who trains Little Brianne, will employ a tactic identified more with Charlie Whittingham and Wayne Lukas in these parts--trying to gang up on the opposition. Van Berg’s second entry in the Santa Margarita is Fit to Scout, winner of the La Canada, who will also carry 119 pounds.

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Flying Continental, a 5-year-old son of Flying Paster, won the Strub at Santa Anita and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park last year, and has earned $1.5 million. Third on the California-breds’ money list, Flying Continental has a bead on Nostalgia’s Star, who was also trained by Jay Robbins, but Snow Chief’s record would take considerbly more doing. Nostalgia’s Star earned $2.1 million; when Snow Chief was retired in 1987, his total was $3.3 million.

Robbins hopes to use the San Antonio as a prep for the March 9 running of the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap, the race in which Flying Continental ran third a year ago.

In his first start this year, the San Pasqual Handicap two weeks ago, Flying Continental edged Stylish Stud for second place, both of them finishing about 2 1/2 lengths behind Farma Way. Farma Way and Stylish Stud are running again Sunday, with Farma Way carrying second-high weight of 118 pounds. Farma Way had a six-pound concession from Flying Continental last time.

Flying Continental has drawn the outside post, with Corey Black riding him for the ninth consecutive time. The rest of the field, starting at the rail, consists of Anshan, at 116 pounds, with Chris McCarron riding; Louis Cyphre, 111, Robbie Davis; Stylish Stud, 113, Alex Solis; Farma Way, 118, Gary Stevens; Jovial, 117, Danny Sorenson; Kaboi, 110, Kent Desormeaux; Festin, 115, Eddie Delahoussaye, and Missionary Ridge, 114, Jose Santos.

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Whittingham will send out another highly regarded 3-year-old when Compelling Sound runs against maidens in the sixth race today.

Whittingham’s Excavate, one of the future-book favorites for the Kentucky Derby even though he is lightly raced, finished a close second with a couple of excuses in an allowance race Thursday.

Compelling Sound, who has been in the shadow of Excavate but is still highly regarded around Whittingham’s barn, is listed at 75-1 for the Derby by the future book at Bally’s Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

In his only start, on Feb. 3, Compelling Sound broke badly and came from 11 lengths back to miss catching Smokester at the wire by a half-length.

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Compelling Sound, a strong-looking son of Seattle Slew and Cheyenne Birdsong, was bought by Jerry Moss for $450,000 at the Barretts 2-year-olds-in-training sale last year. Cardiff Stud, which consigned the colt, is offering a filly with the same breeding in the Barretts sale at Fairplex Park March 5.

Whittingham’s familiarity with Compelling Sound’s family goes way back. He trained Restless Wind, sire of Cheyenne Birdsong. Restless Wind won nine stakes.

Chris McCarron, who rides Excavate, was astride Compelling Sound in his debut, but Gary Stevens has the mount today. McCarron didn’t give up the mount on Compelling Sound willingly. Stevens is one of Moss’ favorite riders, having collaborated with the owner’s Ruhlmann to win the Santa Anita Handicap last year.

Horse Racing Notes

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Lady’s Secret ranks 16th on the overall money list. Alysheba is at the top with $6.6 million. Bayakoa ranks 24th. The next active female after Bayakoa on the list is Safely Kept, who is 61st with $1.7 million. . . . Formidable Lady, who is in the Santa Margarita field, is also entered to run in an allowance race Sunday. . . . El Senor gives Monday’s $250,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap an intersectional flavor. The Eastern horse hasn’t run since finishing third, behind In the Wings and With Approval, in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Belmont Park last October. Angel Cordero has the mount for the 1 1/2-mile grass race. El Senor had two fourths at Santa Anita last winter.

The next start for Olympio, winner of the San Vicente, will be in the 1 1/16-mile Sausalito at Golden Gate Fields March 9. Trainer Ron McAnally has already won a stake in the Bay Area with another 3-year-old, Sea Cadet, who took the El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows. Sea Cadet, the horse with the abbreviated tail, is scheduled to run in the one-mile San Rafael at Santa Anita March 3. Neither horse is nominated for the Triple Crown races, but this year the rules allow for late nominations. At a cost of $4,500 per horse by April 8, and for a $150,000 fee after that, a horse can be made eligible for the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont.

The Sporting News doesn’t understand why Wayne Lukas has won only three Eclipse Awards for best trainer, even though he’s led the nation in purses eight times. “Do the voters ignore Lukas simply because a case can be made that he should win the award every year?” asks the weekly publication in an unsigned article. In winning the award for 1990, Carl Nafzger outpolled Lukas, 134-73. Lukas still did better than another California horseman, Gary Stevens, who was surprisingly overwhelmed by Craig Perret, 161-53, for best jockey.

The California Equine Retirement Foundation will honor trainer Jack Van Berg Sunday night at a dinner at the Sheraton Grande Hotel. CERF has found homes for more than 50 retired horses. . . . Gomba, who finished second in Thursday’s last race, collapsed on the backstretch and was destroyed after veterinarians worked for five hours trying to save him. The cause of the 4-year-old gelding’s death was listed as distress syndrome.

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