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SANTA ANITA : Sprinting Suits What A Spell Fine

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Although What A Spell has run well at longer distances, there is little doubt sprinting is what he does best.

His victory by a head over favored Broadway’s Top Gun in the $83,625 Baldwin Stakes Wednesday at Santa Anita was his third win in the past four starts around one turn.

Able to make the lead outside Shining Prince after Dark Ice broke poorly, the 3-1 second choice had a length lead with a furlong to run, then held off the 4-5 favorite in 1:16 1/5 for the 6 1/2 furlongs.

“I think he’s better going short,” jockey David Flores said. “He started looking around (when he drew clear), but he responded when he saw the other horse and he wouldn’t let him get by. He always tries hard and he was still strong at the finish.”

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Victorious in three of his nine outings, What A Spell is owned by trainer Craig Lewis and building contractor Jim Ford.

“Jim’s been a client of mine for a number of years,” Lewis said after his first stakes victory at Santa Anita since Music Merci won the 1989 Malibu.

“We claimed the dam (Spell Victory, for $16,000), and Jim bred this horse. The mare has a yearling by Native Prospector and is in foal to Cutlass Reality.

“I think he’ll get a distance, but he has to prove it. He hasn’t liked dirt in his face.”

In losing for only the second time in six starts, Broadway’s Top Gun had no excuses. He was nine lengths clear of Shining Prince, who was two better than Dark Ice. Blanc Magic, James Esquire and Captain Raj completed the order of finish.

“He ran a good race,” said Corey Nakatani, Broadway’s Top Gun’s jockey. “The track’s real slow, and I think that worked against him. It’s good, but it’s not real fast. It seems like he was trying to kick in, but he couldn’t get a hold of the track at first.

“We were head and head, but it seems like he wants to wait. . . . He doesn’t want to win by much. At the head of the stretch, I thought I’d catch the leader easy and run right by--but we couldn’t.”

My Boy Adam, who fell while rallying in the recent Santa Anita Handicap, is among those likely to be entered today for Saturday’s $250,000 San Bernardino Handicap.

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A 4-year-old son of Encino, My Boy Adam was starting to move up in the Big ‘Cap before Chris Antley, on Defensive Play, forced My Boy Adam into tight quarters. He clipped the heels of Anshan and went down. Laffit Pincay broke several ribs and a toe in the spill.

Eddie Delahoussaye will ride for trainer Jerry Fanning in the 1 1/8-mile race. Others scheduled to start are Pleasant Tap, who ran third in the Big ‘Cap; Silver Ending; Anshan; Louis Cyphre; Trebizond, Graf; Stylish Stud; High Energy, and a filly, Fit To Scout.

A strained right knee will sideline General Meeting for three months, according to owner John Mabee.

Once three-deep in Kentucky Derby prospects, Mabee’s Golden Eagle Farm has been reduced to Best Pal, who will run next in the Santa Anita Derby on April 6. Earlier, Avenue of Flags, who upset Excavate in his 1991 debut, underwent knee surgery.

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“It’s a pre-warning of what would probably develop into a slab fracture if we went on with him,” Mabee said of General Meeting, who is trained by Dave Hofmans. “It’s tough, you hate to have it happen. But we’re not going to take any chances with him. We felt he was going to be as good as Best Pal. Now, Best Pal has got to do it.”

For a time, My Lucky Lynnie looked as though he might be one of trainer Mike Mitchell’s worst claims.

Taken for $40,000 last Oct. 4, he lost his first five starts for Mitchell. Off five weeks after being claimed, he returned for $20,000, then was beaten for $16,000 and $10,000 twice.

After being gelded, the 5-year-old son of Delaware Chief was one step away from being sent north, but his trainer decided to give him one last try locally.

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My Lucky Lynnie responded with a 2 1/2-length victory against $10,000 claimers on Jan. 31 and hasn’t lost since.

He made it four consecutive victories Wednesday, continuing his climb up the ladder. He beat Doncareer and three others in a $40,000 claiming race, covering the six furlongs on a good track in a swift 1:09 2/5.

“We’ve just been sitting a little off the pace with him,” said Nakatani, who has ridden My Lucky Lynnie to all four of his victories. “He’s not using all of his gas early like he used to.”

Horse Racing Notes

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What a Spell paid $8.40 and earned $49,875 for Craig Lewis and Jim Ford. . . . Bandix, Distinctly North, Grey Rooster, Mizter Interco, Rezzonico, Soweto and Triple Alpha were all scratches from the Baldwin.

There was no trifecta Wednesday after the fifth race was reduced to three starters because of six scratches and the ninth was reduced to eight starters because of four scratches. California Horse Racing Board rules require that a trifecta race have nine wagering interests.

Preparing for Sunday’s Santa Barbara Handicap, Annual Reunion worked a half mile in :46 4/5 before Wednesday’s first race. In the recent Santa Ana Handicap, Annual Reunion finished in a dead heat for the victory with longshot Noble and Nice. . . . Eddie Delahoussaye and David Flores each rode two winners Wednesday.


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