SANTA ANITA : Fire The Groom Biggest Winner for Shoemaker


Due to the absence of Fire The Groom’s trainer, the joy was tempered after her come-from-behind victory in Sunday’s $211,350 Santa Anita Budweiser Breeders’ Cup.

All concerned--including owner R.D. Hubbard, jockey Gary Stevens and assistant trainer Paddy Gallagher--wish Bill Shoemaker had been in the winner’s circle to pose for the picture.

Six days after the auto accident that left Shoemaker partially paralyzed, Fire The Groom, a 5-1 shot, rallied on the far outside and won by three lengths in 1:33 2/5 for the mile on turf.

The second victory for the stable since the accident--Slinkee won an allowance race Wednesday--was also its biggest. Shoemaker’s previous best was the late Baldomero’s victory in the $200,000 Golden Harvest Handicap last September.

A 4-year-old Blushing Groom filly, Fire The Groom has now won four in a row and is perfect in three starts for Hubbard, Hollywood Park’s new boss, who purchased her for $150,000 last fall.


Idle since winning the Aqueduct Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Nov. 3, Fire The Groom surged past Flower Girl, favored Heart Of Joy and seven others.

“I saw the boss this morning and he thought we had a real good chance,” said Gallagher, who said Shoemaker winked at him when Fire The Groom’s name was mentioned. “He worked her himself over at Hollywood Park. I look forward to getting the tape and letting the boss see it at the hospital (Centinela Hospital Medical Center).”

Stevens, who hasn’t seen Shoemaker since the accident, will visit him today.

“I told Paddy to tell him I’ll be there to give him a blow-by-blow description,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to win for Bill. It feels good, but it would feel better if he was here with us.

“Paddy said they thought this filly would need the race. Mr. Hubbard thought the same thing. At the three-eighths pole, we were running along, but not gaining on the leaders, and I was so wide, I thought we’d be in the middle of the pack. At the five-sixteenths, I tapped her on the shoulder and she really surprised me. She didn’t telegraph that I had that much horse under me.”

Making her first start at a mile or longer, Flower Girl was two lengths ahead of Heart Of Joy, the 7-5 favorite, who weakened late after some fast fractions (22 3/5, 45 and 1:08 4/5) and after leading by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong to run.

“She ran her race before she got to the gate,” Chris McCarron said of Heart Of Joy. “She was a basket case in the parade. She ran off with me on the backstretch. That was a Heart Of Joy move, not a Chris McCarron move.”

Gaelic Bird was fourth, followed by Spring Daffodil, Performing Arts, Land Breeze, Daring Doone and Mahaska.

Horse Racing Notes

Estrella Fuega was scratched from the Budweiser Breeders’ Cup. . . . Chris McCarron, who rode Corporate Report to his first two victories, will ride the 3-year-old for Wayne Lukas in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby. . . . Farma Way, whose four-race winning streak ended in Saturday’s Oaklawn Handicap, will make his next start in the Pimlico Special next month. . . . Ridden confidently by Eddie Delahoussaye, Splendid Career led wire-to-wire in Sunday’s $61,750 Special CHBPA Starter Handicap Stakes. The 3-2 favorite after the scratch of Intelligently, the 5-year-old Northern Baby gelding defeated Hero’s Welcome by almost two lengths in 2:26 1/5 for the 1 1/2 miles on turf. . . . Louis Cyphre, the 7-10 favorite, won the Golden Gate Budweiser Breeders’ Cup by three lengths under Jose Santos, defeating Patchy Groundfog. Runner-up in the San Bernardino Handicap in his last start, Louis Cyphre covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40 2/5 for trainer Bobby Frankel.