Allen Paulson, the aerospace executive who has a home in Malibu, had won the Breeders' Cup Mile with Opening Verse and was leaving the paddock before his French import, Arazi, was to run in the Juvenile on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
"I couldn't believe the price (26-1) on Opening Verse," Paulson said as he moved toward the box seats. "If I had known that, I'd have put a bundle on him."
Paulson did well without betting. Opening Verse's share of the $1-million purse was $520,000.
At the boxes, someone in Paulson's party said that he had bet on Opening Verse. "We're winning all these races, Allen," he said. "And they're paying such great prices. We'll win $8 million before we get out of there."
Arazi, the outside horse in a 14-horse field, was still not loaded into the starting gate. "We're going to win this one, too," Paulson said, standing next to his wife Madeleine. "This is the best horse in the world."
A few weeks ago, Paulson had sold a half-interest in Arazi to Sheik Mohammed of Dubai for an estimated $5 million. Arazi had finished second in his debut in May, but since then had won six in a row. Still, his Juvenile chances were suspect because a European horse had never come to the Breeders' Cup and won on dirt.
As Arazi was loaded, Paulson said: "We're not going to gun him. We're going to take him back."
When the gate opened, Pat Valenzuela, riding Arazi for the first time, let the front-runners do what they wanted in the 1 1/16-mile race, and allowed his colt to settle.
Arazi was in eighth place going down the backstretch, saving ground along the rail. He moved up on the turn, passing horses with ease, and Valenzuela brought him to the outside as they made the corner. Bertrando, the California horse who was undefeated in three starts, had been on the lead from the start.
By the top of the stretch, with a move that few horses have made on this ancient track, Arazi was now near the middle of the track, and Bertrando was no match. Arazi's lead with an eighth of a mile left was five lengths. Francois Boutin, the colt's French trainer, had told Valenzuela not to use the whip, and the jockey complied. Arazi still won by 4 3/4 lengths, with Bertrando second, and although his time of 1:44 3/5 wasn't the fastest for a Juvenile, the 66,204 who watched Saturday have already made him the favorite for the Kentucky Derby next May.
The Paulsons and their guests made their way down to the Churchill Downs winner's circle for the second time within an hour. The winning purse was another $520,000. Somebody handed Allen Paulson another trophy. "I'll need a truck if I get another one of these," Paulson said.
Valenzuela also had ridden Opening Verse to victory. "When I asked him (Arazi) to run, he took off," Valenzuela said. "He has the greatest turn of foot that I have ever experienced."
Alex Solis rode Bertrando, who stepped on himself, grabbing a quarter. "My horse ran hard all the way," Solis said. "But that other horse is just incredible."
Paulson said that Arazi will be sent back to France for a rest. Paulson wants to run in the Kentucky Derby, all right, but said that Boutin would continue to train Arazi, rather than send him to Dick Lundy, Paulson's American trainer, who conditions Opening Verse.
"There's no horse in the world like Arazi that I know of," Paulson said.
Paulson said that he didn't expect any resistance from his partner if he wanted to run Arazi in the Derby. If there's a dispute, Paulson said, Boutin would act as an arbitrator.
Horse Racing Notes
Pat Valenzuela was forced to pull up Filago on the far turn of the Turf. The Oak Tree Invitational winner suffered a torn ligament in his right foreleg, near the ankle, and was vanned off the track. "He probably took a bad step, overloaded it and it tore," veterinarian Steve Allday. "He has been tranquilized, been given pain killers and, with a brace, he is standing all right. He's going to be all right. His people are real lucky."
Dance Smartly is the first 3-year-old to win the Distaff. Dance Smartly, benefiting from the $1-million bonus she won for sweeping Canada's Triple Crown, has earned more than $3 million, replacing Lady's Secret as the No. 1 female on the money list. Dance Smartly is going to run next year, and trainer Jim Day is talking about a campaign that might lead to the Arc de Triomphe. . . . For the second consecutive year, trainer Wayne Lukas didn't win a Breeders' Cup race. Lukas won 10 races the first six years of the Breeders' Cup. He finished second Saturday with Twilight Agenda in the Classic, and his Star of Cozzene was third in the Mile.