HOLLYWOOD PARK : Repeat Victory in Turf Cup Would Cap Big Season for Itsallgreektome
Even if he successfully defends his title in the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Cup Sunday at Hollywood Park, Itsallgreektome doesn’t figure to earn an Eclipse Award for the second straight year as the male turf champion. That honor figures to go to Tight Spot.
Even so, 1991 should turn out to be more lucrative for the 4-year-old Sovereign Dancer gelding. Any kind of a payday, which means finishing first through fifth, will allow him to exceed his earnings as a 3-year-old. In 12 appearances last year, he banked $898,925. So far this year, he has earned $894,223 in nine starts.
This helps to explain why, although Itsallgreektome has only two victories at Keeneland this year, trainer Wally Dollase isn’t disappointed with the gray horse’s follow-up to his Eclipse season.
“He’s been right there with the best horses in America,” Dollase said Wednesday. “Any time I have a horse who runs second or third in a Grade I race, I’m very proud of his accomplishments.
“He was giving Opening Verse seven pounds when he lost (by a nose) at Churchill Downs (in the Early Times on May 3), and he got beat three-quarters of a length by Exbourne (in the Hollywood Turf Handicap on May 27). It’s been a good year for the horse.”
For certain, Itsallgreektome has been consistent. He’s been off the board only three times and had excuses for each failure. He caught a yielding turf course in his first start of the year last March 23, when he was fourth in the San Francisco Mile; was sixth in the $1-million Pacific Classic on the main track, and then a respiratory problem was discovered after he was seventh in the Arlington Million.
“He hated the track at Del Mar (in the Pacific Classic), and Farma Way and Festin didn’t care for it, either,” Dollase said. “They all finished close together.”
His last two races suggest that Itsallgreektome is on top of his game again. He won the Keeneland Breeders’ Cup by 2 1/4 lengths on Oct. 12, then was second, beaten by a half-length, by longshot Miss Alleged in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
This was the second consecutive near-miss in the Breeders’ Cup for Itsallgreektome, who was nailed in the final jump of the Mile by Royal Academy in 1990.
Now, he’s back on a Hollywood Park turf course that has been kind to him in the past. Besides the Turf Cup, he won three other stakes there in 1990, and he worked a sharp seven furlongs in 1:25 flat a week ago today under new rider Kent Desormeaux.
“He’s doing very well,” Dollase said, “and he runs awfully well fresh. The work the other day was terrific, and Kent was really impressed. I was going to work him five furlongs (Wednesday) but I decided to wait until (this morning) because of the track condition.
“I know he’s as good now as he’s ever been and he’s more powerful than he was when he won this race last year. The race at Keeneland was the best I’ve ever seen him run, and I don’t believe he tried as hard as he can in the Breeders’ Cup. After the race, he was squealing and playing around. A horse who has just run 1 1/2 miles usually doesn’t do that.”
After the 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup, which will be a rematch with Miss Alleged and Quest For Fame, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Itsallgreektome will get a short vacation before he begins his 5-year-old campaign. Dollase plans to try him over the Santa Anita grass, a course that the trainer has avoided in the past. “I’m hoping the grass will be more set there,” he said. “It’s getting deeper rooted and more stable. I thought it was better during the Oak Tree meeting than it has been.”
Algenib, the other star in Dollase’s barn, is being switched to the dirt and will make his next start on the main track, probably early in the Santa Anita meeting, which begins Dec. 26.
Highly regarded when he arrived from South America, Algenib was second to Tight Spot in the Arlington Million, but he has only one victory this year and has disappointed in his most recent starts.
“The turns (on the turf) are too sharp for him,” Dollase said. “He was a very good horse on the dirt in Argentina and he has trained sensationally on the dirt here. I’d like him to have two races before the Santa Anita Handicap (next March).”
Horse Racing Notes
Because of a computer malfunction, there was a delay of nearly 30 minutes in posting the prices for Wednesday’s first race at Hollywood Park. . . . Chris McCarron, Pat Valenzuela and Corey Black were ill and took off their mounts Wednesday. Gary Stevens rode Top Bob to victory in the second race, then was excused from his remaining two mounts. . . . Wolf came down with a case of colic and won’t be a starter in the Turf Cup.
Kent Desormeaux won three races Wednesday, giving him 20 victories for the meeting. Through 21 days, Valenzuela and Eddie Delahoussaye are tied for the lead in the jockey standings with 22 victories apiece.