HOLLYWOOD PARK : Stevens, Star Of The Crop Aren’t Too Tired to Win


Gary Stevens was glad to see the wire when he did in the $108,200 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

“I was getting tired and he was getting tired,” said the jockey, who had a full day--eight mounts--after spending Saturday in Maryland.

Both Stevens and Star Of The Crop had enough left to beat Fabulous Champ by a neck in 1:08 3/5 for the six furlongs. Thirty Slews, making his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last Oct. 31, finished fourth, beaten by less than two lengths, as the even-money favorite.


After getting away a bit awkwardly, Star Of The Crop moved up to compete with Thirty Slews and longshot Egocentric for the lead, then held off Fabulous Champ, a 10-1 shot. Wild Harmony, a 16-1 outsider, was third, another head back.

This was the third victory in four sprints at Hollywood Park for Star Of The Crop, a 4-year-old Relaunch colt, and continued what has been a good year for trainer Willard Proctor, 77.

“He’s got knocked around and he’s a little shy of horses,” Proctor said. “That’s the reason we have to send him out (front). About four times in a row, he got knocked around, and he doesn’t put out well if he’s back in the crowd. I know it (affected him) last time.” Star Of The Crop was a distant third as the favorite in the Potrero Grande Handicap on March 27 at Santa Anita in his previous race.

Star Of The Crop, who has won seven of 17 for owner Leonard Lavin, worked five furlongs in 58 seconds on May 8 at Santa Anita and that left Stevens confident about his chances Sunday.

“He was dead fit coming into this race,” he said. “Mr. Proctor put a real good work in him last week. (Star Of The Crop is) on top of his game.

“He was getting a little (tired) the last fifty yards--we went hard early--and he showed a lot of gameness. I thought he was beaten fifty yards out, but he just stuck his head out and wouldn’t give it up.”


Bob Baffert, Thirty Slews’ trainer, would have preferred a couple of more weeks to get his 6-year-old ready.

“I didn’t want to rush him, but you’ve got to start somewhere,” Baffert said. “He didn’t work the way I wanted him to the last couple of times. It’s a long year. He’ll be ready next time, though.”

Thirty Slews probably will return to defend his title in the Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar in early August.


Best Pal, who may make his next start in the Hollywood Turf Handicap on May 31, worked six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 Sunday morning. In Best Pal’s only other start on grass, he finished second to Notorious Pleasure in a division of the 1991 Citation Handicap. . . . Exchange, who may return in the Hawthorne Handicap on Sunday, worked seven furlongs in 1:26 3/5.