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HOLLYWOOD PARK : Fit To Lead Wins; Eliza a Poor Fourth

TIMES STAFF WRITER

More than two months later, Eliza apparently still hasn’t recovered from running against males in the Santa Anita Derby.

The 3-10 choice against four other 3-year-old fillies in the $106,000 Princess Stakes at Hollywood Park on Saturday, the Eclipse Award winner struggled home fourth, her second consecutive defeat against her own sex after winning five of her first six.

Fit To Lead, purchased for $400,000 by Hollywood Park chairman R.D. Hubbard, Connie Sczesny and golf pro Jim Colbert earlier this year, chased Eliza early under Eddie Delahoussaye, took the lead, then held off Swazi’s Moment and Passing Vice to win by a head in 1:42 2/5 for the 1 1/16 miles.

Eliza’s third consecutive defeat was especially costly to one unidentified bettor in Las Vegas, who bet $100,000 to show on the prohibitive favorite after making the same bet on 1-2 favorite Potridee in the seventh race. She was also upset, but did manage to finish second.

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The bettors’ misfortune proved a boon to those who bet to show on the first three finishers. Fit To Lead, a 4-1 shot, paid $30.40 to show, Swazi’s Moment returned $31.80 and Passing Vice paid $51.40.

A daughter of Fit To Fight originally trained by Caesar Dominguez, Fit To Lead almost didn’t get a chance for her biggest victory Saturday.

“I entered thinking I might scratch,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “I looked at the race and it looked like one tough horse in the race. I remember hearing when I was growing up, ‘Never duck a big race because of one horse because anything can happen to one horse.’

“Until last week, she hasn’t been a great work horse. She worked (six furlongs) in 1:11 3/5 (on June 13) like nothing--just a super work. I wasn’t really thinking of running here. There’s an overnight (stake) coming up next week, and that’s mainly where I was pointing her.”

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Mandella now appears to have two of the favorites for the Hollywood Oaks on July 11. He also trains Likeable Style.

Eliza, meanwhile, appears a doubtful participant in the meeting’s 3-year-old filly championship after her performance Saturday. She was eight lengths behind Passing Vice.

“We’ll have to take a look at her and see how she is,” said Alex Hassinger said. “There are no excuses at this point. On the backside, she had a clear lead and was tugging at the bit, but usually she has something to finish with. She didn’t finish today like she usually does.”

Said Jockey Pat Valenzuela: “I think she might have bled. She just stopped running at the three-sixteenths pole. She stopped so bad, that’s the only excuse I can give her.

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“I mean, she’s been training well--she hasn’t had a whole lot of time off--and I think she runs well fresh all the time. I don’t know what she did today. I was shocked.”

The victory was the fourth in 12 starts for Fit To Lead, who was ridden by Delahoussaye for the first time Saturday.

“We got to the turn near the three-eighths pole and my filly started loafing a little bit and wanting to get in,” Delahoussaye said. “So, I got after her and she picked it up. When we hit the three-sixteenths pole, (Eliza) was done. My filly got on by her, then she got a little tired.

“I could feel (Swazi’s Moment and Passing Vice) coming. I could feel the momentum leaving my horse, shortening stride. Those other two--I’ve ridden both of them--I know they come from out of it, so I knew they would be coming. I was glad the wire was there.”

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Earl Of Barking, the beaten favorite in the Will Rogers Handicap last month, is the 4-5 morning line choice for the $107,100 Cinema Handicap today at Hollywood Park.

In a change of tactics, Earl Of Barking was on the lead most of the way in the Will Rogers and was overtaken late by Future Storm and Lykatill Hil, neither of whom is entered in the Cinema. Chris McCarron takes over for Alex Solis on the 3-year-old Common Grounds colt, who had won his first two starts on the Hollywood Park turf course.

Manny’s Prospect, who will race with blinkers for the first time, is the 4-1 second choice for the Cinema, which is run at 1 1/8 miles. A gelded son of Northern Prospect, Manny’s Prospect won an allowance race over the course on opening day, April 21, then was fifth in the Will Rogers, beaten by six lengths by Earl Of Barking.

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The other entrants are Siebe, Stately Warrior, Minks Law and Elkhart, although trainer Gary Jones indicated the latter might be scratched.

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Forever Whirl made it four victories in eight 1993 starts with a 2 1/2-length victory over favored Boundlessly in the $300,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown.

The upset winner of the Flamingo earlier this year in Florida and third in the Riva Ridge at Belmont Park in his most recent start, Forever Whirl pressed the pace outside longshot Summer Set for a half-mile, then took command and won in 1:49 2/5 for the 1 1/8 miles.

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Ridden by Abdil Toribio, the 3-year-old Island Whirl colt, who was claimed by owners Alan Reskin and Irving Ellis for $20,000 last November, paid $18.80 at Thistledown and $15.40 at Hollywood Park, where the race was simulcast.

Horse Racing Notes

There is a Pick Six carryover for today of more than $113,000. . . . Preparing for the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 3, Best Pal worked six furlongs in 1:12 1/5 Saturday morning. . . . Pacific Squall, expected to race against Paseana in the Vanity on July 18, worked a mile in 1:38 3/5. . . . Hollywood Park will offer betting on the True North Handicap from Belmont Park between the second and third races today. . . . The $34,585.30 payoff on the Bet-A-Buck Friday night was the third highest since Hollywood Park introduced the bet a year ago. The record payoff of $39,657.90 was on June 9. . . . Jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye and Laffit Pincay each won twice Saturday and Gary Stevens won with Dive For Cover on his first day back since suffering a broken left thumb on May 31.


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