Manila is in such outstanding company at Will Farish’s breeding farm near Versailles, Ky., that he needs weekends like the last one to maintain his reputation.
Farish’s Lane’s End Farm is cluttered with prominent stallions. Besides Manila, other Breeders’ Cup winners that stand there include A.P. Indy, Alysheba, Gulch and Steinlen. A.P. Indy and Alysheba also won horse-of-the-year titles.
Manila, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita in 1986 and champion grass horse the same year, could wind up the most versatile of them all. On Saturday, one of his sons, Bien Bien, won the $132,100 San Marcos Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on grass; and on Sunday another offspring, Concept Win, won the $107,100 Palos Verdes Handicap, which is a six-furlong dirt sprint.
Bien Bien’s owners, Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan, and trainer Paco Gonzalez are talking about returning their 5-year-old to dirt, for the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, and Concept Win’s main-track performance in the Palos Verdes could be their extra nudge.
Concept Win might have distance limitations--none of his five victories has been beyond 6 1/2 furlongs--but his trainer, Willard Proctor, won’t hesitate to flip-flop him from dirt to grass.
“I think that if a horse can run, he will run anywhere, dirt or grass,” Proctor said. “Some people don’t agree with me, but that’s what I think. This horse’s future can be either place.”
In Concept Win’s first four grass races, the best he could do was two second-place finishes, but his last victory before Sunday’s was in October at Santa Anita, coming down the hill at 6 1/2 furlongs.
In his last race, a half-length loss to Diazo at seven-furlongs in the Malibu on dirt on Dec. 26, Concept Win might have done better but for a wide trip from jockey Gary Stevens.
“I think I cost him that last race,” said Stevens, who racked up his 100th stakes victory at Santa Anita’s winter meets. “My goal today was just not to fall off of him. This is as good a sprinter as I’ve ever been on.”
Stevens rode Sunny Blossom to victory in the 1989 Palos Verdes in a track-record time of 1:07 1/5, and Concept Win, running over a track that was producing good times all day, missed matching that clocking by two-fifths of a second.
Scherando, ridden by David Flores, set fractions of 21 seconds, 43 2/5 and 55 1/5 and still had something left for the final eighth of a mile, which made Concept Win’s task even more difficult. Concept Win won by 1 1/4 lengths, with J.F. Williams, the 2-1 favorite in a six-horse field, coming from about nine lengths back to take second, a neck in front of Scherando.
Bred by his owner, Leonard Lavin, with a mating of Manila with Conveniently, Concept Win paid $8.80 as the third choice. Carrying 115 pounds, four less than the high-weighted Wild Harmony, he earned $62,100, sending the total over the $200,000 mark for his career.
“When I got to a half-length of Scherando, my horse started throwing his ears up,” Stevens said. “He was looking around, kind of waiting, but still he was going on with it. The time was not a fluke. Absolutely not. I know the track is fast, but he’s going to run 1:08 and change on a slow race track.”
Flores has been first, second and third with Scherando the last three times he has ridden him.
“He ran big,” Flores said. “You have to let this horse run out of there. He still had something left at the end. I thought he was going to win, but the other two horses were just too good.”
While some of the early Kentucky Derby favorites were colliding in the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park, late-developing 3-year-olds ran at Santa Anita, with Pollock’s Luck, also ridden by Stevens, beating the highly regarded Numerous by a nose at 1 1/16 miles.
The victory was the first for Pollock’s Luck since the Polish Navy-Lucky Us colt broke his maiden in his first start at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20. In between, he had run third in another sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 9.
Numerous, a $1.7-million yearling sired by Mr. Prospector, was making his first start since a maiden victory at Santa Anita on Nov. 13. His trainer, Charlie Whittingham, was not discouraged.
“He had been away from the races for some time,” Whittingham said. “He had a bruised foot over at Hollywood Park, and that cost us about a month with him. Then I had trouble finding a race for him, because when I entered him, the races wouldn’t fill (draw enough horses). He’s still eligible for non- winners of two (races), so that’s where he’ll run next.”
Eddie Delahoussaye, replacing the suspended Chris McCarron on Numerous, went over the $130-million mark in purses.