Unfinished Symph isn’t paying any attention to his pedigree.
If the 3-year-old colt was, he would know he really isn’t supposed to enjoy the turf or long races.
A $13,500 purchase about a year ago by trainer Wesley Ward for owners Nancy Rice, Terry Hatcher and Joe Johnston, Unfinished Symph has improved since switching distances.
Two weeks after finishing second behind Fumo Di Londra in the Spotlight, the 16-1 shot overcame some trouble and beat Silver Music by a head in the $109,600 Will Rogers Handicap at Hollywood Park on Saturday.
Ridden by Gary Baze, Unfinished Symph provided Ward, a former jockey, with his biggest victory as a trainer. Unfinished Symph completed the 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:40 3/5.
Valiant Nature, the 4-5 favorite who was racing two weeks after nearly falling on the first turn in the Kentucky Derby, pressed the pace set by Cois Na Tine, then faded to third, five lengths behind Silver Music.
“This horse just didn’t run his race today,” jockey Laffit Pincay said of the favorite. “He broke OK, but he never really wanted to go on.
“I wanted to make an easy lead if I could even if I had to use him a little bit to do so. But he just couldn’t go on. He just wasn’t himself. I suppose it was the trip (from Kentucky) that took something out of him. He didn’t feel strong.”
Able to save ground throughout, Unfinished Symph lacked room entering the stretch, and in the meantime, Silver Music and Chris Antley, racing on the outside, had drawn clear.
However, Unfinished Symph, once clear of trouble, took off and won for the third time in seven starts.
“This colt has always shown a lot of ability and he was running well in sprints earlier in the year,” Ward said. “But in his last few (sprint) starts he didn’t seem to want to show any more speed.
“I knew he would stretch out, and basically, the only stakes for him were on the turf. He moves like a grass horse when I gallop him in the morning. I know his breeding doesn’t say it, but he travels and floats over the grass the way a lot of turf horses I’ve ridden in the past did.”
Five weeks after his five-race winning streak ended in the El Rincon Handicap at Santa Anita, Megan’s Interco is the 5-2 favorite in the $109,200 Shoemaker Handicap today at Hollywood Park.
Stalking the pace set by Norwich, who also is in the Shoemaker field, Megan’s Interco was unable to make up the necessary ground and wound up beaten by nearly two lengths at 7-10 odds.
Before the El Rincon, the 5-year-old gelding had three successive stakes victories--the California Cup Mile, the Turf Paradise Breeders’ Cup Handicap and the Arcadia Handicap. Trainer Jenine Sahadi said he won’t be restrained this time.
Earl Of Barking, third behind Arcangues and Misil in the John Henry Handicap on May 1, is the 3-1 second choice. He has three victories and three thirds in six starts on the Hollywood Park turf course.
Hollywood Park stewards Pete Pedersen, Ingrid Fermin and Tom Ward issued a ruling Saturday disqualifying Stalvoy, who ran on April 29 as Johnny Mc, from the purse money he earned after finishing fifth.
Johnny Mc’s owners, the Mirage Stable of James and Madeline Auerback, were ordered to return the $550 to Hollywood Park and the money will be redistributed to the owners of Jericho’s Prospect, who was moved up to fifth by the disqualification.