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DEL MAR : For the Dollases, Success on Track Is a Gray Matter

TIMES STAFF WRITER

They can sing the old song about the old gray mare not being what she used to be, but around Wally Dollase’s barn, they have never met a gray they didn’t like.

Cincy Dollase, the trainer’s wife who also works at the barn, ticked off the gray meal tickets that have passed their way: Caros Love, whose 1:33 in 1988 is still the track record for a mile at Golden Gate Fields; Itsallgreektome, the champion male turf horse in 1990; Gothland, winner of this year’s Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park, and Silver Music, the winner of the Swaps last month at Hollywood.

“We love those grays,” Cincy said. "(Jockey) Chris (Antley) says there’s actually an advantage to riding a gray. He said that other horses notice the difference, and they’re intimidated by them. They don’t want to go around them.”

The Dollases’ love affair with grays will grow if Silver Music, with Antley aboard, wins today’s $1-million Pacific Classic at Del Mar. With first place worth $550,000, Silver Music’s owner, Lauren Cohen, is paying an extra $30,000 to enter because her colt wasn’t nominated. Wally Dollase believes that it’s a sound investment.

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“Even if we’re only fourth ($75,000), we won’t get hurt,” the 57-year-old trainer said. “I think our horse will do well. This horse won the Swaps in 2:00 3/5, and although times can be deceiving, that was Gold Cup time. Our horse has been training so well that he deserves the chance.”

Slew Of Damascus, another of the nine horses entered in the Classic, ran 1 1/4 miles, today’s distance, in the same time as Silver Music when he won the Hollywood Gold Cup, three weeks before the Swaps.

The entry of Best Pal and Dramatic Gold is the morning line favorite at 2-1, followed by Bertrando at 5-2 and Silver Music at 9-2. Trainer Craig Roberts is surprised that his 6-year-old gelding, Slew Of Damascus, is opening at 8-1. Roberts has respect for Silver Music but questions whether Bertrando, the wire-to-wire winner of last year’s Classic, can win again.

“It’s hard to imagine that a horse (Bertrando) can come off the bench, after being bred to more than 50 mares, and win at a mile and a quarter,” Roberts said. “But he runs at a fast-horse pace, and that could be a big factor. This race will be determined by the pace.”

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Roberts and Dollase pointed out that Silver Music will be getting a break in the weights. As a 3-year-old running against older horses, Silver Music was assigned 117 pounds instead of 124, and 117 is two pounds less than his impost for the Swaps.

“The weight is the main reason that we’ve put up the money to run,” Dollase said. “I think we’ve got a real weight advantage, and weights mean a lot when you’re running this distance.”

Silver Music, a son of Silver Ghost and Music Bell, which makes him a grandson of Mr. Prospector and Stop The Music, was bought as an unraced 2-year-old for $80,000 by Cohen’s father-in-law, who left his horses to her when he died. Silver Music has won only three of eight starts this year, but in his two races on dirt has been second to Screaming Don in the California Derby and won the Swaps.

David Vivian trained Silver Music when the colt was based in Florida, and Dollase saddled him for the first time on March 30 in the Baldwin Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong grass race that starts down a hill at Santa Anita. After trailing by 13 lengths, Silver Music beat Eagle Eyed by a half-length, paying $48.40.

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“We were actually getting him ready for the La Puente (a 1 1/8-mile grass stake two weeks later),” Dollase said. “But the way he won the Baldwin, we decided to take him to the Cal Derby. This horse is the same as Itsallgreektome in some ways. He’s a real professional horse. You can’t faze him. ‘Greek would relax for you no matter what distance he was running, and consequently you could run him a mile or a mile and a half, and it wouldn’t make any difference. There aren’t many horses that you can do that with.”

Horse Racing Notes

How So Oiseau, who went off at 27-1 after being unsettled in the paddock, won Friday’s Sorrento Stakes by two lengths over Ski Dancer with Serena’s Song, the 3-5 favorite, finishing third. In the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park a month ago, Serena’s Song won by 4 1/2 lengths with How So Oiseau running seventh, beaten by 11 lengths, but trainer Brian Mayberry replaced jockey Martin Pedroza with Pat Valenzuela and added Lasix, the medication for bleeders. Serena’s Song, in fourth place early, made a run at the leaders nearing the quarter pole, but could only pass two of them and How So Oiseau outran her in the stretch while Ski Dancer made a late rally to take second by a nose.

How So Oiseau was the fourth winner of the day for Valenzuela, who received a five-day suspension, starting Sunday, after the stewards reviewed the disqualification of his mount, My Fleet Star, from second to sixth place on Thursday. . . . At Saratoga on Friday, Lure ended Paradise Creek’s six-race winning streak with a one-length victory in the Bernard Baruch Handicap. Paradise Creek had beaten Lure twice earlier this year.

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Instead of riding Best Pal in the Pacific Classic, Kent Desormeaux will be at Saratoga today for the assignment on Lakeway in the Alabama Stakes. Others entered are Two Altazano, winner of the Coaching Club American Oaks; Heavenly Prize; Plenty Of Sugar; Sovereign Kitty, Jade Flush and Lady Reiko. . . . Candi’s Ruler, another horse who is entered for trainer Wally Dollase today, is owned by a partnership that includes Bobby Bonilla of the New York Mets. Dollase said Bonilla might be at Del Mar to see the maiden colt run.


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