Keeping Fastness sound hasn’t been an easy task for trainer Jenine Sahadi.
In November of 1993, in his American debut, Fastness ran fourth in the Hollywood Derby and chipped a bone in his knee. Then at the end of last year, after running sixth in the Goodwood Handicap, he underwent surgery for a chip in his ankle.
Sahadi had only one race to ready Fastness for Sunday’s $317,600 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar, but that allowance victory at Hollywood Park served them well. Needing only a couple of taps on his right flank from Gary Stevens, the 5-year-old gray with the white face outfinished Romarin to capture the race that barely eluded him a year ago.
Romarin, getting good position under Corey Nakatani after breaking from the outside post in an eight-horse field, led all the way until Fastness strode past him with about a sixteenth of a mile to go. Romarin held second, 1 1/2 lengths better than Northern Spur, who was two lengths in front of Silver Wizard, the fourth-place finisher.
Earning $182,600 for his owners, C.N. and Carol Ray of Evergreen Farm, Fastness ran 1 1/8 miles on the grass in 1:48 1/5 and paid $4.80 as the favorite. A year ago, Fastness made the lead in mid-stretch of the Read and then lost by a neck to another Irish-bred, Approach the Bench.
Sahadi, 32, had a three-victory day, winning an earlier race on the card and also saddling the winner of the race after the Read. The daughter of Fred Sahadi, a prominent California breeder, she once worked in the Hollywood Park press office and took out her trainer’s license in April of 1993. Her first graded stakes win came at Del Mar that summer and her first major win was with Grand Flotilla in the 1994 Hollywood Turf Handicap.
“I was so disappointed last year for the owners,” Sahadi said. “I owe them all my success. There’s never any pressure, and the horse is always the first priority. They really deserve this. This horse has been great this year. He’s held his weight, he’s matured and he’s learned to relax beautifully. This makes my job real easy.”
Fastness, whose career began in France, has three wins in eight starts in the U.S., but the Read was his first stakes victory.
Before the race, Sahadi was worried about Fastness getting a clean trip. “You need the best trip,” she said. “There are so many horses in here with a good chance that they’ll all be scrambling for position.”
Stevens had no problems. Fastness broke well and followed Romarin and Urgent Request around the first turn. Fastness moved into second place on the far turn and was only two lengths behind Romarin at the head of the stretch.
“My horse ran hard,” Nakatani said of Romarin, “but it is just about impossible to win on the front end on this turf course. I mean, unless you get away with a half in :50, you’ve got no chance. I got him to go in :48 2/5 and still couldn’t get it done.”
Five horses are expected to run in next Sunday’s $1-million Pacific Classic, after fields between seven and nine horses ran in the Del Mar race the first four years.
This year’s field includes Tinners Way, who won the race last year. Other contenders are Concern, the expected favorite, along with Soul Of The Matter, Tossofthecoin and Blumin Affair. There’s an outside chance that Slew Of Damascus, fourth last year, might also run.
Trainer Bobby Frankel said that Possibly Perfect, winner of Saturday’s Ramona Handicap, came out of the race in good order and is scheduled to run in the $500,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington International on Aug. 26. Possibly Perfect, who races for her breeders, Bob and Gerry Witt, has four wins and one second in five starts this year and is the early favorite for the Eclipse Award for best female on grass.
Alpride, who handed Possibly Perfect her only loss this year, in the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park, bled from the lungs in the Ramona and finished fifth, beaten by about four lengths.
“She bled on the grade-three level, which is pretty bad,” trainer Ron McAnally said. Alpride, who has run only twice in the United States, is now eligible for Lasix, a diuretic that helps bleeders.
Frankel also won a division of the Oceanside Stakes with Chilly Billy on opening day, but he said that the 3-year-old colt won’t return in the $300,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 4.
Horse Racing Notes
El Sembrador, a major winner in Argentina, beat Talloires and Kent Desormeaux by a nose in Sunday’s $2.4-million Grande Premio Brasil Stakes in Rio de Janeiro. It was the second time that Californians Desormeaux and trainer Richard Mandella had finished second in a rich international race. In 1993, their Kotashaan, the eventual horse of the the year in North America, finished second to Legacy World in the Japan Cup. El Sembrador went to the front with an eighth of a mile left in the 1 1/2-mile race. Talloires, who was five wide at the top of the stretch, edged ahead with 120 yards to go, but El Sembrador came back at the wire. El Sembrador’s win was worth $1.1 million. Gran Ducato finished third and Much Better, winner of the race last year, was fourth in a 20-horse field. Celtic Arms, another California-based horse, ran 10th.
Trainer Wayne Lukas’ outfit finished second in a pair of stakes races Sunday, Chimes Band getting away slowly and losing by two lengths to Not Surprising at Saratoga, and Golden Attraction finishing three-quarters of a length behind Crafty But Sweet, an 11-1 shot, in the Sorority at Monmouth Park. . . . Gary Stevens rode two of Jenine Sahadi’s winners and added a third win on the Del Mar card. . . . Besides trainer Bobby Frankel, other inductees to the Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., today include jockey Jerry Bailey and horses Foolish Pleasure, Crusader and La Prevoyante.