OAK TREE : Overlooked Pincay Skips First Cup Day


On this, horse racing's biggest day, Santa Anita is opening its gates early so fans can take in all the action--the seven Breeders' Cup races via simulcast from Belmont Park, and then the nine live Oak Tree races.

The focus will be on the Breeders' Cup at New York, where the world's best horses will be ridden by the world's best jockeys.

But don't look for Laffit Pincay Jr.'s name on the Breeders' Cup program.

One of the winningest jockeys of all time, and one of the most successful Breeders' Cup jockeys, Pincay, 48, was not offered any notable Breeders' Cup mounts this time around.

So he decided to skip the event for the first time.

"I don't like to go and ride horses just to go and ride horses," he said, "I like to go and ride horses that at least have a legitimate chance."

He thought he would get one of those mounts, Tipically Irish, in the Juvenile Fillies, today's first race. Pincay won on the filly her last time out, in the $200,000 Oak Leaf Stakes earlier this month at Santa Anita.

But owner Michael Tabor and trainer Wayne Lukas went with Mike Smith.

"I'm pretty sure I could have picked up some other horses, but the only horse I wanted to go and ride is [Tipically Irish]," Pincay said. "I really think she has a good chance. In fact, I think that filly will win."

Pincay acknowledged that his age may be a factor in his being overlooked for this year's Breeders' Cup, but said he is not bitter.

Surely, he has nothing to prove.

He is racing's winningest active jockey with 8,346 victories.

He was 0-4 at last year's Breeders' Cup, but he didn't have any standout mounts, and his seven Breeders' Cup victories leave him second only to Pat Day, who has eight.

Pincay won the most prestigious Breeders' Cup race, the Classic, in 1986 aboard Skywalker.

Still, Pincay said, it will be strange watching some of the Breeders' Cup on TV from his Glendale home before going to work at Santa Anita.

"In a way, it will be," he said, trying to keep his perspective. "But I'll get some good horses here, so it's not a total loss. In fact, maybe it's better in the long run. I'll get to ride horses here that I might get to ride [again]. And that's how you make your business."


Pincay is benefiting from the absence of some top jockeys today--Corey Nakatani, Kent Desormeaux, Gary Stevens and others.

Pincay will be aboard the 2-1 morning-line favorite, Forest Gazelle, in today's $100,000 Morvich Handicap.

Owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Robert Frankel, Forest Gazelle has two victories in five starts this year.

Finder's Fortune, trained by Darrell Vienna and ridden by Fernando Valenzuela, prefers turf but is competitive on the dirt as well. He set a 7 1/2-furlong world record on Hollywood Park's main track last winter. The 6-year-old gelding is listed at 5-2.

Dramatic Gold, trained by David Hofmans and ridden by Corey Black, carries the high weight at 120 pounds and is next at 3-1.


Horse Racing Notes

Breeders' Cup racing begins at 8:55 a.m. with the simulcast of the Juvenile Fillies, and continues through the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic at 12:10 p.m. Santa Anita's nine-race card begins at 12:40. Also being simulcast is the full card from Bay Meadows. . . . Jockey Fernando Valenzuela was suspended for three racing days, Nov. 1-3, for crossing over without sufficient clearance approaching the clubhouse turn while riding Swank in the third race Thursday.

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