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HOLLYWOOD PARK : Twice The Vice Gets a Nice Start

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the fifth start of her career, and first time on grass, Twice The Vice came within a length of beating males in a division of the 1994 Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar.

Marty Wygod was impressed.

Four months later, Wygod and his wife, Pam, bought the filly from Bob and Beverly Lewis. “We paid around a million dollars,” Marty Wygod said Wednesday after Twice The Vice won for the first time in the Wygods’ blue-and-white silks. Her owners and trainer Ron Ellis hope that Twice The Vice’s 1 1/4-length victory in the $61,250 Flawlessly, Hollywood Park’s opening-day stake, will presage a campaign that leads to the Breeders’ Cup at Woodbine next fall.

“That’s a long way off,” Ellis said. “But this was a perfect tightener. It was a perfect comeback, exactly what I wanted. She could be as good on turf as she is on the dirt, so we have our options.”

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The Flawlessly, a one-mile race on grass, was Twice The Vice’s first start in more than nine months, since a second-place finish on dirt in the La Canada at Santa Anita. Twice The Vice, heavily favored in three races overall at Santa Anita during the winter, settled for two seconds and a third. After the La Canada, she was sent to the Wygods’ farm for a lengthy freshening.

“Some of the little things that have bothered her might have been partially responsible for the way she ran at Santa Anita,” Ellis said. “She had a sore shoulder and there was a skin rash. There was a lot of rain too, and we weren’t able to train her the way we wanted. We didn’t want to take the chance of injuring her on a muddy track, and at one point I went 18 days between workouts.”

Gary Stevens, who won the Del Mar Oaks with Twice The Vice when the Lewises still owned her, was back aboard Wednesday. Norcliffe Dancer passed most of the field in the final quarter-mile to take second, a neck better than Reau Perrault. Phone Chatter, the champion 2-year-old filly in 1993, was in contention for six furlongs before finishing seventh, beating only one horse. Favored Twice The Vice, timed in 1:34 1/5, paid $5. The winner was the co-high weight at 120 pounds.

“She just galloped around there,” Stevens said.

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Ellis said that Twice The Vice’s next race will be the $100,000 Bayakoa Handicap, at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, on Dec. 3.

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Horse Racing Notes

Apprentice Brice Blanc rode three winners and missed a fourth when his mount, Lucky Lady Susan, was outfinished by Etherial Imperial in the last race. . . . Corey Nakatani, who pulled a hamstring over the weekend at Santa Anita, didn’t ride Wednesday and begins a five-day suspension today.

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