Stevens Wins With Fastness and Old Chapel
There was no Breeders’ Cup bounce for Fastness.
Over the years, many horses who ran in the Breeders’ Cup regressed when they made their next start, but such wasn’t the case for the gray who finished second in the Mile last month in New York.
Sitting well off the blazing fractions set by Romarin, Fastness responded when asked by Gary Stevens and went on to win the $300,000 Citation in record-setting fashion.
At the end, the 9-10 favorite had 2 1/4 lengths on 14-1 shot Earl Of Barking and he completed the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:44 3/5, eclipsing Tight Spot’s Hollywood Park course record by a fifth of a second. The world record of 1:43 4/5 was set by Kostroma in 1991.
Owned by C.N. and Carol Ray’s Evergreen Farm and trained by Jenine Sahadi, the 5-year-old Rousillon horse responded to the firm going after catching soft turf twice at Belmont Park. Before finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile behind Ridgewood Pearl, Fastness was second to Mighty Forum in the Kelso Handicap.
“He told me he was fine,” Sahadi said. “I would never have run him if he wasn’t. He’s far too valuable a horse for me to have taken a chance.
“I’m not saying that I knew he was going to win or put on a performance like this, but I really thought he bounced back [from the Breeders’ Cup] fine. He’s just incredible. I’m so proud of him. What a good boy he is.”
Completing a day which saw him win three times and both stakes races, Stevens liked where he was sitting heading into the Citation.
“I was as confident as I’ve been going into a big race on this horse today because he likes this course and he was sitting on a big race,” he said. “It was the race we were hoping he would run in the Breeders’ Cup and we just didn’t get that kind of turf course.
“He didn’t like the soft course at Belmont. Believe me, he was not trying at all in either of those races. He finished second in the Breeders’ Cup and he wasn’t running 60% down the lane.”
Earl Of Barking, who is winless since his 24-1 upset in the Hollywood Turf Handicap last May 29, rallied for second, beating Silver Wizard by a half-length. Romarin, who led by five lengths after a 1:09 six furlongs, faded to fifth as the 5-2 second choice and Johann Quatz, whose last victory came in 1993, checked in seventh and last in his 32nd and final start.
John Kimmel won’t soon forget this Thanksgiving weekend.
A day after taking the Top Flight Handicap with Twist Afleet at Aqueduct, the trainer came back with stakes wins on both coasts Saturday.
Hours after his Tropicool, a 31-1 shot, won the Remsen at Aqueduct, Kimmel watched Old Chapel, the first horse he had ever started in California, take the $250,000 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park.
Ridden by Stevens for owners John Tatta and Allan Dragone, Old Chapel, the 7-5 favorite, came away from 3-1 second choice Ayrton S late to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:35 for the mile on turf.
This was the fourth victory in seven grass starts for the 2-year-old Dynaformer colt, who has never raced on the dirt. All of his previous victories had come at Belmont Park.
“We kind of looked around for opportunities on grass,” Kimmel said, “and obviously, [the Generous] was the largest purse available for 2-year-olds.
“The only problem was, it’s in California and we race in New York. I’ve been pretty conservative as far as taking horses [to California]. But the colt has been doing well and I didn’t see all that much available for him in the next couple of months [in the East], so we thought we’d take a shot and come out here.”
Supplemented for $10,000 to the Generous, Old Chapel was able to win at a distance that isn’t his best. He has been--and will be--more comfortable running longer.
Hollywood Park’s six-race Turf Festival comes to a close today with the two biggest events of the long weekend.
There are full fields in both the $700,000 Matriarch and $400,000 Hollywood Derby, with 14 scheduled to go in the former and 13 in the latter.
Alpride, who will be looking for a second Grade I victory in two weeks, is the 7-2 favorite in the Matriarch, which is run at 1 1/4 miles.
Successful in Oak Tree’s Yellow Ribbon 14 days ago, Alpride won from post 12 that day and she’ll go from 11 this afternoon with Chris McCarron again aboard.
The three horses who finished closest to Alpride in the Yellow Ribbon--Angel In My Heart, who was second, third-place finisher Bold Ruritana and Flagbird, who was fourth--are back today, along with Matiara, who has four wins and three seconds in eight lifetime starts.
An impressive winner of the Volante Handicap three weeks ago, Helmsman is the 5-2 choice to come right back in the 1 1/8-mile Hollywood Derby.
Trained by Wally Dollase, the 3-year-old El Gran Senor colt drew the rail in the large field and will be challenged by three of the colts who chased him in the Volante--Virginia Carnival, who was second, Mr Purple (third) and Lake George (fourth).