Threesome Doubles Pleasure
Owner Gary Tanaka, trainer Ben Cecil and jockey Gary Stevens teamed for a memorable holiday Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Two races after Magellan scored a 5-1 upset in the $150,000 American Handicap, the three were a winning combination again as 19-10 favorite Squeak outbattled Sixy Saint in the final yards to win the $300,000 Beverly Hills Handicap.
“Not bad,” Cecil said. “I thought they both had very good shots. I was more confident with Magellan than Squeak. I thought [the Beverly Hills] was fairly wide open.”
Squeak, a 4-year-old Selkirk filly who won for the first time in a year, prevailed by a neck in 2:01 2/5 for the 1 1/4 miles on turf in the Beverly Hills.
Sixy Saint, led almost the entire race while setting slow splits (49 seconds for a half-mile and 1:13 1/5 for six furlongs) in just failing to provide jockey Chris McCarron with his record seventh victory in the Beverly Hills.
Magellan, making his first start since being purchased privately by Cecil for Tanaka late last year, took advantage of a perfect ride by Stevens to win the American.
Able to save ground throughout while stalking the pace, the 5-year-old Hansel horse took over the lead in the midstretch, then held off 8-1 shot Bonapartiste to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:47 for the 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Victimized by some troubled trips last year, Magellan had trained well for his first start since finishing fourth in the Citation Handicap last Nov. 29.
“He’s the strongest horse, bar none, that I have ever ridden,” Stevens said. “He’s a real handful, trust me. “Ben had a lot of confidence in him just off his works. He told me that he pulls hard and to try and get him covered up and I did. He came home very strongly.”
Mufattish, the even-money favorite in the American, was last and eased in the stretch by jockey Kent Desormeaux.
“It just wasn’t his day,” Desormeaux said. “Going in, I was thinking it was a matter of how far we would win by. When I asked him [to ride], though, there was no response at all.”
Elusive Quality set a world record at Belmont Park, winning the $85,400 Poker Handicap in 1:31 3/5 for the mile on turf, bettering the time of 1:31 4/5 set by Atticus on March 1, 1997 in the Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita. Dr. Fager holds the world record for fastest mile on the main track--1:32 1/5 on Aug. 24, 1968 at Arlington Park.
Elusive Quality, ridden by Jerry Bailey for trainer Bill Mott and owner Mohammed Al Maktoum, won by six lengths over 11-1 shot Za Im.
In two other stakes events at Belmont Park, heavily favored Tactical Cat easily won the $84,000 Tremont and Frisk Me Now was victorious in the $350,000 Suburban Handicap.
Bailey rode Tactical Cat for trainer Wayne Lukas and the Overbrook Farm and the 2-year-old son of Storm Cat completed the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03 1/5 in winning by nearly six lengths.
In the Suburban, Frisk Me Now rallied in the final yards to beat Ordway by a half-length in 2:00 2/5 for the 1 1/4 miles. Accelerator, the 5-2 favorite, was last in the field of eight.
Horse Racing Notes
Trainer Bob Baffert will saddle the two morning-line favorites when he goes for his first victories in the $100,000-added Landaluce today at Hollywood Park. Hookedonthefeelin, owned by Mike Pegram, is the 5-2 choice in the field of 12 2-year-old fillies and Excellent Meeting, owned by John and Betty Mabee’s Golden Eagle Farm, is next at 3-1. The Mabees won the Landaluce last year with Career Collection. . . . Because it got such great response the first time last month, Hollywood Park is offering another Pick Six promotion July 18 with a couple of new twists. The track, which guaranteed a $1-million pool June 14, but saw $3.3 million bet by players locally and around the country, is guaranteeing a $1.5-million pool this time and there will be a $500,000 bonus if there is only one winning ticket. . . . The American and Beverly Hills sweep was the third time in Ben Cecil’s trainer career he has won two stakes in a day. Owner Gary Tanaka was not at Hollywood Park for the stakes sweep, he was at home in London. . . . Beboppin Baby won at odds of 11-1 in the $300,000 Cornhusker Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Prairie Meadows in Iowa. Acceptable was second and Pacificbounty, ridden by Laffit Pincay, was a fast-finishing third.