A horse with a mind of his own, Labeeb was on his best behavior Sunday, running straight and fast for jockey Kent Desormeaux to win the $532,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile by a half-length at Hollywood Park.
Labeeb, a British-bred 6-year-old, sometimes doesn't like anyone on his back. He has dropped his exercise rider more than once in the morning, and even unseated his jockey in a major stake last year at Belmont Park. That was the scariest moment of all for trainer Neil Drysdale, wondering if his horse had survived a race in which he ended up with one leg over the fence.
Drysdale campaigned to keep Labeeb on the track after a splint-bone injury knocked him out of the Breeders' Cup Mile last fall. Sheik Maktoum's horse didn't make his 1998 debut until April, winning the San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita, and Sunday's win, worth $319,200, gives the son of Lear Fan six victories in 10 starts in the U.S.
Drysdale is aiming Labeeb for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 7. A stop along the way will be the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 2.
In another stake at Hollywood, Chris McCarron rode Sweet And Ready to a 10-1 upset in the $147,000 Princess.
Hollywood Park's guaranteed $1-million pick-six pool resulted in a track-record $3.3 million being bet by those trying to pick the winners of races five through 10. The previous one-day record was $2.3 million in 1985. Of Sunday's total, $650,368 was bet at out-of-state sites. Low-priced horses won the first five races, then 25-1 Bimbo's Kiss won the finale, setting up a six-for-six payoff of $53,357.60. There were 35 perfect tickets.
Horse Racing Notes
Trainer Bob Baffert said that he had no plans for Silver Charm after his upset at the hands of Awesome Again in Saturday's Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. "I got him beat," Baffert said. "If I'd known I'd have to give those good horses 14 pounds, I would have trained him harder." Silver Charm carried 127 pounds and Awesome Again 113.