The Long and Short of It: D’wildcat Is a Sprinter


Ten of the winners of the San Vicente Stakes, which will be run for the 60th time today, have gone on to glory in the Santa Anita Derby.

Mister Frisky, who made his first start in the United States in the seven-furlong San Vicente, was the most recent in 1990.

Before him, others who completed the parlay were Flying Paster, 1979; Solar Salute, 1972; Majestic Prince, 1969; Lucky Debonair, 1965; Terrang, 1956; Swaps, 1955; Chanlea, 1953; Hill Gail, 1952, and Salmagundi, 1948.


Of those 10, four also went on to win the Kentucky Derby--Majestic Prince, Lucky Debonair, Swaps and Hill Gail.

Should D’wildcat make a successful stakes debut in the San Vicente, don’t look for him to join either of those lists.

Bob Hess, Jr., who trains the 3-year-old colt for Bill Bianco and David Shimmon’s Fog City Stable, believes the son of Forest Wildcat, who is a son of Storm Cat, is strictly a sprinter.

“He’s built like a sprinter and he runs like a sprinter,” said Hess. “He’s nominated for everything, but I think his future is going to be around one turn. I would be happily shocked if he was able to stretch out beyond a mile.”

Bought for a sales-topping $600,000 last year at the Ocala breeders’ sale in Florida, D’wildcat was picked out by Hess’ father, Bob Sr., who still trains in Northern California.

“He sent me a video and it was easy to see why he liked him,” said the younger Hess. “He was really graceful and he had a very fluid, very efficient stride. He just floats over the ground.”


Given plenty of time to develop, D’wildcat first raced Dec. 9 at Hollywood Park. It was not what Hess expected.

After telling at least one longtime friend that the colt could break slowly and still win by 10, the trainer watched one half of that prediction come true.

The 9-5 favorite against six opponents, D’wildcat broke awkwardly, showed brief speed, then faded. Instead of winning by double digits, he finished last, 11 1/2 lengths behind winner New Program.

“It was absolutely shocking,” Hess said. “He didn’t run at all. It’s still a mystery to me. He didn’t bleed in the race, he wasn’t sick afterwards.

“Maybe he just didn’t like the track at Hollywood Park, but I hate to blame it on the track, and he had trained well over it before the race..”

Nearly a month later at Santa Anita, D’wildcat returned. Although he did not win by 10 lengths, he was impressive. D’wildcat won by a length over highly regarded first timer Crafty C.T.


The final time for six furlongs was 1:08 3/5, the fastest of the meet for the distance until Men’s Exclusive went 1:08 1/5 in winning last Sunday’s Palos Verdes Handicap.

“There were no big predictions before that race,” Hess said. “I had a wait-and-see attitude and he ran like I thought he would the first time.

“We’re coming back a little bit quicker than I would have liked, but he’s ready, he’s sound and he’s put on some muscle.”

Lasersport is the one to beat in the San Vicente, a Grade II. A 3-year-old son of Gilded Time, who was the champion 2-year-old of 1992, Lasersport is unbeaten in three starts.

After winning his first two starts in Kentucky by a combined 16 1/4 lengths, the chestnut colt was bought by Bill Herrick and given to trainer Darrell Vienna, who also had Gilded Time.

In his California debut, Lasersport was never seriously challenged in winning the San Miguel Stakes on Jan. 13 by two lengths in 1:08 3/5.


With Corey Nakatani, who rode D’wildcat in his maiden victory, sticking with Lasersport, Kent Desormeaux has regained the mount for Hess. Desormeaux was the rider in the colt’s debut.

Should D’wildcat win his second in a row, the one-mile San Rafael Stakes on March 3 would seem the next logical step.

“He’d have to be even more impressive than he was in his maiden win and Kent would probably have to talk me into it,” said Hess, who has 18 horses for Bianco and Shimmon. Involved in the biotech industry, the men behind Fog City Stable also have four horses with Wayne Lukas.

“One of my clients, John Mann, recommended me to Bill back in 1998,” Hess said. “We claimed a couple of horses at first and things escalated from there.

“Bill’s retired and he hired David about 12 years ago. David is probably the busiest man I’ve ever met. He’s very dedicated to his work and his family and he loves sports and fortunately one of them is racing.

“He squeezes about 30 hours of action into every 24-hour day.”


Captain Steve is the 8-5 morning-line favorite as he makes his 2001 debut today in the $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Albert The Great is the second choice at 9-5 in the eight-horse field. . . . A full field of 12 was entered Friday morning for Sunday’s $300,000 San Antonio Handicap, the final major prep for next month’s Santa Anita Handicap. From the rail out: Deploy Venture, Sultry Substitute, Deputy Flag, Lesters Boy, Guided Tour, Perssonet, Lethal Instrument, Bagshot, Capo Di Capo, Groover, Freedom Crest and Moonlight Charger. . . . Post time today is noon.


Jockey Brice Blanc will be in Louisiana today to ride Fateful Dream for trainer Bobby Frankel in the $150,000 Fair Grounds Breeders’ Cup. . . . Trainer Bob Hess Jr. won twice Friday. He took the opener with 7-2 shot Rodeo Springs, then the first leg of the pick six with 10-1 shot Hurricane Victress. . . . Besides D’wildcat in the San Vicente Stakes today at Santa Anita, Hess will start Penny Marie in the $100,000 Brown Bess Handicap at Golden Gate Fields. . . . There were two winning tickets in the pick six on Friday at Santa Anita and each was worth $637,818.60. . . . Jockey Martin Pedroza earned his 2,000th victory when 8-1 shot Sandra’s Pride won the sixth race.