Johar Sweeps to Victory in Hollywood Derby

Johar Sweeps to Victory in Hollywood Derby
Photo: Benoit photos
Johar overcomes rough start to win the Hollywood Derby.
The Thoroughbred Corporation's Johar and jockey Alex Solis circled the field from last place on the final turn to win the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) at 1 1/8 mile on the turf.

Overcoming a rough start, the 3-year-old son of Gone West defeated Mananan McLir by 1-1/2 length. Royal Gem was third as 2-1 favorite Century City failed to rally from a stalking position as they hit the stretch.

The winning time on a firm Hollywood Park turf course for trainer Richard Mandella's Johar was 1:48.70.

Johar was banged by Inesperado on his outside coming out of the starting gate and was forced to take up, leaving him at the back of the nine-horse field on the clubhouse turn and through the backstretch. As Johar hit the turn, Solis took him six-wide and he circled the field, blowing past the leaders coming down the stretch.

Solis said the problems at the break may have been a blessing.

"I was able to see they were moving a little early (on the front end), so I was happy about that," he said.

Mandella said he was thinking about next year with Johar "and all of those mile-and-a-quarter and mile-and-a-half races he'll have a chance to win. We've always thought he was a nice colt."

His reaction to the start wasn't as optimistic.

"I could see he got set back (at the start)," Mandella said. "He's last down the backside -- they went :49 and change -- and I was cussing him like a sailor. But I let it all go at the quarter pole when he circled the field."

Pacesetters Music's Storm and Union Place backed out of it after recording fractions of :24.59, :49.74 and 1:13.40, with Rock Opera and Laffit Pincay Jr. going to the front as they came into the stretch. Mananan McLir, who had a great trip at the rail for Patrick Valenzuela, edged to the front in mid-stretch, followed by Royal Gem and Jerry Bailey, but neither had an answer for the winner's winning drive.

The homebred Johar, who did not race at 2, was coming off a similar late-running victory over many of the same foes in the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Oct. 13. Out of the outstanding race mare Windsharp (by Lear Fan), a former Matriarch (gr. IT) winner, the Hollywood Derby was Johar's first try against Grade I opposition. He is now 4-for-11 lifetime. The $300,000 winning purse more than doubled Johar's career earnings to $582,215.

In spite of his earlier win, Johar was sent off at 9-2 and paid $11.80, $6.20 and $4.60. Mananan McLir returned $12 and $7.80. Royal Gem's show price was $6.40. The $2 exacta was $126.

(Chart, Equibase)

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